A History of Twelfth-Century Western Philosophy by Peter Dronke

By Peter Dronke

This is often the 1st accomplished examine of the philosophical achievements of twelfth-century Western Europe. it's the collaboration of fifteen students whose special survey makes available the highbrow preoccupations of the interval, with all texts stated in English translation all through. After a dialogue of the cultural context of twelfth-century hypothesis, and a few of the most streams of suggestion - Platonic, Stoic, and Arabic - that quickened it, comes a characterisation of the recent difficulties and views of the interval, in medical inquiry, speculative grammar, and common sense. this can be by way of a better exam of the particular good points of a few of the main cutting edge thinkers of the time, from Anselm and Abelard to the varsity of Chartres. a last part exhibits the effect of newly recovered works of Aristotle within the twelfth-century West.

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A similarly vivid sense of the autonomy and coherence of the natural order pervades the writings of William of Conches on the philosophic! mundi. For him as for Thierry natural processes are the channels through which divine power informs the universe, and hence to study nature is to acknowledge God's grandeur, rather than to encroach upon it. Both authors are remarkable also in viewing their work as ancillary to the propagation of ancient wisdom. Though many of his contemporaries tended to reject the substance of the teaching of pagan authors while borrowing from their methodology, the noble preface to the Heptateuchon, Thierry's great compendium of material on the Liberal Arts, boasts of presenting, not Thierry's own thoughts, but the very texts of the auctores in each Art.

But we may nonetheless take his picture of the opus consutnmatum, the authoritative text in which all the Arts collaborate to lead the student to virtue and an understanding of the consilia naturae, as embodying the larger objectives that the pedagogy of Bernard and his followers was intended to realize. We have further evidence for this kind of teaching, and for the use of literary criticism in the lectio philosophorum, in the commentaries of William of Conches, who was almost certainly Bernard's student, and who, John of Salisbury tells us, carried forward Bernard's methods.

See also the commentary o f j . ). The Didascalicon of Hugh of Si. Victor (New York 1961), pp. 175-82, 195-6. 33 Taylor 1961, pp. 11-19. 34 Jeauneau 1963. Philosophy, cosmology and the Renaissance 33 marked in the work of William, and represents another area in which the work of these thinkers combines the old and the new. Bernard of Chartres, in many ways the father of the group, has been called the last of the Carolingian grammarians,35 and in what we know of his teaching there is little that differs from the methods of glossing curriculum authors that had been used by Eriugena and Remigius of Auxerre.

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