Monday, 3 April 2017

The Medieval Mind by W. T. Jones

Today I received from Amazon a copy of The Medieval Mind by W. T. Jones (this is the Volume II of his  5-volume A History of Western Philosophy). I ordered this book because I found the Volume I of the series, The Classical Mind, quite informative and entertaining.

The Medieval Mind describes the history of philosophy from the early days of Christianity to the end of the middle ages. From the table of contents, I can see that the major philosophers covered in the volume are St. Augustine, John Scotus Erigena, Thomas Aquinas, Roger Bacon, Duns Scotus, and William of Occam.

But the focus is on St. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas—both have two complete chapters (out of a total of eight chapters in the book) devoted to their works and the implications of their ideas.

Here’s an excerpt from the Introduction:
“Philosophical speculation during the later part of the Middle Ages was chiefly concentrated on ascertaining the status of universals (a problem that had theological as well as epistemological implications) and on defining and delimiting the respective spheres of faith and reason. In the course of these investigations, the instruments of logical analysis were greatly refined and the Scholastic method was devised. All this prepared the way for Aquinas’ synthesis of classical learning with Christian insights. Aquinas reinterpreted the traditional Christian view of the divine nature in terms of the basic Aristotelian concepts of form and matter, actuality and potentiality. This synthesis was a much more consistent and formally complete metaphysics than Augustine had been able to work out. Furthermore, Aquinas’ theories of psychology, ethics, and politics reflected both his own interest in his world and its affairs and the changed position and functions of the Roman Church.” 
I will have more to say about the book once I finish reading it. 

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