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CLASSICS

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Originally appearing in Volume V24, Page 353 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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CLASSICS and ARABIAN PHILOSOPHY). The doctrines and the works the works of Aristotle had been transmitted by the 0fArts. Nestorians to the Arabs, and among those kept alive by a tone. succession of philosophers, first in the East and afterwards intheWest. The chief of these, at least so far as regards the influence which they exerted on medieval philosophy, were Avicenna, Avempace and Averroes. The unification by the last-mentioned of Aristotle's active intellect in all men, and his consequent denial of individual immortality are well known. The universal human intellect is made by him to proceed from the divine by a series of Neoplatonic emanations. In the course of the 12th century the writings of these men were introduced into France by the Jews of Andalusia, of Marseilles and Montpellier. " These writings contained," says Haureau, " the text of the Organon, the Physics, the Metaphysics, the Ethics, the De anima, the Parva naturalia and a large number of other treatises of Aristotle, accompanied by continuous commentaries. There arrived besides by the same channel the glosses of Theophrastus, of Simplicius, of Alexander of Aphrodisias, of Philoponus, annotated in the same sense by the same hands. This was the rich but dangerous present made by the Mussulman school to the Christian " (i. 382). To these must be added the Neoplatonically inspired Fens Vitae of the Jewish philosopher and poet Ibn Gabirol (q.v.), or Avicebron. By special command of Raimund, archbishop of Toledo, the chief of these works were translated from the Arabic through the Castilian into Latin by the archdeacon Dominicus Gonzalvi with the aid of Johannes Avendeath (=ben David), a converted Jew, about 1150. About the same time, or not long after, the Liber de causis became known—a work destined to have a powerful influence on Scholastic thought, especially in the period immediately succeeding. Accepted at first as Aristotle's, and actually printed in the first Latin editions of his works, the book is in reality an Arabian compilation of Neoplatonic theses. Of a similar character was the pseudo-Aristotelian Theologia which was in circulation at least as early as 1200. The first effects of this immense acquisition of new material were markedly unsettling on the doctrinal orthodoxy of the time. The apocryphal Neoplatonic treatises and the First views of the Arabian commentators obscured for the effects of first students the genuine doctrine of Aristotle, and the the new 13th century opens with quite a crop of mystical knowledge. heresies. The mystical pantheism taught at Paris by Amalrich of Bena (d. 1207; see AMALRIC and MYSTICISM), though based by him upon a revival of Scotus Erigena, was doubtless connected in its origin with the Neoplatonic treatises which now become current. The immanence of God in all things and His incarnation as the Holy Spirit in themselves appear to have been the chief doctrines of the Amalricans. They are reported to have said, " Omnia unum, quia quicquid est est Deus." About the same time David of Dinant, in a book De tomis (rendered by Albertus De divisionibus), taught the identity of God with matter (or the indivisible principle of bodies) and nous (or the indivisible principle of intelligences)—an extreme Realism culminating in a materialistic pantheism. If they were diverse, he argued, there must exist above them some higher or common element or being, in which case this would be God, nous, or the original matter. The spread of the Amalrican doctrine led to fierce persecutions, and the provincial council which met at Paris in 1209 expressly decreed " that neither the books of Aristotle on natural philosophy, nor commentaries on the same, should be read, whether publicly or privately, at Paris." In 1215 this prohibition is renewed in the statutes of the university of Paris, as sanctioned by the papal legate. Permission was given to lecture on the logical books, both those which had been known all along and those introduced since 1128, but the veto upon the Physics is extended to the Metaphysics and the summaries of the Arabian commentators. By 1231, however, the fears of the church were beginning to be allayed. A bull of Gregory IX. in that year makes no mention of any Aristotelian works except the Physics. Finally, in 1254, we find the university officially prescribing how many hours are to be devoted to the explanation of the Meta-physics and the principal physical treatises of Aristotle. These dates enable us to measure accurately the stages by which the church accommodated itself to, and as it were took possession of, the Aristotelian philosophy. Growing knowledge of Aristotle's works and the multiplication of translations enabled students to distinguish the genuine Aristotle from the questionable accompaniments with which he had made his first appearance in Western Europe. Fresh translations of Aristotle and Averroes had already been made from the Arabic (IIepi-rd 'uta io-ropias from the Hebrew) by Michael Scot, and Hermannus Alamannus, at the instance of the emperor Frederick II.; so that the whole body of Aristotle's works was at hand in Latin translations from about 1210 to 1225. Soon afterwards efforts began to be made to secure more literal translations direct from the Greek. Robert Grosseteste (d. 1253) was one of the first to stir in this matter, and he was followed by Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas. Half a century thus sufficed to remove the ban of the church, and soon Aristotle was recognized on all hands as " the philosopher " par excellence, the master of those that know. It even became customary to draw a parallel between him as the praecursor Christi in naturalibus and John the Baptist, the praecursor Christi in gratuitis. This unquestioned supremacy was not yielded, however, at the very beginning of the period. The earlier doctors who avail themselves of Aristotle's works, while bowing to his authority implicitly in matters of logic, are generally found defending a Christianized Platonism against the doctrine of the Metaphysics. So it is with Alexander of Hales (d. 1245), the first Scholastic who was acquainted with the whole of the Aristotelian works and the Alexander Arabian commentaries upon them. He was more of a of Hates. theologian than a philosopher; and in his chief work, Summa universae theologiae, he simply employs his in- creased philosophical knowledge in the demonstration of theological doctrines. So great, however, did his achievement seem that he was honoured with the titles of Doctor irrefragabilis and Theologorum monarcha. Alexander of Hales belonged to the Franciscan order, and it is worth remarking that it was the mendicant orders Mendicant which now came forward as the protagonists of Christian learning and faith and, as it were, reconquered Aristotle friars. for the church. During the first half of the 13th century, when the university of Paris was plunged in angry feuds with the municipality, feuds which even led at one time (1229) to the flight of the students in a body, the friars established teachers in their con-vents in Paris. After the university had settled its quarrels these continued to teach, and soon became formidable rivals of the secular lecturers. After a severe struggle for academical recognition they were finally admitted to all the privileges of the university by a bull of Alexander IV. in 1253. The Franciscans took the lead in this intellectual movement with Alexander of Hales and Bonaventura, but the Dominicans were soon able to boast of two greater names in Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas. Still later Duns Scotus and Occam were both Franciscans. Alexander of Hales was succeeded John of in his chair of instruction by his pupil John of Rochelle, Rocheue, who died in 1271 but taught only till 1253. His treatise De anima, on which Haureau lays particular stress, is interesting as showing the greater scope now given to psychological discussions. This was a natural result of acquaintance with Aristotle's De anima and the numerous Greek and Arabian commentaries upon it, and it is observable in most of the writers that have still to be mentioned. Even the nature of the universals is no longer discussed from a purely logical or metaphysical point of view, but becomes connected with psychological questions. And, on the whole, the widening of intellectual interests is the chief feature by which the second period of Scholasticism may be distinguished from the first. In some respects there is more freshness and interest in i3ener/ the speculations which burst forth so ardently in the end of Gene aer- the I1th and the first half of the 12th century. Albert and charact istics of Aquinas no doubt stood on a higher level than Anselm second and Abelard, not merely by their wider range of knowledge period. but also by the intellectual massiveness of their achieve- ments; but it may be questioned whether the earlier writers did not possess a greater force of originality and a keener talent. Originality was at no time the strong point of the middle ages, but in the later period it was almost of necessity buried under the mass of material suddenly thrust upon the age, to be assimilated. On the other hand, the influence of this new material is everywhere evident in the wider range of questions which are discussed by the doctors of the period. Interest is no longer to the same extent concentrated on the one question of the universals. Other questions, says Haureau, are placed on the order of the day—the question of the elements of substance, that of the principle of individuation, that of the origin of the ideas, of the manner of their existence in the human understanding and in the divine thought, as well as various others of equal interest " (i. 420). Some of these, it may be said, are simply the old Scholastic problem in a different garb; but the ex-tended horizon of which Haureau speaks is amply proved by mere reference to the treatises of Albert and St Thomas. They there seek to reproduce for their own time all the departments of the Aristotelian system.
End of Article: CLASSICS
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