Who is Albertus Magnus?

Who is Albertus Magnus?

December 13, 2020 Off By Felso

Albertus Magnus, a 13th-century German thinker who, with his deep and far-reaching knowledge, was given the title doctor universalis in the medieval period.

The Great Albertus, who became famous for his presentation and interpretation of all his knowledge in almost every field of his time, separated the knowledge gained through belief and revelation and claimed that these two were not opposed to each other, and that there was no truth for belief and a contradictory truth for reason.

Albertus Magnus entered the Dominican sect and learned Aristotle and the interpretations of Aristotle’s philosophy by Muslim philosophers such as Farabi, Avicenna, Averroes and Ibn Tufayl; Later, based on these interpretations, he brought new interpretations compatible with Christian beliefs. While trying to solve the problems of philosophy with reason, he took great care not to conflict with the Bible and thus contradict faith, and with this approach, his student Thomas Aquinas was greatly influenced. It is not accidental that Albertus Magnus chose Aristotle’s philosophy rather than Plato, and it is possible to explain this choice, especially with the influence of Muslim philosophers such as Ibn Rushd.

According to Albertus Magnus, there are no two righteous and contradictory truths, one for reason and the other for belief; Everything that is truly true is united in great harmony.

Known by the nickname Doctor Universalis (Universal Scholar) for his interest in many sciences, Albertus Magnus also worked in the field of chemistry, investigating chemical issues such as the effect of nitric acid on mines and the refining of gold; He was also interested in astronomy and biology.

Albertus Magnus followed and commented on the Arabic translations of Aristotle word for word in his biology works; There are also unique observations and determinations. In his book About Animals, he departed from the information given by Aristotle on the distribution of blood vessels of birds and fish. While describing the development of the embryo from the egg, he explained in a clear and distinct way how the organs were shaped in turn, and which vein replaced the structure called the umbilical cord in the development process.

He was also interested in plants and made plant descriptions with the main lines in a work titled About Plants. Albertus Magnus, who went to Italy for a while, saw the orange tree there, was very impressed by it and introduced the orange leaves in detail.

In summary;

Albertus Magnus’ understanding of knowledge and the philosophy-theology distinction

Albertus Magnus sought a compromise between Plato and Aristotle. But he has a closer thought to Aristotle. Albertus Magnus says that human beings are made of soul and body and that the relationship between soul and body is a natural one. Spirit is a simple form by virtue of its substance. There is no place for material in its content. There are two aspects to the soul, active and passive, and this is a distinction between active and passive mind. Effective mind is not common in humans, it is derived from God’s mind. Passive mind, on the other hand, is related to the soul’s relationship with matter. Knowledge shows a continuum from audible objects to divine enlightenment. The function of the active mind is to use the light it receives from God to abstract the material in physical objects. The necessity of this use comes from the spirit being in a body. Albertus Magnus clearly distinguishes between philosophy and theology. Theology is rooted in revelation. Processing of revelation and making it understandable is the subject of metaphysics. So while metaphysics is about God as the first Being, divinity is about God known through faith. Thus, philosophy was first put as an independent discipline. No situation put forward by reason and directed people can not be left aside.

See also:

The life and work of Albertus Magnus

– Albertus Magnus’ philosophy of knowledge

– Philosophy-theology distinction in Albertus Magnus

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