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God and Reason in the Middle Ages (review)
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182 Reviews Parergon 21.1 (2004) although traditional, is seen as deliberately placed to make an ideological point. Ghosh points out, too, how the Mirror ‘is almost obsessively, concerned either to justify its own biblical lectio as rational, or to defend its transcendence of reason’ (161). For Ghosh, Love’s text is inscribed within the Lollard framework. Chapter 6, on the anti-Lollard Thomas Netter, illustrates how common ground can still produce divergent readings. Both men sought a determinate religious truth, but Netter finds this truth firmly in the Church and traditional hermeneutics. Ghosh also shows how Netter was defending not only the Church, as has been proposed, but academia which was now under threat. Yet Ghosh points out how Lollardy had really only highlighted the inherent tensions in latemedieval scholasticism. The reaction was not immediate, but resulted in divergent positions of orthodoxy and heresy. Nevertheless Lollardy, says Ghosh, ‘half won the battle of ideas’ (212) and because it emerged from the academic milieu it also helped to fundamentally change that milieu. The Wycliffite Heresy is a welcome book, clearly written and complex, which should provoke more research and more reassessment of the still understudied pre-Reformation period. Rosemary Dunn School of Humanities James Cook University Grant, Edward, God and Reason in the Middle Ages, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2001; paper; pp. ix, 397; RRP AU$55; ISBN 0521003377. This ambitiously titled work aims to explain the function of ‘reason’ in medieval intellectual life as it developed within the university. Reason, the author explains, ‘played its most significant role in preparing the way for the establishing of a deep-rooted scientific temperament that was an indispensable prerequisite for the emergence of modern science’ (p. 3). Professor Grant is eminently qualified for such a task, having published five monographs to date dealing on the topic of science in the late middle ages. Grant explains that his book seeks to support the thesis that the eighteenth century, or enlightenment, ‘was an age of faith as well as reason and the thirteenth century was an age of reason as well as of faith’ (p. 7). In the opinion of this reviewer, he is largely successful in doing so. Grant structures the work into seven chapters. Chapter one describes the socalled ‘low point’ of European civilisation in the early middle ages, and the Reviews 183 Parergon 21.1 (2004) developments in reason and rationality which transformed European society in the eleventh and twelfth centuries. Chapter two focuses on how these eleventh and twelfth-century developments in the use of reason in theology, natural philosophy and law built on, yet challenged, classical and early medieval authority. Chapter three describes the particularly Aristotelian elements of these changes involving reason, and their adoption by the universities in the thirteenth century. The next three chapters move on to ‘Reason in Action’ in the universities : one on logic in the Faculty of Arts, a second on Natural Philosophy (or physics) in the Faculty of Arts and a third on Theology in the Faculty of Theology. The final chapter, ‘The Assault on the Middle Ages’, examines the process by which historians have depicted medieval intellectual thought, and the middle ages itself, as ‘dark’, ignorant and backward-looking – that is lacking reason. It is this perception which Grant is at pains to refute. God and Reason is particularly convincing when examining fourteenthcentury natural philosophy or natural science: what we now know as physics. Here Grant is on familiar territory. His findings are paradoxical. On the one hand, medieval scientists adopted an Aristotelian tradition of empiricism which emphasised experience and observation in sciences such as mathematics, astronomy and optics. On the other, however, this medieval turn placed greater emphasis on ‘thought experiments’ than direct empirical observation or measurement (p. 79). Nevertheless, Grant argues, this latter interpretation was consistent withAristotle’s own epistemology. The detailed analyses of the treatises of figures such as John Buridan and Nicole Oresme provide a valuable corrective to those who wrongly assume that scholastics were more interested in self-indulgent logical and theological conundrums than in understanding the natural world. These findings are buttressed by the final chapter, ‘TheAssault on the Middle Ages’. Grant exposes the myth linking...