Felsefi Düşün Issue:10 – Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy / April 2018
Issue Editor: Betül ÇOTUKSÖKEN (Maltepe Üniversitesi)
Please click on the name of any article for abstract and keywords.
From Medieval to Existential Philosophy: Augustine and Kierkegaard on Origin of Evil and the Continuity of Guilt
St. Augustine and Søren Kierkegaard are two of the most influential philosophers in the Western Christian tradition. Despite all their differences, Augustine and Kierkegaard share a Christian life view in which faith is a passion. In different eras, they share the same approach towards understanding the fundamental theological and philosophical problems. The nature of evil is one of them. Augustine explains the origin of evil in human by the theory of the ‘original sin’ (peccatum originalis). For Augustine, original sin is the unfortunate heritage that Adam left to all his descendants. He claims that, after the fall of Adam, all humanity has lost the freedom of not to sin (posse non peccare). The presence of the original sin in the soul exposes itself as guilt in the individual. Although Kierkegaard follows Augustine in claiming that human beings are both pervasively corrupted and that they are responsible for this corruption, he does not agree with Augustine regarding the continuity of the guilt in the subsequent individual’s life. Sin enters each’s life as a result of a free act, not as a reflection of Adam’s guilt. Kierkegaard’s main critique of the standard Augustinian account is that Adam is seen as qualitatively different than other human beings. He has been placed “fantastically outside” of the human history. This situation creates an unbridgeable gap between the individual and the human race. For Kierkegaard, the relationship of the existing individual to Adam is not essential. The existential experiences are more crucial regarding how sin arises in individual human life. According to Kierkegaard, the individual sins only through “qualitative leap”. In this paper, I will try to show how Kierkegaard presents an alternative existential approach to the Augustinian doctrine of hereditary sin without falling into the Pelagian’s radical individuality.
Keywords: Kierkegaard, Augustine, medieval, original sin, Evil, qualitative leap.
King as Lord and Servant of Law in Policraticus
The Theories of John of Salisbury (1120-1180), who is one of the most important political theorists of Middle Ages, have not been studied in the world and in our country detailedly. One of the reasons is that he does not analyse the classical subjects as the nature of justice, authority, ideal government and political regimes sistematically unlike from the works of the antecedents just as Plato, Aristotle and Cicero. As Cary J. Nederman’s saying, who is one of the biggest authorities with his studies in this subjects, “The Policraticus is perhaps best described as the philosophical distillation of the experiences and wisdom of one of the most learned courtier-bureaucrats of 12th-century Europe.” In this work a lot of thoughts are shared in the concept of law, politics and theology, each of them needs to be analysed and can not be fitted to only one paper. Sometimes these thoughts are so intertwined that they can not be separated, sometimes they are repeated in different subjects. In this paper, as an addition to literature on theories of John of Salisbury, in the concept of relation of religion and politics, we analyse the subjects as definition of law and its sources in law texts, the state of king as an ideal ruler, in the face of law, hegemony of clergy on king and the differences between king and tyrant.
Keywords: philosophy, king, Policraticus, political philosophy, John of Salisbury, theology, tyrant.
Francis Bacon’s External Mechanics and Mathematical Physicists’ System of Machinery
Mathematical natural philosophers of the Renaissance period, such as Copernicus, Galileo and Kepler, argued that mathematics should have a dominant role in natural philosophical inquiries, and they used mathematical reasoning to design models regarding the motions of heavenly bodies. This meant violating the Aristotelian disciplinary boundary between natural philosophy and mathematics. Along with the Aristotelians, there were others who were opposed to mathematics’ new role in natural philosophy; one being Francis Bacon, who has been accepted as one of the pioneers of modern science. For Bacon, mathematics should have an auxiliary role in natural philosophy rather than a primary one; the primary role in natural philosophy should be given to the inductive experimental method. Bacon suggested that mathematical models regarding the motions of heavenly bodies (such as the heliocentric model) should be formed by mathematicians through considering the results of natural philosophy rather than through a mere mathematical method. In this paper, it will be argued that those mathematical models which are formed through considering the results of natural philosophy can be seen in Bacon’s natural philosophy as the fourth kind of mechanics alongside the other three types of mechanics (the mechanics of the artisan, experientia literata, and philosophical mechanics).
Keywords: Francis Bacon, Natural Philosophy, mathematics, Mathematical Sciences, mechanics.
Sempiternus in Augustine’s And Boethius’ Thought
Sempiternus is one of the main concepts in Medieval thought concerning the discussions on time. An investigation on time requires to give account of some certain concepts, mainly time (tempus) that humans experience, but also eternity (aeternus) that humans cannot understand. Also along these concepts, there seems to be a time that humans can understand and “which goes on always”. This concept is referred as sempiternus. Boethius introduces sempiternus as a concept to other philosophers after himself and this concept brings out a new clarity to discussions on time in Medieval philosophy. Though the concept emerges with Boethius’ writing, its meaning can be traced back to various philosophers before him. One of those philosophers is Augustine, who is one of the prominent philosophers in Medieval Age. This article’s aim is to first mention how the concept is analyzed by Boethius and then indicate how Augustine mentions the concept’s meaning throughout his works. To point out their thoughts on the concept and reveal the relations between them. Therefore first Boethius’ and Augustine’s views on eternity will be mentioned and then their regard on the relation between time and eternity will be investigated. Thus Augustine’s thoughts on sempiternus will be revealed and the relation between Boethius’ differentiation will be shown.
Keywords: Augustine, Boethius, time, eternity, sempiternity.
Falling of Man and Augustine’s Holy State
In this study, discussion regarding the existence of mankind and the approach of Saint Augustine to the Original Sin through the Fall of Man is analysed. The approach of the Christian religion to Adam and Eve are examined critically and asks how Adam committed the Original Sin, although he had been created by God in God’s own form. To understand this, it is explained the Original Sin is firstly explained in the context of Bible and then, the approach of St. Augustine to the problem is critically evaluated through various examples. Human being often pursues a necessity of belief under the direction of a superior mind in order to make sense of the world. This superior mind is God. It has been explained by many metaphors how God created the world. One of the most important examples was that Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, this being referred to as the Original Sin. As a result of this, mankind was banished from the world as punishment. Because of this, all humanity participated in this Sin.
Keywords: God, Adam and Eve, Original Sin, Falling of Man, City of God
The Natural Law Doctrine in Thomas Aquinas
In this study, the basic arguments of Thomas Aquinas, who was the first philosopher to have systematized on the logical platform the tradition of the natural law theory that has reached today from Ancient Greece and has a deep-rooted philosophical-historical background, on this issue will be addressed and then the approach of the philosopher will be discussed critically. Saint Thomas is the most important philosopher of the classical natural law tradition since he maintained the tradition of natural law in Ancient Greece and Rome in some aspects and he represented an intellectual point breaking from a longstanding tradition that continued up until his time in some other aspects. This continuity and break in question influenced the discussions in the modern natural law theory to a great extent. Therefore, it is possible to suggest that the natural law doctrine of the philosopher played an important part in shaping of the modern natural law theory. Two key characteristics come to the fore in Saint Thomas’ natural law doctrine. The first characteristic is related to the fact that natural law becomes one of the aspects of Divine providence. The second characteristic is related to the fact that the natural law doctrine provides a framework that constructs the principles of practical rationality giving the criteria for actions of human being. In the article, the basic arguments regarding these characteristics will be respectively explained and the link between eternal law and natural law, natural law and human law will be demonstrated in terms of the arguments in question. Then the counter-arguments that might be put forward regarding Saint Thomas’ doctrine judicially, philosophically (both in the metaphysical and moral contexts) and politically will be presented.
Keywords: natural law, eternal law, Divine providence, good, morality, reason, human action, practical rationality.
Self-Consciousness in Avicenna
At first glance there appears no important distinction between Aristotle’s and Avicenna’s definitions of the soul. The differences between their conceptions of the soul can be investigated through taking into account the different meanings of the terms involved in their definitions of the soul. Avicenna aims to make clear the points which remain problematic or ambiguous in Aristotle’s analyses. The differences manifest themselves in their evaluations of self-consciousness. In Aristotle, a consciousness that is not the consciousness of another thing is at least problematic. According to Avicenna, on the other hand, such a consciousness is necessary. The separation of the soul from the body on substantial level makes it possible to open a place for a consciousness that is not the consciousness of another thing. One of the necessary consequences of the distinction between the body and the soul is the distinction of inner sense and outer sense, which has no counterpart in Aristotle. Avicenna aims to solve some problems and to eliminate ambiguities concerning the common sense (koine aisthesis), the imagination (phantasia) and the awareness as the distinguishing (krinein) faculty. Outer senses are subject to the common sense and all inner senses including the common sense are subject to the estimation (wahm) as the uppermost faculty of sensibility. The estimation is a faculty of judgment which also includes to a large extent Aristotle’s opining (doksa). Due to the dominance of the estimation upon others sensible faculties, all sensible consciousness is representational. In this paper we shall examine how the outer sensibility and the inner sensibility can both be apperceptive faculties. Then, we shall argue respectively that not only human sensible consciousness as the apprehension of sensible representations and significations (mana) but also the understanding as an apperceptive faculty which can be called pure, being independent from sensations with respect to its content, is also subject to the conditions of judging activity since it is still a consciousness of a representation or a signification. In connection with this fact, we shall also argue that it is necessary to consider a distinction between pure understanding and pure intellection, and the pure intellection is basically self-consciousness and this consciousness is the ground of all reflective activities.
Keywords: Aristotle, Avicenna, soul, sensibility, perception, consciousness.
Negation and Privation as Beings of Reason in Suarez
Negation and privation have been seen as a kind of being since Aristotle. Francisco Suarez, one of the representatives of Baroque scholasticism, characterized these two concepts together with relations of reason as being of reason and examined them in the 54th disputation of his Metaphysical Disputations. Suarez is known as the first philosopher who has studied beings of reason in a metaphysical enquiry. His reason for this investigation is that the metaphysical issues are difficult to comprehend without beings of reason. In Suarez, metaphysics deals with real beings which have real essence and are apt to existence. Beings of reason are not sufficient for a real existence. These beings are understood via an analogy with real beings. Negation and privation as the being of reason have the character of removing a form. Both negation and privation contain negativity, even though privation is distinguished from negation by the tendency to a form. Suarez described imaginary beings such as chimera as impossible beings and classified them under the negation. Beings of reason are made by an act of the mind or intellect. The powers of mind about beings of reason are reason and thinking. The faculty of imagination is also effective for the formation of these beings in cooperation with reason.
Keywords: Suarez, beings of reason, negation, privation, essence, metaphysics.
From the Middle Ages to Renaissance: Humanism and the Assessment of Humanism in Terms of the Western Philosophical Tradition
Renaissance is a reform movement which has roots that can be extended as far as the European city and trade enlivenment in the 11st century. Its visible appearance however became possible in 15th century Italian city states and primarily in the artistic endeavors of literature, painting and architecture. Renaissance, eventually spread all over Europe. When we take into account, all subjects that Renaissance discussed, and all artifacts that human creativity and genius has brought into existence, it can be understood as a ‘change in continuity’. In this regard, Renaissance is a reform movement which is influenced by some changes in the Middle Ages, and which also has influence on the formation of the modern world after itself. Here, a break as much as continuity, differences as much as similarities and dichotomy as much as agreement exists. The most important factor that formed the break from the Middle Ages is certainly the understanding that a human being realizes herself with her own deed, and is a being that builds her own history through what she does. The movement which finds its most complete expression in ‘civic humanism’, is elevation of the virtues of active participation in civic life and a conscience of political duty. Thus, contrary to the glorification of a contemplative life (vita contemplativa) which influenced to the whole Middle Ages, for the first time, vita activa, the idea that a human being can be politically active, shaping her life with her own actions and decisions has been voiced and got chance to gain realty on. In this respect, it can be understood that Renaissance (until Machiavelli) did not create a distinctive philosophical current in the terms of Western philosophical tradition. This early period, unable to find any mainstay in the philosophical tradition to build on itself, had to be contended with getting new syntheses in accordance with the new turn in the controversy between Plato and Aristotle which have continued throughout the whole Middle Ages.
Keywords: Renaissance, tradition of Western philosophy, philosophy of Middle ages, civic humanity, vita activa, vita contemplativa.
The ‘Medieval Philosophy’ İn Hegel’s Lectures On The History Of Philosophy
In comparison with the other periods of the history of philosophy, Hegel’s interpretation of the medieval philosophy in his Lectures on the History of Philosophy seems inadequate. On behalf of philosophy, in the name of the independent, autonomous and free activity of pure Reason Hegel does not, of course, see anything remarkable in the Middle Ages. In the Middle Ages, as if the field of philosophy had been left fallow. In Scholastic theology and philosophy, it is idle to seek something in the name of development and progress. Hegel does not take Scholastic thought into consideration as philosophy. In fact, the Medieval philosophy is the product of a barbarous thinking, although it is claimed that it is related to the spirituality. According to Hegel, in terms of knowledge and will, humanity is dead in the Middle Ages, lacking spirituality. However, more or less even the Middle Ages is a necessary moment or stage in the violent progress of Spirit towards its self-consciousness. Functioning as the servant of faith and theology, philosophy could have survived in the limited hands during the long, dark night of the Middle Ages. It is also true that although Hegel’s judgement concerning this period is generally negative, he seems sympathetic to those who are close to him in the Middle Ages against the subjectivist tendencies in philosophy and theology of his own time and against the inclinations insisting on the antagonistic opposition between philosophy and religion. This essay aims at clarifying Hegel’s considerations about the medieval philosophy on which there is almost as little interpretation as it is about to be ignored.
Keywords: Christianity, Church, dogmas, Neo-Platonism, Scolasticism.
Perspective: A Form Dispute at the Intersection of Science and Fine Arts
It should be noticed that fine arts played an important role against the ‘church’ with the urge of the humanism when Renaissance promises the re-birth to humankind from within the darkness of the Medieval thought. But the main leverage came from an unexpected field: depicture – painting. As in all other fields, ‘Church’ domination is noticeable on depicturing; however, by virtue of Renaissance masters, the method of perspective was enhanced step by step. In consequence of that, depicturing became more dependent on individual and its psychophysiology. As a result, painting set free the Western culture from the ‘church’s bigotry and relocate it to ‘hic et nunc’.Renaissance masters realised that the idea and the method of the de-picturing the living-world (Lebenswelt) were already propounded in a totally different geography. The knowledge of the phenomena, so called ‘ilm-i menâzır’, which were studied to understand the ‘noumenon’ and its ingenuity (Marifetullah), form a foundation for the order of perspective. In that entire corpus, one figure and his works have a remarkable place, whose name is İbn al-Haytham , also known Alhazen. In his work ‘Kitab al Manazir’, also known as ‘Perspectivae’ and ‘De Aspectus’, he sorts the metaphysics out from the perception and justifies the object-ray theory instead of the eye-ray theory, which makes the perspective a canonic method. Nevertheless, Renaissance thought thrust aside these Islamic background which systematizes and rationalizes the method phase by phase for the sake of Renaissance image. The history of art and the history of science are rarely superposed and traced in a common matter like perspective. So the essay analyzes the elimination of Islamic background and follows the steps of these encountering cultures which shape the perspective method.
Keywords: Alhazen, İbn al-Haytham, Renaissance, Lebenswelt, Medieval, noumenon, phonemena, perspective, optic.
Augustine’s Theory of Time
Even though the concept of time is contemporarily the subject of modern physics, the one of the most important determinants which attracted modern physics’ interest is the time problem as Augustine presents in Confessiones (Confessions) Book XI. Today it’s known that the Ancient Greek understanding of time as circular had been reconfigured as linear by Augustine. At the same time, the new theory of time that Augustine put forward had become the corner stone of the contemporary understanding of time. Thus, it’s needed to refer to the Augustine’s theory for a better understanding of concept of modern time. Augustine introduced a new theory of time while he was searching for an answer to the question “What was God doing before He created the universe?”. He explains that time had been created like every other thing had been created. He also provides details on the general opinion that time has three dimensions – past, present and future – and also on the ways in which time can be measured. Augustine precisely distinguishes eternity from time while explaining the nature of time. Later on, he examines time and memory together and tries to figure out how time represents itself to the mind. These subjects will be discussed in detail in this article.
Keywords: Augustine, Confessions, time, eternity, memory, mind.
Thomas Aquinas’ Understanding of Emotions and Their Effects on Morality
Thomas Aquinas articulates on the passions in Questions 22-48 in the First Part of the Second Part of the Summa Theologiae. “Treatise on the Passions” stands between the “Human Acts” and the “Habits” in the First Part of the Second Part of the Summa Theologiae where Thomas deals with ethics. So, it can be claimed that he treats the passions to examine their effects on morality. Following Aristotle, Aquinas place passions on the sensitive appetitive part of the soul and define them basically as movements that approach to good or withdraw from evil. It has to be explained that in what sense passions are movements and what the nature of their relationship with good and evil is. Although, Aquinas is heavily influenced by Aristotle in his explanations, his own theological presuppositions plays an important role in his understanding of the passions. His assumptions about the non-material structure of the soul and human beings’ inclinations towards good due to their rational nature, which he shares with Aristotle, are very important. Aquinas’ understanding of passions and the conclusions he draws about the effect of passions on the value of morality of actions are remarkable.The aim of this study is first, to examine Aquinas’ understanding of emotions, which is a neglected issue in Aquinas studies, by providing a close reading of the questions 22-24 and to explain the mechanism how emotions effect the moral value of actions in the light of the findings of the first part.
Keywords: Thomas Aquinas, morality, emotions, soul, appetites.
Self-Knowledge and Certainty in Avicenna and Descartes
This paper aims to study the question of the certainty of knowledge in Avicenna and René Descartes, considering comparatively their conception of self-knowledge. Self-knowledge for both philosophers seems as not a deduction or reasoning but an intuition, an originary consciousness which renders self-reflection possible. After positing the certainty as an immediate knowledge, in opposition with the judgement, we conclude in our research that this immediacy exists for both philosophers thanks to the knowledge of the self, in the intuition of I am. To argument this claim, we will distinguish two levels of knowing, one being the level of intellectual conception which does not accept the true and false; the other being the level of judgement in which the true and false exist. We will treat two philosophers’ various concepts such as intellection, sensation, imagination and perception and their faculties of soul. Finally, on the ground of the relation between the self-knowledge and the clarity of the existence, we will discuss that the intuition of ‘I am, I exist’ provides the ground for certain knowledge, being free from any judgement in both philosophers.
Keywords: Avicenna, Descartes, certainty, self, awareness, consciousness, existence.
Medieval and Beyond: William of Ockham as Precursor of Empiricism
Medieval Philosophy cannot be handled as a ‘closed cycle’ phenomenon which ran out of all of its consequences in itself. Although it is a separate subject of consideration that where the scholastic began and ended, a careful analysis will show there is not merely a break between medieval and philosophies of enlightenment and modernity, but also in a relation of continuity. In a sense, this article is a humble attempt to read the continuity in question in the example of William Ockham. William Ockham has presented the empirical foundations of knowledge systematically through the logical analysis of language and his researches on cognitive faculties of human mind has directed him to reject knowability of the things outside the field of human perception. As a natural consequence of this, he has remained aloof from the current metaphysical systems of his time and become critical against them. In this context, he has attempted to separate philosophy and theology and on the account of the consequences of his philosophical investigation, he has asserted that the components of credo cannot be comprehended by the facilities of discursive mind and he has taken a fideist stand. With all these characteristics of his philosophical investigation, it is within the bounds of possibility that his philosophical investigation is seen as precursor of British empiricism, and provides an insight in terms of the historical process of Western philosophy. Accordingly in this article, the premises of his philosophy will be handled, presented the outlines of his work and conceptual tools used by him will be tried to investigate.
Keywords: Empirical, conceptual term, suppositio, universal, particular, intuitive cognition, abstractive cognition.
The Divergence About The Nature of The Holy in Christianity and a Possible Solution to this in Church Fathers
This article mainly aims to make an examination over the holy. It has been inquired into how something being ascribed holy can have a meaning in philosophy. As the article’s research area, the differences in both opinion and execution which have later divided Christianity into two as Catholic and Orthodox Churches have been selected. The separation of these two churches under the subject titles such as ‘Filioque’ controversy, the idea of ‘First Among Equals’ (primas inter pares), ritual of ‘Transubstantiation’ have also shaped how they perceived and thought the holy. With these divergences being investigated, it has been tried to present how much of a share these had in giving meaning for the holy. It has been labored to manifest the role of these two Churches’ -which belong to and come from the same celestial tradition- divergences in the metamorphosis and paradigm shift that the holy underwent. For the last, through the Church Fathers’ opinions and views which have been seen related to subject matter, with moving beyond the divergences, it has been searched if there is a possibility of meeting on the common ground or not.
Keywords: The Holy, theology, Christianity, Church, Catholic, Orthodox, divergence.