Jacques Maritain Center : History of Philosophy / by William Turner


Sources. Besides the works of the philosophers to be mentioned under this head, we possess as valuable sources of information Denifle's Chartularium Universitatis Parisiensis and articles by Denifle, Ehrle, and others in the Zeitschrift für Katholische Theologie and in the Archiv für Litteratur und Kirchengeschichte des Mittelalters.

While St. Thomas was teaching at the convent of St. James, several of his doctrines -- especially that of the unity of the substantial form in man -- aroused violent opposition among his confrères of the order of St. Dominic. Of these Dominican opponents of St. Thomas the most prominent were Roland of Cremona, Richard Fitzacre, and Robert Kilwardby. It was owing to the influence of Kilwardby, who was archbishop of Canterbury, that the masters of the university of Oxford carried their opposition to Thomism so far as to censure as dangerous the denial of the rationes seminales and the affirmation of the unity of the substantial form in man. This was in 1277. In the following year, however, all opposition on the part of the Dominicans ceased, and in a general chapter of the order, held at Milan in that year, those who had opposed the teaching of St. Thomas in England were censured.{1}

The Franciscans, jealous for the reputation of the great teachers of their order, Alexander of Hales and St. Bonaventure, made common cause with those who objected to the doctrine of unity of substantial forms and to the denial of the rationes seminales -- doctrines which, as we have seen, were part of the Franciscan tradition.

Foremost among St. Thomas' Franciscan adversaries were William de la Mare, author of the Correptorium Fratris Thomae, Richard of Middletown, who was appointed to the Franciscan chair at Paris in 1281, John Peckham, who, after teaching at Paris and at Oxford, succeeded Kilwardby in the see of Canterbury, and Peter John Olivi (1248-1298),{2} who later on unsettled the idea of discipline in his own order by his defense of literal poverty -- a doctrine which brought about his condemnation in 1283.

Opposed to the doctrines introduced by St. Thomas were also the secular teachers, the chief of whom were William of St. Amour, Gerard of Abbeville, and Henry of Ghent. When, on March 7, 1277, Stephen Tempier, at the request of John XXI, assembled the masters of theology of the University of Paris to condemn the errors then prevalent in the schools, the secular masters united with the Franciscans and succeeded in placing on the list of condemned propositions several (for example, Nos. 81, 96, and 191) which were evidently meant to formulate the Thomistic doctrine of substantial forms and of individuation.{3} Thus did the secular teachers of the university achieve a disgraceful triumph in the momentary discredit thrown on him who had been the great champion of the mendicants in the controversy concerning university privilege.

But, while the opposition to Thomism was as short-lived as it was violent, the number and importance of the advocates and defenders of St. Thomas grew slowly but steadily as time went on. First among these were Ulrich of Strasburg, a disciple of Albert the Great, Bernard of Hotun, who was bishop of Dublin and died in 1298, William Mackelfield, who taught at Oxford, Giles of Rome (AEgidius a Columna, or AEgidius Romanus) of the order of Hermits of St. Augustine, surnamed Doctor Fundatissimus (1243-1316), Peter of Auvergne, who was probably a pupil of St. Thomas at Paris, and Godfrey of Fontaines (died 1304).

Petrus Hispanus (1226-1277), who in 1276 became pope, taking the name of John XXI, seems to have avoided the Thomistic controversy and confined his attention to the study of logical problems. His Summulae Logicales became a text-book in the schools, and was known as the Logica Modernorum, in contradistinction to the Logica Vetus and the Logica Nova. He is said to he the author of the mnemonic lines Barbara Celarent, etc.{4}

Vincent of Beauvais (died 1264) helped to popularize the current philosophical doctrines of his time in his encyclopaedic treatise entitled Speculum Magnum, in which he adhered to the teaching of Albert and St. Thomas. The work was intended to cover the whole field of education, as it was then understood. Three portions, Speculum Historiale, Speculum Naturale, and Speculum Doctrinale, were completed by Vincent:{5} the fourth, Speculum Morale, which is merely an extract from the writings of St. Thomas, was added by another hand.{6}

Hervé of Nedeilec (Hervaeus Natalis), who died in 1323, must be reckoned among the ablest of the first followers of St. Thomas. He is the author of many works on philosophy and theology, including, though this is by no means certain, the Summa Totius Logicae found among the opuscula of St. Thomas.

Dante (1265-1321), whose Divina Commedia has been described as "Aquinas in verse," may also be counted among those who helped to give wide circulation to the philosophical doctrines of St. Thomas. The influence of St. Thomas and of the other great schoolmen was still preponderant in Paris when Dante studied at the university in that city, and his De Monarchia may be placed by the side of the treatise De Regimine Principis as a valuable contribution to the political science of the Middle Ages. Although the Divine Comedy was written at a time when Scholasticism had begun to decline, and is, therefore, as Ozanam so beautifully expresses it, the "swan song of Scholasticism," it embodies the best doctrines of the Golden Age of Scholastic philosophy.{7}

The subsequent history of the Thomistic school involves a study of the philosophical systems of Henry of Ghent and of Duns Scotus, who are the most important of the earlier opponents of Thomism, and who alone of all the Anti-Thomists left behind them a school of Anti-Thomistic tradition.

{1} Cf. Chartul., I, 566; II, 6.

{2} Petrus Johannis Olivi (genitive).

{3} Cf. Chartul, I, 543ff.

{4} Prantl, however (Geschichte der Logik, III, 15), quotes the lines from the logical treatises of William of Shirwood (or Shyrwode) (died 1249). This writer as well as Petrus Hispanus drew largely from Byzantine sources, especially from Psellus, who appears to have been the first to use mnemonic lines to designate the valid moods in the three Aristotelian figures (cf. Prantl, op. cit., II, 276).

{5} Cf. Bourgeat, Études sur Vincent de Beauvais (Paris, 1856).

{6} Cf. Figuier, Vies des Savants, etc., p. 231.

{7} Cf. Ozanam, Dante and Catholic Philosophy of the Thirteenth Century, translated by Lucia D. Pychowska (New York, 1897); also Moore, Studies in Dante (Oxford, First Series, 1891; Second Series, 1899).

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