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288 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 28"2 APRIL 199 o John Marenbon. Later Medieval Philosophy(H 5o-~ 35o):An Introduction. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1987. Pp. xi + ~3o. $35.oo. This book is the sequel to the author's Early MedievalPhilosophy (48o-t 15o): An lntroduct /on (London: Roufledge and Kegan Paul, 1983). It is not intended to be a history of later medieval philosophy but an introduction to it. The reader should not expect the book to provide even a summary account of this philosophy, but important aids to beginning its study and an extended example of how an important question was discussed by some later medieval thinkers: the nature of knowledge. The book has two parts. The first examines the medieval universities, the structure of their courses, their methods of teaching and the forms of their literary productions. The techniques of logic are explained, emphasizing the logical tools handed down by the Greeks and Boethius. The author then describes the translation of Greek, Arabic, and Jewish philosophical works into Latin and the challenges and opportunities they offered to Western Christian thinkers. The practitioners of philosophy are introduced: the masters of the arts faculties, and the theologians, who used and developed philosophical notions in their theological enterprise. The author sketches the main controversies between the arts masters and theologians, and among the theologians themselves , provoked by the newly translated texts, and the condemnations by church authorities of positions judged to be contrary to Christian faith. He rightly stresses, however, the positive value of the newly discovered philosophical literature for the development of both medieval philosophy and theology. Considerable attention is given to the medieval notions of philosophy and theology. The latter is correctly seen as including lengthy discussions of philosophical topics for theological purposes. Few theological arguments are said to depend on several revealed premises; the majority are deductions from mixed premises: some revealed and some that are self-evident or drawn from experience. Arguments based on the latter types of premises are said to be short and few in relation to the whole theological enterprise. But this fails to do justice to the vast amount of purely rational argument in medieval theological works, such as Aquinas's Summa Theologiae and Summa contra Gentiles. According to Aquinas the first three books of the latter treat of God insofar as he is accessible to reason; only Book Four studies God as surpassing reason. The author stresses that most later medieval thinkers usually regarded as philosophers were theologians, and most of their work~ are theological; the role of theology in their thought was far more important than even Gilson allows. However, it is hard to emphasize the point more than Gilson does in his The Philosopherand Theology. Part One closes with the question: What is medieval philosophy? Four answers are examined, the first two dealing directly with the relation of this philosophy to theology. The first regards philosophy in the Middle Ages as distinct, and even separate, from theology. The second proposes that it is Christian, because it sought help from Christian revelation. The third and fourth are approaches to medieval philosophy, or ways in which it can be studied. One uses the modern analytical approach, concentrating on elements of medieval philosophy of interest to logicians and linguistic analysts; the other is the author's preferred approach, which he calls "historical analysis." Like the BOOK REVIEWS 289 previous method, this aims to explain the ideas of medieval thinkers, as far as possible, in terms accessible to readers today and in relation to contemporary concerns, but it is also attentive to the medieval texts, their methods, scope, and historical contexts. Part Two is an extended example of how "historical analysis" can be applied to the problem of intellectual knowledge. After a brief survey of the Greek and Arab backgrounds , the problem is studied in William of Auvergne, Thomas Aquinas, Henry of Ghent, Duns Scotus and William of Ockham. The exposition of their doctrines is informative and generally accurate, but the weakness of the approach soon comes to light. The topic of knowledge was chosen because it is clearly philosophical and admits of historical examination. It is also relevant to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 288-289
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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