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William of Auvergne and Robert Grosseteste. New Ideas of Truth in the Early Thirteenth Century (review)

From: Journal of the History of Philosophy
Volume 23, Number 2, April 1985
pp. 255-257 | 10.1353/hph.1985.0031

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BOOK gEVIEWS 255 sermons and writings. Some consideration is also given to Bernard's personality and to his place in the political and religious conflicts of his period. He was the principal force behind the Second Crusade of a 146 and occupied a leading position as advisor to popes, emperors, and kings. But it is the contemplative rather than the active Bernard who is of permanent interest. Lovers of Dante will remember the apparition of Bernardo at the climax of the Paradiso (31:65) , where Bernardo represents mystical contemplation. Dr. Evans gives a careful and accurate account of how Bernard, by his allegorical method of interpreting Scripture, is able to make texts profitable for moral edification and for spiritual insight. Unlike the great theologians of the next century, Bernard is not interested in the exploration of faith by reason (141); rather, he is concerned with faith as the basis of union with God in love, where the human will becomes a perfect image of God's will. Faith is a certitude which yet involves a mystery (215), an admirably Kierkegaardian paradox; it is a participation in the beatitude of heaven and is not primarily a basis for theological science. Most of Dr. Evans's interpretations are very sound (although "aspects" is not quite right for divine attributes, 181); his account of Bernard's thought, however, is rather exterior and fails to penetrate his mystical theology, Bernard did not practice or approve of speculative or scholastic theology, but his own thought is, in another sense, genuinely scientific and cognitive. Mystical theology is a science founded upon love, and love is cognitive in that it produces a systematic body of knowledge, making it a science. This knowledge is of a most peculiar sort -- it is a practical science of what man ought to do. For example, in the Twelve Degrees, Bernard lays out a practical science of the virtues by which we first attain humility, then charity, and finally contemplation. Bernard is not concerned with science as a product of reason or human nature, but his own systematic science of love and redemption is admirably theological in that it shows how the ascent ~o God by charity makes excellent sense to reason. Though a bit inadequate on Bernard the theologian of the mystical life, this book is an excellent account of that great saint's activities, writings, and sayings, all the product of a heart devoted to making the love of God manifest in this earthly life. PAUL J. W. MILLER Rome Steven P. Marrone. William of Auvergne and Robert Grosseteste. New Ideas of Truth in the Early Thirteenth Century. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1983. Pp. x + 318. $32.5 ~ . This book concerns the impact of Aristotle's notion of science on early thirteenth century theories of truth. Marrone sets out two questions, which he claims are central to both William of Auvergne and Robert Grosseteste and argues that the taxonomy for their answers derives from the "new" notion of science found in Aristotle. These two questions are: "First, they had to determine the nature of truth itself: What was truth and how could it be defined? Second, they had to discover the kinds of evi- 256 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY dence for true knowledge: how could one arrive at truth in this life and when could one be sure of having found it?" (19). William of Auvergne and Robert Grosseteste answer these questions, Marrone claims, by means of an Aristotelian distinction, namely simple and complex knowl- edge (2o). Knowledge is either (l) simple, i.e., "the apprehension of an uncombined concept", (2) complex and immediate, i.e., complex principles grasped immediately by the mind, or (3) complex and demonstrated, i.e., knowledge of conclusions and science (scientia) properly speaking (2a). In the two main parts of his book, Marrone examines texts from William of Au- vergne (25-134 ) and Robert Grosseteste (135-286) according to this taxonomy; each part is subdivided into chapters on simple knowledge and complex knowledge. For Grosseteste, simple knowledge is further divided into a consideration of his early works and then his commentaries on Aristotle. Marrone carefully analyses appropriate texts within each chapter in order...



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