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By Peter Dronke

This can be the 1st accomplished learn of the philosophical achievements of twelfth-century Western Europe. it's the collaboration of fifteen students whose exact survey makes obtainable the highbrow preoccupations of the interval, with all texts brought up in English translation all through. After a dialogue of the cultural context of twelfth-century hypothesis, and a few of the most streams of concept - Platonic, Stoic, and Arabic - that quickened it, comes a characterisation of the recent difficulties and views of the interval, in medical inquiry, speculative grammar, and common sense. this can be by way of a more in-depth exam of the designated positive aspects of a few of the main cutting edge thinkers of the time, from Anselm and Abelard to the college of Chartres. a last part exhibits the influence of newly recovered works of Aristotle within the twelfth-century West.

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This opposition between the spirit and the substance of twelfth-century learning is nowhere more striking than in the area where the spirit of the 'twelfth-century Renaissance' has seemed to express itself most vividly in philosophical terms: the study of the universe and of man in his relation to the universal order. The cosmologists of the early twelfth century, Bernard and Thierry of Chartres, William of Conches, and a host of anonymous commentators, exhibit a Platonism which is not just the ingrained idealism of the Augustinian tradition, but reflects a new interest in Plato himself and in his late-antique followers Macrobius, Martianus Capella, Calcidius, and 8 G.

122, 683). Ibid. L. ). The Cosmographia of Bernardus SHvestris (New York 1973), pp. 37-8, 52-5. 32 Background century, the Didascalicon of Hugh of Saint-Victor and Thierry's preface to the Heptateuchon. Hugh repeatedly quotes Boethius' definition of wisdom as 'the comprehension of those things which truly exist', and his opening chapter defines the mission of the Arts as the restoration, to minds which have been enticed by bodily sensation, of a recognition of ourselves, and so of the image of the divine Wisdom within ourselves.

It is in glosses on Plato's cosmology, and in such new departures as the cosmological treatises and philosophical poems which the study of the Timaeus inspired, that we can see the clearest evidence of the new ambitiousness of twelfth-century thought, and the effect of the incorporation into the curriculum of the schools of scientific concerns which had previously been pursued in random and often primitive ways. This is a new, 'literate' science, in which the principles governing natural phenomena appear in a fully intellectualized form, and the use of abstraction to 'control' the natural world has been hailed as the symptom of a dawning sense of man's capacity to reclaim his proper place in the scheme of things.

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