Europe on the Brink of the Black Death (Quick Notes:1)

Today begins a new series– Quick Notes! Like their older and more detailed brethren, Historical Notes, this label provides some quick reference points for select content from a The Great Courses lecture series. Today, I will start going through Dorsey Armstrong’s course The Black Death: The World’s Most Devastating Plague. At the end of each…Read more »

The 14th Century and Beyond (Notes:80)

A general feature of histories of medieval philosophy is that they abruptly stop around or after the 14th century. Other histories highly praise Aquinas, raising him to a height synonymous with the ending of medieval philosophy, while deriding Occam’s skepticism. Both of these explanations are, however, simplistic; professor Williams, then, would like to in this…Read more »

What Occam’s Razor Leaves Behind (Notes:78)

Occam’s contribution to medieval philosophy is located within logic and metaphysics, not necessarily ‘reason and faith’. But, he does have his importance to this project. Top among these principles is the idea that has since come to be known as “Occam’s Razor”. The second is his denial that there are universal entities. Professor Williams remarks…Read more »

Scotus on Saying Exactly what God Is (Notes:77)

Aristotle’s theory of knowledge. Scotus and Aquinas did not disagree on everything and here, among others, is one of the best places to understand; namely, that our natural knowledge of God begins with our experience of sensible things. Scotus, however, will draw a different conclusion from Aquinas’s own; whereas Aquinas believed that there was always…Read more »

Scotus on God’s Freedom and Ours (Notes:76)

Modern students of medieval philosophy usually see Aquinas’s reconciliation of Aristotelian and Christian doctrine as the high point of medieval philosophy. However, to many of Aquinas’s contemporaries, the idea of making good Aristotle seemed dangerous. Just a few years after his death we see what’s known now as the Condemnation of 1277, something which reoriented…Read more »