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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Week 3 Discussion Topic

A common perception of the Middle Ages is that it was a time of decline in Europe. Yet this period of 1200 years is marked by great intellectual and artistic achievement. Great cathedrals were constructed. Universities were established, and objects that we take for granted were invented, such as clocks, spectacles, buttons and forks.

This week respond to these 2 questions:

Of all the people and ideas presented in this week's lesson on Ethics of the Middle Ages, what surprised you or interested you the most?

What development in the Middle Ages do you think has had the most lasting effect on the world? And why?

28 comments:

debl said...

I was very intrigued with the views about one's soul. While Plato followers felt the soul was encumbered with the corporeal body; they still made provisions for reincarnation. Aristotle never made a committment regarding what happened to the soul.
I see Saint Augustine's influence stretch over centuries. His thoughts are as current today as when he first presented them. I think the reason is because he viewed humans from a positive aspect. Deb

Alice C. Linsley said...

deb, it is interesting that you think that Augustine viewed humans from a positive aspect. He is generally regarded has seeing more evil in humans than good, but that is more the case in the West than in the East. In the Western/Latin Church there has been a tendency to overlook St. Augustine's writings on divine illumination, which is a central doctrine (teaching) of the Eastern/Greek Church.

Thanks for the comment!

Nikki said...

Of all the people and ideas presented in this week's lesson on Ethics of the Middle Ages, what surprised you or interested you the most?

It is hard to pick one thing… This week’s lesson was very interesting. I enjoyed reading about the connection between faith and reason. Do we make moral and ethical decisions based on our religion? Does positive and negative motivation ignite our desires, does reason and faith guide us too make morally and ethically conscious decisions? Do humans decide what is moral and ethical based on their need to survive?
The Justinian Code also surprised me. I found myself wanting to conduct additional research on the topic and their methods of communication and enforcement. The Middle Ages lacked the technology we have in the 21st century making it seem impossible to improve the conditions of women and slaves and the disappearance of, infanticide, polygyny, incest, cultic prostitution, the 3-tiered caste system that limited women’s marriage options, and the practice of fathers selling their daughters into slavery because of implementing a code. How was the Code communicated and dispersed over the vast areas which Justinian exercised his rule? Who was responsible for enforcing the code outside of the church and civil leaders, did civil leaders and the church encourages vigilantes? Did civil leaders have mandatory educational classes pertaining to the code? If yes, was everyone in the Justinian area regardless of gender, class and race encouraged to attend? Today if a law changes there are multiple ways to find out, mass media (TV, newspaper, World Wide Web…), word of mouth, mail, posting at you place of employment, telephone...


What development in the Middle Ages do you think has had the most lasting effect on the world? And why?

I too believe St Augustine had a lasting impact on the world. Today his works and belief system is discussed and researched by the church and many educational institutions. According to Wikipedia Augustine was one of the most prolific Latin authors in terms of surviving works, and the list of his works consists of more than a hundred separate titles. Augustine of Hippo was a bishop, priest and father who was a prominent figure in the Middle Ages. His religious beliefs, Philosophical work and influence as a theologian and thinker will be studied for years to come. According to the Christian Classics ethereal library, “St. Augustine was accepted by most scholars to be the most important figure in the ancient Western church. St. Augustine stands as a powerful advocate for orthodoxy and of the episcopacy as the sole means for the dispensing of saving grace. In the light of later scholarship, Augustine can be seen to serve as a bridge between the ancient and medieval worlds.”

debl said...

OOOPS!!! I screwed up on Saint Augistine...I meant Aquinas..

Dora Campbell said...

I found Luther to be both surprising and most confusing. He doctrine and actions reminded me of today's politicians. It is difficult to determine just where they stand on issues. Luther appears to be for the common man yet he wants to enslave them to his way of thinking not free thinking. He expects his followers to uphold ruling authority even when it is not in their best interest. He upholds separation of state and church on one hand and then lays out rules to be followed by leaders. As I said, I found his policies difficult to follow.

However, to get to the second part of the question it is my understanding that in translating the Bible to English Luther created a lasting change to understanding Christianity. The translation was for the good of all, he interpretation of the Bible on the other was somewhat close to self-centered and served the rulers more than the public. Therefore, his Bible was used for much destruction and taking of human life and their property for the benefit of his church.

Dora Campbell said...

Nikki,

I found the theories of Augustine, freedom of choice and free will to still hold true today. He not only studied Plato but the apostle Paul as well which shows him to be well versed in others thoughts and actions.

Dora

Dora Campbell said...

Nikki,

P.S. forgot to say I enjoy your report. Great job.

Dora Campbell said...

dehl,

I would agree with you in your correction that it is Aquinas who good in the people. He was a follower of both Aristotle and Plato. I believe that he felt knowledge gained from studies would enlighten humans to the difference between good and evil.

Dora

Alice C. Linsley said...

Valerie C has asked me to post this comment for her. Here it is:

What interested and enlightened me was how Martin Luther’s beliefs helped form Protestant religions, aided in the translation of the Bible, and aided in forming the foundation of Nazi beliefs. The invention I feel is the most influential is the clock. Everything is has a timer or is on a timed schedule such as microwaves, ovens, DVRs, computers, school bells, traffic lights, subway trains, airplanes, satellites, missiles, sporting events, work schedules, etc. Humans seem to be obsessed with time, maybe this is due to the limited amount of time one has on earth.

Alice C. Linsley said...

deb, that explains it. Aquinas did have a more positive view of human nature.

Dora, you aren't alone in thinking that Luther was double-minded. On the one hand he opposed the established authority (when it was Roman Catholic) and on the other hand he condemned the peasants when they revolted against the rulers (when they were Lutherans).

Ashley said...

There were many things that surprised me, but what got me were the questionings and challenges. I like how these people, such as Erasmus, spoke out when he did not agree with something. He had his way of thinking when it came to how one should live their life, and if he someone, such as those in the church, not doing so, he would tell them. It is one thing to see that people are doing wrong, but it is another thing when one is held to high standard not doing things the way they are guided or taught to.
Translations have had an impact. Translations are the key to communication and understanding things that were not understood by all. If translations were not made, then people would not know how to communicate to everyone. Think of the Bible. Many many people read the Bible and with out the translation, how would we understand?

Chelly said...

There wasn't one specific person that interested me the most in this lesson rather it was just the concept of how many people were involved and how many different theories and ideas were argued and old theories/arguments revisited to adjust to their current culture.

Now, having said that, I do have to confess that I was most impressed by the story of Augustine of Hippo and how he lived a sinful, unbelieving life and then converted to Christianity.
That is why I think his teaching is the development that I think had the most lasting effect on the world.

Ashley Francisco said...

After reading this week's lesson I was most surprised by how many takes on morality and ethics were created in the Middle Ages. Many notable figures such as Martin Luther, Thomas Aquinas and Erasmus spawned from this era. Automatically when people think of the Middle Ages they often assume an immoral and unethical period full of strife, holy wars, and turmoil. It was surpising to me that such an environment could invoke such ideas of humanity.


These varying ideas and opinions of morality and ethics have had the most lasting effect on the world today. They have helped shape our judicial systems. They have even been carried down into the religious practices and beliefs that are being utilized today.

Shannon Christopher said...

I must say due to my current studies the one thing that surprised me the most was how structured educational facilities had become during such an early time in history. I had always been led to believe that structure when pertaining to education was absent up until more recent times. I also would like to add that much of what I read in this weeks reading what very similar to things I had previously studied during a World Religions Course. It is amazing how closely related these two areas actually are. Religion and Ethics are in several ways linked together which I have previously discussed during another posting. The base of Morals and Ethics as well as Philosophy are often surrounded by religious thoughts or understandings. When reading about castes and different beliefs of reincarnation, I am more convinced of the ties between the two areas. When I think about what aspects of this era have been the most influencial or have had a lasting impact on the world today, I must say all of it seems to hold a level of importance. By means of religion such as I mentioned above, I feel like the translations from the time have had a huge impact on Christianity. Being a Christian myself, I see this as a critical part of religion/ethics today. Much of what we do or feel as humans and/or citizens revolves around religion and what we feel is right or wrong. Would we have all of our thoughts or beliefs if it weren't for these translations?

Alice C. Linsley said...

You make a good point, Shannon. It is impossible to separate peoples' religious values and beliefs from social ethics. Throughout history, some governments have attempted to impose secular social policies and those government lose the respect and support of the people they govern.

This Discussion closes at midnight tonight.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Shahanah has asked me to post this comment. Here it is:

Although it is very well known that the church has influence in many things it still is intriguing on how much religion has influenced the evolution of different ideas. Today there are people who don't have any religion at all. It would be interesting to know what the philosophers would say about that and what kind of life these people have. I also found the views of war interesting it almost seems as though people are always trying to find some sort of jusification in resorting to violence and war but none the less it is important to have some sort of rules of conduct to follow. Maybe in doing this it can make it less evil.

DeWayne said...

I can't state that any one thing or person jumped out at me during my reading this week. I did find it interesting that wars were begun and fought based on the bible or religion. I am familiar to some extent with the Crusades and all of that but it always has amazed me at the way people have taken the Bible and used it justify their own agendas, no matter how silly or off-base their agenda might be.

Bonita said...

You know it seemed to me that most of the people in this lesson followed or touched on Plato and/or Aristotle. I was interested in Augustine and Martin Luther. I was wasn't surpise with Martin Luther because I have seen or heard of him. I think that there are many things that was touched on that has had an lasting effect on the World today because there are people in the World that still follow some of the people from the Medieval Era if not all today.

Morgan said...

I'm definitely most interested in Augustine's ideas because they relate closely to my own. I agree that if there is evil it is because humans choose to do evil. It's very cool that a UK professor was mentioned in the reading under Augustine's influence. For the second question, I'm sticking with Augstine. He has influenced the chritian culture and people still refer back to his teachings.

Pam said...

This was an interesting article, with all the different philosophies. The part that I found most interesting was the different ideas about religion.

The idea that I think will have a lasting effect of the world is Augustine's idea of humans have free will. I don't think that idea will ever go away. I think most people will always agree with this idea.

SirLazenby said...

This weeks reading covered so much ground it’d really be hard for me to peg down one thing that I found surprising or interesting so I’ll arbitrarily choose one. I’d not previously been acquainted with Peter Abelard before this week. The brief description of him in our readings intrigued me so I did some more research on him. I’ve always had an affinity for hopeless romantics, rabble-rousers and troublemakers so his story was very appealing to me. I found it both ironic and fitting that the last words of a man of his intelligence were “I don’t know”.
As to what development in the Middle Ages has had the most lasting effect on the world, I believe it to be something that was lost as opposed to gained. The disregardance of epistemology with replacement by theological authority has negatively influenced our way of thinking all the way up to today; though this authoritative foundation has since shifted from one of theology to one of social communism or majoritive-rule enforced moral authority. We take so many so-called “truths” for granted without a moment’s contemplation as to why we believe these things or from where their truth derives. I believe this lack of back-reaching contemplation is the main reason world events are going to take the rout they are now perfectly positioned to take. My hope is that a renewed interest in epistemology will, in the future, retake an important role in philosophy.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Carol Walton Has asked met o post this...
Well after Peter Abelard, The Carolingian Period, I selected Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius. He was most interesting to me as a philosopher compared to the ones we talked about his week. This is my opinion now, I know that you hear alot about Plato and Aristotle still today and how much of a contribution they still make, but in reading about Boethius I learned that he helped both of them in some ways.

Boethius is best known for The Consolation of Philosophy, which is a dialogue in five books between Boethius and "Lady Philosophy" a allegorical figure that appears to him in a vision while he laid in jail. The Consolation was famous then in the Middle Ages and in our day today also. Boethius even translated Plato and Aristotle’s works into Latin, mostly Aristotle’s, because didn’t have a chance to do Plato's before his execution. What he did proved that Plato and Aristotle said the same thing in some of their way of thinking. In addition he wrote a number of logical treatises, one particular today known as the "Old Logic". He transmitted ancient Greek philosophy to Latin West. He introduced the "problem of universals"

The Universities, developed then I guess would be considered having the most lasting effect in our world today, because looking now we have all types of universities world wide and so broad as to what ever you want, no matter what type degree, it is available. What progress, what prosperity, what contributions we have made since the Middle Ages and look where they have all lead us today.

Sydney said...

I think the thing that I found most interesting was the way that the different philosophers in the Middle Ages viewed Christianity with logic and reason and how their beliefs have shaped the beliefs of today's society. Before this lesson, I did not know that the idea of free will was such a strong argument during this era. Free will is the basis of the Christianity religion in which I follow and by reading the different ideas and opinions about free will, I was very intrigued on how brilliant each of these philosophers really were and how they could come up with such logic and reasoning. Also, I was interested in Martin Luther's theories. I don't believe in some of the things invlolved in Lutheranism but I was suprised at how he and his theory impacted Germany and would later cause much conflict between the Nazis of Germany and those of the Jewish faith, especially since the major coflict and wars did not occur until the 20th century.

Sydney

Alice C. Linsley said...

"I was suprised at how he and his theory impacted Germany and would later cause much conflict between the Nazis of Germany and those of the Jewish faith, especially since the major coflict and wars did not occur until the 20th century."

That's a good point, Sydney. Ideas are powerful things and influence people through many generations. Consider how the ancient Afro-Asiatics believed in the necessity of blood sacrifice to reconcile Man to God. That idea persists as the central idea of Christianity which points to the blood of Jesus as having accomplished that.

anita said...

What suprised me the most about Ethisc of the Middle Ages is that Martin Luther's views were influential with the Nazis. The invention that has had the most lasting effect on the world in my opinion would be the clock. From the beginning of civilization mankind has operated in time as stated from the Bible in Ecclesiastes chapter 3 verses 1-8.

Tammy said...

Aquinas had a more positive few on human nature. There were so many different views during this period. Their views have been carried down over the years in some form to the religious practices and beliefs today.
Martin Luther questioned the authority of the pope and the church by raising questions regarding the theological ideas which were taught by Roman Catholicism. Luther stated that salvation is accomplished through faith alone and could not be earned. He thought that the Bible, prayers, hymns, and the worship service should be in a language where the people could understand it for themselves and not just be told the answers to their religious questions.

Michelle Riddle said...

I was also intrigued by the views about the soul. The Platonists views regarding the soul being better outside the body and learning how to die to be free of the distractions of the body were just astounding to me. That is not something I had considered in regards to philosophy. It made me realize how much more there is/was to philosophy and made me think more "outside the box" so to speak. I had always thought of philosophy as looking at things differently and questioningly, but always in the realm of the living or better understanding the "afterlife" or even death; but not necessarily as a way to be free of the soul's prison of a body. Makes me want to research Plato a little more.

Alice C. Linsley said...

Michelle,

There may be more to Plato's forms than most moderns realize or are willing to accept. The fixed order of creation, the general pattern to meaning... these suggest that Plato may be right. His thought is well worth discovering!