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Chapter 3. The Medieval and Renaissance philosophy


3.1. The Medieval philosophy distinctive features

In 325 A.D. Christianity became an official religion in the Roman Empire. The time (as well as other times) Christians stood against alternative outlooks and treated the time philosophy with suspicion. Gradually the Christianity forced out all possible alternatives including the “heathen” philosophy, whose finish was badly regretful. In the East Roman Empire (Byzantium) the last philosophers (representatives of the Academic Neo-Platonism) were forbidden to be engaged in philosophy and underwent persecutions. They ran away into Persia (Iran) where they didn’t however get accustomed to that society’s habits. After the next Roman Persian war in compliance with the armistice treaty they were allowed to come back without being exposed to further persecutions but the propagation of their ideas remained forbidden for them. Thus the philosophy in the East Roman Empire slowly died out with the last philosophers together.

In the West Roman Empire the last philosopher (as well as the last true Roman) was Boethius. He served a courtier at the court of a Gothic king Theodoric, was accused in espionage for Byzantium, confined into a prison and sentenced to death. There awaiting his lethal penalty he wrote his famous book “Consolation of Philosophy”, the book which for the whole Middle Ages became a source of inspiration and a specimen for following. In this book he told how the philosophy in the image of a wonderful woman had come into the prison to console him, how she made him clear that his destiny was not so bad as he had thought, that he had tasted all pleasures and experiences that only could have been and therefore had no cause to complain of his life. The death is unavoidable in any case and a little earlier or later it doesn’t matter.

So was the end of the antique philosophy, in place of which the new, the Christian one was going. The first stage of it was the called patristic (the teaching of fathers [patters] of the church). Strictly speaking not all but only several of them were engaged in philosophical problematic. Usually Augustine Aurelius, Tertullian, Origen are called among the latter. The fathers elaborated the base of the Christian organization, theology and philosophy. The latter is characterized by the following features:

n Theo-centrism (God is the central subject problem of philosophizing);

n Fideism (faith is the main cognitive approach);

n Holy Scripture’s authority (the faith is grounded on the Holy Scripture);

n Creationism (belief that all was created by the God) [11].

The question of the reason-faith correlation was also one of the central problems in the medieval philosophy. According to medieval thinkers the faith is primal towards reason (look fideism), giving it the base for functioning (the latter can’t function without faith at all). Not understanding for believing but believing for understanding was a credo of that time philosophy. Very popular was also a dictum “I believe because it’s absurd” ascribed to the above Tertullian. In real however there is no such dictum in his works. The similar one is: “I find out no better occasion for a shaming my own as despising the shame to be the holy shameless and happily insane. The Son of God was crucified, I’m not ashamed of it because it seems I ought to be ashamed of. The Son of God died: it’s necessary to believe in it because my reason gets indignant of it. He resurrected out of coffin where was laid into, it’s for sure because it seems to be impossible”. I.e. on the whole in accordance with Tertullian the faith is more higher than the reason is and overcomes any absurd that only can be including also for example the conception of creating the Universe by the God from nothing (because nothing impossible exists for him)[7].

The famous at that time philosopher was also Origen of Alexandria Egyptian. He said the Bible has three levels of meaning: 1) literal (or corporal), 2) moral and 3) philosophic (or spiritual). Evidently this latter was, Origen gave preference to. He taught also that our world isn’t the one single as well as neither the first nor the last. There are also many other worlds and creation is a permanent process. Some worlds are being created, others being destroyed; there is nothing eternal except the God himself. No eternal torments in hell exist (the hell itself isn’t eternal) and eventually all sinners even Satan himself will be saved and merged with God together (some ones may do it little earlier). Body is the dungeon for the soul, which is tied to it by its sinful desires. For salvation it’s necessary to overcome these desires. As a means Origen proposed emasculation. He castrated himself and all his students. The Christian Church declared him a heretic: “A castrate won’t come into the Heaven”.



Date: 2014-12-21; view: 649

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