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The terms medieval and Middle Ages derive from the Latin expression medium

aevum (the middle age), coined by Renaissance humanists to refer to the period
separating the golden age of classical Greece and Rome from what they saw as the
rebirth of classical ideals in their own day.
Medieval philosophy is the philosophy of Western Europe and the Middle East during
what is now known as the medieval era or the Middle Ages, roughly extending from the
fall of the Roman Empire to the Renaissance period. Medieval philosophy is defined
partly by the rediscovery and further development of classical Greek philosophy and
Hellenistic philosophy, and partly by the need to address theological problems and to
integrate sacred doctrine (in Islam, Judaism and Christianity) and secular learning. Some
problems discussed throughout this period are the relation of faith to reason, the
existence and unity of God, the object of theology and metaphysics, the problems of
knowledge, of universals, and of individuation.

Aquinas: Christian Aristoteleanism


The most profoundly influential of all the medieval philosophers was the Dominican
Thomas Aquinas, whose brilliant efforts in defence of Christian theology earned him a
reputation as "the angelic teacher."
St. Augustine of Hippo (A.D. 354 - 430) was an Algerian-Roman philosopher and
theologian of the late Roman / early Medievalperiod. He is one of the most important
early figures in the development of Western Christianity, and was a major figure in
bringing Christianity to dominance in the previously pagan Roman Empire. He is often
considered the father of orthodox theology and the greatest of the four great
fathers of the Latin Church (along with St. Ambrose, St. Jerome and St. Gregory).
Unlike the later Scholastics who took Aristotle as the classical model to
be integrated into Christian thought, Augustine developed a philosophical and
theological system which employed elements of Plato and Neo-Platonism in support
of Christian orthodoxy. His many works profoundly influenced the medieval
worldview.

Philosophical theology
Christianity is not in itself a philosophical doctrine, but it profoundly influences the medieval
philosophical world-view both from within philosophy and from outside it. On the one hand,
Christian texts and doctrine provided rich subject matter for philosophical reflection, and the
nature and central claims of Christianity forced medieval intellectuals to work out a
comprehensive account of reality and to deal explicitly with deep issues about the aims and
methods of the philosophical enterprise. In these ways, Christianity was taken up into
philosophy, adding to its content and altering its structure and methods. On the other hand,
Christianity imposed external constraints on medieval philosophy. At various times these
constraints took institutional form in the official proscription of texts, the condemnation of
philosophical positions and the censure of individuals.

Augustine laid the foundation for medieval Christian philosophical theology in two respects.
First, he provided a theoretical rationale both for Christian intellectuals engaging in philosophical
activity generally and for their taking Christian doctrine in particular as a subject of philosophical
investigation. According to Augustine, Christian belief is not opposed to philosophys pursuit of
truth but is an invaluable supplement and aid to philosophy. With revealed truth in hand,
Christian philosophers are able to salvage what is true and useful in pagan philosophy while
repudiating what is false. Moreover, Augustine argued that Christianity can be strengthened and
enriched by philosophy. Christian philosophers should begin by believing (on the authority of the
Bible and the church) what Christianity professes and seek (by the use of reason) to acquire
understanding of what they initially believed on authority. In seeking understanding,
philosophers rely on that aspect of themselves namely, reason in virtue of which they most
resemble God; and in gaining understanding, they strengthen the basis for Christian belief. The
Augustinian method of belief seeking understanding is taken for granted by the vast majority of
philosophers in the Middle Ages.
Second, Augustines writings provide a wealth of rich and compelling examples of philosophical
reflection on topics ranging from the nature of evil and sin to the nature of the Trinity. Boethius
stands with Augustine in this respect as an important model for later thinkers. He composed
several short theological treatises that consciously attempt to bring the tools of Aristotelian logic
to bear on issues associated with doctrines of the Christian creed. Inspired by the philosophical
analysis and argumentation prominent in these writings, medieval philosophers enthusiastically
took up, developed and extended the enterprise of philosophical theology.
With the emergence of academic structure in the new European schools and universities of the
twelfth and thirteenth centuries, theology became the paramount academic discipline in a formal
curriculum of higher education. However, the fact that great thinkers of the later Middle Ages
typically studied philosophy as preparatory for the higher calling of theology should not be taken
to imply that in becoming theologians they left philosophy behind. As a simple matter of fact,
later medieval theologians continued throughout their careers to address fundamental
philosophical issues in fundamentally philosophical ways. And it is clear why this should be so:
those who took up the study of theology were among the most gifted and highly trained
philosophical minds of their day, and they brought to theology acute philosophical sensitivities,
interests and skills. Moreover, insofar as they viewed Christianity as offering the basic
framework for a comprehensive account of the world, they were naturally attracted to the
broadly philosophical task of building on that framework, understanding its ramifications and
resolving its difficulties.
Despite the dominance of the Augustinian view of the relation between Christianity and
philosophy, religiously motivated resistance to philosophy in general and to the use of
philosophical methods for understanding Christianity in particular emerges in different forms
throughout the Middle Ages. In the twelfth century, some influential clerics saw the flourishing
study of logic at Paris as a dangerous influence on theology and used ecclesiastical means to
attack Peter Abelard and Gilbert of Poitiers. In the thirteenth century the new Aristotelian natural
philosophy prompted another period of sustained ecclesiastical reaction. In 1210 and 1215
ecclesiastical authorities proscribed the teaching of Aristotles natural philosophy at Paris, and in
1277 the Bishop of Paris issued a condemnation of 219 articles covering a wide range of
theological and philosophical topics. The condemnation seems largely to have been a reaction
to the work of radical Averroistic interpreters of Aristotle. It is unclear how effective these actions
were in suppressing the movements and doctrines they targeted.

If, as Augustine certainly believed, the world and everything in it is the creation of a perfectly
good god, then how can the human beings who constitute so prominent a part of that creation
be inherently evil? Like Plato and Plotinus, but unlike the Manichaeans, Augustine now argued
that evil is not anything real, but rather is merely the absence of good. Creation of human
beings who have the freedom to decide how to act on their own, he maintained, is so vital a part
of the divine plan for the cosmos that it outweighs the obvious consequence that we nearly
always choose badly.
But if human beings begin with original sin and are therefore inherently evil, what is the point of
morality? Augustine held that the classical attempts to achieve virtue by discipline, training, and
reason are all boud to fail. Thus, the redemptive action of god's grace alone offers hope. Again
using his own life as an example, Augustine maintained that we can do nothing but wait for god
to work with us in the production of a worthwhile life. (Our happiness never enters into the
picture.)

Another of the great insights of Saint Thomas was his perception of the role of the Holy Spirit in the process by which
knowledge matures into wisdom. The two other complementary forms of wisdomphilosophical wisdom, which is
based upon the capacity of the intellect, for all its natural limitations, to explore reality, and theological wisdom, which
is based upon Revelation and which explores the contents of faith, entering the very mystery of God.
Profoundly convinced that whatever its source, truth is of the Holy Spirit (omne verum a quocumque dicatur a Spiritu
Sancto est) Saint Thomas was impartial in his love of truth. He sought truth wherever it might be found and gave
consummate demonstration of its universality. In him, the Church's Magisterium has seen and recognized the passion
for truth; and, precisely because it stays consistently within the horizon of universal, objective and transcendent truth,
his thought scales heights unthinkable to human intelligence. Rightly, then, he may be called an apostle of the
truth. Looking unreservedly to truth, the realism of Thomas could recognize the objectivity of truth and produce not
merely a philosophy of what seems to be but a philosophy of what is.

Philosophy of Mind
Medieval philosophy of mind is based on Aristotle's De Anima, another work discovered in the
Latin West in the twelfth century. It was regarded as a branch of the philosophy of nature. Some
of the topics discussed in this area include:

Divine illumination - The doctrine of Divine illumination is an old and important alternative
to naturalism. It holds that humans need a special assistance from God in their ordinary
thinking. The doctrine is most closely associated with Augustine and his scholastic followers.
It reappeared in a different form in the early modern era.

theories of demonstration

mental representation - The idea that mental states have 'intentionality'; i.e., despite being a
state of the mind, they are able to represent things outside the mind is intrinsic to the
modern philosophy of mind. It has its origins in medieval philosophy. (The word
'intentionality' was revived by Franz Brentano, who was intending to reflect medieval
usage[25]). Ockham is well-known for his theory that language signifies mental states
primarily by convention, real things secondarily, whereas the corresponding mental states
signify real things of themselves and necessarily.[26]

Writers in this area include Saint Augustine, Duns Scotus, Nicholas of Autrecourt, Thomas
Aquinas, and William of Ockham.

Nature of God
Thomas believed that the existence of God is neither obvious nor improvable. In the Summa
Theologica, he considered in great detail five reasons for the existence of God. These are
widely known as the quinque viae, or the "Five Ways."
Concerning the nature of God, Thomas felt the best approach, commonly called the via
negativa, is to consider what God is not. This led him to propose five statements about the
divine qualities:
1. God is simple, without composition of parts, such as body and soul, or matter and
form.[71]
2. God is perfect, lacking nothing. That is, God is distinguished from other beings on
account of God's complete actuality.[72] Thomas defined God as the Ipse Actus Essendi
subsistens, subsisting act of being.[73]
3. God is infinite. That is, God is not finite in the ways that created beings are physically,
intellectually, and emotionally limited. This infinity is to be distinguished from infinity of
size and infinity of number.[74]
4. God is immutable, incapable of change on the levels of God's essence and character.[75]
5. God is one, without diversification within God's self. The unity of God is such that God's
essence is the same as God's existence. In Thomas's words, "in itself the proposition
'God exists' is necessarily true, for in it subject and predicate are the same." [76]
In this approach, he is following, among others, the Jewish philosopher Maimonides.[77]
Following St. Augustine of Hippo, Thomas defines sin as "a word, deed, or desire, contrary to
the eternal law."[78] It is important to note the analogous nature of law in Thomas's legal
philosophy. Natural law is an instance or instantiation of eternal law. Because natural law is that
which human beings determine according to their own nature (as rational beings), disobeying
reason is disobeying natural law and eternal law. Thus eternal law is logically prior to reception
of either "natural law" (that determined by reason) or "divine law" (that found in the Old and New
Testaments). In other words, God's will extends to both reason and revelation. Sin is abrogating
either one's own reason, on the one hand, or revelation on the other, and is synonymous with
"evil" (privation of good, or privatio boni[79]). Thomas, like all Scholastics, generally argued that

the findings of reason and data of revelation cannot conflict, so both are a guide to God's will for
human beings.