Practical and Productive Knowledge in the Twelfth Century: Extending the Aristotelian Paradigm, c. 1120–c. 1160
- Australian and New Zealand Association of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (Inc.)
- Volume 31, Number 1, 2014
- pp. 27-45
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There is no doubt that the writings of Aristotle were heavily influential in shaping moral and political thought during the Western Middle Ages. But there remains considerable dispute about when and how Aristotelianism was first introduced into medieval Europe. Some scholars argue that only when Latin translations of Aristotle’s works become available in the thirteenth century was his impact felt. By contrast, others claim that Aristotelian moral and political doctrines circulated in early times – in particular, the twelfth century – as a result of well-known intermediary classical and Christian texts. I examine this controversy with reference to the relationship between Aristotelian ideas of ‘productive’ knowledge (the ‘mechanical arts’) and of the ‘practical’ sciences of ethics, economics, and politics, which constituted a central feature of Aristotle’s thought.