Philosophy, 950-1050

Abstract: The leading conception of “Philosophy” in the period 950–1050 distinguishes it from the discipline as understood either in the Carolingian period or the later eleventh and twelfth centuries. This essay takes issue with current opinion on the subject, which tends to give particular stress to the cultivation of Aristotelian logic, mediated above all by Boethius. The focus of the consensus view is fixed on Benedictine monasteries. However, the imperial court and the cathedral schools which arose in the second half of the tenth century received and developed a conception of philosophy based on Cicero’s ethical philosophy that is based on the Roman reduction of ancient Stoicism to an ethic of state service. This philosophy was not speculative. Dialectic played a part, but as a handmaiden of the language arts leading to public oratory. Witnesses to this development include Ruotger, the biographer of Bruno of Cologne; Gerbert of Aurillac; and a host of clerical writers in letters, poems and biographies from the period. The advent of speculative philosophy with Berengar of Tours in the second half of the eleventh century represents a sharp break with this brief hundred-year renewal of ancient Roman ethical philosophy.

Keywords: Philosophy, Roman Stoicism, Bruno of Cologne, Gerbert of Aurillac, dialectic, logic, oratory, imperial court, cathedral schools, ethical philosophy, Cicero, lived philosophy.

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