Albert the Great set himself no easy task when he undertook to make Aristotle ‘intelligible to the Latin West’. With its concept of a God who produces material things through natural necessity, who thinks only of himself and ignores the whole universe, with its theory that the soul derives its individuality from matter and loses it when the body disintegrates, Peripatetic philosophy came into manifest contradiction with dogma. Admirers of the Philosopher knew this, and so did those of their colleagues who declined to baptize the pagan. But they considered it possible to reconstruct his doctrine and transcend it, while holding fast to his principles. Still a greater number were convinced they could safely use his works on physics and his logical writings, considering that in these matters, as William of Ockham was to remark, 1) doctrine leaves everyone free to say what he pleases. This was perhaps to overlook the fact that Aristotle’s system is a highly structured one; that, furthermore, one does not easily elaborate a natural science, nor even a logic, without mixing in a little, not to say a great deal, of philosophy, and that, finally, Aristotle imbues everything he talks about with his own cast of mind. Thus the least important of the Philosopher’s texts, charged as they were, so to speak, with all his thought, could give rise to serious difficulties. The problem of the knowledge of future contingents affords an example.
KeywordsFifteenth Century Fourteenth Century Future Contingent Catholic Faith Peripatetic Philosophy
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