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Pagans and philosophers : the problem of paganism from Augustine to Leibniz

Author: John Marenbon
Publisher: Princeton : Princeton University Press, [2015]
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
From the turn of the fifth century to the beginning of the eighteenth, Christian writers were fascinated and troubled by the "Problem of Paganism," which this book identifies and examines for the first time. How could the wisdom and virtue of the great thinkers of antiquity be reconciled with the fact that they were pagans and, many thought, damned? Related questions were raised by encounters with contemporary  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: John Marenbon
ISBN: 9780691142555 0691142556
OCLC Number: 890309903
Awards: Short-listed for "Choice"'s Outstanding Academic Titles for the Year 2015
Description: x, 354 pages ; 24 cm
Contents: Introduction : The Problem of Paganism --
The Problem Takes Shape. Prelude : Before Augustine ; Augustine ; Boethius --
From Alcuin to Langland. The Early Middle Ages and the Christianization of Europe ; Abelard ; John of Salisbury and the Encyclopaedic Tradition ; Arabi, Mongolia and Beyond : Contemporary Pagans in the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Centuries ; Aristotelian Wisdom : Unity, Rejection or Relativism ; University Theologians on Pagan Virtue and Salvation ; Dante and Boccaccio ; Langland and Chaucer --
The Continuity of the Problem of Paganism, 1400-1700. Pagan Knowledge, 1400-1700 ; Pagan Virtue, 1400-1700 ; The Salvation of Pagans, 1400-1700 ; Epilogue : Leibniz and China.
Responsibility: John Marenbon.
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Abstract:

From the turn of the fifth century to the beginning of the eighteenth, Christian writers were fascinated and troubled by the "Problem of Paganism," which this book identifies and examines for the first time. How could the wisdom and virtue of the great thinkers of antiquity be reconciled with the fact that they were pagans and, many thought, damned? Related questions were raised by encounters with contemporary pagans in northern Europe, Mongolia, and, later, America and China. Pagans and Philosophers explores how writers--philosophers and theologians, but also poets such as Dante, Chaucer, and Langland, and travelers such as Las Casas and Ricci--tackled the Problem of Paganism. Augustine and Boethius set its terms, while Peter Abelard and John of Salisbury were important early advocates of pagan wisdom and virtue. University theologians such as Aquinas, Scotus, Ockham, and Bradwardine, and later thinkers such as Ficino, Valla, More, Bayle, and Leibniz, explored the difficulty in depth. Meanwhile, Albert the Great inspired Boethius of Dacia and others to create a relativist conception of scientific knowledge that allowed Christian teachers to remain faithful Aristotelians. At the same time, early anthropologists such as John of Piano Carpini, John Mandeville, and Montaigne developed other sorts of relativism in response to the issue. A sweeping and original account of an important but neglected chapter in Western intellectual history, Pagans and Philosophers provides a new perspective on nothing less than the entire period between the classical and the modern world.

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One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2015 "[An] excellent book... If Marenbon leaves a stone unturned ... I didn't notice it... [He] builds a powerful case."--Peter Adamson, Times Literary Read more...

 
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