IMC 2012: Sessions

Session 104: Astrology, Prediction, and Bi-Location in Medieval Philosophy and Theology

Monday 9 July 2012, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Pavel Blažek, Historisches Institut, Friedrich-Schiller-Universität, Jena
Paper 104-aDivine Will versus Natural Law in John of Salisbury's Policraticus
(Language: English)
Lola Sharon Davidson, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, University of Technology, Sydney
Index terms: Learning (The Classical Inheritance), Philosophy, Political Thought, Science
Paper 104-bSaving the Phenomenon: Astrology and Free Will in the Theology of Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas
(Language: English)
Scott Hendrix, Department of History, Carroll University, Wisconsin
Index terms: Mentalities, Philosophy, Science

Paper -a:
John devotes an entire book of his treatise on government, the Policraticus, to the subject of prediction, particularly dream interpretation. That he should pay this issue such attention points not only to the perrenial popularity of fortune-telling in courts but more importantly to changing ideas of the natural world in the 12th century. John is acutely conscious of the challenge posed to Christian faith by the emerging view of the natural world as a mechanistic entity operating in accordance with its own rules. Fortune-tellers are not merely frivolous distractions but an affront to God’s governance of the world.

Paper -b:
Perhaps the most important ‘rule’ for medieval theologians was the inviolability of free will; without such freedom, how could anyone be guilty of sin? It was for this reason that the rising interest in predictive astrology in the universities of the 12th and 13th centuries generated so much angst, as predictions of the future seemed to invalidate free will. Yet this discipline was simply too useful to ignore. My study explores the compromise position arrived at by Albertus Magnus and his protégé, Thomas Aquinas, demonstrating the important ways in which these two men both agreed and differed with one another.