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Censure and Heresy at the University of Paris, 1200-1400

By J. M. M. H. Thijssen

Publication Year: 1998

For the scholastic philosopher William Ockham (c. 1285-1347), there are three kinds of heresy. The first, and most unmistakable, is an outright denial of the truths of faith. Another is so obvious that a very simple person, even if illiterate, can see how it contradicts Divine Scripture. The third kind of heresy is less clear cut. It is perceptible only after long deliberation and only to individuals who are learned, and well versed in Scripture.

It is this third variety of heresy that J.M.M.H. Thijssen addresses in Censure and Heresy at the University of Paris, 1200-1400. The book documents 30 cases in which university trained scholars were condemned for disseminating allegedly erroneous opinions in their teaching or writing, and focuses particularly on four academic censures that have occupied prominent positions in the historiography of medieval philosophy.

Thijssen grants central importance to a number of questions so far neglected by historians regarding judicial procedures, the authorities supervising the orthodoxy of teaching, and the effects of condemnations on the careers of the accused. He also places still current questions regarding academic freedom and the nature of doctrinal authority into their medieval contexts.

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

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pp. ix-xiv

Shortly before 1206, Master Amalric of Bene was summoned to the papal court to answer allegations of disseminating false teaching. The investigation did not turn out well for Amalric. His views were condemned by Pope Innocent III and upon his return to the University of Paris he had to recant them in front of his fellow scholars...

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1. The Suppression of False Teaching

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pp. 1-39

In his Dialogus William Ockham explains that there are three types of heresy. One kind amounts to an almost verbatim denial of the truths of faith. Another is so obvious that "anyone who understands anything, even if illiterate;' can see in what way Divine...

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2. The Condemnation of March 7, 1277

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pp. 40-56

The condemnation of 219 propositions in philosophy and theology by Bishop Stephen Tempier on March 7, 1277, is one of the most-studied events in the history of the University of Paris. Most of the scholarly research on this condemnation has been devoted to elucidating its doctrinal background and impact, which was already perceived by Tempier's...

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3. False Teaching at the Arts Faculty: The Ockhamist Statute of 1340 and Its Prelude

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pp. 57-72

On December 29, 1340, the masters of the faculty of arts at Paris issued a statute prohibiting the dissemination of six listed errors. Although this statute clearly concerns the prohibition of false teaching, it is atypical when compared to the academic censures discussed in the preceding chapters...

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4. Nicholas of Autrecourt and John of Mirecourt: Censure at the Faculty of Theology in the Fourteenth Century

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pp. 73-89

In almost any history of medieval philosophy the censures of Nicholas of Autrecourt and John of Mirecourt in 1347 are presented as the two most important events in the intellectual history of the fourteenth century. In the perception of the historians of medieval philosophy, the views of Autrecourt and Mirecourt have become...

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5. Academic Freedom and Teaching Authority

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pp. 90-112

To the modem mind the disciplinary and juridical proceedings for censuring suspect teaching seem to be the most glaring signs of constraints imposed upon academic freedom.1...

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pp. 113-118

The focus of attention in this book has been on academic condemnations as manifestations of teaching authority rather than as chapters in the history of medieval philosophy or the history of Christian docrine.1 In this study I have predominantly paid attention to the quasi-judicial proceedings that gradually evolved to curb false teaching...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. 119-120


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pp. 121-166

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 167-184


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pp. 185-189

E-ISBN-13: 9780812206722
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812233186

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 1998