What We Will Learn Today
- That scholasticism was an intellectual movement, carried out in emerging universities. Scholasticism was content with the sophisticated analysis of Christian belief as well as other areas of knowledge.
- That some later thinkers rejected the medieval scholastic approach to knowledge as too complicated, speculative, and lacking in eloquence.
- That scholastics typically saw theology as the Queen of the Sciences, while philosophy and reason served as the Handmaid of Theology.
- That some scholastic thinkers tried to prove the existence of God through either a priori or a posteriori arguments.
- How some Franciscan thinkers contributed to the increasing emphasis upon empirical evidence for beliefs, and the importance of observation in science.
- How these same Franciscans were often ignored because of their political disagreements with the Roman Catholic church.
Medieval Scholastics as “Cathedrals of the Mind” - How so?
- Medieval scholastic thought is complex, elaborate, and handled with extraordinary care.
- A system of inquiry in which theology and philosophy studied formally in the emerging universities of Europe, using the method of disputation as its primary method of learning.
- Not everyone thinks of the Scholastics fondly…
- Some joked and said that scholastics were interested in irrelevant questions like “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?”
Line of thinking adopted by Scholastics
- St. Augustine said that “belief is nothing else than to think with assent.”
- For the scholastics, philosophy was important because it served theology.
- They described the relationship between the two by calling theology queen of the sciences and by calling philosophy the handmaid of theology.
- quodlibet, Latin for “whatever”
- St. Anselm, drawing on the approach of St. Augustine,
- life of the mind was one where belief sought understanding.
- His famous phrase credo ut intelligam means “I believe in order that I may understand.”
St Anselm’s ‘Ontological Argument’ for God’s Existence
- He argues that if we grant that the definition of God is the greatest conceivable being, then a non-existent God is not as great as an existing one.
- To say that God does not exist would thus be like saying the very foundation of reality isn’t real. Or existence is not.
Criticism of Philosophical Theism
- It does not create Christians
- Biblical faith: not the abstract idea THAT God exists but rather a trust that the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob was faithful to his people, and will be faithful to us.
Aquinas used Aristotelianism
Aquinas' Important 5 Ways
- The first of these is based on the idea of an unmoved mover.
- Secondly, we see that everything that is has been caused to exist by something else. God is the uncaused cause of everything.
- Third, we see that the world is full of things that are contingent. That is, they might or might not have come to be.
- The contingent world depends on something else that is necessary: that is, it has to be something that doesn’t depend on something else. We call this necessary being, God.
- Fourth, we observe that there are various levels of perfection in the world.
- There must be a pinnacle of these perfections. We call this most perfect being, God.
- Fifth was Universe ‘Designer’ Argument
- As we look about the world, we see that there are complex things that have unique designs. To say something is designed implies that they have a designer. We call this universal designer, God.
Aristotle vs Anselm
- Anselm emphasized a priori reason (that is, reason that takes place prior to empirical observation of the world),
- Aquinas emphasized a posteriori reason (that is, reason that takes place after experience of the world).
- Aquinas argued from cause to effect, whereas Aquinas argued from effect to cause.
- Anselm developed an argument meant to produce intellectual certainty.
- Aquinas assembled five arguments that produced what he considered to be a highly probable conclusion.
- Anselm used a single deductive argument to make his case.
Mystics vs. Aquinas
- Mystics: God could be experienced but not comprehended by reason or language.
- All we could do, according to the mystical tradition was to say what God was not.
- This tradition is sometimes called apophatic theology or negative theology and its method is called the via negativa.
- Aquinas’ approach was to say that our language about God is not perfect, but approximates what is important to know about God.
- Aquinas’ approach is called the via analogia, or way of analogy.
- This belief led Catholic ethicists in ensuing centuries to emphasize the importance of natural law.
- Other later medieval thinkers brought in radically new ideas that eventually led to the development of modern science.
- Roger Bacon (c. 1214-1292)
- William of Occam (c. 1300 – c. 1349)
- First, he advocated an epistemological principle that today is called Occam’s Razor.
Late Medieval Philosohpy’s eventual contribution to the Reformation:
- Via Antiqua –emphasized that God had to act in a certain way
- Via Moderna—distinguished between the potential ordinata and potentia absoluta
- Their conclusion: God chose the economy of salvation freely.
What was the basis of our justification: Facere quod in se est –do your best and God will do the rest
- We see this still reflected in Roman Catholic inclusivism (John Paul II and Francis I)
- Martin Luther agreed with the late medievals on divine voluntarism
- BUT The criterion was not doing our best, it was solely on the unconditional atoning work of Christ.
- Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae
- Alister McGrath, Intellectual Origins of the Reformation