Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false.
Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God. According to Aquinas, we experience various kinds of effects in the world around us, and in every case we assign an efficient cause to each effect. The efficient cause of the statue is the work of the sculptor. If we took away the activity of the sculptor, we would not have the effect, namely, the statue. But there is an order of efficient causes: the hammer strikes the chisel which in turn strikes the marble. But it is impossible to have an infinitely long sequence of efficient causes, and so we arrive at a first efficient cause.
That is, it seems as though he is saying that it is impossible to trace such causal connections back through time and, ultimately, we must arrive at a first cause, namely, God. However, other writings by Aquinas make it clear that he is doing something different. Although this may be a strange contention, there is nothing logically contradictory about it. Aquinas suggests that we view the causal sequence somewhat differently. Some causal sequences do indeed take place over time, such as when Abraham produces his son Isaac, who later produces his own son Jacob.
But in addition to these time-based sequences, there are also simultaneous causal sequences, which do not trace back through time. Imagine, for example, if I hold a stick in my hand and use it to move a stone. According to Aquinas, my hand, the stick, and the stone all move at the same time.
In efficient causes it is impossible to proceed to infinity essentially [i. Thus, there cannot be an infinite number of [simultaneous] causes that are essentially required for a certain effect—for instance, that a stone be moved by a stick, the stick by the hand, and so on to infinity. But it is not impossible to proceed to infinity accidentally [i.
Some things exist and their existence is caused. Whatever is caused to exist is caused to exist by something else. An infinite series of simultaneous causes resulting in the existence of a particular thing is impossible. Therefore, there is a first cause of whatever exists. Aquinas did not give us an example of the sort of simultaneous causes in the natural world that traces immediately back to God, but here is a likely instance of what he is talking about. Consider the motion of the winds. At the very moment that the winds are moving, there are larger physical forces at work that create this motion.
In medieval science, the motion of the moon is responsible for the motion of the winds. But the moon itself moves because it too is being simultaneously moved by other celestial motions, such as the planets, the sun, and the stars. As noted, the first and third ways follow similar strategies, insofar as they claim that causal sequences of change and contingency cannot go on forever.
His fifth way, though, is unique and is a version of what in later times is called the design argument. The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result.
Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer.
Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God. Objects without intelligence act towards some end for example, a tree grows and reproduces its own kind. Moving towards an end exhibits a natural design that requires intelligence.
If a thing is unintelligent, yet acts for some end, then it must be guided to this end by something which is intelligent. Therefore, an intelligent being exists that moves natural things toward their ends, which is God. The central notion behind this argument is that natural objects such as plants and animals have built-in purposes. According to Aquinas, when natural objects move towards their end, this reveals a natural design that could not have come about through chance, but requires intelligence. Since plants and animals lack intelligence to do this, some other intelligence is responsible for this, namely God.
Religious philosophers often describe God as having a cluster of attributes, such as being all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good; Aquinas certainly agrees that God is these things. However, he maintains that God in fact has a single attribute: divine simplicity. Aquinas agrees as we see here:.
There is neither composition of quantitative parts in God, since He is not a body; nor composition of matter and form; nor does His nature differ from His person; nor His essence from His existence; neither is there in Him composition of genus and difference, nor of subject and accident.
Therefore, it is clear that God is nowise composite, but is altogether simple. According to Aquinas, God has no parts whatsoever, no physical parts, and, more importantly, no conceptual parts, such as specific properties or predicates. If something is composed of parts then it must be potentially divisible e. God is not potentially divisible. Therefore God is not composed of parts i. While God in is true nature is simple, Aquinas concedes that to finite human minds he appears to have distinct parts.
The reason is that our minds are designed to understand things in the world around us, virtually all of which have parts--parts of trees, parts of chairs, parts of languages. When we then attempt to understand God in his simplicity, we then very naturally view him as a thing that is composed of parts, and attempt to understand him one element at a time.
We can speak of simple things only as though they were like the composite things from which we derive our knowledge. Therefore in speaking of God, we use concrete nouns to signify His subsistence, because with us only those things subsist which are composite; and we use abstract nouns to signify His simplicity.
Leo Strauss How To Study Medieval Philosophy [ 1944]
In saying therefore that Godhead, or life, or the like are in God, we indicate the composite way in which our intellect understands, but not that there is any composition in God. To satisfy our tendency to view God as a composite thing, we can deduce some sub-attributes of God from his main attribute of simplicity. Similarly, we can say that God is perfect since if a thing is simple then it is completely actualized, with no remaining potentiality, and complete actualization is perfection.
Aquinas approaches the issue by noting three ways that our words might, at least in theory, apply to God. Aquinas rejects this approach:. The same rule applies to other terms. Hence no name is predicated univocally of God and of creatures. Aquinas rejects this approach as well:. Neither, on the other hand, are names applied to God and creatures in a purely equivocal sense, as some have said.
Because if that were so, it follows that from creatures nothing could be known or demonstrated about God at all. The problem here is that if religious language and human language have nothing in common, then we can say nothing at all about God. Rejecting both the univocal and equivocal approach, Aquinas recommends a middle ground between the two: an analogical approach whereby the religious use of a word has some analogy to the non-religious use.
For example, we can say that divine love is to God just as parental love is to a parent. In analogies the idea is not, as it is in univocals, one and the same, yet it is not totally diverse as in equivocals. Rather a term which is thus used in a multiple sense signifies various proportions to some one thing. The point is that there is something in common to both religious language and human language, but it can only be understood as a comparison of two relations. For example, to grasp the notion of divine love, we must first examine the relation between human parents and parental love: we have a special attachment to our offspring that overrides every other human interest.
In the arena of moral philosophy, Aquinas developed a view called natural law theory , which for centuries was one of the dominant views regarding the source of moral principles. In a nutshell, n atural l aw theory holds that God endorses specific moral standards and fixes them in human nature, which we discover through rational intuition. According to Aquinas, there are four kinds of law: eternal law, natural law, human law and divine law. Eternal law, the broadest type of law, is the unchanging divine governance over the universe.
In this way we see that the Bible condemns stealing in general, as well as various forms of theft through fraud. All moral laws— whether general ones discovered through reflection, or specific ones derived by legislators, or ones found in the scriptures— are ultimately grounded in an objective, universal, and unchanging eternal law. What, specifically, are the principles of natural law that God has embedded into human nature?
Because in man there is first of all an inclination to good in accordance with the nature which he has in common with all substances: inasmuch as every substance seeks the preservation of its own being, according to its nature: and by reason of this inclination, whatever is a means of preserving human life, and of warding off its obstacles, belongs to the natural law. Thirdly, there is in man an inclination to good, according to the nature of his reason, which nature is proper to him: thus man has a natural inclination to know the truth about God, and to live in society: and in this respect, whatever pertains to this inclination belongs to the natural law; for instance, to shun ignorance, to avoid harming or offending those among whom one has to live, and other such things regarding the above inclination.
For Aquinas, these six inclinations comprise what is most proper for humans, and provide the basis for the primary precepts of morality. This gives us six primary principles of natural law: 1 preserve human life, 2 have heterosexual intercourse, 3 educate your children, 4 shun ignorance, 5 worship God, and 6 avoid harming others. Each of these primary principles encompasses more specific or secondary principles.
Still, he argues, human law will carry the force of natural law if the tertiary principles are derived correctly. Since around , scholasticism dominated medieval philosophy with its technical style and efforts to defend theology with philosophy. As Aquinas put it, philosophy is the handmaid of theology. Some philosophers made outright assaults against scholasticism on the grounds that it produced useless quarrels and elevated rationalistic philosophy above true faith.
But such outright attacks did little to slow down the momentum that scholasticism had built up over the centuries.
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John Duns Scotus criticized the longstanding theory of divine illumination, and held that God has the power to change moral principles. Born in Scotland, he joined the Franciscan monastic order at an early age and moved on to study theology at Oxford University. He died in Cologne, Germany, when, according to rumor, he was buried alive after falling into a coma. While Scotus wrote on a wide range of philosophical subjects, we will look at his contributions in three areas.
Divine illumination was a popular view of knowledge throughout the middle ages, and by the time of Scotus several philosophers developed it into an elaborate theory. Scotus, on the contrary, argued that human reason can attain certainty on its own, with no assistance from God through divine illumination. The problem with divine illumination is this: if our natural capacity for knowledge is limited, as Augustine and others maintained, then divine illumination cannot help, since it too will be subject to uncertainty. Scotus writes,. When one of those [elements of knowledge] that come together is incompatible with certainty, then certainty cannot be achieved.
For just as from one premise that is necessary and one that is contingent nothing follows but a contingent conclusion, so from something certain and something uncertain, coming together in some cognition, no cognition that is certain follows. According to the analogy in the above quotation, an argument is only as strong as its weakest premise: if you have five premises that are certain, yet only one that is uncertain, the entire argument becomes uncertain. For Scotus, the types of certainty that we can attain in our current human condition, without the help of divine illumination, are certainty about logical inference, causal inference, acts we perform, present sense experience.
Recall the debate between Plato and Aristotle on the relation between matter and form. Aristotle, on the other hand, held that form cannot exist separately from matter, but, instead, forms must be imbedded into material things, such as the form and shape that an existing wooden chair has. However, Scotus makes two important concessions to Platonism. Spirits, he argued, are just such substantial forms. The larger question here is what is the ultimate source of morality?
Plato and his followers argued that moral standards like justice, charity, and goodness are eternal and unchanging principles that exist in a non-physical realm. They were not created by God, and, on the contrary, they are so permanently fixed in the cosmic nature of things that God himself cannot even alter them. In this way, moral standards are much like mathematical principles, which are also eternal and unchanging.
Scotus denies that moral standards are like this. While this might at first seem to be a good position for a religious believer to hold, it has an unpleasant side effect, which Scotus himself recognized: God can create any moral values he wants, and he can change them any time he wants. In fact, he maintains, the Bible itself contains a record of God revoking previously established moral principles for special purposes. Specifically, God commanded Abraham to kill his son as a sacrifice; he commanded the Israelites to steal household goods from their Egyptian neighbors; he commanded the prophet Hosea to have children with a prostitute.
As unsettling as this might be, according to Scotus we must simply recognize that God has this kind of authority over the creation and suspension of moral principles. Born near London, Ockham joined the Franciscan monastic order at an early age. As he produced one philosophical work after another, some of his more controversial views attracted the attention of the Pope, and he was investigated for heresy.
He further irritated the Pope by holding that Jesus and his apostles owned no property—a view that was especially inflammatory at a time when Popes lived like wealthy kings. He was excommunicated from the Church and, fleeing for his life, he went into exile where he continued writing until he died. Like Scotus, Ockham challenged many assumptions held by previous philosophers in the scholastic tradition. For starters, in the important issue of faith and reason, he held that belief in God is a matter of faith rather than knowledge. Theology is not a science since we have no direct knowledge of God.
In order to demonstrate the statement of faith that we formulate about God, what we would need for the central concept is a simple cognition of the divine nature in itself—what someone who sees God has. Nevertheless, we cannot have this kind of cognition in our present state. Knowledge of God is based only on faith, and the truths God has chosen to reveal to us. In this way, Ockham holds a faith-only approach to religious knowledge, similar to that of Tertullian.
Suppose, for example, that I see leaves moving around outside. One explanation for this is that invisible demons are grabbing hold of them and stirring them around. An alternative explanation is that the wind is blowing them. Philosophers prior to Ockham routinely used this notion in the course of proving one thing or another. Ockham, though, relied on it regularly, thus making it something like a trademark for him.
One important application of his Razor is with the medieval problem of universals.
Recall what the three options are for universals as developed by Boethius. Third, there is the view that universals are merely mental abstractions that do not exist in the external world. The simplest theory, then, is the third which holds that universals exist only as concepts in our minds. Ockham writes,. Nothing should be posited as naturally necessarily required for some effect unless certain experience or a certain argument from what is self-evident leads to that; but neither of these leads to the positing of a universal species.
Ockham offered several arguments in defense of nominalism, with simplicity being just one. Briefly, here are two others. First is the argument from individual existence. According to Ockham, everything that exist should be logically independent from everything else. God should be able to create or destroy things as he chooses.
Suppose that universals existed outside the mind as Plato or Aristotle suggested, and that the universal of redness, for example, was connected with all particular red things. God would not be able to annihilate one individual substance without destroying the other individuals of the same kind … [since] he would destroy the universal that is in it and in others of the same essence.
God can mandate or suspend these as he sees fit. But Scotus adds that other moral standards, such as duties to love God, are fixed within the nature of God himself and cannot be changed. Specifically, God could command us to hate him and, thus, that would be the morally right thing to do. Every will can conform to the commands of God. God can, however, command a created will to hate Him. Therefore, the created will can do this. Moreover, any act that can be just on earth could also be just in heaven.
The early Middle Ages
On earth the hatred of God can be just, if it is commanded by God himself. Therefore, the hatred of God could also be just in heaven. It is now common practice, though, to deemphasize the Medieval thinkers in deference to those of other historical periods. It is not because of a lack of philosophical writings during this period, since far more Medieval philosophy books survive than do those by ancient Greek writers. Most of the issues that Medieval philosophers wrestled with focus directly on God—his existence, nature, creative activity, and how he fashioned human nature.
While at least some of these issues may be interesting in their own right, Medieval philosophy still mainly addresses an audience of monotheists. Medieval Europe consisted almost exclusively of such believers. But as the world opened during the Renaissance and the centuries following, the audience of philosophically-minded readers greatly expanded.
Polytheists, pantheists, and atheists from all corners of the globe have a harder time engaging in that dialogue. Nevertheless, even today there remains a large group of philosophically-minded monotheists who connect with the religious assumptions of the Medievals, and continue to look to their writings for inspiration. In that context, the contributions of Medieval philosophers are no less profound and innovative than those of the ancient Greeks. As religious philosophers today continue to explore such issues, they invariably begin with the basic arguments of the Medievals and follow their philosophical methodology.
Scholasticism in particular continues to this day through the efforts of Christian philosophers who follow in the tradition set by Aquinas. Within that environment, the program of Medieval philosophy is alive and well. Among the disciples of Socrates, Plato was the one who shined with a glory that far exceeded that of the others, and who not unjustly eclipsed them all. If, then, Plato defined the wise man as one who imitates, knows, loves this God, and who is made blessed through fellowship with Him in His own blessedness, why should we discuss the other philosophers?
It is evident that none come nearer to us than the Platonists. Plato held that the highest good is to live according to virtue, and affirmed that he only can attain to virtue who knows and imitates God, insofar as knowledge and imitation are the only cause of blessedness. Therefore, Plato did not doubt that to philosophize is to love God, whose nature is incorporeal.
From this it certainly follows that the student of wisdom, that is, the philosopher, will then become blessed when he begins to enjoy God. For though he is not necessarily blessed who enjoys that which he loves for many are miserable by loving that which ought not to be loved, and still more miserable when they enjoy it. Nevertheless, no one is blessed who does not enjoy that which he loves.
For even they who love things which ought not to be loved do not count themselves blessed by loving merely, but by enjoying them. Who, then, but the most miserable will deny that he is blessed, who enjoys that which he loves, and loves the true and highest good? But the true and highest good, according to Plato, is God, and therefore he would call him a philosopher who loves God.
For philosophy is directed to the obtaining of the blessed life, and he who loves God is blessed in the enjoyment of God. Concerning the supreme God, these [Platonist] philosophers held that He is both the maker of all created things, the light by which things are known, and the good in reference to which things are to be done. They held that we have in Him the first principle of nature, the truth of doctrine, and the happiness of life.
Whether these philosophers may be more suitably called Platonists, or whether they may give some other name to their sect. Certain participants with us in the grace of Christ are surprised when they hear and read that Plato had notions concerning God which they recognize have considerable agreement with the truth of our religion.
Some have concluded from this that, when Plato went to Egypt, he had heard the prophet Jeremiah, or, when travelling in the same country, had read the prophetic scriptures, which opinion I myself have expressed in certain of my writings. Thus, we have a temporary glimpse of a thing that is eternal. Yet we commit this temporary glimpse to memory through the instructions by which our minds are taught.
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Thus, the mind that is forced to pass from it may be able to return to it again. But if the thought should not return to the memory and find there what it had committed to it, the mind would nevertheless be led to it. This is just as an uninstructed person, who had been led before to something, would find it where he had first found it. Through recollection, the mind will then be able to reflect upon it, to at least some extent, and then transfer what it has learned into a more systematic knowledge. But if our memory of it has been blotted out by complete forgetfulness, once again, under the guidance of teaching, we will come to that which had altogether fell away, and we will find it just as it was.
Where are we to believe that these Eternal Truths [by which God created all things] exist, if not in the very mind of the Creator himself? Indeed, he saw nothing outside of him that could serve him as a model for what he wanted, and it would be sacrilegious to assume that he could. Suppose that these Eternal Truths of all things whether created or yet to be created are contained in the divine mind.
Suppose also that there can be nothing in the divine mind that is not eternal and immutable. It thus follows that not only do Eternal Forms exist, but that they are true because they are eternal, permanent in their form, and immutable. It is by participation in them that everything exists, in whatever way it exists.
Now, the rational soul exists in all creatures, and it is close to God when it is pure. In the proportion in which it is united to Him by charity, it finds itself filled and illuminated by that intelligible light, by means of which it sees. It is not by the eyes of the body, but by that which is best in itself that it sees, namely, by its intelligence. When contemplating these reasons she enjoys great happiness. Moreover, as we have said, we call these Eternal Truths ideas, or Forms, or species, or reasons. People may name it as they choose, but it is only very few who can see the truth.
Introduction: One of the main issues for philosophers during the Middle Ages the relation between faith and reason. Thomas Aquinas argued that reason can go a long way in establishing religious truths, such as the existence and nature of God, but faith in divine revelation still is required for establishing the more particular truths of Christianity. In this selection, Aquinas explains the dual paths toward knowledge of God, the need for faith in addition to reason, and the compatibility of faith and reason.
The truths that we confess concerning God fall under two categories. It is clear that there are points of absolute intelligibility in God that are altogether beyond the compass of human reason. Therefore, objects beyond the senses cannot be grasped by human understanding except so far as knowledge is gathered of them through the senses. But things of sense cannot lead our understanding to discover in them the essence of the divine substance, since they are effects inadequate to the power that caused them.
Nevertheless [as to the second category] our understanding is thereby led to some knowledge of God, namely, of his existence and of other attributes that must necessarily be attributed to the first cause. There are, therefore, some points of intelligibility in God, accessible to human reason, and other points that altogether transcend the power of human reason. Gregory Palamas: Selections from Triads Part 3.
Boethius: Selections from The Consolation of Philosophy 3. Anselm: Selections from Proslogion 5. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio: Selections from Itinerarium mentis in Deum 6. John Duns Scotus: Selections from Ordinatio William of Ockham: Selections from Summa Logicae Overview 2. Selections from Babylonian Talmud 4. Selections from Sifre Numbers 5. Selections from Midrash Rabbah 6.
Selections from Sefer Ye? Selections from Zohar 8. Selections from Theology of Aristotle 2. Ghazzali: Selections from Deliverance from Evil 6. Ibn Tufayl: Selections from? Everyone is happy. Or perhaps not — because there are two problems that remain. First, since the historians of philoso- phy seem not to have historical ends primarily in view — those ends are for the intellectual historians — their ends are presumably philosophical ones; and so they still need to find some adequate justification for those ends.
Philosophy is so difficult that there have only ever been a handful of really great philosophers.
Let’s get rid of “medieval” philosophy! – Handling Ideas
The great phi- losophers are worth studying whenever they wrote. Explaining why it is worth reading Aquinas, Anthony Kenny , 9 writes: Philosophy is so all-embracing in its subject-matter, so wide in its field of op- eration, that the achievement of a systematic philosophical overview of human knowledge is something so difficult that only genius can do it.
So vast is phi- losophy that only a wholly exceptional mind can see the consequences of even the simplest philosophical argument or conclusion. For all of us who are not geniuses, the only way to come to grips with philosophy is by reaching up to the mind of some great philosopher of the past. Kenny is putting with characteristic force and clarity a view that is often held, though not fully articulated, as a reason for studying some philosophy 3 See Normore Moreover, the view that philosophical pro- gress consists in a dialogue with past thinkers does not seem to reflect accurately how work goes on in most of the specialized areas of analytic philosophy, where so much of the debate concentrates on attacking, ex- tending or qualifying the most recent contributions to it.
Very few of them are from the Middle Ages. Although this view is not, then, entirely credible, it contains two very interesting suggestions. First, it proposes a somewhat aesthetic approach to philosophy, in which a work of philosophy is valued not because of the number of conclusions it proposes that we are likely to find well- established and wish to accept, but because of how well, how deeply and broadly, it goes about the task of thinking philosophically.
Secondly, this view addresses itself, apparently, to philosophers, or would-be philoso- phers, but it does not promise them direct answers to their questions or contributions to their discussions from the philosophers of the past. Rather, it says that people need to read the great philosophers who are few, and most of them antiquated in order to see how philosophy is done at its best. Studying philosophy from the past makes a contribution to doing philoso- phy now, but an indirect, second-order one.
It might be argued that the same is true of good phi- losophy from the past. It is no more subject to becoming antiquated than the Iliad, Aeneid or King Lear. In one way, this approach has much to recommend it. The Republic or the Meditations, we might want to say, are books everyone should read, just as they should read the Iliad and King Lear, or they will remain ignorant of what human culture has achieved.
But this parallel is not quite exact. If their value is to be considered aesthetic, it will be more like that of the aesthetic value of a mathematical proof, evident only to the eyes of highly-trained practitioners of a specialized discipline. It is just to this extent that it can indeed be useful, because it is just to this extent that it can help us to deploy ideas of the past in order to understand our own.
It is a very attrac- tive view but one that has yet to be developed in more detail. Merely exposing contemporary philosophers to a discussion of a kind that fails to engage with their interests is not likely to have much direct effect. The 4 See Williams , , It was to indicate voices of yore which could not be heard as participating in con- temporary debates, and which thereby called into question whatever assumptions made contemporary debates possible.
Moreover, maybe it is limiting to present the value of the history of philosophy just in terms of how it can help contemporary philosophers, even if that is one of its important functions. My own justification for studying antiquated philosophy, drawing on many of the ideas just sketched, is this: Studying the history of philosophy most of which is antiquated is a way — a very good way, and probably an indispensable one — of coming to understand what philosophy is.
In their ordinary work, philosophers are engaged in posing and trying to resolve philosophical problems; one of these problems, which should be central for any genuinely committed phi- losopher, is the question of what philosophy is: what sort of questions phi- losophical questions are, and how and to what end they can be answered. It is an open-ended problem, and knowing about the history of philosophy helps — arguably, is intrinsic to — exploring it.
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For philosophy is not a natural kind, but a human practice, or rather, a family-resemblance of human practices, and understanding what it is rests on understanding how it has been practised in history, what has been com- mon to it, and what diverse, in different social and cultural circumstances.
If it is to meet this justification, history of philosophy must be pursued in a way which always violates the distinction of spheres between histori- ans of philosophy and intellectual historians by advocates of the Division of Labour Approach. It must be a study of arguments, by those who under- stand the arguments as philosophers and so consider what objections can be raised to them, how they could be extended or adapted , but of argu- ments as developed in a real historical context, where external factors played a part, too, in shaping how this or that individual reasoned on a given subject.
Such an approach can profitably used with any philosophy of the past, antiquated or not.
Let’s get rid of “medieval” philosophy!
So, for instance, Frege might both be studied for his direct contribution to the living tradition of philosophy and in a more historical way, for the second-order illumination which studying his thought in this manner can provide. This justification incorporates some aspects of the five discussed above, whilst rejecting others.
Indeed, it goes fur- ther and sets aside the view that antiquated philosophy helps philosophers to answer first-order philosophical questions; rather, it is of the greatest value in answering a central second-order question. Philosophy is, indeed, included within the field discussed by intellectual historians, but, writing for a general audience, and usually themselves without specialized philosophical training, they can only treat philosophy from the outside; just as they might treat music, but can do so only externally, and not in the manner of an historian of music, writing for a technically qualified audience.
There is, then, a division of labour, but not the one envisaged in the Division of Labour view. The intel- lectual historians do just that — intellectual history, even when they are writ- ing about philosophy. But, because they are not entering into specialized philosophical questions, they have the great advantage of being able to write for the wide audience of those with a general interest in history and intellec- tual matters. The historian of philosophy is, no less than them, a genuine historian, of philosophy. But his or her audience will be much smaller. The Great Philosophers approach can also fit with this conception of the history of philosophy, since one of the reasons for philosophers to read the classics is to understand the nature of their subject.
But, more impor- tantly, it and the Philosophy as Literature approach can provide a valuable alternative way of justifying antiquated philosophy to a different and wider audience. The aesthetic justification for reading antiquated philoso- phy is a way of claiming a role for some outstanding texts of philosophy from the past within the broad run of cultural life, whereas my justifica- tion is for history of philosophy conceived as a specialized discipline within philosophy.
There are, then, three different, justifiable ways of studying antiquated philosophy: i As a specialized historical discipline within philosophy, designed to help philosophers understand their subject better and answer second- order questions about it. My special concern is with i , which alone grounds the history of philoso- phy as an individual academic discipline. But i , ii and iii are inter- connected. Research and writing in i fructifies work in ii and iii.
Even if studying antiquated philosophy can be justified in the way suggested above, they might argue, the justification does not apply to medieval philosophy, be- cause it is not philosophy at all, but a sort of theology. There are a number of excellent historians of phi- losophy who, in practice, confine themselves to this material, and it is cer- tainly open for an individual to do so. But to remove most of Aquinas and Maimonides, much of Ockham, almost all Anselm and Scotus and, indeed, most of the best fourteenth and fifteenth-century thinking from the realm of philosophy altogether is to pay far too high price for an answer to this objection.
And the objection is misplaced.