Hegel’s Lectures on the History of Philosophy

Part Two.
Philosophy of the Middle Ages


This period embraces a thousand years. While Philosophy has hitherto found its place in the religion of the heathen, from this time on it has its sphere within the Christian world.

1. The Idea of Christianity

The first point of interest in the Christian religion thus is that the content of the Idea should be revealed to man; more particularly that the unity of the divine and human nature should come to the consciousness of man, and that, indeed, on the one hand as an implicitly existent unity, and, on the other, in actuality as worship.

2. The Fathers and Heterodoxies

The task set before the world is to bring the Principle of Christianity, this absolute Idea within itself, to actualize it in itself, and thereby to reconcile itself to God.

3. Church and State

Through the pre-supposition of the immediately present and accepted truth, thought had lost its freedom and philosophy sank into a metaphysics of the understanding and into a formal dialectic. The third stage is the dissolution of what is upheld in the scholastic philosophy; new meteor-like apparitions are now seen, which precede the third period, the genuine revival of free Philosophy.

Section One. Arabian Philosophy


The East purified itself of all that was individual and definite, while the West descended into the depths and actual presence of spirit. The Arabians passed quickly were the various stages of culture, and Philosophy, along with all the other arts and sciences, flourished to an extraordinary degree, in spite of its here not displaying any specially characteristic features.

A. The Philosophy of the Medabberim

All the Medabberim, in the building up of their principles did not follow the nature of the matter itself, or draw their arguments from it, but only had in view how the subject must be regarded in order to support their opinions.

B. Commentators of Aristotle

The commentaries on Aristotle and the collections of passages from his writings become for the Western world a fountain of philosophy.

C. Jewish Philosophers: Moses Maimonides

We find in these Jewish philosophers proofs brought forward that God is One, that the world was created, and that matter is not eternal.

Section Two. The Scholastic Philosophy


ALL the Philosophy which we first encounter in the Middle Ages, when independent states begin to rise, consists of bare remnants of the Roman world.

A. Relationship of the Scholastic Philosophy to Christianity

Fresh races inundated the ancient Roman world and established themselves therein; they thus erected their new world on the ruins of the old.

B. General Historical Points of View

Scholastic philosophy attaches itself more to the doctrines of the Christian Church. The most important and most interesting thoughts which pertain to the scholastics, are the strife between nominalism and realism and the proof of the existence of God.

1. The Building up of Dogmas on Metaphysical Grounds

a. Anselm
b. Abelard

2. Methodical Representation of the Doctrinal System of the Church

a. Peter Lombard
b. Thomas Aquinas
c. John Duns Scotus

3. Acquaintanceship with Aristotelian Writings

a. Alexander of Hales
b. Albertus Magnus

4. Opposition between Realism and Nominalism

a. Roscelinus
b. Walter of Mortagne
c. William Occam
d. Buridan

5. Formal Dialectic

a. Julian, Archbishop of Toledo
b. Paschasius Radbertus

6. Mystics

a. John Charlier
b. Raymundus of Sabunde
c. Roger Bacon
d. Raymundus Lullus

C. General Standpoint of the Scholastics

Scholasticism on the whole is a barbarous philosophy without real content, which awakens no true interest in us. For although religion is its subject matter, thought here reached such an excessive point of subtlety that, as a form of the mere empty understanding, it does nothing but wander amongst baseless combinations of categories. Scholastic philosophy is this utter confusion of the barren understanding in the rugged North German nature.

Section Three. Revival of the Sciences


The awakening of the selfhood of spirit brought with it the revival of the arts and sciences of the ancient world. From this proceeded all efforts and all inventions, the discovery of America and of the way to the East Indies. Thus in a very special way the love for the old, so-called heathen sciences once more awoke, for men turned to the works of the ancients, which had now become objects of study, as studia humaniora, where man is recognized in what concerns himself and in what he effects.

A. Study of the Ancients

Knowledge of the Greek originals which the West acquired is connected with external political events. The revival of the arts and sciences, and especially of the study of ancient Philosophy, was at first a revival of the old philosophy in its earlier and original form, without anything new being added, the restoration of something forgotten.

1. Pomponatius
2. Bessarion, Ficinus, Pious
3. Gassendi, Lipsius, Reuchlin, Helmont
4. Ciceronian Popular Philosophy

B. Certain Attempts in Philosophy

Side by side with the peaceful reappearance of the ancient philosophy was a multitude of individuals in whom a burning desire after the conscious knowledge of what is deepest and most concrete was violently manifested. It was spoilt, however, by endless fancies, extravagances of the imagination and a craze for secret, astrological, geomantic and other knowledge.

1. Cardanus
2. Campanella
3. Bruno
4. Vanini
5. Petrus Ramus

C. The Reformation

In the Lutheran faith, in accordance with which man stands in a relation to God which involves his personal existence, his piety and the hope of his salvation and the like all demand that his heart, his subjectivity, should be present in them. Here the principle of subjectivity, of pure relation to me personally, i.e. freedom, is recognized.


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