Page images
PDF
EPUB

lute goodness constitutes the essence of the divine will; for Augustine the champion of predestination, good and evil are dependent on God's will. The God of the Platonic thinker manifests himself to the world in Jesus Christ by virtue of an inner necessity; according to the doctor of the Church, the incarnation is but one of the thousand means which God might have employed to realize his aims. The philosopher admires and respects the ancient virtues; the theologian sees in them nothing but vices in disguise, splendida vitia.]

St. Augustine excellently exemplifies the intellectual and moral crisis that forms the boundary between the classical epoch and the Middle Ages.

§ 29. The Death Struggles of the Roman World. – Bar

barism. — The First Symptoms of a New Philosophy When St. Augustine expired, the Western Empire lay at the point of death. From every side the Northern hordes broke through the frontiers. Gaul and Spain were in their hands, and Italy menaced. With the collapse of the State, the entire Græco-Roman civilization sank into ruins. The Church alone of all the old institutions had a chance of weathering the storm. She opened the gates of a better world to the naïve believers of the North as well as to the blasé Græco-Latin sceptics, and closed them upon the unworthy. This pover of the keys she received directly from God, and it gave her a powerful hold on both Romans and barbarians. Moreover, the Church not only repre

. sented the ancient ideals, which the future had to develop or transform; she also proclaimed the essentially new and fruitful principle of the equality of nations and individuals before God, the doctrine of the unity and solidarity of the human race; in a word, the idea of humanity. And

i De civitate Dei, XIX., 25.

so it happened that, when the catastrophe arrived, the Church remained stable and inherited the empire. As the heir of classical culture and the depositary of the instruments of salvation, she henceforth bestows the gifts of education upon the barbarians, and the bread of Heaven upon all. She establishes new nations; and under her fostering care the Neo-Latin and Germanic civilization shows the first signs of life.

However, centuries passed before the death struggles of antiquity ended, and a new world was born. The literary traditions of Greece and Rome were kep“ alive in parts of Italy and the Eastern Empire. While the last thinkers of paganism were consuming their strength in weak efforts to revive the religion of the past, a Christian, hiding his identity beneath the pseudonym of Dionysius the Areopagite,l advanced beyond the timid speculations of the Greek Fathers, and christianized the Neo-Platonic system, thereby sowing the seed in Christian thought which sprang up in Maximus the Confessor, Scotus Erigena, Hugo and Richard of St. Victor, Eckhart, Böhme, and Bruno. Marcianus Capella (about 450) wrote an encyclopedia of the sciences. John Philoponus,* a contemporary of the Neo-Platonist Simplicius, published commentaries on the works of Aristotle and defended the teachings of Christianity. At about the same period, the Roman Boethius translated Plato and Aristotle, and wrote his delightful treatise De consolatione philosophiæ, which breathes the spirit of Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius; Cassiodorus, another Italian (died 575), published the treatise De artibus ac disciplinis liberalium litterarum, which with the Encyclopedia of Marcianus Capella, the commentaries of Boethius, and the Isagoge of Porphyry, formed the basis of mediaval instruction.2 Let us also mention Isidore of Seville and his twenty books of Etymologies ; St. John of Damas, a celebrated theologian and scholar; and Photius, the Patriarch of Constantinople, the author of the Bibliotheca or Myriobilion, a kind of philosophical anthology.

1 Dionysii Areopagitæ Opera, Greek and Latin, [Bale, 1539); Paris, 1615, 1614 (2 folio vols.); also in Migne's collection); Engelhardt, De origine scriptorum Areopagiticorum, Erlangen, 1823; [.J. Colet, Two Treatises on the Hierarchies of Dionysius, with Transl., Introduction and Notes, by J. H. Lupton, London, 1869. — Tr. ].

8 580-662. Opera, ed. Combefisius, 2 vols., Paris, 1675. 8 Satyricon, ed. Kopp, Francf., 1836 ; [Eyssenhardt, Leipsic, 1866).

4 His commentaries on the Analytics, the Physics, and Psychology, etc., were repeatedly printed during the sixteenth century.

6 A statesman who was executed in the reign of Theodoric, 525. Opera, [Venice, 1491]; Bale, 1546, 1570, folio; [also in Miyne's collec

It is evident, literature gradually retires within the confines of the Church. In the West, especially, all intellectual activity centred in it. But the smouldering spark of learned culture was with difficulty kept alive in the hearts of a clergy for the most part recruited from the barbarians. The times were steeped in ignorance. The Latin language, which the Church continued to use, formed the only bond of union between the classical world and the new generation. At a time when brutal passions raged, when the secular clergy themselves were addi ted to a vulgar realism and showed an absolute indifference to spiritual things, the convents became the refuge of thought and study. Here, the mind, elsewhere distracted by external things, found ample opportunity and leisure moments to contemplate itself and its real treasures. I'nable as yet to produce original works of their own, the monks spent

tion]. Gervaise, Histoire de Boëce, sénateur romain, Paris, 1715 [Prantl, Geschichte der Logik, I, pp. 679-722.

Opera omnia, (Paris, 1579); Rouen, 1079; Venice, 1726. St. Marthe, l'ie de Cassiodore, Paris, 1695.

? According to this scheme of instruction, there are seven liberal arts, three of which, grammar, rhetoric, and dialectics, form the tririum; while the other four, music, arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy constitute the quadrivium. There is a threefold and a four fold path leading to the highest science, theology.

[ocr errors]

their time in copying manuscripts, and to their zealous activity we owe our knowledge of quite a number of ancient masterpieces.

But they did more; they founded schools and instructed the youth (scholæ, scholastici, doctrina scholastica). The monastic schools rivalled the cathedral schools. Great Britain possessed model monasteries, which produced such men as the Venerable Bede,' Alcuin, a pupil of the school of York, who became the counsellor and friend of Charlemagne, and helped to found the Palatine Academy and a great number of cathedral and monastic schools, finally and above all, Scotus Erigena, the first and, on the whole, most profound philosopher of the Christian Middle Ages, the founder of Scholasticism.

The fatherland of Scotus, Occam, and the two Bacons, has every reason to boast of being the Ionia of modern philosophy

§ 30. Scholasticism 8 As the sole legatee of the Roman Empire, the Church is the predominant power of the Middle Ages. Outside of the Church there can be no salvation and no science. The dogmas formulated by her represent the truth. Hence, the problem no longer is to search for it. The Church has no place for philosophy, if we mean by philosophy the pursuit of truth. From the mediæval point of view, to philosophize means to explain the dogma, to deduce its consequences, and to demonstrate its truth. Hence, philosophy is identical with positive theology; when it fails to be that, it becomes heretical. Christian thought hemmed in by the law of the Church resembles a river confined between two steep banks; the narrower the bed, the deeper the stream. Being unable to escape from the dogma encompassing it, it endeavors to penetrate it, and eventually undermines it.

1 673-735; Opera, Paris, 1521 f.; Bâle, 1563; Cologne, 1612. (A. Giles, The Complete Works of Venerable Beda (Latin), 12 vols., London, 1843-44.)

2 726–804 ; Opera, Paris, 1617; Ratisb., 1773, 2 fol. vols.

8 [Consult the works of Ritter, Rousselot, Ilauréau, Stöckl, etc., mentioned on page 10; also the general histories of philosophy referred to on pages 13–16. — Tr.] Cousin, Fragments philosophiques, Philosophie scolastique ; Introduction to Kuno Fischer's History of Modern Philosophy; (S. Talamo, L'Aristotelismo nella storia della filosofia, 3ů ed., Siena, 1882; French transl., Paris, 1876. - Tr.]

Thus the philosophy of the Christian School, Scholasticism, arises and gradually gains a foothold. Scotus Erigena is its founder; St. Anselmus, Abelard, St. Thomas, and Duns Scotus, are its most distinguished representatives. Scholasticism is modern science in embryo; the philosophy of the European nations developing within the mother Church in the form of theology. It is not, like the speculation of the Church Fathers, a child of classical antiquity, from which the fall of the Roman world separates it. It springs from the healthy soil of the Germanic and Neo-Latin world, and is the product of other races and a new civilization. France, England, Spain, Germany : Western Europe, in a word, is its home. It has its period of youth, maturity, and decline. Scholastic philosophy is at first influenced by Platonism through the mediation of St. Augustine; from the thirteenth century on, it gradually suffers the influence of Aristotle's philosophy. Hence, we notice two great periods in the history of Scholasticism: the Platonic period and the Peripatetic period. The latter divides into two sub-periods, of which the first interprets Aristotle in the realistic sense, while the second conceives him as a nominalist. From the fourteenth century on, Scholasticism is engaged in the struggle

1 Hegel, Vorlesungen über die Geschichte der Philosophie, vol. III., p. 118; (vol. XV., of Complete Works].

Id., p. 139.

9

« PreviousContinue »