Wednesday, June 8, 2016
"Philosophy had no business trying to lift the veil from mysteries beyond human understanding."
When Saint Bernard made this statement it was an argument that he used against, Abelard. He said that Abelard, ‘“tried to explore with his reason what the devout mind grasps at once with a vigorous faith.’ The prophet Jeremiah had said, unless you believe, you shall not understand. But Abelard, ‘apparently holding God suspect, will not believe anything until he has first examined it with his reason.”’(207). If Abelard moral character had been above reproach, he could have countered Saint Bernard’s argument, by using an approach used by Averroes to distinguished the three levels of reasons:
1. “That of the uncultured ordinary person, whose mind is largely closed to reason and who can be moved either by emotional appeals like those outlined in Aristotle’s Rhetoric or by arguments from authority.”
2. “The educated man, who wants something more than the literal Word of God. He turns to theology and dialectic; he seeks to reconcile his reason with his faith but ultimately is content if faith wins out.”
3. “Belongs to the true man of reason. Nothing short of Aristotle’s logic with its systems of necessary rational demonstration, and nothing short of Aristotle’s science of substance and potentiality, will satisfy his quest for knowledge.” (228).
Then, diplomatically he could suggest that Saint Bernard would be classified as belonging to the first level and he, Abelard believed like Ockham later expressed that, “We need only one truth, the one reason derives from our senses and that religious faith, including faith in God, is an entirely separate matter. Religion is a matter of belief and will, not of reason or logical truth. That absolutely nothing could be proved about God in the light of reason, not even His existence. At best, we get probable hints of His existence when we examine nature. Otherwise, nature is a closed book as far as theology and dogma are concerned.” (247).
If Abelard had made those arguments he quite possibly could have disposed of Saint Bernard, but later he would probably have been excommunicated by the Church. At least his reputation would have been intact.