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A History of Philosophy in Epitome by Schwegler

Christianity and scholasticism

style="text-align: justify;"> SECTION XXII.


1. THE CHRISTIAN IDEA.--The Grecian intellectual life at the time of its fairest bloom, was characterized by the immediate sacrifice of the subject to the object (nature, the state, &c.): the full breach between the two, between spirit and nature, had not yet arrived; the subject had not yet so far reflected upon himself that he could apprehend his own absolute worth. This breach came in, with the decay of Grecian life, in the time after Alexander the Great. As the objective world lost its influence, the thinking consciousness turned back upon itself; but even in this very process, the bridge between subject and object was broken down. The self-consciousness had not yet become sufficiently absorbed in itself to look upon the true, the divine, in any other light than as separate from itself, and belonging to an opposite world; while a feeling of pain, of unsatisfied desire, took the place of that fair unity between spirit and nature which had been peculiar to the better periods of the Grecian civil and artistic life. New Platonism, by its overleaping speculation, and, practically, by its mortification of the sense, made a last and despairing attempt to overcome this separation, or to bury itself within it, by bringing the two sides forcibly together. The attempt was in vain, and the old philosophy, totally exhausted, came to its

end. Dualism is therefore the rock on which it split. This problem, thus left without a solution, Christianity took up. It assumed for its principle the idea which the ancient thinking had not known how to carry out, affirming that the separation between God and man might be overcome, and that the human and the divine could be united in one. The speculative fundamental idea of Christianity is, that God has become incarnate, and this had its practical exhibition (for Christianity was a practical religion) in the idea of the atonement and the demand of the new birth, _i. e._ the positive purifying of the sense from its corruptions, instead of holding it, as asceticism, in a merely negative relation.

From the introduction of Christianity, monism has been the character and the fundamental tendency of the whole modern philosophy. In fact, the new philosophy started from the very point at which the old had stood still. The turning of the self-consciousness upon itself, which was the standpoint of the post-Aristotelian speculations, forms in Descartes the starting-point of the new philosophy, whose whole course has been the reconciling of that opposition beyond which the old could not pass.

2. SCHOLASTICISM.--It very early resulted that Christianity came in contact with the cotemporaneous philosophy, especially with Platonism. This arose first with the apologists of the second century, and the fathers of the Alexandrian church. Subsequently, in the ninth century, Scotus Erigena made an attempt to combine Christianity with New Platonism, though it was not till the second half of the Middle Ages, from the eleventh century, that there was developed any thing that might be properly termed a Christian philosophy. This was the so-called Scholasticism.

The effort

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