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God and Reason in the Middle Ages Paperback – July 30, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0521003377 ISBN-10: 0521003377 Edition: 0th
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Editorial Reviews


"...Grant's book will produce some interesting future discussions. Inside and outside the classroom, it promises to be a useful catalyst for rethinking and debating a period often considered marginal." ISIS

"Grant's argument is sound and convincing. Furthermore, his work is strengthened by a keen ability for precision and detail as well as willingness to engage earlier and contemporary historians of early Christianity." American Historical Review

"...the book remains a rich resource for examples of intellectual life in medieval universities, and succeeds in its purpose in shedding light on the medieval origins of modern science." Sixteenth Century Journal

"Grant's subversive history is persuasive, enlightening, and copiously documented." - Brian J. Shanley, O.P., The Catholic University of America

Book Description

The Age of Reason associated with the names of Descartes, Newton, Hobbes, and the French philosophers, actually began in the universities that first emerged in the late Middle Ages (1100 to 1600) when the first large scale institutionalization of reason in the history of civilization occurred. This study shows how reason was used in the university subjects of logic, natural philosophy, and theology, and to a much lesser extent in medicine and law. The final chapter describes how the Middle Ages acquired an undeserved reputation as an age of superstition, barbarism, and unreason.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 408 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (July 30, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521003377
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521003377
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #754,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jordan Bell on August 20, 2014
Format: Paperback
This book is a survey of the teaching and writing of scholars at medieval universities. Grant has written many papers and books on medieval science; his "A Source Book in Medieval Science" is comprehensive and is especially good. Because Grant has such a magisterial knowledge about scholastic science, he is unusually qualified to make general remarks about the work of scholastics.

The book contains uncommonly many block quotations from secondary literature. This was particularly noticeable with subjects like law and medicine, about which Grant does not have the same knowledge he does about natural philosophy. However, if you're writing a survey and want to mention topics of which you do not have mastery, then it is indeed more useful to the reader and more candid to give well chosen quotations from well chosen authors than to give an inadequate presentation yourself.

Grant shows many examples of natural philosophy embedded in writings of medieval theologians. A prominent example of this is the discussion of the infinite. If God is not constrained by laws of the natural world (namely, God is supernatural), then at best God is constrained by logical rules, and this led to theologians talking about problems detached from whether they are consistent with natural laws, but merely whether they are logically possible. For example, Gregory of Rimini argues that God can create an infinity of angels in an hour by creating one angel in the first half of the hour, another angel in the in the first half of what remains, another angel in the first half of what remains, etc., and that at the end of the hour there will be infinitely many angels. It is easy to dismiss questions of this type as frivolous, and indeed if one thinks angels are the point of the question then it may be silly.
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6 of 33 people found the following review helpful By John Estrada on May 25, 2007
Format: Paperback
Excellent to investigate about the debates between philosophers and theologicians during the late middle ages.
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