How did Augustine support the theology of the Church with philosophy?

St. Augustine (354-430) tried to justify the whole of human knowledge, even though he also allowed for error. All knowledge, according to Augustine, resided within the soul as "a substance endowed with reason and fitted to rule a body." While the soul can act on the body, the body cannot act on the soul. God is always present to the soul, whether the soul is aware of his light or turns away from it. These views of Augustine established the superiority of religion to philosophy and also embedded God in the same human faculty associated with non-religious understanding to the elevation of religious understanding.

Augustine's greatest work was The City of God, in which he separated the temporal state (government on Earth) from the religious realm of the afterlife. The temporal state was to have a secondary role in ensuring peace, order, safety, and physical well being for its citizens. The heavenly city, by contrast, requires living according to God's rules. Although the temporal and heavenly cities may at times overlap, only God's city is eternal.

Who are some Dark Ages philosophers who came after St. Augustine?

After St. Augustine's death in 430, the so-called "Dark Ages" (roughly 420 to 1000 c.e.) ensued. In 420 the Visigoths living inside of Rome sacked the city. In monasteries in Italy, Spain, and Britain, the Encyclopedists emerged.

St. Isidore of Seville set the ambitious goal of describing all human knowledge in an extensive encyclopedia (Art Archive).

St. Isidore of Seville set the ambitious goal of describing all human knowledge in an extensive encyclopedia (Art Archive).

Who were the Encyclopedists?

They were scholars who attempted to systematically present all of human knowledge at their time. Chief among them were Boethius (480-c. 525) of Italy, whose work went far beyond the alphabetized speculations of the other two who best represented this period: St. Isidore of Seville (560-636) and The Venerable Bede of Britain (674-735). Both Isidore and The Bede were clerics who devoted their lives to ecclesiastical service. Isidore compiled Etymologiae (or Origines), which was a systematic presentation of all available learning during his time and endured as a textbook in church schools for hundreds of years. The Venerable Bede was best known for his histories, particularly that of Britain. The next real philosophical luminary was Johannes

Scotus Eriugena (c. 815-877).

Who was Johannes Scotus Eriugena?

Johannes Scotus Eriugena (c. 810-877; also known as John Scotus Eriugena) was a Christian rationalist (literally, his name means "John the Irishman, the Irishman.") King John the Bold called him to his Palatine School to translate The Pseudo-Dionysius. This document was falsely attributed to St. Dionysius (d. 268), a convert of St. Paul, although it was in fact written by an unknown Neoplatonist. Eriugiena's translation was initially a success; building on its main ideas, he constructed his own system, De Divisione Naturae. His basic premise was that logical reasoning ought to be compatible with Christian philosophy. This meant that the teachings of the Church Fathers could be criticized, if necessary. More heretically than that, it left no room for faith in divine creation and salvation. Eriugena's treatise was condemned by Pope Honorius III (1148-1227) in 1225.

What did Pope Honorius III consider heretical about Johannes Scotus Eriugena's treatise?

In De Divisione Naturae Eriugena presented a Neoplatonic view of the world and cosmos that was also pantheistic. The Catholic Church did not accept pantheism, which held that God was everywhere in the world, because He was supposed to be separate

What was in St. Isidore's encyclopedia?

St. Isidore of Seville's (c. 560-636) encyclopedia—the Etymologiae—was an ambitious attempt to compile all the knowledge of its day in one source. It contained everything that was known and believed at the time, with little critical editing. For example, under "A" was an entry on the atomic theory, but there was also an entry on the mythical Antipodes, who were said to populate rocky plains in the south of Africa. Isidore related that their big toes were not on the inside of their feet, but on the outside, which afforded them greater agility in navigating their rocky terrain.

from His creation. According to Eriugena, we cannot ascribe any natural quality from our own experience to God. That view was not a problem for the pope. The problem was that he described the created world as emanating from God in different stages: God created ideas or Platonic forms, and these created perceptible objects. The perceptible objects could not create anything but instead would ultimately be one with God, which meant that God "was all in all," part of a circle that ended in himself.

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