Sunday, July 21, 2019

On The Anti-Aristotelianism of the Renaissance

During the Renaissance, anti-Aristotelianism was at its zenith: Erasmus and Martin Luther despised Aristotle because they believed that he was the fountainhead of Scholastic philosophy that was polluting their religion and culture; Francis Bacon thought that Aristotle’s philosophy was barren, disputatious, and wrong in its objectives, an he held Aristotle responsible for the decline in scientific thinking in Europe. The work of Erasmus, Martin Luther, and Francis Bacon convinced the religious and the scientifically minded people of their time that Aristotle was having a baleful influence on their society and culture. The word “dunce”, derived from the name of the Aristotelian philosopher from the High Middle Ages, Duns Scotus, became a term of abuse and a synonym for Aristotelian scholars. Even playwrights like Shakespeare became caught in the wave of anti-Aristotelianism that was sweeping across Europe. In his play Hamlet, Shakespeare has Hamlet say, “And therefore as a stranger give it welcome. There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” In the play, Horatio is inspired by the ideas of Aristotle.

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