In the thousand years from the end of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance and Reformation of the Sixteenth century the discussion of the great questions of philosophy and religion was intense. Does God exist? What is he like? What is the purpose of human life and how does God show concern for the future of mankind? This is an introduction to the debates which did more than anything else to transform the ancient into the modern world of thought.
The mystery of Aquinas's virtue ethics -- The gifts as second-personal dispositions -- Virtues and the second-person perspective -- The fruition of the virtues and gifts -- Conclusions and implications.
At least since Darwin's Origin of Species was published in 1859, it has increasingly become accepted that the existence of God is, intellectually, a lost cause, and that religious faith is an entirely non-rational matter--the province of those who willingly refuse to accept the dramatic advances of modern cosmology. Are belief in God and belief in science really mutually exclusive? Or, as noted philosopher of science and religion Richard Swinburne puts forth, can the very same criteria which scientists use to (...) reach theories about everything from DNA to the Big Bang be used to argue for the existence of God? In Is There a God? Swinburne presents a powerful and approachable case for the existence of God. Using the methods of scientific reasoning, Swinburne rigorously argues that science, far from replacing God, provides good grounds for belief in God. With each new discovery and advance, from black holes to quarks, superstrings to continuing evolution, science brings us closer to a complete understanding of how things work--but science can only go so far. Though it can explain much of how the universe works, science doesn't tell us why there is a universe at all. We can understand much of how life evolved, but why is there any life on earth? We can name and explicate scientific laws, but how is it that they operate in the universe? The Darwinian theory holds that the complex animal and human bodies that are here today exist because, ages ago, there were certain chemicals on earth, and given the laws of evolution, it was probable that complex organisms would emerge. But why those laws rather than any other? Why those chemicals? In Swinburne's view, the ultimate grand unifying theory is possible only by a belief in what he calls theism, acknowledging the existence of God: it was God who brought about the natural laws so that humans and animals would evolve. The watch may have been made, Swinburne asserts in reference to Richard Dawkins, with the aid of some blind screwdrivers (or even a blind watchmaking machine), but they were guided by a watchmaker with some very clear sight. At the heart of his argument is Swinburne's belief that the very success of science in showing us how deeply ordered the natural world is provides strong grounds for believing there is an even deeper cause of that order. By embracing a belief in God that acknowledges the truth in science, Swinburne's elegant argument supplies an essential spiritual element to our understanding of order and beauty, the structure beneath the chaos of the natural world. This informed and provocative volume will be essential reading for all readers of popular science, philosophy, and religion. (shrink)
The Middle Ages span a period of well over a millennium: from the emperor Constantine's Christian conversion in 312 to the early sixteenth century. David Luscombe's clear and accessible history of medieval thought steers a clear path through this long period, beginning with the three greatest influences on medieval philosophy: Augustine, Boethius, and Pseudo-Denis, and focusing on Abelard, Anselm, Aquinas, Ockham, Duns Scotus, and Eckhart among others in the twelfth to fifteenth centuries.
The most comprehensive collection of its kind, this unique anthology presents fifty-four readings--many of them not widely available--by the most important and influential Christian, Jewish, and Muslim philosophers of the Middle Ages. The text is organized topically, making it easily accessible to students, and the large selection of readings provides instructors with maximum flexiblity in choosing course material. Each thematic section is comprised of six chronologically arranged readings. This organization focuses on the major philosophical issues and allows a smooth introduction (...) to the material. The topics covered are: (1) The Existence of God, (2) Ethics and the Problem of Evil, (3) God's Foreknowledge and Free Will, (4) Theology, (5) Political Philosophy, 6) Knowledge and Sensation, (7) Universals, (8) Logic and the Philosophy of Language and (9) Physics. Each text is preceded by a biographical note on the author and a brief analytical introduction. Unlike other anthologies, which present sources as a series of truncated excerpts, this collection avoids intrusive editing and includes many selections in their entirety, thus preserving the rich flavor of the medieval mind at work. (shrink)
Choice without preference : the problem of "Buridan's ass" -- Nicholas of Cusa on the Koran : a fifteenth-century encounter with Islam -- On learned ignorance and the limits of knowledge -- Unanswerable questions and insolubilia -- Omniscience and our understanding of God's knowledge -- Issues of infinite regress -- Being qua being -- Nonexistents then and now -- Thomism : past, present, and future -- Respect for tradition and the Catholic philosopher today.
Buridan's life, works, and influence -- Buridan's logic and the medieval logical tradition -- The primacy of mental language -- The various kinds of concepts and the idea of a mental language -- Natural language and the idea of a formal syntax in Buridan -- Existential import and the square of opposition -- Ontological commitment -- The properties of terms (proprietates terminorum) -- The semantics of propositions -- Logical validity in a token-based, semantically closed logic -- The possibility of scientific (...) knowledge -- Buridan's anti-skepticism -- Buridan's essentialist nominalism. (shrink)
Robert Grosseteste was the initiator of the English scientific tradition, one of the first chancellors of Oxford University, and a famous teacher and commentator on the newly discovered works of Aristotle. In this book, James McEvoy provides the first general, inclusive overview of the entire range of Grosseteste's massive intellectual achievement.
Ramon Llull (1232-1316), born on Majorca, was one of the most remarkable lay intellectuals of the thirteenth century. He devoted much of his life to promoting missions among unbelievers, the reform of Western Christian society, and personal spiritual perfection. He wrote over 200 philosophical and theological works in Catalan, Latin, and Arabic. Many of these expound on his "Great Universal Art of Finding Truth," an idiosyncratic dialectical system that he thought capable of proving Catholic beliefs to non-believers. This study offers (...) the first full-length analysis of his theories about rhetoric and preaching, which were central to his evangelizing activities. It explains how Llull attempted to synthesize commonplace advice about courtly speech and techniques of popular sermons into a single program for secular and sacred eloquence that would necessarily promote love of God and neighbor. Llull's work is remarkable testimony to the diffusion of clerical culture among educated lay-people of his era, and to their enthusiasm for applying that knowledge in the pursuit of learning and piety. This book should find a place on the shelf of every scholar of medieval history, religion, and rhetoric. (shrink)
Erasmus of Rotterdam was the greatest Christian humanist scholar of the Northern European Renaissance, a correspondent of Sir Thomas More and many other learned men of his time, known to his contemporaries and to posterity for subtlety of his thought and the depth of his learning. He was also, according to some modern writers, an anti-Semite. In this complete analysis of all of Erasmus' writings on Jews and Judaism, Shimon Markish asserts that the accusation cannot be sustained. For Markish, to (...) ask whether Erasmus was a friend or enemy of the Jews is to ask a modern question of a sixteenth-century man, whose attitude can best be called "asemitism." Erasmus' chief preoccupation was with the future of "the true philosophy of Christ"; he had little interest in the Jewish community of his own time. Erasmus and the Jews discusses Erasmus' critique of Mosaic law and his view of the conflict between "Judaism" as legalistic morality and Jesus' teaching; his judgment on the Pharisees of Jesus' time; his emphasis on the importance of the study of Hebrew; and his opinions of sixteenth-century Jews. This meticulous analysis reveals an Erasmus who defended his vision of true piety by rejecting "Judaizing" Christians more than Jews and who saw the Old Testament as integral to the Christian worldview. As a Christian, he regretted nonbelief and pitied unbelievers, without vicious hostility toward any single people. His theological opposition to a form of religious thought which he identified with Judaism was not translated into crude prejudice against actual Jews. In general, his calm consideration of the strange and the foreign and his willingness to restrict his judgments to the philosophical realm were, Markish argues, early and significant steps toward enlightened toleration. Markish's discussion of Erasmus is supplemented with an Afterword by theologian and philosopher Arthur A. Cohen, who offers a variant interpretation of Erasmus' writings and attitudes. The juxtaposed arguments of the two scholars make this an especially illuminating work for any student of Erasmus and his influence. Erasmus and the Jews also gives a necessary clarity to our understanding of the meaning of anti-Semitism and the history of religious toleration. Markish's profound knowledge of Erasmus allows him to demonstrate the fundamental importance of putting arguments and terminology in the context of a thinker's work and his own time. (shrink)
The idea that the Renaissance witnessed the emergence of the modern individual remains a powerful myth. In this important new book Martin examines the Renaissance self with attention to both social history and literary theory and offers a new typology of Renaissance selfhood which was at once collective, performative and porous. At the same time, he stresses the layered qualities of the Renaissance self and the salient role of interiority and notions of inwardness in the shaping of identity.
The problems which troubled people's minds during the Italian Renaissance were much the same as today. In trying to cope with them, many deep thinking people turned to Marsilio Ficino for help. Through his letters he advised, encouraged, and occasionally reproved them. Fearlessly he expressed the truth and his wisdom influenced many of the finest Western minds. He numbered statesmen, popes, artists, scientists, and philosophers amongst his circle.
Moral moments -- The neurotic and the penitent -- True, false, and feigned penance -- Fame without conscience -- Cain and conscience -- Feminine paradoxes -- Sincere hypocrisy -- The poetical consience -- Envoi : spiritual sophistry.
This volume provides a comprehensive presentation of the philosophical work of the fifteenth-century Renaissance thinker Giovanni Pico della Mirandola. In essays specially commissioned for this book, a distinguished group of scholars presents the central tropics and texts of Pico’s literary output. Best known as the author of the celebrated “Oration on the Dignity of Man,” a magnificent speech originally intended to introduce a debate of 900 theses to be held in Rome before the Pope, the College of Cardinals, and an (...) international group of scholars, Pico also wrote several other prominent works. (shrink)
Richard Kilvington was an obscure fourteenth-century philosopher whose Sophismata deal with a series of logic-linguistic conundrums of a sort which featured extensively in philosophical discussions of this period. This is the first ever translation or edition of his work. As well as an introduction to Kilvington's work, the editors provide a detailed commentary. This edition will prove of considerable interest to historians of medieval philosophy who will realise from the evidence presented here that Kilvington deserves to be studied just as (...) seriously as Duns Scotus or William of Ockham. (shrink)
In Understanding Scholastic Thought with Foucault, Philipp Rosemann provides a new introduction to Scholastic thought written from a contemporary and, notably, Foucauldian perspective. In taking inspiration from the methodology of historical research developed by Foucault, the book places the intellectual achievements of the thirteenth century, especially Thomas Aquinas, in a larger cultural and institutional framework. Rosemann’s analysis sees the Scholastic tradition as the process of the gradual reinscription of the Greek intellectual heritage into the center of Christian culture. This process (...) culminated in the thirteenth century, when new intellectual techniques facilitated the creation of a culture of dialogue. Rosemann argues that the witch-hunt can be seen as the result of a subtle but crucial transformation of the Scholastic episteme. (shrink)
Timothy Bellamah explores the exegesis of William of Alton, a Dominican regent master at Paris during the thirteenth-century. A near contemporary of Bonaventure, Albert the Great, and Thomas Aquinas, William was an important representative of university exegesis at a time of rapidly changing methods and remarkable intellectual development.
Moses Maimonides , scholar, physician, and philosopher, was the most influential Jewish thinker of the Middle Ages. In this magisterial new biography, the work of many years, Herbert Davidson provides an exhaustive guide to Maimonides' life and works. After considering Maimonides' upbringing and education, Davidson expounds all of his voluminous writings in exhaustive detail, with separate chapters on rabbinic, philosophical, and medical texts. This long-awaited volume is destined to become the standard work on this towering figure of Western intellectual history.
Though the essays focus on individuals, the cultural and social implications of their lives and work are never ignored, for the mystic way did not exist separately from the rest of medieval life; it functioned as an integral part of the ...
The first-person point of view -- Augustine's life -- Skepticism -- Language -- The Augustinian cogito -- Mind--body dualism -- The problem of other minds -- Philosophical dream problems -- Time and creation -- Faith and reason -- Foreknowledge and free will -- The problem of evil -- Wanting bad things -- Lying -- Happiness.
Is life meaningful without religion? Can one be moral and not believe in God? While many Americans believe that God is necessary to secure moral order, Paul Kurtz argues that it is quite possible for rationalists and freethinkers to lead exemplary lives. Embracing the Power of Humanism is a collection of essays organized into five parts: "The Exuberant Life," "Independence," "Altruism," "Humanism," and "Ethical Truth" throughout which Kurtz provides nonbelievers with ethical guidelines and encourages all individuals to take personal responsibility (...) for moral excellence. (shrink)
Humanism as form -- The construction of the Erasmian Republic of Letters -- Erasmian humanism : the reform program of the universal intellectual -- The politics of a disembodied humanist -- More's Richard III : the fragility of humanist discourse -- Utopia and the no-place of the Erasmian republic.