Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy

2011 Edition
| Editors: Henrik Lagerlund

Robert Kilwardby

  • José Filipe Silva
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9729-4_447


The English Dominican Robert Kilwardby (1215?–1279) divided his career in between Paris and Oxford. First as a student and then as a master at the Faculty of Arts in Paris in the period 1231–1245, he produced the earliest comprehensive group of commentaries of the arts syllabus that came down to us, with comments on the subjects of grammar, logic, and ethics. After 1245, approximately, he moved back to England where he entered the Dominican Order, studied and then taught theology at Oxford and began a promising institutional career. In 1261, he was elected Provincial of the Order in England and in 1272 was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, duty he performed until his designation as Cardinal of Porto and Santa Rufina. He died in Viterbo, at the Papal court, in 1279. After the entrance in the Dominican Order, Kilwardby devoted himself to the study of theology, namely by writing a Sentences commentary. During this period, he attempted to conciliate the philosophy of Augustine with Aristotle. However, in case of conflicting views, as it is the case of intellectual cognition, Augustine is preferred since he is more enlightened than Aristotle in spiritual matters (as Kilwardby himself repeated). Kilwardby is the author of an encyclopedic work, the De ortu scientiarum, which constituted one of the most copied introductions to knowledge in the medieval period. In 1277, he was the main responsible of the so-called Oxford Condemnations. This event, identified as an attack against the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, in particular his thesis of the unicity of substantial form, contributed largely to the negative way Kilwardby was seen by his and our contemporaries: as a conservative neo-Augustinian, fighting the progress of Aristotelianism and Thomism. Whether he fits into this picture, is a matter open to dispute.

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • José Filipe Silva
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social Sciences and PhilosophyUniversity of JyväskyläJyväskyläFinland