Category Archives: 12th Century

The Liberating Knowledge of Letters

Here’s a snippet from a letter about the educated man, written ca. 1160 A.D.: it is the knowlege of letters that leads one forth from the common ignorance of human beings and from the stolid torpor that characterizes the dull-witted, … Continue reading

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Bondage of the Will in Bernard of Clairvaux?

This struck me as interesting from Bernard of Clairvaux’s On Loving God: To sum up: what infidel does not know that he has received light, air, food–all things necessary for his own body’s life–from Him alone who giveth food to … Continue reading

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The Normans

“Normans” is the name given to the most culturally-prominent descendants of the savage “Northmen” (the Vikings) who descended upon Western Christendom in unpredictable raids for nearly three centuries beginning in the mid-ninth century.:”(For outstanding summaries of these invasions and their … Continue reading

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Al-Ghazali and Averroes: Islamic “Nominalism” vs. Islamic “Realism,” Pt. III

Returning to his earlier example of there being no necessary causal connection between fire and the burning of a piece of cotton brought into contact with the fire, Al-Ghazali gets to the root of his voluntaristic understanding of God: “If … Continue reading

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Al-Ghazali and Averroes: Islamic “Nominalism” vs. Islamic “Realism,” Pt. II

In the last entry I cautiously described the Medieval Arabic philosophers Al-Ghazali and Averroes as, respectively, an Islamic “nominalist” and an Islamic “realist.” Strictly speaking, I suppose the characteristic of Al-Ghazali with which I am here dealing is actually “voluntarism,” … Continue reading

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Al-Ghazali and Averroes: Islamic “Nominalism” vs. Islamic “Realism,” Pt. I

While I’m not sure if the characterizations of “nominalist” and “realist” properly apply to the 11th and 12th century Muslim philosophers Al-Ghazali and Averroes,:”(Indeed, over the past several years I have found myself increasingly having to revise my early thoughts … Continue reading

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Peter Abelard on God’s Actions (II)

Picking up from the last entry on Abelard, I want to focus on one of his closing statements about what God is capable of doing. Let me first quote it in full, noting that owing to the peculiarities of proto-Scholastic … Continue reading

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Peter Abelard on God’s Actions (I)

Peter Abelard (1079-1142), working with certain Aristotelian assumptions about metaphysics and logic, makes an argument that God, although omnipotent, cannot do anything other than what He actually does do, and cannot omit doing anything which He actually does omit doing. … Continue reading

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Personal Turning Point

In his introductory remarks to what soon becomes an incredibly dense exposition of the logical-metaphysical thought of Peter Abelard (1079-1144), John Marenbon concludes his recitation of the story of Abelard’s abortive romance with Heloise (aborted by her uncle who sent … Continue reading

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John of Salisbury (ca. 1115-1180)

John of Salisbury was born in the year of the Lord’s incarnation 1115 (or, at the latest, 1120) in the ancient British town of Old Sarum, near present day Salisbury. His was a fascinating time, for, as one puts it, … Continue reading

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