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Realism and Nominalism . By: Albert Tejada. Scholasticism . The economic revival of Europe brought urbanization and reconstruction to Europe. As a result, there came a demand for education that led to the rise of universities in Western Europe.

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realism and nominalism

Realism and Nominalism

By: Albert Tejada

  • The economic revival of Europe brought urbanization and reconstruction to Europe.
  • As a result, there came a demand for education that led to the rise of universities in Western Europe.
  • The works of Aristotle and other classical authors had been recovered through Muslim Spain and Sicily.
  • The recovery of these works sparked a movement within the new universities.
  • This movement was based on demonstrating the harmony of faith and reason.
aristotle and plato
Aristotle and Plato
  • During this time period, Aristotle’s teachings became important to the Christian thought.
  • This was highly ironic because Aristotle’s teachings often contradicted Christianity.
  • Unlike Aristotle, Plato and traditional Christian thought were fairly good allies.
  • In the Middle Ages, the views associated with Plato became known as realism.
  • The views associated with Aristotle were then known as nominalism.
realists they re about that life
Realists…they’re about that life
  • Plato argued that there are spiritual essences behind all that we perceive in the world. This become known as realism.
  • In earlier times, theologians believed Plato’s assertion that knowledge is gained through the activity of the soul. Plato argued that truth belonged to the spiritual realm and could only be known through spiritual means.
  • Realists specifically believed this happened through reason, which was connected to the soul.
  • Realists also favored a deduction of reasoning that worked from the top down. The line of thinking should go from the spirit to matter, from greater truths to individual examples of them.

Realists cont’d

  • Thus, a theologian that was working with Plato’s line of though would start with a spiritual truth from the Bible and move down to a specific aspect of material reality.
  • The result was that realists believed it was foolish to rely on the physical sense.
  • Realists asserted that there was an eternal and spiritual order of things, a way of classifying them as God himself had defined them.
nom nom nominalists
Nom Nom Nominalists…
  • Aristotle’s intelligence brought about the question of how such knowledge could be attained without faith? NO FAITH, BUT HOW?!?
  • Nominalists held that “realities”, such as physical objects, were in fact only names used for the sake of convenience in identifying the objects.
  • Nominalists asserted that there was no such order and no single right way to divide world.
nominalists cont d
Nominalists cont’d
  • Theories in nominalism that contradicted Christian teachings include:
    • Aristotle’s belief that the human soul is not immortal.
    • Aristotle’s denial of the biblical assertion of God’s creation of the world.
    • However, the contradiction that seemed most important was Aristotle’s theory of knowledge. The monastic approach to learning held that faith guides human reason and makes real knowledge possible.
      • If you haven’t noticed, Aristotle wasn’t necessarily a man of faith.
      • Still, he was regarded as the greatest of polymaths because of his expertise in various subjects. According to Dante, he was known as” the master of those who know”
anselm of canterbury
Anselm of Canterbury
  • He was archbishop of Canterbury.
  • He defined the Church against intrusive schemes of kings William II and Henry I.
  • He created many works that were evident to his priority of faith over reason. He followed the phrase “Credo ut intelligam,” which meant “I believe in order to understand.”
  • However, he was also convinced that reason could affirm and clarify truths known by faith.
  • Anslem also created the famous ontological argument.
anselm cont d
Anselm cont’d
  • The ontological argument stated that the very idea of the existence of God, makes true that God exists.
  • Everyone knows, he said, that God means something greater than which nothing could be imagined.
  • This meant that God cannot exist only in the imagination because if He did, it would still b possible to imagine something greater…a God that exists in reality.
  • Therefore, there exists both in our minds and in reality one greater than which nothing exists, and that is God.
anselm cont dd
Anselm cont’dd
  • Anselm’s argument received A LOT of criticism.
  • Theologians objected to the idea of making the content of a faith revealed by God subject to question and debate.
  • Others complained that there was something tricky about his argument.
  • If you haven’t guessed it, Anselm was a hardcore realist.
  • Anselm’s most important contribution to theology was his theory of salvation. By sinning, he said, humans had dishonored God and upset the divine established order of things.
  • To be set right with God, humanity either had to be punished or make satisfaction for its sin. God, who is merciful, sought reconciliation through satisfaction, but humanity had nothing to offer that was good enough ;)
anselm cont ddd
Anselm cont’ddd
  • Only God could make perfect restitution, hence the necessity of a God-man.
  • Anselm said “Only one who is truly divine can make satisfaction, and only one who is truly human ought to make it.”
  • Christ went far beyond the righteousness that could be expected of any human being by offering his life for the sake of all others. In doing so he earned infinite spiritual merit.
  • This is made available to sinners through their faith and participation in the sacraments.
anselm cont dddd gosh
Anselm cont’dddd gosh….
  • Anselm’s satisfaction theory of atonement depended on the existence of universals, in particular the humanity assumed by Christ.
  • In Anselm’s argument, he attempted to demonstrated the logical necessity of the incarnation without appealing to the authority of scripture or faith.
  • Basically he tried to kept reason and faith as one.
peter abelard
Peter Abelard
  • Born 1079. Died 1142.
  • Greatest theologian to teach a Paris.
  • Focused on the relationship between faith and reason.
  • Unlike Anselm, he placed faith and reason on an equal plane by arguing that the tenets of Christianity should be accepted on the basis of ration examination as well as faith.
  • His most famous work, Sic et non, consists of 158 questions and propositions of dogmas essential to Christianity. When writing this, he tried to not be bias and left no conclusion to what should be believed or not.
abelard cont d
Abelard cont’d
  • In opposition to Anselm’s satisfaction theory, Abelard proposed what is called the moral influence theory.
  • It states that it is not necessary for Christ to make satisfaction for sin because God forgave the transgressions of human beings long before Christ ever came.
  • Abelard was disturbed by the legalism of Anselm’s theory and in particular the idea that God would demand the innocent blood of his Son.
  • Such views were not entirely consistent with the mood and outlook of medieval Christianity.