By Christopher Martin
Takes the coed step by step throughout the highbrow difficulties of Medieval proposal, explaining the relevant strains of argument from Augustine of Hippos to the 16th century.
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Extra resources for An Introduction to Medieval Philosophy
All of us have to believe and act without thinking out good reasons most of the time: even when we do have time to think out good reasons we certainly cannot think out each time why those reasons count as good reasons: and, philosophers are now beginning to realise, we cannot really think out why what we count as good reasons do count as good reasons. Descartes thought we could, but the project of Descartes and of his heirs has failed: you cannot rationally justify the rational justifications for action.
They thus believed what that tradition taught, adopted the attitudes that the tradition embodied, and acted as the tradition told them to. But one need not hold that a tradition enshrines a divine authority to be justified in respecting tradition. There have been many traditional societies: and it is possible to argue that even our own is in some respects really a traditional society without knowing it. A clear example of a non-religious traditional community is the community of learning outlined by Plato and Aristotle.
Perhaps this task of explanation of the readers to themselves is beyond the scope of the guide-book. But it is not beyond its scope to help to evoke in readers a sympathetic attitude to medieval thought: and if it can do this by shaking their conviction that they are themselves the norm, and that the people of the Middle Ages are really rather funny (as, until one is taught otherwise, one tends to regard foreigners), then something will have been achieved. The thinkers of the Middle Ages would have found the modern opposition between reason and authority quite incomprehensible.