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Document Details :
Title: Was Medical Theory Heterodox in the Latin Middle Ages?
Subtitle: The Plurality Theses of Paul of Venice and the Medical Authorities, Galen, Haly Abbas and Averroès
Author(s): McALEER, G.J.
Journal: Recherches de Théologie et Philosophie Médiévales
Volume: 68 Issue: 2 Date: 2001
All intellectual histories of the Middle Ages note that Greek and Arabic science, medicine, commentary and philosophy had an enormous influence upon the great intellectual achievements of the later Middle Ages in the Latin West. Yet, these same histories also tend to cast the condemnations of 1277 as a watershed moment when the Christian West rejected the science and philosophy of pagans and infidels, and especially the synthesis of the two, the commentaries on Aristotle’s works by Averroes. Recognizing the oddness of this narrative, one of simultaneous absorption and rejection, historians have been happy to divide the philosophers and theologians into progressives and conservatives. However, such a division seems only to compound the oddness of their original narrative, superimposing a political language popular in the 1960’s and 70’s onto the late thirteenth century. The division leaves in one corner the progressives like Siger, Thomas and Albert, who were open to the new sciences and in another corner, the conservatives, like Henry of Ghent and Robert Kilwardby, who sought to protect the old, traditional ways of thinking in 1277 by a codification of an orthodoxy. Unfortunately, this attempt to salvage the master narrative of simultaneous absorption and rejection fails to capture the intellectual positions and alliances at the time of the condemnations and their significance for later developments in the thinking of the Latin West.