7: Jewish, Christian & Islamic Philosophy


Saint Augustine

Key Terms

Ontological argument
Cosmological argument
First-Cause Argument
Theory of Natural Law

  • Read and analyze a description of philosophical thought
  • Articulate key conceptual distinctions between medieval philosophy
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how Augustine reconciles Christianity with Platonism.

Link to Christian Philosophers

I. Augustine

  • A. Reconciling Platonism and Christianity
    • Platonism and Christianity are natural partners
    • Augustine added Christianity to Plato’s ideas
    • Plato’s Ideal World = Heaven (Latin: Caelus)
    • Plato’s immortal souls striving for union through enlightenment = immortal souls striving for union with God through reason and faith
  • B. Augustine’s View of the Soul
    • Physical body is inferior to the soul
    • Early work: the body is a cage for the soul
    • Later work: the body is the spouse of the soul
    • What remained the same: the soul is separate from the body, and the body is inferior to the soul
  • C. How the Fall of Man Affects the Soul
    • The Fall of Man from God’s grace in the Garden of Eden affects both body and soul
    • When the soul is removed from perfection, it causes a yearning to return
    • When the body is removed from perfection, it becomes depraved
  • D. Contextualizing Augustine’s City of God
    • Augustine wrote in the fourth century, the end of the ancient era
    • Transition from 1st century Christians preoccupied with the end of time, to coexisting in the world
    • Augustine sees Rome as a force for good in the world
  • E. Reconciling God and the Government
    • Goal of City of God
      • Reconciles Jesus' Kingdom of God with Caesar’s Roman Empire
      • Focus on the individual’s pursuit of a relationship with God
      • Through personal devotion and love, the Kingdom of God might be actualized on earth

II. Thomas Aquinas

  • Reconciling Aristotle and Christianity
  • Five Ways to prove God’s existence, including the First-Cause argument
  • Understanding Natural Law Theory
    • Combine reason and religious theory
    • Purpose of human life is to follow the law
    • Eternal law, Divine law, Natural law, Human law
    • Universal moral values can be discovered in nature through reason
    • These laws fit with divine law
    • They are universal, apply to everyone
  • Objections to Theory of Natural Law
    • Determining the law
    • Applying the law
    • Disagreeing with the law

III. Jewish Philosophy & Maimonides

  • Jewish contemplative tradition develops separately from Greek thought
    • Athens (Reason): the sacred is a “what” – a philosophical principle
    • Jerusalem (Revelation): the sacred is a “Who” – a Voice crying out for a response
  • The Torah: Jewish Epistemology & Struggling with God
  • The Prophets & the Writings: instructs Israel through completion of 2nd Temple
    • 70 CE: the 2nd Temple is destroyed by the Roman Empire
    • 380 CE: Edict of Thessalonica – Illegal to be a Jew until modern times
  • The Talmud: ancient Biblical commentaries of Rabbinic period (6,000+ pages)
  • The Midrash: Ongoing commentary beyond the Talmud
    • 1095-1291: The Crusades strip Jews of most of their rights and lands
    • Maimonides (Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon), 1135-1204
      • There can be no contradiction between revelation, science, and philosophy
      • Today, less than 0.2% of the world is Jewish, but 22%+ of Nobel Laureates are Jewish
  • Modern Christian Antisemitism expels Jews from England (1290), France (1394), Spain (1492), etc.

IV. Avicenna & Islamic Philosophy

  • A. Avicenna
    • Persian scholar and philosopher
    • Reconciling Aristotle, Plato, and Islam
    • Cosmological argument for God’s existence

Hildegard of Bingen

V. Hildegard of Bingen

  • A. Biography, in brief
    • Born 1098
    • Given to the church to be raised
    • Became an accomplished speaker and composer
  • B. Hildegard, the Mystic
    • Experienced visions from a young age
    • Encouraged to share them by a mentor
    • Wrote the Scivias and Book of Divine Works
    • Visions connect the microcosm of humanity to the macrocosm of the cosmos
  • C. A Woman Unique to Her Time
    • Preaching tours
    • Public recognition from teh Holy Roman Emperor, Pope, and Eleanor of Aquitaine

VI. William of Ockham

  • English philosopher and theologian
  • Wrote about Logic, Aristotle, the Church
  • Principle of Parsimony, a.k.a. Ockham’s Razor

Logic Week 7: Texas Sharpshooter and Tautology