The Study Of Medieval Philosophy And Theology Today

It might be objected that some modern researchers have returned to the study of the classical philosophies of Greece and Rome, and that there are many who are interested in the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle, Plot-inus, and Proclus. This objection might be confirmed by the observation that there have also been restorations of the study of medieval philosophies and theologies, especially through the endorsements of Pope Leo XIII's encyclical letter Aeterni Patris [On the Restoration of Christian Philosophy] in 1879 and the more recent 1978 encyclical of Pope John Paul II, Fides etRatio [Faith and Reason]. Certainly, these and other efforts have turned attention once again to classical and medieval thought. Often, however, this interest has been almost purely historical: The philosophies and theologies of the ancients and medievals are appreciated in the same way that any archeological remains are honored. In some instances, nonetheless, medieval philosophies and theologies have been studied as manifestations of timeless truth. Is what they teach true or false, wise or unwise, reasonable or unreasonable? Before such questions can be answered, there is a prior requirement: We have to understand the medieval authors on their own terms. We have to enter their now-forgotten world and see if we can understand things the way they saw them. We have to bracket our own modern categories and frames of reference. Do the ancients and medievals have anything to teach us? Are truth, wisdom, and reason time-bound categories? Or can we learn from people who thought differently and even perhaps more richly than we do ourselves at the present time? We hope the rest of this volume will put our readers at the beginning of the path to answer such questions.

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