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 ...
Between 1100 and 1600, the emphasis on reason in the learning and intellectual life of Western Europe became more pervasive and widespread than ever before in the history of human civilization. Of crucial significance was the invention of the university around 1200, within which reason was institutionalized and where it became a deeply embedded, permanent feature of Western thought and culture. It is therefore appropriate to speak of an Age of Reason in the Middle Ages, and to view it as (...) a forerunner and herald of the Age of Reason that was to come in the seventeenth century. The object of this study is twofold: to describe how reason was manifested in the curriculum of medieval universities, especially in the subjects of logic, natural philosophy and theology; and to explain how the Middle Ages acquired an undeserved reputation as an age of superstition, barbarism, and unreason. (shrink)
Medieval Modal Logic & Science uses modal reasoning in a new way to fortify the relationships between science, ethics, and politics. Robert C. Trundle accomplishes this by analyzing the role of modal logic in the work of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, then applying these themes to contemporary issues. He incorporates Augustine's ideas involving thought and consciousness, and Aquinas's reasoning to a First Cause. The author also deals with Augustine's ties to Aristotelian modalities of thought regarding science and logic, (...) reassessing the commonly held belief in Augustine's Platonism to not be a mistake as much as a simplistic view of his philosophy. Trundle links contemporary issues in epistemology, morality, theology, and logic, making several useful connections between ancient and medieval studies in modal logic and modern concerns. These applications of modal theory illuminate many puzzles in the works of Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Whitehead, and Kuhn. (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)
Among the great philosophers of the Middle Ages Aquinas is unique in pursuing two apparently disparate projects. On the one hand he developed a philosophical understanding of Christian doctrine in a fully integrated system encompassing all natural and supernatural reality. On the other hand, he was convinced that Aristotle's philosophy afforded the best available philosophical component of such a system. In a relatively brief career Aquinas developed these projects in great detail and with an astonishing degree of success. In this (...) volume ten leading scholars introduce all the important aspects of Aquinas' thought, ranging from its historical background and dependence on Greek, Islamic, and Jewish philosophy and theology, through the metaphysics, epistemology and ethics, to the philosophical approach to Biblical commentary. New readers and nonspecialists will find this the most convenient, accessible guide to Aquinas currently in print. Advanced students and specialists will find a conspectus of recent developments in the interpretation of Aquinas. (shrink)
The Renaissance has long been recognized as a brilliant moment in the development of Western civilization. Little attention has been devoted, however, to the distinct contribution of philosophy to Renaissance culture. This volume introduces the reader to the philosophy written, read, taught, and debated during the period traditionally credited with the "revival of learning." Beginning with original sources still largely inaccessible to most readers, and drawing on a wide range of secondary studies, the author examines the relation of Renaissance philosophy (...) to humanism and the universities, the impact of rediscovered ancient sources, the recovery of Plato and the Neoplatonists, and the evolving ascendancy of Aristotle. Renaissance Philosophy also explores the original contributions of major figures including Bruni, Valla, Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, Pomponazzi, Machiavelli, More, Vitoria, Montaigne, Bruno, and Camapanella. (shrink)
Placing Bruno—both advanced philosopher and magician burned at the stake—in the Hermetic tradition, Yates's acclaimed study gives an overview not only of Renaissance humanism but of its interplay—and conflict—with magic and occult practices. "Among those who have explored the intellectual world of the sixteenth century no one in England can rival Miss Yates. Wherever she looks, she illuminates. Now she has looked on Bruno. This brilliant book takes time to digest, but it is an intellectual adventure to read it. Historians (...) of ideas, of religion, and of science will study it. Some of them, after reading it, will have to think again.... For Miss Yates has put Bruno, for the first time, in his tradition, and has shown what that tradition was."—Hugh Trevor-Roper, _New Statesman_ "A decisive contribution to the understanding of Giordano Bruno, this book will probably remove a great number of misrepresentations that still plague the tormented figure of the Nolan prophet."—Giorgio de Santillana, _American Historical Review_ "Yates's book is an important addition to our knowledge of Giordano Bruno. But it is even more important, I think, as a step toward understanding the unity of the sixteenth century."—J. Bronowski, _New York Review of Books_. (shrink)
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)
This is an edition of one of the crucial texts of Renaissance skepticism, Quod nihil scitur, by the Portuguese scholar Franciso Sanches. The treatise, first published in 1581, is a refutation of Aaristotelian dialectics and scientific theory in the search for a true scientific method. This volume provides a critical edition of the original text, an English translation (the first ever published), a substantial introduction, and comprehensive annotation.
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)
In this book Raymond L. Weiss examines how a seminal Jewish thinker negotiates the philosophical conflict between Athens and Jerusalem in the crucial area of ethics. Maimonides, a master of both the classical and the biblical-rabbinic traditions, reconciled their differing views of morality primarily in the context of Jewish jurisprudence. Taking into consideration the entire corpus of Maimonides' writings, Weiss focuses on the ethical sections of the Commentary on the Mishnah and the Mishneh Torah , but also discusses the Guide (...) of the Perplexed , the letters of Maimonides, and his medical works. The gulf between classical philosophy and the Torah made the task of Maimonides extraordinarily difficult. Weiss shows that Maimonides subtly preserves the tension between those traditions while producing a practical accommodation between them. To explain how Maimonides was able to accomplish this twofold goal, Weiss takes seriously the multilevel character of Maimonides' works. Weiss interrupts Maimonides as a heterodox thinker who, with utter integrity, faces the Law's encounter with philosophy and gives both the Torah and philosophy their due. (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.
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)
Although Maimonides' discussion of creation is one of his greatest contributions - he himself claims that belief in creation is second in importance only to belief in God - there is still considerable debate on what that contribution was. Kenneth Seeskin takes a close look at the problems Maimonides faced and the sources from which he drew. He argues that Maimonides meant exactly what he said: the world was created by a free act of God so that the existence of (...) everything other than God is contingent. In religious terms, existence is a gift. In order to reach this conclusion, Seeskin examines Maimonides' view of God, miracles, the limits of human knowledge, and the claims of astronomy to be a science. Clearly written and closely argued, Maimonides on the Origin of the World takes up questions of perennial interest. (shrink)
Leo Strauss argued that the most visible fact about Machiavelli's doctrine is also the most useful one: Machiavelli seems to be a teacher of wickedness. Strauss sought to incorporate this idea in his interpretation without permitting it to overwhelm or exhaust his exegesis of The Prince and the Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy . "We are in sympathy," he writes, "with the simple opinion about Machiavelli [namely, the wickedness of his teaching], not only because it is wholesome, (...) but above all because a failure to take that opinion seriously prevents one from doing justice to what is truly admirable in Machiavelli: the intrepidity of his thought, the grandeur of his vision, and the graceful subtlety of his speech." This critique of the founder of modern political philosophy by this prominent twentieth-century scholar is an essential text for students of both authors. (shrink)
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.