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“Methodologies” Symposium, 2nd Unit

“Methodologies” Symposium, 2nd Unit “Anti-Aristotelians in Medieval Philosophy: Europe and Islam”

1   On March 8, 2014, the 2nd Unit of the Ircp held a “Methodologies” symposium at the Hakusan Campus (Building 8, Meeting Room 2). The symposium featured presentations by Professor Yamauchi Shiro (Keio University) on “The Methods and Systematization of Religious Studies in the Medieval West: Commentaries on Peter Lombard’s Libri Quattuor Sententiarum” and by Professor Emeritus Takeshita Masataka (University of Tokyo) on “The Categorization of Scholarship in Medieval Islam and Ideas of Systematization.” The two presenters are co-authors of the three-volume work, Isuramu Tetsugaku to Kirisuto-kyo Chūsei (Islamic Philosophy and the Christian Middle Ages; 2011–2012).  

  Focusing on chapter 17, volume 1, of Libri Quattuor Sententiarum (The Four Books of Sentences), Yamauchi sought in his presentation to explore the methodology of medieval theology by tracing genealogically up to the time of Martin Luther commentaries done on Lombard’s work. According to Yamauchi, annotating Lombard’s The Sentences was a basic task in medieval theology. The methodology of that field will not become clear unless one looks into Lombard’s work. Yamauchi took up the arguments of Thomas Aquinas, St. Bonaventure, Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham regarding the discussion of caritas in The Sentences, saying that these thinkers seemed to believe that Lombard’s take on the matter should be regarded as Pelagian. 

   Takeshita, in his talk, traced the classifications for scholarship and methods of systematization used in medieval Islam in his discussion of how the scholarly work of Al-Farabi and Al-Ghazali has been categorized. According to Takeshita, Al-Farabi and Al-Ghazali attempted to unify the rational fields of study with the oral ones. The rational and the oral constitute two of the three different systems of knowledge—the third being the demonstrative—that existed in the Islamic world in the late medieval period. The rational fields include the natural sciences, logic, and philosophy, with the latter occupying a central position as a meta-discipline to systematize the varied fields of study. At the center of the oral fields are Quranic studies, Hadithic studies, and the law, with linguistics traditionally taken quite seriously as a preparatory field. The oral disciplines at first were handed down solely by word of mouth, and even as their content began to be written down, their oral transmission was usually emphasized. Takeshita concluded with the observation that the two-part structure of philosophical theology and dialectical theology had not disappeared even in the work of the 16th century Turkish scholar Taşköprüzâde, who worked out a categorization for scholarship that was influenced by Al-Ghazali.

 The meeting was attended by many individuals not attached to the university, with scholars working in fields different from those of the two presenters joining their peers from their home fields. Accordingly, the question and answer session that followed was a lively, diverse, and enriching one centering on the key concept of methodology, the organizing theme of the meeting.

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