The Philosophy – Theology Distinction in Albertus Magnus

The Philosophy – Theology Distinction in Albertus Magnus

June 26, 2021 Off By Felso

One of the sharpest distinctions in Albertus Magnus’ philosophy is that he made between philosophy and theology. According to him, theology takes its origin from revelation. The processing of this origin, that is, the revelation, and making it intelligible for man is possible through natural reason.

According to Albertus Magnus, the field where this process emerges is the field of metaphysical philosophy. “Therefore, metaphysics or first philosophy is concerned with God as the first Being, while theology speaks about God known through faith” (Copleston, 2003: 295). This general distinction is a distinction between different fields of knowledge. The lights that illuminate the minds of people working in these different fields and make them aware of the principles also come from different sources. It is clear that people who are interested in philosophy are fed by the general light of reason, and people who are interested in theology are fed by the supernatural or divine light of faith.

What Albertus Magnus accomplished through this distinction was to correct the understanding that philosophy was the servant of theology, which had lasted for nearly six hundred years. With this, Albertus Magnus argues that philosophy is a science that operates independently and distinct from theology. Of course, there were those among the earlier philosophers who expressed such an understanding. However, for the first time, Albertus Magnus appears as a philosopher who brings this to the act of thought. However, it should never be forgotten that the period was a religious one. Because, with the pressure of some clergy, Albertus Magnus also says that philosophical propositions should be counted as secondary besides religious propositions (Copleston, 2003: 296).

Albertus Magnus, who stated at every opportunity that philosophy was not an activity that produced knowledge for the purpose of serving theology, differed from his contemporaries Rogerus Baco and Bonaventura in this respect. With this distinction, Albertus Magnus developed a serious objection to thinkers who despise reason and regard what the mind produces as inferior to what theology produces. According to him, any situation that the mind reveals and directs people cannot be left aside. Therefore, as a follower of Aristotle, Albertus Magnus embarked on the task of classifying minerals, plants, animals and insects in nature, and produced works that are seriously considered and respected in these fields even today. His important achievements in his studies in the field of natural sciences are hidden in his approach that sees philosophy as an independent discipline (Maurer, 1982: 154).

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook