After studying the material in this chapter, the student must:


• the consequences of the destruction of the ancient world for the socio-political thought of the Middle Ages in general and of philosophy in particular;

• The reasons for the replacement of Christian theology, its founding fathers,

• System characteristics, basic ideas and attitudes, reasons for creating conditions for the diversification of social and human sciences at the end of the Middle Ages;

be able to

• Identify and characterize the special treatment by thinkers of the Christian theology of the relationship between society and the state, between religious and secular power;


• Knowledge to distinguish between ancient philosophy and Christian theology in their interpretation of the relationship between man, society and state power.

Without exaggeration, we can say that the death of the ancient world and the onset of the Middle Ages with the rule of Christianity in all the fundamental questions of the life of Western people marked a radical break with the old pagan world. The political form of political self-organization of people and classical ancient culture disappeared. Fathers of the Church and representatives of Christian thought with special determination dealt with Greek and Roman beliefs, science, art, culture.

The death of ancient philosophy and the triumph of Christianity

This aspect acquired especially odious forms and scales after in 313, according to the Milan edict, which proclaimed religious tolerance, Christianity was officially recognized as one of the equal religions in the Roman Empire, and in 324 - already the state religion. "In the eyes of the church fathers," E. Gibbon wrote in this connection, "Apollo and Muse were organs of the hellish spirit, Homer and Virgil were the highest of their ministers, and the magnificent mythology filling and animating the works of their genius had the purpose to extol the glory of the demons." ;

The profoundly pious Emperor Justinian closed philosophical schools in Athens, where paganism continued to dominate, including in 529 the Platonic Academy, which existed for almost a millennium. It is characteristic that within two centuries after the adoption of the Christianity by the Roman Empire, the Academy of Plato remained, as Russell noted, almost the only island of paganism. It was after its closure, in his opinion, "in Europe came the age of darkness".

In the V century. St. Cyril became famous for the cruel punishment of the daughter of mathematician Teona Ipatie, whose guilt was that, as a teacher of the philosophy of Plato and Aristotle in Athens and Alexandria, she adhered to the ideas of Neoplatonism. E. Gibbon described this violence as follows: "During the Great Lent, Hypatia was dragged from her chariot, stripped naked and dragged to the church; the reader Peter together with a bunch of wild and inhuman fanatics mercilessly beat her, ripped off her bones meat with oyster shells and threw her trembling body into the fire. "

No less fiercely were the Christian rulers and with the sword against their enemies. As E. Gibbon noted, the devastations that were inflicted on the barbarians brought by Alaric from the banks of the Danube were less pernicious than the hostile actions of the troops of Charles V, who was a Roman Catholic and himself called the Emperor of the Romans ".

For all that, one must keep in mind that the most important dogmas of Christianity developed under the influence of ancient philosophy. In the eyes of Catholics Aristotle became almost one of the Fathers of the Church and his criticism was hardly considered ns as blasphemy. However, from the spiritual heritage of ancient culture, the Christian church took only what could be used to justify the dogmas of its teaching. And all that did not conform with him, was mercilessly discarded and anathematized.

Only later, many centuries later, the disappeared worlds of ancient spiritual life with the greatest difficulty, comparable to the extraction from the deepest underground of history into the light of God's Troy, were almost restored to pieces and became the property of a new European civilization.

In the first centuries of its existence, Christian philosophy developed under the banner of the patristic. The main sources of it were authority and revelation. Claiming that the divine revelation not only surpasses the human mind but is contrary to it, the Church Fathers came to the conclusion that the Gospel is in contradiction with secular knowledge, with cognitive activity of a person .

So, Tertullian (about 160 - after 220) "believed because it is absurd - credo quia absurdum est. In his eyes, as V. Windelband noted, "Christianity has nothing to do with philosophy, as has nothing to do with Jerusalem and Athens: philosophy as a natural cognition is unbelief; so there is no Christian philosophy. "

Anthropocentrism or anthropology became one of the main distinctive features of Christian philosophy. Man is regarded as the center and ultimate goal of the universe. It was claimed that it was to man, as the crown of creation, that God gave a revelation. Anthropological approach, which in a slightly different connection began to be developed in Greek philosophy, acquired a predominant significance in Christian metaphysics. Here the protagonist maxim "man is the measure of all things" was replaced by a maximum, according to which the measure of all things is the history of the salvation of mankind.

For all that, throughout the Middle Ages, the principle of unity of all spheres of life, their undividedness and subordination to a single beginning, remained valid. For example, referring to medieval culture, A. Ya. Gurevich wrote: " Just as in the details of the Gothic cathedral there was an expression of the architectonics of the whole grandiose structure, just as in the individual event of earthly history they saw the symbol of events of sacred history, i.e. in the temporal felt the eternal, - so man appeared to be the unity of all those elements from which the world is built, and the ultimate goal of the universe. "

Not only philosophical and aesthetic categories, literature, visual arts and music, the spiritual principle in its Christian understanding permeated also the law, the economy, all the practical activities of people. And, on the contrary, the culture itself and all spheres of public life were permeated with a political or state principle. And the person perceived his social environment in its integrity and undivided nature.

Feudalism does not know a state that exists independently of the economic system or the apparatus of managing the economy, they penetrate each other. Aristocracy, urban and rural communities, corporations of craftsmen, etc. were in one form or another, privileged groups that have certain freedoms within their sphere of activity. This was a period of prevalence of private law. All rights were rooted in property, in contract and inheritance. Each person began to depend on his lord and this submission received a legal basis.

The power was the closest to the land tenure. Because of this, in the medieval concept of freedom there was no difference between civil and political freedoms. The House of Lords, the House of Commons, the General States, the Sejm did not consist of representatives of the people as such, but only expressed the interests of individual estates, corporations, professions, etc.

The patrimonial (hereditary, tribal) character of property and economy, political and military mechanisms was one of the fundamental aspects of the system. This is understandable if we take into account the fact of organic merger at that time of ownership and power, which, in turn, conditioned the domination of the system of personal relations between the sovereign and the vassal.

As the defining moral imperative in the Middle Ages, the faithfulness has replaced the ancient Greek virtue. The break with his estate began to be regarded almost as a mortal sin. The law became the principle of inheriting the son's status as a father. As J. Le Goff wrote, "sustainability was opposed to social change, especially to elevations. The ideal was the society of "old-timers" .

Also We Can Offer!

Other services that we offer

If you don’t see the necessary subject, paper type, or topic in our list of available services and examples, don’t worry! We have a number of other academic disciplines to suit the needs of anyone who visits this website looking for help.

How to ...

We made your life easier with putting together a big number of articles and guidelines on how to plan and write different types of assignments (Essay, Research Paper, Dissertation etc)