History & Systems of Psychology
Chapter 3 – Faith & Reason
Emphasis on Spirit in the Roman Empire
Roman period began around 7th century BC, Empire began 27 BC, lasted until the fall of Rome in 476 AD
Romans ruled entire Western world, many cultural influences spread, including Greek thought and various Eastern & mystery religions, which emphasized death & renewal, purification, forgiveness of sin, exaltation to new life
Interest in Plato among many Roman philosophers
Judaism – one God with interest in human behavior & strict code of behavior for which one could be rewarded or punished
Neoplatonism stressed the mystical aspects of Plato’s philosophy & minimized the rational aspects.
Philo, the “Jewish Plato,” (25BC-50AD) combined the biblical & platonic views.
Dualism: body created from earth, soul from God
Senses can’t provide knowledge, which is from God and is received only by a purified soul (mind), free of sensory distractions. (vs. Plato: knowledge from revelation, not reason)
St. Paul (approx. 10-64 A.D.)
Roman citizen with education in Judaism and Greek philosophy
Especially influenced by Plato & idea that the body is inferior (bad); knowledge can be attained only by escaping from sensory experience
But he was more of a neoplatonist - instead of emphasizing reason, he emphasized faith.
Humans divided into 3 parts: body (source of evil), mind (caught between body & spirit), and spirit (spark of God within, immortal part)
St. Paul, cont.
Dualistic in views
Eternal struggle between flesh and God’s law
Paul’s ideas combining Judaism and neoplatonism formed basis of doctrine for first 300 years of Christianity. (but many debates concerning doctrine)
St. Augustine (354-430)
In 313, the Emperor Constantine made Christianity a valid religion in the Roman Empire, & tried to unify doctrine through the Council of Nicaea and formation of the NT.
St. Augustine lived after Constantine & just before the fall of Rome, during very difficult times as the Empire was invaded by barbarian hordes & experiencing internal decay.
Augustine was a notorious “sinner” until a miraculous conversion, then became a radical Christian, totally opposed to fleshly pleasures (even church music!).
He combined neoplatonism, Judaism, and Christianity into a powerful Christian worldview that dominated Western life & thought until the 13th century.
body vs. spirit (contempt for the flesh)
God vs. Satan for souls
City of God vs. city of this world
No interest in this fallen world, what is important is the spiritual realm.
True knowledge is knowing God. God is known through: (1) Scripture and (2) inner experience.
Greatest need is for repentance & salvation, human responsibility & will emphasized
Rejected study of nature, including natural study of people
Dark Ages (approx 400-1000 AD)
Fall of Rome and associated social & political structure, takeover by barbarian tribes
Greek & Roman books & knowledge lost
Little or no progress in science, philosophy, literature
Western world dominated by superstition and anti-intellectualism
Church had tremendous power, remnants of the geopolitical structure established by the Empire
Middle Ages (1000-1450[?])
(Sometimes Dark Ages & Middle Ages are combined and referred to by either name)
By 11th – 12th centuries, increased peace & stability in Europe, also Crusades-- travel & education, rediscovery of Greek classics, especially Aristotle
Increasing tension between philosophy & religion, as Church still had tremendous power and resisted change
Faith & Reason - Maimonides
Maimonides (1135-1204) - Jewish physician and biblical scholar, born in Spain, wrote The Guide for the Perplexed to reconcile Judaism and Aristotelianism
Said some parts OT/Talmud could be understood rationally & not necessary to accept by faith; also thought some parts were allegorical and not literal
Thought there were levels of understanding, with children and uneducated people at a simple level and brighter people using their reason to understand deeper truths
Faith & Reason – Early Christian Views
In the Middle Ages, Christian tradition emphasized faith, and was suspicious of both human reason & study of natural phenomena.
An important question: WHAT DO WE MEAN BY “FAITH” AS AN EPISTEMOLOGY?
Faith & Reason – Early Christian Views
An 11th century Augustinian, Peter Lombard, made a major departure from tradition to argue that reason can and should supplement faith.
Lombard also argued that God could be known by studying nature. Thus, there are 3 ways to learn about God: (1) faith, (2) reason, & (3) the study of God’s works.
Faith & Reason – Christian Scholasticism
Scholasticism – a movement in the 12th & 13th centuries that synthesized Aristotle’s philosophy & Christian theology; i.e., brought faith & reason together
Peter Abelard (1079-1144)
Believed all methods of inquiry would lead to God’s truth, including reason & study of nature
used dialectic method to describe & debate 158 questions answered inconsistently by Scripture & various Christian theologians
Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)
Largely responsible for the assimilation of Aristotle into Christian beliefs (much like Augustine bringing in Plato 900 years earlier)
Reason & faith not incompatible, both lead to God & God’s glory
Permissible to reason about matters of faith, and even debate church doctrine [REASON]
Legitimized the study of nature [EMPIRICISM]
Once Aristotle was assimilated into church dogma, not challengeable
Spirit of the Times at the Dawn of the Renaissance
During the 14th & 15th centuries, the authority of the church was still supreme.
Two classes of people, believers & nonbelievers, & latter were to be converted, or else punished or killed (i.e., Inquisition and witch hunts)
Astrology & magic practiced by almost everyone, superstition omnipresent
For centuries, little philosophical, scientific, or theological progress