General characteristics of the philosophy of the Middle Ages. Apologetics, patristics, scholasticism. The struggle between nominalism and realism

The European Middle Ages covers the period from the collapse of the Roman Empire (5th century) to the Renaissance (XIV- XV centuries). At this time, the feudal system dominated Europe. The polytheism of Antiquity was replaced by monotheism – Europe adopted Christianity, which became the only state religion. This had a profound effect on philosophy.

The philosophy of the Middle Ages was formed under the influence of:

· ancient Greek philosophy, and first of all the teachings of Plato and Aristotle;


The most important feature of medieval philosophy was its close connection with the Christian religion. On the one hand, Christianity needed a philosophical substantiation of its starting points. On the other hand, the philosophers themselves, in their searches, increasingly relied on the principles of Christianity; the conceptual apparatus of religion began to intensively penetrate into philosophy.

Christian monotheism is based on two major principles that are alien to the philosophical thinking of the pagan world: the idea of creation and the idea of revelation. Both of these ideas are closely related, since they presuppose a single personal God. The idea of creation underlies the medieval ontology (the doctrine of being), and the idea of revelation is the foundation of the medieval doctrine of knowledge.

The distinctive features of medieval philosophy are:

Theocentrism (Greek theos – God): God is the source and cause of everything that exists;

Creationism (lat. creatio – I create, I create): the whole world is seen as God’s creation, created from nothing by Divine will;

providentialism (lat. prouidentia – providence): everything that happens in the world is recognized as a manifestation of the Divine will and corresponded to the original Divine plan;

Traditionalism: since the truth was given from above in Holy Scripture, medieval philosophy relied primarily on its authority and was extremely intolerant of heresies.

In the history of medieval philosophy, two main stages are distinguished: patristics and scholasticism.

Patristics is the theological and philosophical views of the “fathers of the church”, who substantiated and developed the ideas of Christianity, based on the achievements of ancient philosophical thought.

Patristics includes the following periods.

1. Apologetics (IIIII centuries) shaped the Christian worldview. One of the representatives of this period is Clement of Alexandria.

2. Classical patristics (4th -5th centuries) systematized Christian teaching. Its brightest representative is Augustine the Blessed.

3. The final period (VIVIII centuries) finally formed dogmatics.

Patristics is also subdivided into Greek-Byzantine (Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, Dionysius the Areopagite, Maximus the Confessor, John of Damascus, etc.) and Latin (Augustine the Blessed, Boethius, etc.).

Scholasticism (“school philosophy”) is a special direction of philosophical thought devoted to the rationalistic justification of Christian dogma.

Stages of development of scholasticism:

1) early form (XI- XII centuries);

2) mature form (XII-XIII centuries);

3) late scholasticism (XIIIXIV centuries).

A distinctive feature of scholasticism is that it regards itself as a science placed at the service of theology, as a “servant of theology.”

PHILOSOPHY OF AUGUSTINE Blessed : Augustine Aurelius (Blessed) (354-430) was from North Africa. In his youth, he studied at the school of rhetoric in Carthage, later he himself became a professor of toric. Already in adulthood, Augustine became a Christian, took the priesthood, and from 396 he was a bishop. Augustine did a great job of systematizing religious knowledge, trying to present it as a single, holistic concept. He is one of the greatest philosophers and theologians of the patristic period, who had a significant impact on the entire medieval culture and on the subsequent development of philosophy.

The philosophy of Augustine the Blessed is built entirely around the idea of a single God.

God is the true goal of all knowledge, and at the same time He is the source of knowledge, since without His revelation, true knowledge would be impossible. Augustine called to know God and one’s own soul: God through the soul, soul through God. Deepening into oneself is the way to God. The better a person knows himself, the closer he becomes to God.

Everything that happens in the world is predetermined by God. However, man has free will. The will can be directed by the mind, but there can also be a mismatch between the will and the mind. A person is free when his will directs his actions to good, when it agrees with the will of God. When the will or mind does not agree with the Divine will, a person becomes a slave to sin.

Augustine divides all mankind into two parts, or, in other words, two cities: the city of God and the city of the earth. The philosopher describes them this way: “One of them is made up of people who want to live in a world of their kind according to the flesh; the other is from those who also want to live in the spirit… So, the two cities were created by two kinds of love: earthly love for oneself, brought to contempt for God, and heavenly, love for God, brought to contempt for oneself. The former then places his glory in himself, the latter in the Lord. The earthly city is a world of self-lovers, in which lust reigns. Therefore, the earthly state was created and maintained through violence and coercion. The city of God is a world of good, in which leadership and submission are based on mutual love according to the commandment of God.

The representative of God’s city on earth is the Church, therefore a good state must serve the Church, it must direct the earthly world to the heavenly world and govern society in accordance with the establishment of the Church. In the course of the history of mankind, there is a continuous struggle between the city of Heaven and the city of earth, and the forces of light gradually overcome the forces of darkness.

PHILOSOPHY OF THOMAS AQINA: Thomas Aquinas was born in Italy into a noble family and received an excellent theological education. He was engaged in teaching and scientific activities, wrote many philosophical and theological works.

One of the problems that interested Thomas Aquinas was the relationship between philosophy and theology. He believed that philosophy and theology actually have a common subject of study – God and His creation, only theology goes from God to nature, and philosophy – from nature to God. Philosophy must serve theology. Faith is not irrational, but transrational, super-rational, therefore, it is not reason that should guide faith, but, on the contrary, faith should determine the path of movement of reason. Thomas Aquinas saw the task of science in explaining the laws of the surrounding world.

The soul as a spiritual substance is not separated (at least in its earthly existence) from the body. This is the difference between the soul and other spiritual substances (angels).

The socio-political views of Thomas Aquinas placed the individual at the center. The task of the state is to care for the common good of its members. Subjects must submit to authority; as Christians they are bound to show obedience to their superiors. Monarchy is recognized as the best form of government; a monarch in his state is like a soul in a body and God in the world. His task is to lead his subjects along the path of a virtuous life, for which it is necessary to ensure peace and prosperity in the country. The highest goal of people is to achieve heavenly bliss, where the Church leads them. The role of the Church is more important than the role of the state, so secular power must be subordinate to the church.

DISPUTE OF NOMINALISTS AND REALISTS: Medieval scholasticism arose along with the emergence of theology as a school (ie scholastic) rational discipline. The scholastics tried to rationally substantiate and systematize the Christian doctrine; in addition, they were characterized by the absolutization of book knowledge.

Scholastic disputes were speculative and had little contact with real life problems, which subsequently caused a negative attitude towards scholasticism. Nevertheless, the scholastics posed many important problems. Thus, the dispute about universals laid the foundation for the subsequent analysis of the problems of language and thought. The participants in the dispute about universals were called realists (lat. realis – material, effective) and nominalists (lat. potep – name, name). The realists believed that the general concepts correspond to the real general that exists in reality. The nominalists considered general concepts to be mere names, names of things. It is impossible to answer this question without finding out what reality is.

Realists and nominalists were divided into extreme 13 and moderate.

Extreme realism considered universals to exist independently of individual objects. His followers argued that the general really exists and governs everything that exists; the general exists separately from particular things, in some separate world, for example, in the thoughts of God.

Extreme realism is divided into early and late. Early realism presupposes the existence of the common in the mind of God as a kind of essence that precedes individual existence. Individual, concrete being is the result of the incarnation of the essence (John Scotus Eriugena). Late realism interpreted essences as primary substances represented in single objects (Guillaume of Chartres).

Moderate realists also believed that the general really exists, but not separately from individual things, but in themselves – in the form of general concepts. Thomas Aquinas belonged to the moderate realists, who, following Aristotle, considered ideas and things inextricably linked with each other. According to his views, the general is a form of the individual, the particular. Moderate realists formulated the concept of the types of existence of universals.

Universals exist in three ways:

to things – in the Divine mind;

in things themselves, as their essence;

after things, i.e. in the human mind – as a result of generalization and abstraction.

Nominalists recognized the existence of exclusively individual things, which alone can act as an object of knowledge, denying the existence of the general both in things and before things.

The extreme nominalists denied the existence of even general concepts: all concepts are words, and words are only signs, marks of things, or vibrations of the air.

Moderate nominalists recognized general concepts, but only as a result of human intellectual activity. A person generalizes and draws conclusions, creating the common as the fruit of his mental work, but there is no common in the things themselves.

Nominalists were characterized by detailed, situational thinking, attention to details, particulars.

As a result of active discussions, the Catholic Church took the side of the moderate realism of Thomas Aquinas. Nominalism was condemned.

In the following eras, the ideas of nominalism served as the ideological basis for the development of Western liberal democracy. The ideas of realism were in demand by the despotic system and contributed to the development of utopian movements of the totalitarian type. Realism and nominalism were medieval variants of idealism and materialism.

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