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Histories of medieval philosophy tend to start with St. Augustine (354-430), if not earlier, but Augustine was of the late Roman Empire, centuries before the Middle Ages, and is included in such works not because he was a medieval thinker but because he cast such a long shadow across medieval philosophy. For our purposes here, we will go back further than Augustine's time and consider medieval philosophy to begin as ancient Greek philosophy withers into the distance.


Introductory Essay
Christianity and Medieval Philosophy

An Overview of the Period
The Perfecting of Philosophy in Medieval Times

The Period of Evangelization

Philosophy and Religion - The Evangelization

The Period of Patristic Philosophy

Pre-Augustinian Philosophy - The Apologists - Justin Martyr
The Controversialists - The Didascalion of Alexandria
Clement of Alexandria
Origen - The Latin Apologists - Tertullian
The Great Controversies of the First Half of the Fourth Century
St. Augustine
The Post-Augustinian Period - Severinus Boethius

Expanded Discussion


The Period of Scholastic Philosophy

Flaccus Albinus Alcuin - The Formative Period - John Scotus Erigena
Roscelin - St. Anselm - Peter Abelard
St. Bernard of Clairvaux - Peter Lombard
The Golden Age - Albertus Magnus - St. Bonaventure
St. Thomas Aquinas - John Duns Scotus
The Period of Decadence
Roger Bacon - William of Ockham - Johannes (Master) Eckhart
Philosophical and Mystical Knowledge

Expanded Essays

Expanded Discussions

Advanced Discussion


Unclasified Medieval Philosophers

Hunein Ibn Ishak - John of Salisbury
Raymond Lully [Raymondus Lullus] - Thomas á Kempis


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Introduction: Christianity and Medieval Philosophy

During the final stages of Greek philosophy, Christianity made its appearance, affirming and diffusing itself in the Hellenic world as the one true religion, revealed by God and announced to men by Jesus Christ, the God-man.

Christianity indeed has a great history, to which, directly or indirectly, the entire story of humanity is related. Its value, however, is religious, theological, dogmatic, and not philosophical. Still Christianity and philosophy, though moving on different planes -- the former on the plane of revelation and the latter on that of reason -- cannot be foreign to one another.

We know that the supreme purpose of philosophy is to give a solution to the problem of life through the full use of human reason. This solution is present in the content of all those revealed truths which Christianity offers as the object of faith, truths which are made concrete in the dogmas of theism, of creation, of the cause of evil, and of the means by which man can redeem himself from evil and attain happiness. But philosophy, understood as the science which resolves the question of life, is also faced with these same problems, which were confronted and in part resolved by Greek philosophy.

It has been the task of Christian thought to return to these problems and to give a solution to them in accordance with the content of dogma. But it was not possible to carry out this work of rational systematization until Christianity had been promulgated as revealed religion and systematized in dogmas.

Historically and logically the story of Christian thought is divided into three periods:

  • The Period of Evangelization, which occupies the entire first century of the Christian era, during which Christianity is diffused as revealed religion, hence containing truth within itself and having no need of rational justification.
  • The Patristic Period, which runs from the beginning of the second century through the eighth century. During this period Christianity was forced to defend itself against the errors which threaten it from without (paganism) and from within (heresies), and the Church Fathers worked out the systematization of the dogmas of Christianity.
  • The Scholastic Period, which runs from the ninth to the sixteenth century. Here Christian thought, utilizing Greek speculation, created its own philosophy in harmony with the dogmatic teaching which had been systematized by the Fathers of the Church.

The first and second periods have very great value for an understanding of the Christian religion. This fact, however, does not affect this outline-history of philosophy, which has as its purpose the recounting of the history of thought. Therefore the exposition of these periods will be brief and will have in view the end of placing in relief only those phases which tend to give a solution to the problem of life which is within the scope of philosophy.

Scholasticism, on the other hand, which is the philosophical explanation of Christian thought and one of the most important syntheses in the history of philosophy, will be expounded in its greatest representatives with a fullness consonant with the limits of this outline-history.

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