Notes on Introduction to Philosophy -- Phil A201

William Jamison - Instructor

Lecture 4

Fourth lecture notes for Introduction to Philosophy

The various schools come together in the wonderful work of St. Augustine.

Merges Christian beliefs with Neoplatonist philosophy

God is Love

Evil is not

Grace emanates

Explanation: Augustine spent his life learning about and practicing a great many of the philosophies of his day. Among the most powerful influences in his life, especially after meeting St. Ambrose, was Christianity. It was about this same time that Constantine forced the great church council of Nicea, following which all Christians in the Empire were to profess belief in the following creed: (Credo = "I believe")

"I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages. God of God, light of light, true God of true God. Begotten not made, consubstantial to the Father, by whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And was incarnate of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary and was made man; was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried; and the third day rose again according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father, and shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, of whose Kingdom there shall be no end. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who together with the Father and the Son is to be adored and glorified, who spoke by the Prophets. And one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. I confess one baptism for the remission of sins. And I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen."

In this creed we see the elements of what philosophy would be the dogma of the church for the next 1,000 (+) years. It is Platonic, since there is a heaven and earth. The description of God follows the neo-Platonic version of Plato's Good, and He is clearly the creator of both the material (visible) and ideas (invisible). The concept of the Christ -Greek for "anointed"- as opposed to the wise man, Jesus, was developed by St. Paul in response to the needs of the community in Antioch and is based on the mystery cults popular in that city, associated mostly with Orpheus -- a moderated version of the cult of Dionysius. The relationship each Greek has with Jesus is very similar to the kinds of relationships they had with Zeus.

But the Christian movement blended the favorite philosophy, neo-Platonism, with the favorite form of religion in many communities throughout the empire, with the added concept of the new community being open to all members. Augustine gives us this synthesis in his work and his views and manner of presentation become the standard during the middle ages.

But during the crusades, the monks of the west come into contact with the educated in the east.

Moses Maimonides is a prime example of what they learned:

Harmonizes Jewish religion and Aristotle

Court physician to Saladin

Source of Aristotelian texts during Crusades

Guide to the Perplexed

influence on Aquinas, and Spinoza

Recommends not teaching things that are complex to those

who have no need of it

The work of Aristotle gradually sweeps the literate communities. Realism is, in many important ways, the direct opposite of Idealism and it is neo-Platonic Idealism that is the core philosophy of the church. The confrontation builds, with the intellectually curious clergy most anxious to learn more of the work of "The Philosopher" (Aristotle) but faced with charges of the worst, politically, by those who are most in authority. The Pope called on Thomas Aquinas to settle the question, of what of Aristotle could be accepted, if any, by the church.

Thomas merges the two philosophies, creating the new philosophy that sustains the church still today. He basically agrees that the work of Aristotle is acceptable, but that heaven and earth are both to be understood in Aristotelian terms. In other words, Plato was right and Aristotle was right together.

Thomas allows both ways of knowing things. Platonic and Aristotelian --- Idealism and Realism. His system works but leaves much that is controversial, plus, not many really understood the miracle that he performed. So, Duns Scotus takes one view -- Augustinian, Occam another-- and the fight goes on between the two camps. The fight is not resolved.

The main result of St. Thomas Aquinas' work may be seen as the approval for Aristotelian studies to continue. This does not mean the controversy in the universities ceases. In fact, it continues on in the work of theologians such as Duns Scotus and William of Ocham. The Scholastics are complicated and difficult and lead many to feel that we can not reach a knowledge without doubt. Thanks to Thomas, the theologians that wanted to ban Aristotelian studies are frustrated in their attempt. Scholasticism begins to fail and encourages reform, just as the bureaucracy of the Church is viewed by reformers as corrupt and in need of renewal. The need for reform results in both religious reform and a scinetific revolution. The scientific revolution begins.

What is at stake? For the church, the world was understood as centered on God's relationship to man. Man was central, the earth was central, and each person had an important role to play in the universe. Life was hard, but everything had a purpose, act correctly and you go home to heaven.

In the new scientific, and increasingly deistic, way of looking at the universe, man would gradually be seen to be merely one of the other animals. Earth is not central at all, it becomes a mere speck in the universe. Life is still hard -- though perhaps that is difficult to say in contrast with what we know of life before our technological wonders were developed, but people ask, "What is the meaning of it all?" And so far, science seems to only answer, "there is none."

We begin covering Descartes:

Establish the priority of Reason over Faith

Show that knowledge is possible through the use of reason

-- I think; therefore, I am.

Clear and distinct knowledge is the goal

Mathematics is certain

Mind - Body Dualism

Mind and Body interact in the pineal gland

Rationalism -- Thoughts as starting point

Explanation: Descartes found himself trying to answer the question: "How do we know anything for sure?" His answer is going to develop the philosophy known as Rationalism. It can be viewed as the direct heir to the neo-Platonic side of the dispute. There is a Mind Body dualism. Body is in the world of experience, mind is in the world of the rational. What can I know for sure? First -- can't deny my existence -- but what exists? Thinking thing. Spiritual -- rational essence. It is still more real than anything else -- changing things are not real, but math is sure. Geometry! I can know things for sure using Geometry!!! How can I be sure? God wouldn't lie to me when it is clear and distinct knowledge.

Subject: links for cosomology this one gives a model of the geocentric system for 1985


nice site on the planets:


Letter to Einstein by Velikovsky


Via lactose (Latin? Milky way) Ga laxy is Greek so Milky Way Galaxy is like saying Milky Way twice! for a diagram of the relative motion to the galactic center


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