|← Expository Essay on Skepticism||Philosophy Ethics →|
The article Medieval Philosophies What Are They, and Why? by Georgy Gereby sheds more light to the notion of medieval philosophy. The author shows that the subject under discussion is not as simple as one may think at first glance. It has particular problems and difficulties on different levels. First, the term is problematic. It appears that it is complicated to define the term because of chronological and geographical aspects. One of the problems the researchers face is that the time framework of the Middle Ages is rather blurred. There are different versions about the beginning of this period. Second, the historical approaches are flawed. It seems that each historian has their own understanding of the Middle Ages and its philosophy. After all, the readers get to know that medieval philosophy is not strictly determinated chronologically, geographically, historically, and conceptually (Gereby 173).
The problematic context of the medieval philosophy reveals the main question of the article. The author wonders if the philosophy of the Middle Ages existed at all. On the one hand, Gereby assumes that the philosophy requires some freedom of reason. On the other hand, he acknowledges that in the Middle Ages the Christian Church restricted the free use of reason. Thus, Christianity appeared to dominate medieval philosophy. Therefore, the author claims that the medieval philosophy was a religious philosophy. He supports his claim with the objectivation of Harry Wolfson and presents the main counterargument of Bertram Russell. Besides, Gereby shows the similarities and differences between theology and philosophy. According to him, philosophy used to be independent as a science, but closely related to theology. Comparison between different opinions leads him to the answer to his question. Gereby concludes that there was a philosophy in the Middle Ages, though to realize it, knowledge of the entire context is necessary. Thus, the article expands the readers’ vision on the essence of medieval philosophy.
I learned a lot from reading the article. First, I got to know that there are three branches of medieval philosophy: Jewish, Christian and Islamic. Before, I had been familiar only with the Christian medieval philosophy and I had never heard of the Jewish one. I learned that although these three branches shared a common heritage in science, Judaism and Christianity had a profound impact on medieval philosophy. The approach of an author explains a lot, namely, how the debates were possible between philosophers and why traditional philosophers did not appear at that time.
Second, I learned why theology is a science. Before that, I have never considered it one. To me, it was more about faith than about theoretical framework and principles. After reading this article, I have changed my mind. I see the logic in the argumentation of Thomas Aquinas. He effectively “harmonizes” faith and reason. Of course, philosophy and theology are different. Philosophy is based on the human mind, and theology is inspired by revelation. Still, both philosophy and theology refer to the truth and reality.
Third, I learned that the medieval philosophy is not simple. I thought I had known a lot about the philosophy of that period, because I used to read about it in the books. Now I know that I lack competency in this field. Furthermore, currently I notice many uncertainties in the course of history and logical fallacies in argumentations. I suppose that there is no universal truth in science even if it claims there is. The universal opinion on the medieval philosophy period has not been achieved. Also, the essence of medieval philosophy remains blurred. I see that both Aquinas and Russell may be right, therefore, the reliability of scientific knowledge is relative.