Renaissance Philosophy

By Charles B. Schmitt; Brian P. Copenhaver | Go to book overview

4
Stoics, Sceptics, Epicureans, and Other Innovators

Humanism, authority, and uncertainty

Humanists gave three gifts to philosophy in the Renaissance: new methods, new information, and new doubts. The recovery of so much Greek and Roman learning meant that there were more choices to make in the quest for wisdom, and that discriminations would be sharper as history, philology, and philosophy became finer instruments. Thinkers and schools that had been little more than names for medieval readers took on fuller identities; the clearer the distinctions among them, the more obvious it became that the ancients often disagreed with one another. Despite the yearning for a single truth, intellectual authority in the Middle Ages had never been unitary; Peter Abelard wrote his book on Yes and No, and debates on universals and scores of other topics made scholasticism proverbially disputatious. But the humanists who blamed the schoolmen for their contentiousness uncovered older texts that multiplied and hardened philosophical discord. The quarrels that Plethon started about Plato and Aristotle were one aspect of these new divisions, and Bessarion's response was a sign of the common nostalgia for harmony. Conciliation came harder when two titans of classical thought, Aristotle and Plato, were revealed in relatively reliable Greek and then fixed in print and sold all over Europe. As scholars learned more about antiquity, they found more to disagree about. One of the reclaimed texts that spread the divisive news about classical thought, the Lives of Diogenes Laertius, was a doxography, a. work that highlighted changes and differences of opinion (doxa) among its subjects, and as humanists' uncovered more data on the various Hellenistic schools--Stoics, Epicureans, Academ-

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Renaissance Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Opus General Editors ii
  • Title Page iii
  • P. O. Kristeller v
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xiii
  • 1 - The Historical Context of Renaissance Philosophy 1
  • 2 - Aristotelianism 60
  • 3 - Platonism 127
  • 4 - Stoics, Sceptics, Epicureans, and Other Innovators 196
  • 5 - Nature against Authority: Breaking Away from the Classics 285
  • 6 - Renaissance Philosophy and Modern Memory 329
  • Bibliography 358
  • Index 433
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