Selections from Medieval Philosophers - Vol. 2

Selections from Medieval Philosophers - Vol. 2

Selections from Medieval Philosophers - Vol. 2

Selections from Medieval Philosophers - Vol. 2

Excerpt

The study of philosophy has as end, Thomas Aquinas said, not the knowledge of what others have thought, but objective truth. The method and practise of medieval philosophers, working upon the writings of past philosophers, are adapted to the determination of truth from their statements. There is little in the scholastic method that conforms to the outlook and approach of modern philosophy. It is historical, but the history involved has been shown to be bad history: works as patently neoplatonic as the Book of Causes and the Theology of Aristotle were long thought to have been written by Aristotle. It is authoritarian, whereas the way to truth, the scientific method, according to the dicta which positivistic science has insinuated into philosophy, is by facts, not by what men have said.

By these circumstances the middle ages were for a long time closed and kept from influencing openly the progress of modern thought. Philosophers continued to read their predecessors, not only as historians, but to find hints for the discovery of truth. Only occasionally, however, did a logician or a metaphysician go for suggestions to the middle ages. To be sure, many doctrines and many lines of influence have continued uninterrupted though constantly modified from the middle ages to the present, and our language and ideology is strewn with vestiges confusing and difficult to explain in their modern guise alone. In part, in the beginnings of the middle ages, a difference separates philosophers from those of the present in the spirit and the enterprise, common then but unfamiliar to philosophic concerns to-

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