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

Second Period.
Medieval Philosophy in the Thirteenth Century.

Chapter I.

General View.

223. Western, Arabian, Jewish and Byzantine Philosophies. -- The thirteenth century is the golden age of medieval philosophy, and the West is the seat of its greatest triumph. At the end of the twelfth century, Western philosophy came into contact with the Arabian, Jewish and Byzantine philosophies: to its own exclusive advantage. Indeed we may regard the Arabian and Jewish philosophies as having run their course; while the Byzantine genius slumbered on to the Renaissance.

The line of Arabian philosophers became extinct with Averroës: the mystics who succeeded him are of very minor importance in the history of philosophy. Nor did the Jews do any further original work. The discussions on the philosophy of Maimonides were confined to the synagogues of Provence, Catalonia and Arragon, whither the Jews had been driven by the fanaticism of the Almahades; and although the philosophers triumphed in their controversies with the theologians, they closely adhered to the Guide of the Doubting. Then also the Jewish writers fell more and more completely under the ascendant of Averroës. The works of SAMUEL BEN TIBBON (The Opinions of the Philosophers, early in the thirteenth century), JUDA BEN SALOMO COHEN, a protégé of Frederick II. (The Search for Wisdom, 1247), FALAQUERA (a Spaniard, born about 1226), GERSON BEN SALOMON (Gate of Heaven, second half of thirteenth century), are little better than encyclopedias of the teachings of Averroës. Numerous Hebrew versions, dating from the thirteenth century, also bear witness to the esteem in which the works of Averroës had come to be held by the Jews of this period. The output of Byzantine philosophy in the thirteenth century is represented by the work of a few men who were compilers rather than original thinkers: NICEPHORUS BLEMMIDES (middle of thirteenth century) and GEORGE PACHYMERES (1242-1310). The extent of his scholarship has won for the former of those the title of Philosopher ho philosophos). The latter wrote a compendium of Aristotelian philosophy and published a well-known paraphrase of the works of Pseudo-Denis. But these efforts are very poor in comparison with the great syntheses of Western scholasticism. It is, therefore, mainly to the latter that we shall devote our attention in the history of the present period.

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