This book offers a brief, accessible introduction to the thought of Boethius. After a survey of Boethius's life and work, Marenbon explicates his theological method, and devotes separate chapters to his arguments about good and evil, fortune, fate and free will, and the problem of divine foreknowledge. Marenbon also traces Boethius's influence on the work of such thinkers as Aquinas and Duns Scotus.
Boethius, though a Christian, worked in the tradition of the Neoplatonic schools, with their strong interest in Aristotelian logic and Platonic metaphysics. He is best known for his Consolation of Philosophy, which he wrote in prison awaiting execution. His works also include a long series of logical translations, commentaries and monographs and some short but densely-argued theological treatises, all of which were enormously influential on medieval thought. But Boethius was more than a writer who passed on important ancient ideas to (...) the Middle Ages. The essays here by leading specialists, which cover all the main aspects of his writing and its influence, show that he was a distinctive thinker, whose arguments repay careful analysis and who used his literary talents in conjunction with his philosophical abilities to present a complex view of the world. (shrink)
This book offers a major reassessment of the philosophy of Peter Abelard (1079-1142) which argues that he was not, as usually presented, a predominantly critical thinker but a constructive one. By way of evidence the author offers new analyses of frequently discussed topics in Abelard's philosophy, and examines other areas such as the nature of substances and accidents, cognition, the definition of 'good' and 'evil', virtues and merit, and practical ethics in detail for the first time. The book also includes (...) a discussion of Abelard's life and works, and considers problems of chronology and canon (including the question of the authenticity of the correspondence with Heloise). '... not only an outstanding exposition of Abelard's philosophy, but a work that opens up for specialists and non-specialists the world of twelfth-century thought.' The Times Literary Supplement. (shrink)
_Abelard in Four Dimensions: A Twelfth-Century Philosopher in His Context and Ours_ by John Marenbon, one of the leading scholars of medieval philosophy and a specialist on Abelard's thought, originated from a set of lectures in the distinguished Conway Lectures in Medieval Studies series and provides new interpretations of central areas of Peter Abelard's philosophy and its influence. The four dimensions of Abelard to which the title refers are that of the past, present, future, and the present-day philosophical culture in (...) which Abelard's works are still discussed and his arguments debated. For readers new to Abelard, this book provides an introduction to his life and works along with discussion of his central ideas in semantics, ethics, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion. For specialists, the book contains new arguments about the authenticity and chronology of his logical work, fresh evidence about Abelard’s relations with Anselm and Hugh of St. Victor, a new understanding of how he combines the necessity of divine action with human freedom, and reinterpretations of important passages in which he discusses semantics and metaphysics. For all historians of philosophy, it sets out and illustrates a new methodological approach, which can be used for any thinker in any period and will help to overcome the divisions between "historians" based in philosophy departments and scholars with historical or philological training. "This searching, thorough, and original study examines Abelard's past, present, and future, and our present. John Marenbon offers the best enquiry yet made into the sequence of Abelard's writings and their chronology, followed by an incisive and highly illuminating account of the various, successive formulations of his 'unpopular argument' to the effect that God cannot do otherwise than as he does. This is an accomplished work which will be eagerly read and hugely appreciated by students and their teachers on courses of philosophy, theology, and history." —_David Luscombe, University of Sheffield_. (shrink)
Introduction to Medieval Philosophy combines and updates the scholarship of the two highly successful volumes Early Medieval Philosophy (1983) and Late Medieval Philosoph y (1986) in a single, reliable, and comprehensive text on the history of medieval philosophy. John Marenbon discusses the main philosophers and ideas within the social and intellectual contexts of the time, and the most important concepts in medieval philosophy. Straightforward in arrangement, wide in scope, and clear in style, this is the ideal starting point for students (...) beginning the subject. (shrink)
Roberto Pinzani has written a closely-argued, highly original, valuable but difficult book. The Problem of Universals, indeed, is—and has been for nearly two centuries—the most frequently treated topic in medieval philosophy, and solutions to it proposed by two of the philosophers discussed here, Boethius and Abelard, have been examined countless times. But no one has before tried to cover the whole period, from circa 500 to circa 1150, looking in detail at a whole variety of writers. Moreover, what Pinzani has (...) to say even about Boethius and Abelard is new.After a chapter setting out the problem, as he understands it, and looking especially at predication in Aristotle, Pinzani goes on to Boethius and then the... (shrink)
Peter Abelard was one of the most influential writers and thinkers of the twelfth century, famed for his skill in logic as well as his romance with Heloise. His Collationes - or Dialogue between a Christian, a Philosopher, and a Jew - is remarkable for the boldness of its conception and thought.
Résumé Selon Alain de Libera, Boèce donne au célèbre questionnaire de Porphyre sur les universaux une réponse abstractionniste : ce n’est que dans la pensée que peuvent exister les universaux, quoiqu’ils dérivent, par le processus d’abstraction, de ce qui est commun dans les choses. Je mets en contraste cet « abstractionnisme neutre » et un « abstractionnisme réaliste » selon lequel ce n’est qu’en concevant les universaux que la pensée humaine saisit proprement la forme — ou similitude — par laquelle (...) les particuliers appartiennent à telle espèce ou à tel genre. J’essaie de démontrer que, dans son second commentaire sur l’Isagoge, Boèce hésite entre les deux sortes d’abstractionnisme, tandis que, dans la Consolation, il opte pour l’abstractionnisme réaliste.According to Alain de Libera, Boethius replies to Porphyry’s famous three questions about universals by using a theory of abstraction. Universals can exist only in thought, although they derive, through abstraction, from what is common in things. I contrast this “neutral abstractionism” with a “realist abstractionism” — the view that it is only by conceiving universals that humans are able properly to grasp the form or likeness according to which particulars belong to a given species or genus. I try to show that, in his second commentary on the Isagoge, Boethius is uncertain which sort of abstractionism to prefer, but in the Consolation he opts for realist abstractionism. (shrink)
The discussion of sameness and difference in the three versions of the Theologia has been analyzed by a number of recent writers. Despite some disagreements, they concur that Abelard’s views are best expressed in the Theologia christiana and that he is putting forward a theory that—perhaps adapted—can help philosophers now in considering the material constitution of objects. By contrast, I argue that his views, which should be seen as developing and reaching their final form in the Theologia “scholarium,” are much (...) more closely linked than these scholars have thought to the particular theological problems involved in discussing the Trinity. (shrink)
My article surveys philosophical discussions of Abelard over the last twenty years. Although Abelard has been a well-known figure for centuries, his most important logical works were published only in the twentieth century and, so I argue, the rediscovery of him as an important philosopher is recent and continuing. I concentrate especially on work that shows Abelard as the re-discoverer of propositional logic (Chris Martin); as a subtle explorer of problems about modality (Simo Knuuttila, Herbert Weidemann) and semantics (Klaus Jacobi); (...) as a metaphysician before the reception of Aristotle's Metaphysics (Peter King); and as an ethical thinker who echoes the Stoics (Calvin Normore) and anticipates Kant (Peter King). (shrink)
Later Medieval Philosophy (1150-1350) provides an introduction to philosophy in the Latin West between 1150 and 1350. Part I describes the medieval thinker's intellectual and historical context, by examining the structure of courses in the medieval universities, the methods of teaching, the forms of written work, and the translation and availability of ancient Greek, Arab, and Jewish philosophical texts. Part II examines the nature of intellectual knowledge by explaining the arguments given by Aristotle, his antique commentators, and the Arab philosophers, (...) Avicenna and Averroes. (shrink)
Si Dieu prévoit toute chose, rien n’arrive sauf par nécessité car il y a incompatibilité entre la certitude de la connaissance et la contingence. Une des réponses classiques est celle que la philosophie analytique nomme « la solution boécienne » ou « de Thomas d’Aquin » et qui repose sur l’idée que Dieu est atemporellement éternel.Dans ce livre, John Marenbon démontre que les théories de ces deux auteurs ne correspondent pas à cette solution dans le sens où, selon eux, la (...) connaissance est relative aux sujets connaissants. Deux chapitres sont consacrés aux solutions du problème de la prescience avec, pour guides, Pierre Abélard, Guillaume de Conches, Pierre Lombard, Guillaume d’Auxerre, et d’autres. Dans le chapitre final, l’auteur pose la question de savoir jusqu’à quel point les techniques de l’analyse pratiquée par la philosophie anglo-saxonne servent à découvrir ce que les philosophes du Moyen Âge ont véritablement pensé. (shrink)
“Problem of paganism” is my name for the set of questions raised for medieval thinkers and writers, and discussed by some of them (Abelard, Dante, and Langland are eminent examples), by the fact that many people—especially philosophers—from antiquity were, they believed, monotheists, wise and virtuous and yet pagans. In this paper, I argue that Boethius, though a Christian, was himself too much part of the world of classical antiquity to pose the problem of paganism, but that his Consolation of Philosophy (...) was an essential element in the way medieval writers saw and resolved this problem. In particular, because it was a text by an author known to be Christian which discusses philosophy without any explicitly Christian references, it opened up the way to treating texts by ancient pagan philosophers as containing hidden Christian doctrine. (shrink)
Although Abelard arrived at a view ofens nearer to Aristotle''s than his sources would suggest, unlike thirteenth-century thinkers he did not work out a view of transcendentals in terms ofens, its attributes and their convertibility. He did, however, regard unity (though not goodness or truth) as an attribute of every thing. At first, Abelard suggested that unity, being inseparable, could not be an accident according to Porphyry''s definition (that which can come and leave a subject without the subject being corrupted): (...) either it is some type of form not classified by Porphyry, or not a form at all. In his later logical work, Abelard argued differently. Unity, he said, is an accidental form, but Porphyry''s definition of an accident must be understood negatively, not as asserting something about what could happen in reality (since the form of unity could never leave its subject) but rather something about an absence of connection: were it,per impossible, to occur, the loss by a subject of its form of unity would not lead to the loss of its specific or generic status. (shrink)