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Ammonius, and a man of most distinguished genius, its principles were carried into Persia, then into Rome and Campania. The number of youth, who flocked to hear his lectures, is said to be beyond all credibility. Porphyry, one of his disciples, adorning his principles with the elegance of an accomplished mind, spread them abroad through Sicily and other countries, while another of its disciples, named Plutarch, having studied it in Alexandria, introduced it into Greece, and revived the famous Academy at Athens. Such was its prevalency, that, in the fourth century, almost all philosophers were of this sect, and nearly all the writings of the Christians were infected with its principles. The un. happy example of Origen was followed by the most distinguished Christian writers, and, instead of applying the obvious principles of common sense to the interpretation of Scripture, they perplexed the most manifest truths into confusion by the Platonic subtleties. Gregory Nazianzen, among the Greeks, and Augustin, among the Latins, may be considered, next to Origen, the fathers of the scholastic theology. Notwithstanding the success of the New Platonic sect, it rapidly declined in the fifth century, and was suppressed in the schools which were under the care of the ecclesiastics, and the teaching of it in Athens prohibited by express decree of Justinian, in the beginning of the sixth century, after which it never attained a standing again in the philosophical world. Thus expired a philosophical school which had, for centuries, filled the writings of the Church with corruptions, and its communion with dissensions and parties. But the corrupt state of the times did not allow of a fit. ness, in the Church, to return to the primitive simplicity of its doctrines. The metaphysical pugilism of the preceding centuries had trained its doctors too much to the use of such weapons to render the apostolic ones congenial with their habits. The Platonic doctrines no sooner declined than those of the Stagirite usurped their place, and gradually came so into vogue as to sway the philosophical inquiries of the subsequent ten centuries.
From the fall of Rome before the arms of the northern barbarians in the fifth century, may be dated that wonderful and interest. ing period of European history called the dark ages. It extends to the downfall of Constantinople, by the Turks, in thc 15th century, which event, by the dispersion of the Greeks in the west, to. gether with other and coincident circumstances, gave rise to the revival of learning, after a dark and dismal night of ten centuries, during which almost every light of science seemed extinguished, and the whole social organization of Europe was reduced to chaotic confusion. A darkness almost starless shrouded the intellectual world; all science consisted in the marvellous and wild conjectures and fancies of a universal intellectual delirium. The physical branches of knowledge were comprised in the absurdities of magic, and astrology, and kindred chimeras. The metaphysical sciences consisted of abstruse and hypothetical speculations, definitions without meaning, divisions without distinctions, and questions without reality; and all were discussed with a phraseology full of unmeaning and ridiculous technics. All theology was lost in the dialectical dogmas of the peripatetic metaphysics, and all devotion consisted in the visionary meditations of mysticism. From the north, as from a bee hive, swarmed innumerable barbarians, spreading devastation in their course, until they overthrew the city of Rome, and established throughout the west the feudal system of government. The Saracens established themselves in Spain. The Alexandrian library was burned, consuming the most extensive collections of literary records ever made. Chivalry and the crusades, the monastic life and the inquisition, the trial by ordeals, and a literature wonderfully supernatural and romantic, the machinery of which consisted of giants and dwarfs, dragons, witches, and demons, with a universal dissoluteness of morals, are the characteristic seatures of this singular period. It was during this reign of darkness that the scholastic philosophy prevailed, and this summary statement of the condition of the age in which it had its ascendency, may enable us the more adequately to judge of its character.
We have already intimated that the peripatetic philosophy succeeded the fall of the modern Platonic or Eclectic school, in the beginning of the sixth century. The dialectics of Aristotle did not, however, come into very general use for theological discussions during the first moiety of the middle age. They became more general towards the close of the eleventh century, and were publicly taught in the schools in the twelfth century, at which time the scholastic theology attained its maturity ; but yet as early as the fifth century did the doctrines of Aristotle begin to insinuate themselves into the Church. The Platonists themselves explained some of his writings in their schools, particularly his dialectics, and recommended them to their pupils. A still more effectual means of their introduction into the Church was the controversies which Origen had occasioned, and the Pelagian, Nestorian, and Arian disputes which prevailed at this time. When Origen was publicly condemned, many, to avoid being included among his followers, adopted the system of the Stagirite, Origen himself being a decided Platonist. The opinions of the Nestorians, Eutychians, and Arians were sustained chiefly by a resort to metaphysical subtleties, and no system afforded better means of success in such a mode of defence than that of Aristotle, the philosophy of Plato being no way adapted to afford polemical discipline.
In the sixth century, the closing of the Platonic schools at Athens, and the illustration and recommendation of the Aristotelian philosophy by many of the Platonists, especially Boethius, who was the most celebrated, if not the only Latin philosopher of the age, aided much in strengthening its influence. It became universally prevalent in the east. The books of Aristotle were translated into its languages, and studied most assiduously by the Monophysites and Nestorians as the best means of opposing the advo. cates of the Ephesian and Chalcedonian councils.
In the seventh century, philosophy and literature sunk to their lowest ebb. The only remains of learning were concealed in the cloisters of the monks. The theology of the age was almost solely derived from the writings of Gregory the Great and Augustin. The philosophy of the Latins was chiefly confined to the writings of Boethius and Cassiodorus, the two philosophers of the preceding age, and the dialectics of Aristotle were used among the Greeks for
the subtleties and captious sophistries they afforded in the controversies between the Nestorians and Monophysites.
In the eighth century the Emperor Charlemagne endeavored to sustain the drooping cause of learning by holding out motives of encouragement to men of letters, and by the erection of schools in the neighborhood of the cathedral churches, and in the abbacies of the monasteries. It was from the professors who taught in these schools that the theology of the middle age derived the name of scholastic. These academies for youth were at first in the hands of the most learned men of the age, but they soon declined, and the scholastic teachers are characterized by Roderic, Bishop of Zamara, Spain, as being no longer learned themselves, nor able to teach others, -as never visiting the schools, -as writing with the most contemptible ignorance-the most shameful profligacy of manners Land as giving no encouragement to erudition, lesť their places should be occupied by others. The efforts of Charlemagne were, however, successful in raising up many men of distinguished genius, the lustre of whose talents reflected honor on the cause of learning ; but they soon disappeared, and the grossest darkness and most ridiculous superstition every where depressed the efforts of the human mind.
The Arabians were distinguished in the ninth century for their extraordinary application to the study of philosophy and the arts. They cultivated especially the Greek literature. Celebrated academies were established in several cities, and the best Grecian authors were translated into their language. The metaphysical and astronomical sciences, physic, and philosophy, were taught, not only in Africa and Syria, but in Spain, where they had established their dominion; and the subsequent knowledge of these sciences in Europe was, for the most part, derived from the Saracenic schools of Spain and Italy. The peripatetic philosophy was taught in these schools, and the writings of Aristotle in Arabic translations were common among them.
Such was the reputation which the Saracens acquired for their learning, that in the next century their schools became the resort of the studious from the European provinces, for the study of philosophy. Gerbert, afterward elevated to the pontificate, with the title of Sylvester II., after having studied under the Arabian professors at Seville and Cordova, returned and gave a new impulse to the study of the sciences, particularly philosophy, mathematics, and physics. Such was the advancement of this philosopher beyond the standard intellect of his benighted age, that his mathematical works excited the suspicion of magic among the clergy, and, while invested with the robes of St. Peter, he was regarded as having communication with the devil. The barbarism into which Europe was sunk during this century is truly incredible. One widespread night seemed to extend over the world, relieved only by an occasional star which soon again disappeared amid the clouds of the darkened firmament. The example of Gerbert excited, however, a love of knowledge in the bosoms of some, who, adopting his own course, repaired to the Arabian schools in Spain, where they studied the Arabic translations of Aristotle's works, and returned with increased zeal for the propagation of that philo. sopher's opinions.
Vol. VII.-April, 1836. 17
The practice of resorting to the schools of Spain, which seems thus to have arisen, in some degree at least, from the example of Gerbert, increased much in the following century. Schools were multiplied extensively in the west, the professors of which were most generally those who had studied among the Saracens in Spain, or had perused the Latin translations of the peripatetic philosophy, made from the Arabic, which began to abound in Europe. These schools, no doubt, grew out of the example of the cathedral schools of Charlemagne before alluded to. The dialectic art was particularly cultivated in them. The introduction of the spirit of disputation, which had been so common in the old seminaries, into these new public schools, soon diffused it through Europe, until it was not only deemed requisite, as a preparation for the duties of the clerical office, that the theologian should be more skilful in the jar. gon and hair-splitting subtleties of metaphysics than in the Gospel of Christ, but these subtleties became the amusement and fancied accomplishment of all the learned.
Thus, by the influence of the Arabian schools in Spain, and the instrumentality of the public schools which arose in the eleventh century, and the translations of Aristotle which were more or less scattered over Europe about this time, did the doctrines of that philosopher, which had gradually been progressing from the termination of the Platonic school, in the sixth century, become the universal study of the learned world. With this general introduction of the peripatetic system, many new and alarming opinions crept into the Church, which afterward led to an attempt to repress its influence. The synod of Paris passed a decree prohibiting its use in the public schools, and the prohibition was afterward confirmed by the Lateran council
, in the pontificate of Innocent III. But this opposition only tended to attach the subtle disputants of the age to their dialectics, and to spread the influence of the Stagyrite, until the university of Paris, by express ordinance, received his metaphysics, dialectics, and physics.
From the introduction of the Aristotelian dialectics into the public schools in the eleventh century may be dated the reign of the scholastic theology, and in the next century it attained a universal supremacy. A number of distinguished professors arose, who de. voted the most extraordinary powers of disputation ever yet attained by the human mind to the discussion of polemical theology, and roused the whole intellect of western Europe to such studies. "Among them was Lanfranc, archbishop of Canterbury, who is considered the father of the scholastic divinity, and who made eminent use of his dialectical powers in defending, against Berenger, the doctrine of transubstantiation; Auselm, likewise, the successor of Lanfranc, who delivered the logical science from many of the absurdities with which it had been trammelled, and who shone conspicuously in the first age of the scholastics for his erudition in many other departments of learning. Rosceline, the famous founder of the sect of the Nominalists, belongs to this age of the schoolmen; also, William de Champeaux, archbishop of Paris, who taught in that city the metaphysics of Aristotle with great reputation, and was called, through distinction, the “venerable doctor.'
The celebrated Abelard, whose unfortunate fate has pre
served his name alike in the records of philosophy and romance, arose from this school. His splendid talents and daring adventures into the regions of polemical discussion spread his fame through the learned world, and attracted to his lectures the youth of nearly all the nations of Europe. Peter Lombard, his disciple, was the author of the celebrated book of Sentences, which was interpreted, by the scholastics, as a substitute in the place of the Bible, and became the text book of theological studies throughout the whole Latin Church. It gave the name of Sententiaris to the scholastics, in contradistinction to the Biblics, who were so denominated because they explained the sacred writings without the aid of philosophy, but according to the obvious, and what they thought the mystical, sense of the text, the testimony of tradition and the fathers. Besides these, there were other names, of great note, which adorned this period of the history of scholastic divinity ; such as Robert Pulleyn, professor of theology at Oxford, and afterward cardinal, Gilbert Torretan, bishop of Poictiers, Alexander Hales, and John of Salisbury.
The second period of the scholastic theology began about the middle of the thirteenth century with Albert the Great, and ended with Durand, in the year 1330. Thomas Aquinas, the pupil of Albert, arose to great influence. His Summa Theologia was placed on an equality with the book of Sentences by Peter Lombard. Bonaventura of Tuscany, and Roger Bacon, are names of distinguished celebrity in this age. Columna, an Augustinian monk, whose reputation in the university of Paris procured him the name of the most profound doctor,' and John Duns Scotus, the redoubted antagonist of St. Thomas, are names of the highest eminence, especially the latter, in the philosophical disputes of this period.
In the third age of the scholastic philosophy, which commences with Durand, in the beginning of the fourteenth century, and extends to the termination of the fifteenth century, it multiplied much in the number of its professors and students, and increased in the subtleties and virulence of its disputes, but declined in the reputation of its doctors. Durand of St. Portian was succeeded by William Occam, the celebrated English monk, who revived with great ardor the conflicts between the Realists and Nominalists. Walter Burley, Richard of Swineshead, and John Herman Wessel, are names which belong to this age.
About the middle of the fifteenth century, (1440,) the art of printing was invented. Soon after Constantinople fell before the arms of the Turks,(1453,) the eastern empire was subverted, and the Greek eruditi were dispersed through the west, where they were patronized by the illustrious family of the Medici. It was their influence that first shook the stability of the peripatetic philosophy in the Latin Church. Aristotle had held without a rival the sceptre of empire in the learned world. His writings were considered the only key to the sacred records. The extravagant veneration every where entertained for him is beyond credibility. To such an extent did the pedantic enthusiasm of these militant theologians for the pagan Stagyrite carry them, that they almost invested him with the sacredness and authority of inspiration, and actually compared him with