ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf

Historical Introduction.

Grecian and Patristic Philosophies.

1. Object and Standpoint of Introductory Study. -- The Philosophy of any one period bears a genealogical relation both to the past and to the future: every movement in the intellectual world embraces something of those that have preceded it, and prepares the way for those that are to follow. The truth of this law of the continuity of philosophic thought is verified by the study of the Middle Ages. The medieval philosophers appeal to the philosophies of the Ancients and of the Fathers of the Christian Church with a readiness for which they are reproached. Their teaching contains, side by side with original and characteristic elements, borrowed and traditional ones as well. Now it is important for any one who would appreciate the historical obligations of medieval to ancient philosophy, and especially for the student who would estimate with any fair show of exactness the originality of the medieval systems, to keep in view those of the Grecian and Patristic systems which exerted most influence on the philosophy of the Middle Ages.

These considerations, which suggest and justify the object of this introductory study, fix at the same time the view-point from which it ought to be approached. We do not aim at giving a complete exposition of the Grecian and Patristic Philosophies, an account of all the schools, assigning to each the relative importance due to it, but merely a short study of a few systems, notably those which have more directly influenced medieval thought. But in order to avoid any interruption of historical sequence, a passing glance at the connecting-links will outline those parts which present a less degree of interest for the student of medieval Philosophy.

Our historical introduction to the Philosophy of the Middle Ages will deal successively with (1) the Philosophy of Greece, and (2) the Philosophy of the Fathers of the Church.

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