The Columbia History of Western Philosophy

By Richard H. Popkin | Go to book overview

3
Medieval Christian Philosophy

EARLY PERIOD

Philosophically speaking, medieval Christian philosophy descends from the Greeks and Romans. Genetically speaking, medieval Christian philosophers descend from the Goths. This observation, borrowed from Josef Pieper's Scholasticism (1960), stresses the assimilative character of medieval Christian philosophy. Early Christians who were not Greek or Roman philosophers learned Greek and Roman philosophy and then adapted it to accord with their beliefs and practices. Despite the difficulties and dangers, this was done with great skill by the early Church Fathers: Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius, Boethius, and others. With the fall of Rome and the victory of the Goths, Christians had to start their philosophical development all over again. From the death of Boethius in 525 until the appearance of John Scotus Erigena three centuries later, we have no record of any outstanding Christian philosopher in the West.


The Carolingian Renaissance

Even before Charlemagne was crowned emperor of the Frankish Empire in 800, he dedicated himself to the improvement of education in his kingdom. He imported foreigners from Italy and Spain to teach Latin and Greek in the palace school. In 782 the Palatine School came under the aegis of Alcuin, an English scholar trained at York, the leading educational center of England. Alcuin can hardly be considered a philosopher, but he did develop the study of the seven liberal arts: the trivium (gram

-219-

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The Columbia History of Western Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The Columbia History of Western Philosophy *
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • Introduction xv
  • Contributors xxi
  • The Columbia History of Western Philosophy *
  • 1 - Origins of Western Philosophic Thinking 1
  • 2 - Medieval Islamic and Jewish Philosophy 140
  • 3 - Medieval Christian Philosophy 219
  • 4 - The Renaissance 279
  • 5 - Seventeenth-Century Philosophy 329
  • 6 - Eighteenth-Century Philosophy 422
  • 7 - Nineteenth-Century Philosophy 516
  • 8 - Twentieth-Century Analytic Philosophy 604
  • 9 - Twentieth-Century Continental Philosophy 667
  • Epilogue 755
  • Epilogue - On the History of Philosophy 757
  • Index of Names 779
  • Index of Subject 801
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