History of Medieval Philosophy and General Characteristics of the Period

History of Medieval Philosophy and General Characteristics of the Period

June 28, 2021 Off By Felso

Philosophy activity in the historical period between the classical age and the modern age; in the history of thought M.S. 1. or II. century, XV. It is the philosophy of the historical section between the 19th century.

Medieval Philosophy includes four different traditions:

1. Christian philosophy, developed in the West or Europe and expressed in Latin,

2. Islamic philosophy, which emerged in the Islamic world in the East and expressed in the Arabic language,

3. Jewish philosophy and philosophy, expressed in Hebrew by Jewish thinkers not only in Christian countries, but in many parts of the Islamic world

4. Byzantine philosophy, which was put forward in the Greek language within the Christian Byzantine Empire.

Despite its four different traditions and the fundamental differences between them, medieval philosophy forms a whole.

There are three main reasons for this. First of all, both Christian and Islamic philosophy, as well as Jewish and Byzantine philosophy, share a common philosophical heritage: ancient Greek philosophy. Accordingly, Greek thought had a significant impact on medieval philosophy in late Antiquity, especially through Neo-Platonism. The second major reason why medieval philosophy constitutes a whole in itself is that the four philosophical traditions we have mentioned are in close relationship with each other. As a matter of fact, Jewish thinkers in the Middle Ages were heavily influenced by the Islamic thinkers they read, especially Farabi and Avicenna, and the same Islamic philosophy became a source, or at least mediated the transfer of ancient Greek philosophy, to the West through the 12th century Renaissance. Finally, all four traditions must be part of cultures dominated by revealed monotheistic religions. Although the relationship between religious teaching and philosophical speculation, or theology and philosophy, may differ in each of these traditions, the philosophical problems addressed are more or less the same in all of them.


1. Where Ancient Greek philosophy was the philosophy of a certain people, the ancient Greek or Athenian people, and modern philosophy the philosophy of individual individuals belonging to different nations, Medieval philosophy is the philosophy of a religious community, an ummah, Christian or Islamic society, above the characteristics of individuals and peoples. or the philosophy of the Jewish community.

2. Where the ancient Greek philosophy was a purely worldly philosophy and the most basic feature of classical reason was secularism, medieval philosophy was dominated by an otherworldly interest. In other words, it was accepted that the main problem of man in Greek was to achieve happiness in this world; While it was believed in the Greeks that man had the power to solve this problem and that he could reach a good and happy life by his own efforts, in the Middle Ages the problems were related to the life in the hereafter rather than the life in this world. The happiness sought is not happiness in this world, but an eternal bliss. Therefore, ethics and aesthetics, which were an independent discipline of philosophy in ancient Greece, leave their place to theology to a great extent.

3. In other words, medieval thinkers argued that the only thing that matters is man’s relationship with the supernatural realm of existence, the transcendent and absolutely perfect being. This naturally changed the nature and subject area of ​​philosophy in the Middle Ages. Accordingly, in ancient Greece, natural science and social sciences were valuable both on their own and as solid tools for the purpose of a good and happy life. For Christians in particular, however, they turned out to be not only useless, but sometimes harmful and even dangerous disciplines. Again, while the Greeks dealt with morality in a social ethic and with the aim of happiness, morality became a part of religion in the Middle Ages. Therefore, while ethics in Greece was sometimes based on a cosmological basis and sometimes on a social ground, in the Middle Ages ethics was based on a theological level. As a matter of fact, in this period, behavior or human action is evaluated not according to its purpose, but according to its conformity or non-compliance with God’s commandments. Medieval man’s incompleteness, his failure, as God brought a lofty and high ideal to man. and even one who has to feel his sinfulness all the time. As a result of this situation, where Greek thought was essentially an optimistic philosophy, especially Christian medieval philosophy is a philosophy that rises above pessimism.

4. Again, where the Greek lived in a universe that is basically one, united, that is, in the macrocosm, which is understandable in essence as a microcosm, of which he is a part, the medieval man, as a being separated from his creator, had to live in a universe alien to him. For this person, on the one hand, there is the transcendent, creator God, and on the other, there is an alien sphere of existence that will distance him from God more and more every day. Therefore