Sunday, August 28, 2011

Someone writes in this controversy at FPR:
Also, the desire to embrace the continuation of the Jewish religion, rather than the negation, under Christ is being rediscovered in beautiful ways. This of course, dealing with God’s covenants, His people and what marks them out as His, etc. The heavy anti-semitism, most noticeably from the 4th century on by the church, has been linked to the Greek “trinity” of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle on the Church’s approach rather than the Hebraic understanding. This is what is driving much scholarship today in the Reformed circles of Christianity. The idea of the “rediscovering” of historical context and the mindset of Judaism, the followers of this Judaic Messiah, and the sociological implications are creating much fruitful discussion. Again, this is extremely broad, but at least covers an overview of some of the main presuppositions.

The Medieval Appropriation of Aristotle

1. The medieval schoolmen studied Aristotle, that is clear. What was their purpose in doing so? Was it only for the sake of their theology? Or did they wish to learn philosophy as philosophy?

2. Did they respect the integrity and reasoning of the science, as it was laid out by Aristotle in his lectures? How seriously did they take Aristotle's treatment of the sciences? Was the predominant attitude to use Aristotle only in so far as he bolstered their theological arguments, but without looking at how his arguments fit into the rest of his sciences, as he laid them out? (If he contradicted the Faith he was corrected with a response and/or not employed.) Was their theology so important that they lost sight of the philosophical argumentation?

I have to say that from what I have read of St. Bonaventure, this characterization appears to be true for him. But what of the Franciscans who came after him, or the secular masters? One can appropriate Aristotle without learning well from him, and the early medievals may have been disadvantaged in comparison with their successors.

3. The medievals had inherited certain ways of understanding material creation, but much of this apparatus was not Divinely revealed but given by their non-Christian predecessors, for example the neo-Platonists. Still, are the Augustinian and Aristotelian accounts of the soul so opposed that they cannot be reconciled? With regards to understanding Aristotle's physics as preparation for metaphysics -- was there a problem there as well? Did some jump into metaphysics without acquiring physics first? It seems to me that the later medievals took his physics more seriously.

4. What about Aristotelian logic? I have been unable to investigate the medieval appropriation of logic and its development (especially in relation to metaphysics) I'll have to pick up a copy of Medieval Logic: An Outline of Its Development from 1250 to c. 1400 by Philotheus Boehner. Can differences between Aquinas and Scotus (or Ockham) be reduced or at least partially linked to different understandings/interpretations of Aristotle?
Some posts on pre-Vatican 2 treatments of marriage in moral theology. Have we really lost a lot in our understanding of sexual morality since the council? Do popular treatments of theology of the body pale by comparison?