BLTC Press Titles


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Shakti and Shakta

John Woodroffe


The Bhagavad Gita

Anonymous


The Characters of Theophrastus

Theophrastus


Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley


History of philosophy, from Thales to the present time

by Friedrich Ueberweg

Excerpt:

Martin Luther (Nov. 10, 1483-Feb. 18, 1548) held that philosophy, as well as religion, needed to be reformed. He says (Epkt. Vol. 1., 64, ed. de Wette; of. F. X. Schmid, Nic TaureUus, p. 4): "I believe it impossible that the church should be reformed, without completely eradicating canons, decretals, scholastic theology, philosophy, and logic, as they are now received and taught, and instituting others in their place."

The new philosophy should not control theology. "The Sorbonne," he says, "has propounded the extremely reprehensible doctrine, that whatever is demonstrated as true in philosophy, must also be accepted as true in theology." Luther held that it was by no means sufficient to return from the Aristotle of the Scholastics to the real Aristotle; the former was a weapon of the Papists, the latter was naturalistic in tendency and denied the immortality of the soul, while his metaphysical subtleties were of no service to the science of nature. He not only expected no help from Aristotle, but held him in such horror, that he affirmed: "if Aristotle had not been of flesh, I should not hesitate to affirm him to have been truly a devil." Melanchthon also (Feb. 16, 1497—April 19,1560; his curious idea of making his Grecized name more euphonious by the ungrammatical omission of the letters ch, should be excused in the man, but not perpetuated in practice) shared for a time the feeling of Luther. But the Reformation could not long continue without philosophy; experience taught its necessity. By merely appealing to the earliest documents of Christianity an authority had indeed been found which was sufficient to justify to the religious consciousness the negation of the later or non-original ecclesiastical development. But since the actual restoration of decayed forms could only have consisted with a state of torpidity (like that illustrated in the religious life of the Caraites), from which the Reformation in its first stadium was separated by a world-wide interval, it followed that no Church could be built np on the principle of a simple return to the embryonic state; whenever the attempt was seriously made to carry out this principle, the result was fanatical sects— Iconoclasts and Anabaptists. A developed theological system and a regulated order of instruction were vitally necessary even for a Protestant Chnrch, but were unattainable without the aid of philosophical conceptions and norms. Yet a new philosophy could not be created; Luther's genius was religious, and not philosophical, and Melanchthon's nature was rather reproductive and regulative than productive. Consequently, since philosophy was indispensable, it was necessary to choose from the philosophies of antiquity. Said Melanchthon: "We must choose some kind of philosophy, which shall be as little infected as possible with sophistry, and which retains a correct method." He found the Epicureans too atheistic, the Stoics too fatalistic in their theology and too extravagant in their ethics, Plato and the Neo-Platonists either too indefinite or too heretical; Aristotle alone, as the teacher of form, met the wants of the young, as he had those of the old Church. Accordingly Melanchthon confessed: "We cannot do without the monuments of Aristotle"; "I plainly perceive that if Aristotle, who is the unique and only author of method, shall be neglected, a great confusion in doctrine will follow "; "Yet he, who chiefly follows Aristotle as his leader and seeks out some one simple and, so far as possible, unsophistical doctrine, can also sometimes adopt something from other authors." Luther, too, revised his previous opinions on the subject. In 1526, already, he admitted that the books of Aristotle on logic, rhetoric, and poetics, might, if read without scholastic additions, be useful "as a discipline for young people in correct speaking and preaching." In the "Vhterrieht der Vmtatoren im Kurfurstenthum zu Saclaen (1538; written by Melanchthon. and expressing the common opinions of Luther and Melanchthon) and in the "UnterrifM der Vtiitatorm an die Pfarrherrn in Herzog Jleinrieh's zu Sachsen Furttenthum (1539, Vol. X in Walch's edition; cf. Trendelenburg Erliiut. eu den Elementen der Arittot. Logik, Preface) it is required that grammatical instruction should be followed by instruction in logic and rhetoric. But the logical instruction could only be founded on Aristotle. Melanchthon prepared a number of manuals for the use of instructors. Classically educated, publicly praised in his early youth by Erasmus of Rotterdam, related to Reuchlin, and on terms of friendship with him, in whose contest with the Dominicans he also took part, it was impossible that he should find pleasure in the insipid subtilties of the Scholastics. Following the example of Valla and Bud. Agricola, he went back to the text of Aristotle, but modified and toned down the ideas of Aristotle; his style is more elegant than profound. In the year 1520 appeared his first manual entitled Compendiaria dialectics ratio; in 1523 the first edition of the I/oci Uieotegiei (in which, with reference to the dogmas peculiar to the Reformation, especially the doctrines of original sin and predestination, more rigid ground is taken than in the later editions, while in reference to the doctrine of the Trinity and other dogmas derived from the Catholic Church, less rigid ground is taken); in 1527 the Dialectics Ph. M. ab auctore adaucta et recognita; in 1520 the third edition, entitled Be IHaleeta Libri quatuor (also in 1533, etc.); and finally, in 1547, the Erotemata DiaIcc. (also in 1550, 1552, etc.). Melanchthon defines (Dial, I. I. init.) dialectic as "the art and way of teaching"; he is concerned not so much with the method of investigation (since, in his view, the most important truths are given either in the form of innate principles or by revelation), as with that of instruction. He treats (conformably to the serial order of the works in Aristotle's Organon: Isagoge of Porphyry, Cat-eg. De Interpret., Anah/t., Top.) first of the five PraidicabUia: species, genus, differentia, proprium, accident; then of the ten categories or Pradicamenta: substantia, guantitas, quaUtas, relatio, actio, passio, quando, ubi, situs, habitus; next (in the second Book) of the various species of propositions, and then of syllogisms (Book III.), and ends with the Topica (Book IV.). He lays principal stress on the doctrines of definition, division, and argumentation. He extols dialectic as a noble gift of God (Erotemata DialecUces, epist. dedicatoria p. VII.: "Ut numerorum notitia et donum Dei ingens est et valde necessaria horn, vita, ita veram docendi et ratiocinandi nam sciamus Dei donum esse et in exponenda doctrint caiesti et in inquisitione teritatis et in aliis rebus necessariam"). Mel. de fflietar. Libri Tres. were published at Wittenberg in 1519, and the Philosophic; moralis Epitome, ibid., 1537; Melanchthon had previously published commentaries on single books of Aristotle's Ethics. Subsequently (Witt., 1550) appeared the work: Ethica doctrinal elementa et enarratio libri quinti Ethicorum (Aristotelis). In ethics as in logic, Melanchthon follows chiefly Aristotle, but gives to the subject, in the last-named work, rather a theological turn, the will of God being there presented as the highest law of morals. In his Commentarim de Anima (Wittenberg, 1540, 1542, 1548, 1558, 1500, etc.), as also in his Initio doctrinal physicos, dictata in Academia Witcbergensi (ibid. 1549), Melanchthon adopts as the basis of his exposition the ideas of Aristotle. Melanchthon retained (even after the promulgation of the Copemican System, to which Osiander, the greatest of the Lutheran theologians of the period of the Reformation, was friendly, and notwithstanding that he himself confessed the eminence and soundness of Copernicus in other respects) the Aristotelico-Ptolemaic astronomy, even maintaining that the civil authorities were bound to suppress the new "bo wicked and atheistic opinion." To the stars he ascribed an influence not only on the temperature (ortus Pleiadvm ac Byad/um regvlariter plunias affert, etc.), but also on human destinies. Natural causes, he says, operate with necessity, exoept when God interrupts (interrumpit) the regular mode of action. In defining the soul Melanchthon defends the false reading irfa\cxc<a against Amerbach (1504-57), whom the quarrel about l*TtMX'"> led finally to leave Wittenberg and to become a Catholic. Psychical life is classified hy Melanchthon, after Aristotle, as vegetative (the fl.icirnic<i» of Aristotle), sensitive—including the vis appetitiva und locomotiva (-u'ffflijTindir,


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