The Hellenistic Schools and Thinking about Pagan Philosophy in the Middle Ages
Freiburger Mediävistische Vorträge
Herausgegeben von Mittelalterzentrum Freiburg i. Br.
Vol. 3 John Marenbon

The Hellenistic Schools and Thinking about Pagan Philosophy in the Middle Ages

A Study of Second-Order Influence

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«One theme central to the second-order influence of ancient on medieval philosophy is the contrast between the classical philosophers’ paganism and the medieval writer’s own Christian beliefs.» John Marenbon

‘Second-order influence’ is the way in which writers think about previous authors and texts. Central to the second-order influence of ancient philosophy in the Middle Ages are the questions raised for the medieval thinkers by the fact that the ancient philosophers were pagans. These were especially difficult with regard to the thinkers of the Hellenistic schools (Sceptics, Stoics, Epicureans), whose fundamental ideas are more obviously at odds with Christianity than those of Plato and Aristotle. But, contrary to widespread belief among scholars, the Hellenistic philosophers were not simply ignored or rejected in the Middle Ages. This study looks at their second-order influence, especially on Abelard (who has a remarkably sympathetic attitude to Epicureanism), John of Salisbury (a professed Academic sceptic), thirteenth-century authors such as Albert the Great, Aquinas and John of Wales and Dante. It shows how these thinkers devised sophisticated strategies to appreciate and use the wisdom of philosophers whose views on many matters were abhorrent. In the case of Dante, however, it argues that he cast the Epicureans into a new and antagonistic role, as adversaries of human immortality, in order to safeguard.  

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Reihe Freiburger Mediävistische Vorträge
Seitenanzahl 39 arabisch
Format 16.5 x 24 cm
Bindung Buch, Geheftet
ISBN 978-3-7965-2837-8
Erscheinungsdatum 20.12.2012


John Marenbon (born 1955) is a Senior Research Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, and, since 2010, Honorary Professor of Medieval Philosophy in the University of Cambridge. Educated at Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, he received his BA in 1976 and his PhD (for a thesis on early medieval logic and theology) in 1981. In 2001, he gained a LittD from the University of Cambridge and in 2011 he was made Doctor of Theology honoris causa by the University of Helsinki. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 2009. His career has been entirely at Trinity College, as a Junior Research Fellow (1978), teaching fellow (1979), gaining his present post in 2005. Among his books are studies of Abelard (1997) and Boethius (2003), as well as two more general Histories of medieval philosophy, the latest of which (Medieval Philosophy: an historical and philosophical introduction) was published in 2007. He is editor of the Oxford Handbook of Medieval Philosophy (2012).