First, Dante the Philosopher plays not only to his strength in medieval philosophy
, but also shows an excellent appreciation of Dante as literary artist.
It presents a cyclical view of history and how this view helps us understand medieval philosophy
in general and the changing relation between philosophy and religion in particular.
Fifty years ago, in 1951, the renowned historian of medieval philosophy
Etienne Gilson published a tiny booklet entitled The breakdown of Morals and Christian Education.
Early expressions could of course evoke different resonances in later periods, but apart from the nuanced if sometimes arbitrary nature of the spirituality advanced here, a spirituality rooted in the normative traditions of medieval philosophy
, it is possible to believe that there are political and communal dimensions of Piers Plowman, in which human life is understood less as a pilgrimage than as an aegon, and one which ends less in an enhanced sense of self than in a realization of the conflict and oppression that inform, in a variety of ways, any coming to God.
Durant, for example, passes over the entire corpus of medieval philosophy
in a paragraph, dismissing it as part of the general "darkness" that enveloped Europe which did not lift until the dawn of the Renaissance.
Those familiar with medieval philosophy
are likely to desire a fuller account; the one given is largely emblematic, especially in regard to the rich implications it is claimed to have.
Those studying medieval philosophy
will find much of interest if they are willing to cross over to the theological terrain explored by these philosopher-theologians.
Special attention is given to Gilson's role in recovering the historical study of medieval philosophy
as well as his place in the contentious debates over Christian philosophy, critical realism, and esthetics.
Parallel to Niewohner's interpretation of Maimonides as an enlightenist there has been a similar reinterpretation of rationalist medieval philosophy
and theology as a whole.
takes only seventeen pages, cites only a handful of philosophers, and those in very small quantity.
He is professor emeritus of philosophy and has written or edited eleven hooks on medieval philosophy
This essay could be very helpful for students of medieval philosophy
seeking to understand continental approaches to this period.