Inglis, John. Spheres of Philosophical Inquiry and the Historiography of Medieval Philosophy [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 53 (3):706-708 (2000)
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Do not be put off by the cumbersome title of this book. Underneath a huge mass of erudition lies a simple yet powerful thesis. The thinkers of the high Middle Ages did not imagine themselves as contributors to metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics, or any of the autonomous but interconnected “spheres of philosophical inquiry” that most post-Enlightenment historians of medieval philosophy take for granted. In very different ways, Aquinas, Scotus, and Ockham use the materials of philosophy to describe and illuminate the movement of the human creature in via. The result may occasionally remind us of “doing philosophy,” but Inglis suggests that the similarities are mostly superficial. If we care about understanding medieval thought on its own terms, we will pay attention to the differences between the projects of modern philosophy and those of medieval theology—differences that are no less marked even when the latter self-consciously appropriates the insights of pagan philosophy.



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