What was the influence of the rediscovery of the works of Aristotle and the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas?  My text for this is Traditions & Encounters by Bentley and Ziegler.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Your text argues that the rediscovery of Aristotle’s work “profoundly influenced almost all branches of thought (Brief Second Edition, p. 313).”  It goes on to say that the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas was a major reflection of the importance of Aristotle’s works.  However, I would argue that the rediscovery of Aristotle and the thinking of Aquinas did not have a huge immediate influence on Europe.  In the long run, however, they would be enormously influential.

In the short run, the rediscovery of Aristotle and the philosophy of Aquinas did not have much of an impact on most of the people of Europe.  For the most part, Europeans did not care very much about philosophy, just as most people in our own society do not.  People in medieval Europe were much more concerned about getting by in their own lives (which were much harder than our own) and had little time or inclination to worry about philosophy.  Therefore, it is likely that the average European person would have little idea as to what Aristotle or Aquinas had said.  These were not things that had immediate impacts on their lives.

Aristotle and Aquinas did have a huge impact on the intellectual levels of European society.  The rediscovery of Aristotle did bring about the field of scholastic theology.  Your text says that this movement tried to make Christian theology more logically rigorous.  For example, Aquinas tried to reconcile Christian theology with the dictates of reason.  These were important changes in intellectual circles.  Eventually, these changes came to have practical meanings for people’s lives.  They helped to bring about the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution.  However, at the time that Aquinas was alive, his philosophy, and the Aristotelian works that inspired it, only influenced the elites of European society and did not really have much of an impact on most of society.