„A dialecticis libera nos, Domine!“
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This study is concerned with the controversy between thinkers of the eleventh century which is traditionally called the dispute between dialectics and anti-dialectics. The group of dialectics, among whom one might mention Berengar of Tours (c. 1010–1088), Anselm of Besate (dubbed Peripateticus, born c. 1020), and perhaps also Roscelin of Compiègne (c. 1050–1123), attempted to reappraise the interpretation of several Christian dogmas, even flaunting their general indifference to doctrinal themes, and directing their attention to, for example, the reading of Aristotelian and peripatetic (and other) logical writings, the conclusions of which they further developed. This approach did not always meet with understanding and a whole range of scholars stood opposed to it, often directing verbal attacks against the use of dialectic and logical methods in theological studies. The present study aims to analyse the key theses of this debate and to reveal its roots and its real character. The basic question then posed is: Is it really proper to speak simply of two polarities (where then should Anselm of Canterbury, for example, or Lanfranc of Pavia, be placed?) with Aristotle’s, or Aristotelian, logic standing on one side and God’s omnipotence hand-in-hand with Holy Scripture standing on the other? Attention is centred on the so-called anti-dialectics and on their theses denying dialectics. Among the figures included is, above all, Peter Damian (c. 1007– 1072), as well as Otloh of St Jimram (c. 1010–after 1070) and Manegold of Lautenbach (c. 1040–after 1103). By approaching the dispure from their standpoint one may better understand what actually the dialectics were aiming at and what really provoked their opponents. An attempt is also made to pinpoint the possible reasons for the opposition of the anti-dialectics’ to the so-called dialectics, especially when their own intellectual activity often failed to match their anti-dialectical theses.
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