Summary of the History of Medieval Philosophy

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Summary of the History of Medieval Philosophy

Medieval philosophy, in contrast with ancient philosophy, is full of dualism. There is dualism between the clergy and the laity, between the Latin and the barbarians, between the Pope and emperors, between the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of this world, between good and evil, and between the spirit and the flesh. In addition, philosophers during this time philosophize to support their respective religion.

In summarizing the history of medieval philosophy, the whole period can be divided into four major stages: 1) patristic period; 2) pre-scholasticism; 3) summit of scholastic thought; 4) and the decline of scholastic philosophy.

PATRISTIC PERIOD (2nd-mid 8th century)

The “Patristic Period” refers to the interval of almost seven centuries between the death of the last apostle of Jesus Christ and the beginning of the Middle Ages. The period has been called “patristic” because many of the Christian writers of that time have been given the title “Fathers of the Church”. This period is usually divided into three stages: a) from the beginning of the second century up to the Ecumenical Council of Nicea (325 A.D.); b) from Nicea until the fall of the Western Roman Empire (476 A.D.); c) and from the beginning of the sixth century up to the mid-eighth century or the transition period to the Middle Ages.

In the beginning of the second century, there were calumnies (e.g. false accusations of cannibalism and of incest) and heresies (Gnosticism, Manichaeism and Arianism) against the Church. Thus, Christians saw the need to defend themselves by using written apologetics. The Fathers of the Church whose main endeavour was the refutation of heresy through written apologetics are known as “Apologists”. They can be grouped into three: 1) the Greek; 2) the Alexandrian; 3) and the African Ante-Nicene Apologists. Some of the Greek Apologists are Aristides, St. Justin, Athenagoras, St. Irenaus and St. Hippolytus. The...