Some Dissatisfactions With University Philosophy And Theology

Throughout this introduction, mention has been made of disagreements among Muslim, Jewish, and Christian teachers about the inroads of "foreign elements" from outside cultures or conflicts from within over authors who are helpful or orthodox and ones who are harmful, schismatic, or heretical. Different developments, especially developments in methods, such as the lectio, the quaestio, and the disputatio, have been indicated. There were also discussions of developments in the types of schools —those associated with the king's or emperor's household, those surrounding a monastery, or those attached to a cathedral—and the birth of the university, which was not a collection of buildings but rather "a community of masters and scholars." Hidden among the descriptions of these various structures of purposes, faith loyalties, methods, and locations are further causes of tension that need some consideration.

Some of these tensions have already been hinted at when, for example, mention was made of the attitude of mind of some radical Aristotelian thinkers who, whether Muslim, Jewish, or Christian, seemed to hold, without any less faith than someone who held the opposite, that kalam or dialectical theology was not really an intellectual discipline. Similar compartmentalizing attitudes of mind also showed up in Quodlibet disputations at the University of Paris in the 1270s, when the question "Must a person have faith in order to be a theologian?" arose. Or the importance of deductive and declarative theology might be questioned by an Oxford faculty member who seems to prefer preaching to asking quaestiones when he ends many of his lectures on The Sentences of Peter Lombard with a practical sermon. There are, to push the point, throughout the course of the history of medieval philosophy and theology many tensions and many challenges that are just part of the realities of people having limited time or limited interests, various challenges and various abilities.

There is, however, one tension that seems more dramatic and important. It is a tension that in germ form appeared early in the history of Christianity. It can be found in Patristic times when Augustine warned that Christians should not study useless and curious subjects that do not beget, nourish, defend, and strengthen the Christian faith. It was a tension later manifested in the medieval debates over the speculative or practical goals of the study of theology. In the late 14th and early 15 th centuries, it was formulated in the question "Does one study to increase one's knowledge of God and his creation or to foster a greater love of God and neighbor?" Such a question expresses the tension manifested in Jean Gerson's sermon Against the Curiosity of Scholars, when he criticized the followers of the Franciscans John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham who had lost the "simplicity of heart" spirit of study manifested in St. Bonaventure's The Journey of the Mind into God. Gerson declared, "I cannot bring myself to appreciate the way the Franciscans, having dismissed this great teacher, have turned to I know not what novelties and are prepared to fight tooth and nail for them."

It is also evident in the very practice of the 15th-century Carthusian Denys Ryckel, who, in his Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, totally ignores the theologians of the 14th century and retrieves the earlier, and what he considers the more wholesome, spiritual approach to theology found in the writings of William of Auxerre, St. Bonaven-ture, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Henry of Ghent. To a great extent the study of university philosophy and theology was also criticized by those who followed the mystical elements of Albert the Great's writings and who favored the Neoplatonic tradition: Berthold of Moosburg, Johannes

Tauler, Heinrich Suso, and Jan van Ruysbroek. Certainly, studies in the arts and theology faculties of the universities continued in the 14th and 15 th centuries, and even flourished. Often these faculties were developed along particular lines or schools: realists and nominalists; Thomists, Scotists, and Ockhamists. The multiplication of universities in these centuries bears witness to a continued life for medieval philosophy and theology, despite the criticisms of those who saw the various approaches of these particular schools as competing forms of the sin of curiosity.

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