The Mind of the Middle Ages, A.D. 200-1500: An Historical Survey

By Frederick B. Artz | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER VIII
Learning (II)
1. BACKGROUNDS OF MEDIAEVAL POLITICAL AND SOCIAL THOUGHT
2. MAIN CURRENTS OF POLITICAL AND SOCIAL THOUGHT, 1000-1500
3. MEDIAEVAL SCHOOLS
4. THE RISE OF UNIVERSITIES

1. BACKGROUNDS OF MEDIAEVAL POLITICAL AND SOCIAL THOUGHT

LIKE the hero of Tennyson's Ulysses who was part of all that he had met, mediaeval political and social thought showed everywhere the results of a long historic experience. From Plato and Aristotle mediaeval thinkers derived the idea of the state as having a moral purpose, and, from the same sources, they conceived of all political and social thought as forming a part of an all-inclusive ethical and metaphysical system. From the Stoics descended the idea of the whole universe conceived as a single intelligible unity, pervaded by reason, and ruled by God. From the Stoics, likewise, came the idea that there should be one universal society among all men and one state ruled by just laws attuned to the laws of the universe; in such a society there was an equality and a brotherhood of all men under God.

The Stoics also conceived and handed on the idea that all power

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