New PDF release: An Introduction to Medieval Philosophy

By Christopher Martin

ISBN-10: 0748607900

ISBN-13: 9780748607907

Takes the coed step by step in the course of the highbrow difficulties of Medieval inspiration, explaining the vital traces of argument from Augustine of Hippos to the 16th century.

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Sample text

We do in fact use authority as < previous page page_23 next page > < previous page page_24 next page > Page 24 a guide to our own action: surely it must be a mistake to refuse to reflect on it, in the name of a fabulous pure reason. Thinkers of the Middle Ages did rely on authority, and reflected on it: they regarded this as only reasonable. They would have thought, surely rightly, that if they had not been initiated into a community within which reason could develop, by obedience to authority, they would not have been reasonable at all: for being reasonable is one of those characteristically human activities of which we have spoken.

We are thus worse off than were people in the Middle Ages. They accepted authority as giving a good reason for believing or acting, though this reason < previous page page_22 next page > < previous page page_23 next page > Page 23 could be outweighed by other, better reasons. Thus they thought that they were acting reasonably, which is always an advantage. In this case they were able to apply reasonable standards to correct their views and actions: they were able to reflect, reasonably, on authority, and sometimes go against it for good reason.

But their authority still constituted an argument. The secular canon that these works formed could, theoretically, be added to. Indeed, the most interesting fact in the history of medieval philosophy is that this is just what happened it was added to. Among the books of the secular canon were to be found the logical works of Aristotle, translated into Latin. As a result, not just these works but Aristotle himself was credited with authority. So when the other works of Aristotle came to the notice of philosophers and other thinkers, it was natural to want to admit them with equal authority to the canon.

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An Introduction to Medieval Philosophy by Christopher Martin


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