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

160. Their Place in the History of Medieval Philosophy. -- From the commencement of the Middle Ages there arose controversies which certainly belong primarily to the history of theology, but which for many reasons may not be passed over in a history of medieval philosophy. In the first place, many of the problems of scholastic philosophy have had their sources in theology, in the sense that they grew out of theological controversies. In the ninth and tenth centuries, the predestination controversy gave rise to the question of human liberty and its relations to Divine providence and Divine justice; the Paschasian controversy on the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist called forth dissertations on substance and accident; the dogma of the Blessed Trinity suggested discussions on the concepts of nature, individual and person; the mystery of transubstantiation led to the study of change.

The confusion between philosophy and theology, characteristic of the earlier centuries, gives those controversies a mixed complexion. It led the more ardent spirits to carry the purely rational method into delicate dogmatic questions. Moreover, those famous theological disputes synchronized with the spread of a diseased dialectic which came to a head in the eleventh century. This was a sort of a parasitic growth on philosophy (146): and it was applied to the disputes about dogma. Men like Gottschalk, Berengar and Roscelin did not escape the contagion. All put into practice, at least to some extent, the motto of Berengar: per omnia ad dialecticam confugere.

There was a reaction against this on the part of the theologians, who were men of a more practical turn, but who blamed dialectic itself for the excesses of the dialecticians. Ecclesiastical authority intervened; and sometimes its prohibitions were too sweeping. The hostility of the more timid among the theologians was excessive. But gradually a new tendency asserted itself in the direction of seeking an adjustment of the respective rights of reason and authority. The true relations between philosophy and theology were thus gradually brought into clearer light.

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