Two impulses dominated northern and central Italy in the late thirteenth century. One was the striving of cities for self-sufficiency and increased power. The other was the papal thrust toward political as well as religious overlordship. Often policies of the papacy and certain cities were linked by memories and fears of imperial interference. Ptolemy of Lucca's histories reflected his keen awareness of this situation. His more theoretical political works, the Determinatio compendiosa and the continuation of Aquinas's De regimine principum, did (...) more: they furnished remarkably supple and sophisticated ideological justifications of the views of municipal patriots and ecclesiastical zealots, and included as well stinging attacks on imperial claims in Italy. On the civic level Ptolemy was a republican, both on grounds of Italian pride and an early acquaintance with Aristotle's Politics. As N. Rubinstein remarks, “Ptolemy of Lucca's re-appraisal of the Politics constitutes the most vigorous formulation Italian communal theory had yet received by the beginning of the fourteenth century.” Ptolemy, in fact, was the first Italian republican who could justify his position in a theoretically competent way. But on the wider ecclesiastical level he was a vigorous monarchist. His Determinatio was an early and influential exposition of high papalist views, and although written about 1278, it has been called “the key to the whole vast ecclesio-political polemic of the fourteenth century.” Even by the middle of that century its arguments still seemed so contemporary that a new and extended version of it was prepared in 1342. (shrink)
Proofs for belief in God polarize between the extremes that no demonstration is required and arguments based upon a complex, inductive calculus. Since traditional questions are no longer fruitful, Hallett proposes a lateral shift in our thinking by undertaking an exploration of what “rationality and good evidence look like in areas where standard criteria do not apply”. The goal is to promote fresh vision through a shift in perspective.