Research on the History of Medieval Philosophy in Myth

2020-06-13 | By Historian | Filed in: Character.

Wu Tianyue: A Study of Medieval Philosophy History in Myth

At 7: 30 p.m. On April 29, the first lecture series on “Modesty Cloud Lecture Hall: Peaks of Western Philosophy (Season 2: Medieval and Renaissance)” organized by the Philosophy Department of CUHK was held on Tencent Conference Platform. This is a report by Teacher Wu Tianyue of the Philosophy Department of Peking University. The theme of the report is “Research on the History of Medieval Philosophy in Myth”. Teacher Zhang Wei of the Philosophy Department of CUHK is the host. Before the start of the report, Mr. Zhang introduced the original intention and assumption of this series of lectures, emphasizing that medieval philosophy research has a reference significance that cannot be ignored for current philosophy research.



At the beginning of the report, Mr. Wu stressed that the purpose of the report is to give a general outline of the study of medieval philosophy history since the Renaissance. Mr. Wu believes that medieval philosophy itself is not dark, but the study of medieval philosophy history has been in darkness for a long time, because philosophy history researchers always substitute their prejudices into the study of philosophy history and produce various “myths”. Mr. Wu distinguished the Middle Ages as the absolute other from the Middle Ages as a part of us. The former is an ideal historical period deliberately divided by humanists, while the latter is the continuation of the medieval ideological achievements hidden in our life proposed by Collingwood.


In the first part, Mr. Wu introduced the general history of early philosophy. His representatives are Gianfrancesco Picco and Poitzel. They tend to regard the history of medieval philosophy as full of fallacies, which also affects the later writing of philosophy history. Georg Horne’s History of Philosophy is the earliest book on the history of philosophy. It records from the Great Flood of the Bible to the Renaissance and discusses four different traditions of the history of philosophy.


Next, Mr. Wu discussed the “History of Philosophical Criticism” during the Enlightenment period. The first representative figure is Pele. His book “Dictionary of History and Criticism” holds an obvious critical attitude towards the history of philosophy and has a great influence on the compilation of the history of philosophy. Another representative figure is Delande, who believes that medieval philosophy is only guided by speculation and ignores the dimension of practical action. The third representative figure is Howman, who started the first philosophical publication “Records of Philosophers’ Events”. He believes that philosophy is the fundamental attribute and standard of the history of philosophy, not only the research object of the history of philosophy. Medieval philosophy was guided by wrong religion. Only Protestant religious reform can get philosophy out of decline. The fourth character is Brooke, who wrote “Concise Questions and Answers on the History of Philosophy” and “Critical History of Philosophy”, criticizing medieval philosophy as pseudo-philosophy. The fifth figure is Bonafeld, who admitted to some extent that there was a revival of philosophy after the Middle Ages, but attributed it to his resistance to Aristotelianism, which reflected his contradictory stand as a Catholic protector and a humanist. The sixth figure is Thiedman, who, contrary to Howyman, believes that historians of philosophy should refuse to bring their stand into historical research and distinguish the forms and materials of medieval philosophy. As far as the former is concerned, it has merit, which has also become the source of modern philosophy.


In the third part, Mr. Wu introduced the medieval philosophy rediscovered in the 19th century. Schlegel divided medieval philosophy into French scholasticism and northern mysticism tradition. The former rigidly adhered to Aristotle’s framework and argumentation form, while the latter revealed hidden truth full of spiritual vitality. Kuzan praised Abelard as the father of modern rationalism, while Aureo examined the common phase problem in the Middle Ages for the first time in the way of chronicles.


The fourth part discusses the standard paradigm of medieval philosophy history. Kreuther Gen and Stoker believed that medieval philosophy had three basic characteristics: 1. Highlight the position of epistemology and emphasize that reconciling apocalypse and rationality is its fundamental task; 2. Aquinas is regarded as the pinnacle of medieval philosophy due to his accomplishment of the above tasks. 3. O ‘Connor’s criticism of Aquinas’ realism marks the decline of medieval philosophy. In addition, Leo XIII’s encyclical “Eternal Father” praised Aquinas as the epitome of scholasticism on the one hand, and advocated the coordination of scholasticism with modern disciplines and social development on the other. Leuven historians emphasize the autonomy of philosophy, believing that it is a systematic or rational explanation of reality, and does not rely on the apocalypse. Their representative works include Devoolf’s “History of Medieval Philosophy” and Van Steinberg’s “Philosophy of the 13th Century”. Gerson put forward the view of “Christian philosophy”. He believed that the mission of medieval philosophy was not to separate argumentation from belief and reveal the rational factors in Christian philosophy, but to show how apocalypse belief became an organic element of philosophical argumentation.


The fifth part introduces the revival of medieval philosophy in contemporary analytical philosophy. Kretzman’s introduction to “Cambridge Philosophy History” claimed that he was committed to the rebirth of the achievements of medieval philosophy in the context of contemporary philosophy, which also became the declaration of the revival of medieval philosophy. After that, Mr. Wu pointed out some drawbacks in analyzing the history of philosophy, such as the tendency to substitute contemporary philosophical propositions into historical texts while ignoring their context, and to erase the heterogeneity and richness of the research objects of philosophy history and be too single. What needs to be affirmed is that Delibera’s “Medieval Philosophy” examines Byzantine, Islamic, Jewish and Latin philosophical traditions and establishes a research path for multiculturalism. On the other hand, he opened up the path of “subject archaeology”, which is very close to Kant’s idea of reconstructing historical narration through rationality. Delibera also accepted Collinwood’s concept of philosophy history: 1. Abandoning the fixed concept of philosophical problems and replacing it with philosophical questions and answers that change with the times; 2. Accept the constructive replay method and believe that all history is the history of thought, because all thoughts are the result of people’s conscious activities. However, Collinwood’s viewpoint is also in danger of moving towards relativism, and Delibera’s subject archaeology also lacks reflection on “we” as historical writers.


At the end of the report, Mr. Zhang gave a brief comment on the contents of the overall report. The students present raised questions about the relationship between Aristotle and Aveloism, O ‘Connor’s belief theory, Collinwood’s repetitive construction method, and Mr. Wu answered them one by one. This lecture has come to a successful conclusion.



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