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The History of Medieval Philosophy

Selected Figures of Scholastic Tradition I


Ladislav Tkáčik

Calling an epoch Middle Age already involves some sort of judgment. But Middle Ages represent a historic period, in which the identity was established, which was denied by the renaissance, modern world and which however is now being discovered again in its sense and beauty. It is a period in which a co-existence between faith and intellect, between ecclesiastical and profane culture was possible. It was a varied living space in which philosophy, mystique and practice could exist side by side. It is a world which is lost today and which we can get a hold of again only by intellectual appropriation.


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3. Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite


  The work of Boethius implicitly points to a fundamental inner danger which was inherent to the nature of scho- lastic philosophy and theology from its inception. It was excessive rationalism, But in what sense? Boethius insisted on an inevitable mutual bond of belief and intellect. The “revelation” would surely be inaccessible to man if it was not somehow compatible and congru- ous with his intellect, if it was not rationally perceiv- able. This conviction can be understood as a  principle. Faith without some basal understanding would not even be possible. Hermeneutical understanding is necessary even for faith. Scholastics is characterised by a  great faith in the cognitive skills of man from its beginning. How to perceive the rational understanding of faith? If we insisted on an exclusive rational understanding the mystery would be excluded and thus faith itself as well. In 30 this sense, it is possible to talk about the danger of exces- sive rationalism in scholastics, rationalism which would not accept the existence of anything super-rational, anything that exceeds rationality. Therefore, scholastics involves a danger of overestimating the rational andthe scope of argumentative deductive thinking, which we can demonstrate via Boethius’ rational refl ections on the mystery of Trinity. In the work of Thomas Aquinas, this becomes obvious from his use of the term demonstra- tio which is commonly translated as evidence however in the context of scholastics it instead meant as simple and common reasoning. Despite this tendency, medi- eval scholars manage to avoid this ever present...

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