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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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8. Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas


  In the middle of 13th century, so called aristotelian eclecticism prevailed among the scholars. And it is the attempt to overcome it to which the name of Albertus Magnus (1200 – 1280), a  member of newly established dominican order and the founder of studium generale in Cologne, is related. The range of his knowledge was so big that he received the attribute “great” from his contemporaries. Albert was trying to create new universal concept of knowl- edge. He wanted to surpass the eclectic Aristotelianism, he acknowledged the autonomy of profane sciences, their separate subject and method and he released phi- losophy from its bond to theology. He devoted himself to mineralogy, botany and zoology and he recognised the scientifi c importance of observation. Albert’s work was an expression of the anticipation of renaissance. Despite 90 that however, he never became as important as his stu- dent Thomas Aquinas, whom he outlived. In his work, he fought against the cumbersome and constraining unawareness even if abbots or theologians, who doubted the study of philosophy, were concerned. He claimed that they themselves inhibit the education of others by their incompetence. They were like the gall in the body which intoxicates it, like those who killed Socrates. However Albert did not only criticise but he was also actively disproving of certain opinions. He argued in favour of spherical shape of the Earth by a reference to its round shadow on the Moon during its eclipse. He studied the dependence of atmospheric pres- sure on...

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