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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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6. Anselm of Canterbury


The end of 8th and the whole of the 9th century was a period of extensive cultural renewal and rich literary production. Old texts were evaluated and rewritten, as were commentaries, encyclopaedias and glosses. It could be said that this period left a whole Latin literary corpus. The nature of the literature of the 10th century is already different. It is not organically related to the school system nor to the evaluation of the old anymore. Its characteristics are self-confidence and self-reflection.

Despite the fact that the 11th century is often overlooked as a transitional century between the 10th century Ottonian Renaissance and the significant 12th century, from a philosophical point of view, we have to pay attention to it and take a closer examination of some of its scholars. ← 61 | 62 →

An important scholar of the 11th century was Anselm of Canterbury (1033 – 1109) who is rightfully considered to be the “father of scholastics” and, after Eriugena, was the first real philosopher of the Middle Ages. Anselm was the most important student of Lanfranc in a prominent monastic school in Bec and later he became its prior. From 1093, Anselm was the archbishop of Canterbury.

Anselm formulated his understanding of the relation between faith and intellect in a statement that faith searches for understanding (“fides quaerns intellectum”). In an introduction to a famous script Proslogion (Speech to You), Anselm claims that he does not need intellect in order to believe but...

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