I. The formation of medieval philosophy

The formation of the philosophy of the Middle Ages took place against the backdrop of the crisis and collapse of the Roman Empire and the formation of feudalism.

II. Gnosticism

The most significant among the religious and philosophical teachings that spread in the first centuries of a new era in the east of the Roman Empire was Gnosticism (from the Greek “Gnosis” — “knowledge”). The Gnostics believed that the basis of the universe are two principles — the highest Spirit and Matter. The first is the focus of light, reason and goodness and is a source of spiritual particles — aeons, which, separating from the Supreme Spirit, form a special sphere — the plerometer. Matter acts as an unorganized principle and forms chaos.

III. Patristics. St. Augustine

After centuries of persecution, executions and other repressions to which Christians were subjected, at the beginning of the 4th century under Emperor Constantine I the Great, a historical union of imperial power and a new religion took place. As a consequence of this, a need arose for a philosophical and theological union, i.e., for the synthesis of the achievements of ancient philosophy (with proper selection and adaptation) and the dogmas of the Christian faith. The implementation of this synthesis was one of the tasks of patristics (from the Latin “Pater” — “father”). This term refers to the totality of theological and philosophical views of the so-called “Church Fathers”. Their number is different in different Christian denominations. However, the vast majority of Christian churches include Athanasius of Alexandria, Basil the Great, Gregory the Theologian and Gregory of Nyssa among them. The main merit of these theologians is the clarification of the question of the relationship between the concepts of “essence” and “hypostasis” in relation to the persons of the Holy Trinity. The term “essence” denoted a single Deity, manifested in the three faces of the Trinity, and the term “hypostasis” was assigned those personal evocative properties that give them an independent being. The essence of the Divine belongs equally to all three persons of the Trinity, and is expressed only in one Father. Each entity equally possesses this essence. At the same time, each hypostasis has some special properties. So, for the Father, unborn, for the Son — birth from the Father, for the Spirit — the coming from the Father through the Son. Since the divine essence of all three hypostases is one, therefore, they are consubstantial.

  1. All the fullness of good is embodied in God, the source of evil is original sin, the “Cain seal” in the human race;
  2. The interpretation of evil as a denial of good, a departure from divine precepts;
  3. The personality’s activity, expressed in its free will, from the time of the fall has an exclusively negative meaning, leads to sin, therefore, a true Christian destroys “sinful willfulness” in himself, he is a servant of God, an insignificant worm, dust before the almighty;
  4. Christian virtues — the consistent denial of pagan virtues (“overloaded vices”). This is the passivity of the individual instead of activity, humility instead of courage, faith in the omnipotence of God instead of wisdom, unreasoning love of God instead of justice and hope for heavenly salvation.

IV. Key ideas of Byzantine medieval philosophy

Byzantine philosophy was influenced by the ideas of ancient rationalism, Neoplatonism and Eastern mysticism.

V. Nominalism and Realism. Philosophical ideas of the developed Middle Ages

The connecting principle of Western European medieval society was church hierarchical structures. Theocentrism completely dominated the worldview, where the world was presented in the form of a colossal vertically organized hierarchical system, on top of which (on the throne of the world) God abides. In a theocentric worldview, the significance of things and events is not limited to their immediate function and external form. In ordinary objects, hidden higher meanings must be sought. At the same time, spatio-temporal disunity is not significant. The medieval icons organically depicted characters and events spaced in space and time, for example, the Evangelist Luke, who draws a Madonna and Child from nature.

VI. Arab medieval philosophy

The teachings of the Aristotelian (peripatetic) school became widespread in the Arab East, and here it was most closely associated with specific sciences — medicine, astronomy, mathematics, and it was less sought to adapt to the letter of the Koran than in the West to the Bible. The Iranian thinker Ibn Sina (Avicenna; 980–1037) left about four hundred works in Arabic and about twenty in Persian in all then known sections of scientific and philosophical knowledge. The main encyclopedic work “The Book of Healing” consists of four sections devoted to questions of logic, physics, mathematics (including music and astronomy) and metaphysics. Avicenna developed the ideas of Aristotelianism, although Aristotle himself would hardly have recognized his faithful student in him. He taught that the world was not created in time, it represents the timeless emanation (outflow) of God, the “first cause”. The minds, souls and bodies of the celestial spheres flow in a hierarchical order from God according to the Aristotelian cosmological picture. God alone has an absolute existence, everything else exists only in potency, the actualization of which is entirely dependent on God. However, the world that has expired from God has relative autonomy and, being limited in space and time, exists according to the laws of self-movement.

VII. Thomas Aquinas — a systematizer of medieval scholasticism

A kind of completion of philosophical development in the Middle Ages was the Tomist doctrine, i.e., the system of views of Thomas Aquinas (Thomas Aquinas; 1225–1274). Thanks to his ability to rely on common sense when considering any issue, to find the resultant, harmonious solution Aquinat, like no other, earned the nickname “Aristotle in tonus” (that is, with the crown shaved by the monastic rank). In his main writings, “The Sum of Theology” and “Sum against the Gentiles,” the foundations of Christian doctrine are worked out in the spirit of the Aristotelian culture of common sense. One of his life mottos was: listen not to the one who speaks, but to what is being said. As for the theory, here his claims to the Aristotelian inheritance are not so certain. Thomas adapted the ideas of Aristotle to the needs of theocentrism. Absolute being is possessed only by God, “pure actuality”. Everything that is singular is created, has a random and conditioned character. Matter — “pure potentiality”, “the weakest kind of being”, is characterized only by passive susceptibility to external influences.



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