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Cambridge Companion to Medieval Philosophy by A. S. McGrade (Editor)

By A. S. McGrade (Editor)

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Abelard’s Ethics presents an intentions-based explication of moral accountability that commands respect to this day on its philosophical merits. And where previously a minimal natural philosophy centered on astronomy and the calendar had sufficed, along with the rich symbolic interpretations of biblical and literary exegesis, learned minds of the twelfth century began to demand causal explanations of processes and careful categorizing of the properties and types of things. Echoing Abelard on religious thought, Adelard of Bath, an Englishman who led the drive toward new methods of inquiry about externalities, insisted that God had endowed humankind with reason just so that we could ferret out the rules under which the created world operated.

The two sorts of rationalization, intellectual and social, went hand in hand, for each encouraged and was dependent on the progress of the other. I mentioned above that royal monarchies had risen by the late eleventh century to a position of eminence as instruments of political order in the increasingly prosperous and populous lands of western Europe. The twelfth century saw consolidation of these achievements, to the point where a few kingdoms became by far the dominant political structures, foundations for the Cambridge Companions Online © Cambridge University Press, 2006 Medieval philosophy in context 29 nation-states that would emerge in early modern times.

Among the earliest is Augustine’s Confessions, one of the greatest monuments to speculation of all time. Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy provides a classic example from the sixth century. With the return of interest in philosophical thinking in the West in the eleventh century, the Cambridge Companions Online © Cambridge University Press, 2006 Table 1 Earliest translations of Greek, Hebrew, and Arabic works into Latin Author Work Translator Date Plato Aristotle Timaeus Categories De interpretatione Prior Analytics Posterior Analytics Topics Sophistical Refutations Physics De anima Metaphysics (nearly complete) Nicomachean Ethics (complete) Politics Calcidius Boethius Boethius Boethius James of Venice Boethius Boethius c.

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