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The History of Medieval Philosophy

Selected Figures of Scholastic Tradition I

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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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2. Anicius Manlius Severinus Torquatus Boethius

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Boethius (around 480 – 524/526) was born into a patrician family of Roman lineage in Anicius, from which Benedict of Nursia also came. He lived in times of epochal changes: in 476 Odoacer dethroned the last Western Roman Emperor Augustulus and in 493, he was defeated by Ostrogoth king Theodoric (453 – 526). In 529, four years after Boethius’ death, the Platonian academy was closed down.

Boethius was raised as a Christian and in the tradition of classic Roman education. He also knew Greek which was no longer very common during this period. His unusual skills caught the attention of King Theodoric, who employed him in his court. Boethius held high state positions and became a consul at the age of 30 in 510, and rose to the position of magister officiorum in the year 520. His incorruptibility and fairness led to ← 19 | 20 → hostility among the members of Roman senate. Due to suspicions of an alliance with the Roman bishop John I, and suspicions of a supposed agreement with the Byzantine Empire, Theodoric had Boethius imprisoned and executed in 525 without a trial. As Theodoric was known as a judicious and merciful ruler, this action was never fully understood.

For scholastic philosophy, Boethius became an archetypal figure of almost paradigmatic significance. It is obvious that he lived on a border during a period of great transition, in some sort of early medieval “melting pot”. His position was a chance, challenge, but at the same time,...

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