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History of Philosophy|
by Turner, William (S.T.D.)
|Although John of Salisbury is perhaps the only professedly
eclectic philosopher of this period, the eclectic tendency is apparent
in Peter the Lombard, Alanus of Lille, Gerard of Cremona,  and
 Gerard (1114-1187) was one of the first translators of the
scientific works of the Arabians. cf. Muratori, Rerum
Italicarum Scriptores, IX, 600.
JOHN OF SALISBURY
Life. John of Salisbury, after completing his preliminary
studies in England, went to Paris (about 1136), where he had for
teachers many of the most renowned masters of the schools, --
Abelard, William of Conches, Theodoric of Chartres, Walter of Mortagne,
and Gilbert de la Porrée. He lived on terms of friendship with St.
Thomas Becket, Henry II of England, and Pope Adrian IV. In 1176 he
became bishop of Chartres, and died there in 1182.
Sources. In addition to his letters, which shed so much light on
the history of his times, John of Salisbury wrote a large number of
philosophical works, of which the most important are the
Polycraticus and the Metalogicus. These are published by
Migne, Patr. Lat., Vol. CXCIX.
John contributed very little to the philosophical discussions which
occupied to such an extent the minds of his contemporaries. He was a
historian, a humanist, and a critic, rather than a dialectician.
Indirectly, however, he rendered valuable service to the cause of
philosophy by his advocacy of culture, and by his
denunciations of obscurantism, which was represented in those days by
the Cornificians (pseudonym), a sect which flourished about the
middle of the twelfth century.  But, while advocating culture, and
studying the opinions of his contemporaries, he recognized the danger
of dialectic run riot, and strove in his eclectic synthesis to give
philosophy a more practical turn. He devoted some attention to the
study of psychology, being influenced, apparently, by the physiological
method of William of Conches. It must not be forgotten that John of
Salisbury is the first mediaeval historian of philosophy. To him we owe
much of what is known about the great controversy of his century
concerning the problem of universals.
 Cf. Metal., I, I, 2, 3, apud Migne, Patr.
Lat., Vol. CXCIX, coll. 826 ff.
PETER THE LOMBARD
Life. Peter the Lombard, surnamed Magister Sententiarum,
was born at Novara in Lombardy, about the beginning of the twelfth
century. He studied first at Bologna and afterwards at Paris. At Paris
he taught theology for many years and was promoted to the bishopric of
that city. He died about the year 1160.
Sources. Peter's Four Books of Sentences is a collection
of the opinions of the Fathers on questions of Catholic dogma. It is
modeled, apparently, on previous compilations. It became, and for
several centuries remained, the text-book of the schools and was made
the subject of commentaries innumerable. Around the exposition and
defense of dogma contained in these commentaries there grew up problems
of metaphysics and psychology, so that in the thirteenth century the
Books of Sentences was the core of Scholastic literature. The
work is published by Migne, Patr. Lat., Vol. CXCII.
Peter the Lombard was primarily a theologian. In matters of
philosophical discussion he strove to maintain a neutral attitude. His
orthodoxy was attacked, though unsuccessfully, by Walter of St. Victor,
representative of the mystic school.
Another writer of Sentences was Cardinal Robert Palleyn or
Pulleyn. He was a distinguished teacher, and was connected both with
the theological schools of Paris and with those of Oxford. The date of
his death is 1154. His work is entitled Sententiarum Libri
 Cf. Migne, Patr. Lat., Vol. CLXXXVI.
ALANUS OF LILLE (ab Insulis)
Life. Alanus was born about 1128 at Lille in Flanders. It is
probable that towards the middle of the twelfth century he taught at
Paris. He died at Citeaux in 1202 or 1203.
Sources. The most important of Alanus' works are the Ars
Catholicae Fidei, Tractatus contra Haereticos, Theologicae Regule, De
Planctu Naturae, and Anticlaudianus. These are published by
Migne, Patr. Lat., Vol. CCX; the edition, however, is
uncritical, and includes several treatises the authorship of which is
doubtful.  The classic work on Alanus is Baumgartner's Die Philosophie
des Alanus de Insulis (Münster, 1896).
 The Anticlaudianus and De Planctu Naturae are
published in Rerum Britannicarum Scriptores (Satirical Poets of
the Twelfth Century, Vol. II, pp. 268 ff.).
It is incorrect to represent Alanus as a mystic.  He exhibits, it is
true, some of the characteristics of the mystic style, -- poetic
imagery, allegorical diction, etc. Nevertheless, he attaches
independent value to speculative thought, and while he holds that
reason cannot comprehend the mysteries of faith, he maintains that
authority needs the aid of reason: "Quia auctoritas cereum habet nasum,
id est, in diversum potest flecti sensum, rationibus roborandum
est."  Instead, however, of presenting an original synthesis of
philosophical doctrine, he merely collects and tries to reconcile the
doctrines of his contemporaries. It is possible that this eclectic
spirit of his teaching was the occasion of the surname Doctor
Universalis by which he was known. This eclecticism appears
In his Psychology, which is a somewhat bewildering syncretism
of Pythagorean, Augustinian, and Aristotelian doctrines. Having defined
matter as chaotic space, and form as the sum of properties, he cannot
admit the Aristotelian doctrine of the union of soul and body. The soul
and the body are independent substances united by means of a spiritus
physicus. The relations of body and soul are regulated by
 Cf. Hauréau, op. cit., I,
In his Cosmology, which is dominated by the idea of number as
constitutive of order, Alanus maintained that intermediate between God
and creatures is a kind of world-soul, -- the servant of God, "Dei
 Tractatus contra Haereticos, I, 30.
 Anticlaudianus, 551, A; Tract, contra Haer., I, 29.
Historical Position. Alanus of Lille, Peter the Lombard, and the
other writers of this group exhibit a tendency to escape from the
dialectical discussions of the schools by taking refuge either in the
eclectic position, that all systems are partially true, or in the
mystic position, that all purely rational systems are essentially
inadequate. The tendency towards mysticism appears more plainly in the
writings of the philosophers belonging to the next group.