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Lecture 1

PHIL 3060 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Averroism, Kantianism, Averroes

Course Code
PHIL 3060
Peter Eardley

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PHIL3060 – Medieval Philosophy
Lecture – Medieval Philosophy
Philosophy = love of wisdom
Medieval = medium aevum = middle age
oA term coined in the Renaissance
oA period between antiquity (ancient period) and the Renaissance, a rebirth of the
thought and culture of antiquity
Fred Robinson on the Middle Ages:
oNo agreement on when the Middle Ages begins and ends
oThe Renaissance was a period when Humanist scholars “discovered” classical texts
and restored them to mankind
oSo the Middle Ages extends from the close of the classical period to the beginning of
the Renaissance
During the Renaissance, they were rediscovering Latin works of Caesar, Cicero, etc.
Middle ages – the term implies that it is in the middle of two enlightened periods
Books during this period were handwritten, and to purchase a book one had to hire someone
to copy it for them – so it was a period of learning and knowledge, not barbarity as is
commonly implied
Important invention during this period: the university as we know it, with professors,
students, and curriculums
It was not uncommon for philosophy classes to go from ancient philosophers to early modern
ones (like Descartes) and to skip the medieval philosophers for being religious apologetics
“Here is a recipe for producing medieval philosophy: Combine classical pagan philosophy,
mainly Greek but also Roman, with the new Christian religion. Season with a variety of
flavourings from the Jewish and Islamic intellectual heritages. Stir and simmer for 1300
years or more, until done.” – Paul Vincent Spade
Medieval philosophy: the interest in the relationship between the cognitive habits of
belief/faith and reason/evidence; attempt to reconcile philosophy with theology, faith with
reason, etc. – this attempt starts in about 1277
oWhat is faith? When we say we have faith in something we are saying that we are
confident in something/someone – there are different types of confidence:
We have confidence in people, but also confidence, for example, that 2+2=4
Faith requires no further proposition
oWhat is reason? Self-evident, absolute truths
oFaith is voluntary, whereas reason is involuntary – reasonable people can both believe
or disbelieve in God, but no one is reasonable for denying that 2+2=4
Pascal’s argument – more benefit comes from believing in God because what if you
disbelieve and it turns out you’re wrong? So he argued having faith in God was the rational
thing to do
Aristotle doesn’t think faith is a virtue, like Thomas Aquinas does
St. Augustine lived around 400 AD – on the cusp between ancient and medieval world
oThe medieval world featured a dominance of Catholic Church as a social institution
oPagans (polytheists) were still present at this time, though
529 AD:
PHIL3060 – Medieval Philosophy
oEmperor Justinian closes down the philosophy schools of Athens which had been
founded by ancient philosopher because he viewed them as pagan influences
oThe scholars, now unemployed, moved East and established schools in Baghdad,
Islam founded in seventh century – as Muhammad and followers spreading out of Arabian
peninsula, they come into contact with these cultural schools
oWhen Muhammad and the Arabs conquered Persia and Syria, they came into contact
with Greek philosophy
oMuslims took their ideas and religion into southern Europe, such as Cordova in
southern Spain
oIslamic world much more advanced during this period because they had maintained
the science of antiquity
oChristian world finds the ancient science and philosophy after coming into contact
with Islamic world in southern Spain – Islamic dominance from about 6th century
until about 12th century
1150 AD:
oRise of universities
oThe works of Aristotle and other Greek philosophers come flooding into the west as a
result of the contact between Christian and Muslim worlds
oMassive efforts to try and understand these works – they were originally written in
Greek, then translated into Syriac, then Arabic, then Latin, so a lot of room for
oEventually, Greek work is directly translated into Latin
oWorks are studied and scholars attempt to find ways to harmonize these works with
Christian doctrines
Ibn Rushd (Averroes):
oCalled “The Commentator” due to his work on Aristotle
oAn Aristotelean, like Al-Farabi, meaning they hold philosophy to be higher than
religion and theology; the latter being truth for the masses, the former being truth for
those who were truly wise
oHis followers, Latin Averroists (also called Radical Aristotelians), taught (in the art
faculties) Aristotle in his entirety, even if the ideas were inconsistent with Christian
doctrine – by 1277, Condemnations were issued by the Church to prevent the
teaching of certain propositions – the Latin Averroists were accused of teaching a
double-truth, philosophy and religion, which was often contradictory
oNot that Aristotle was an enemy to the Church – he was known as “The Philosopher”
Why was 1277 significant?
oSome argue it was the birth of modernity
oLess of an attempt to reconcile faith and reason – the Condemnations were seen as
setting the groundwork for a later rejection of Aristotle’s metaphysics and conception
of reality
oA soft determinist
oContemporary Aristotelians are Virtue Ethicists, who want to know how to be a good
person, live a good life
PHIL3060 – Medieval Philosophy
1950s book “Modern Moral Philosophy” – start of the revival of virtue ethics
amidst a prevalence of utilitarianism and Kantianism (who wonder which
actions are good)
o384-322 BC
oHe is from Macedonia; his father was core physician of Philip of Macedon, Alexander
the Great’s father, so Aristotle tutored Alexander
oHe was a student of Plato’s Academy