ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf

167. Theoderic of Chartres. -- Theoderic was magister scholae at Chartres in 1121; taught at Paris in 1140, having John of Salisbury among his auditors; returned to Chartres in 1141, where he succeeded Gilbert de la Porrée as chancellor, and died in 1155. Of his works we have extant the De Sex Dierum Operibus, the Eptateuchon, and a commentary on the De Inventione Rhetorica ad Herennium. Theoderic personifies for us the intense scientific and humanist activity of the Chartres schools in the twelfth century.

The trivium was held in high honour at Chartres (130). The study of the rules of rhetoric and an acquaintance with the great Latin classics were held to be a necessary introduction to all scientific culture. Chartres led the way in attacking the Cornificians, an obscurantist party who would whittle away the programme of studies and eschew altogether the cultivation of literary form (189). Towards 1130 Theoderic conducted a vigorous campaign against this set of Boeotians; for which service he won from John of Salisbury the title of artium studiosissimus investigator. We have already referred to the achievements of Theoderic in logic: his Eptateuchon, or manual on the seven liberal arts, makes mention of important portions of the Organon, thus probably introducing the knowledge of them into Western Europe (132, I). Where or how he himself came into possession of them is not quite clear. M. Clerval, the discoverer of the Eptateuchon, does not inform us. Theodoric was undoubtedly one of the most learned men of his time, and cultivated scientific relations wherever he possibly could. It was to him that Herman the Dalmatian sent the (Arabic-Latin) translation of Ptolemy's Planisphere, in the year 1144.

In Metaphysics, Theoderic promptly espoused and vigorously advocated the realism that held sway in Chartres down to the decline of the schools there. Indeed it is the opinion of some (Clerval, Hauréau) that he actually passed through the thin partition that separated extreme realism from pantheism. But he did not go quite so far. We should interpret with a prudent moderation his favourite disquisitions on the superessence of God and the essential dependence of creatures on the Creator. We should especially discount his too ready welcome for Pythagorean notions on the generation of all multitude from the bosom of the One: that God being the Supreme, Eternal One, anterior to all duality, all other things exist only in virtue of compenetration by the Infinite (divinitas singulis rebus forma essendi est.){1} Such declarations we must accept with reserve, interpreting them in the light of other such statements as this: that if God is for each created being the intrinsic principle of its actual presence in the physical order, each creature has nevertheless an essence distinct from God, an essence that is the work of His creating hand. The declarations of Theoderic on these points are very explicit.{2} He would have protested against the accusation of pantheism on the same grounds as Master Eckhart and the mystics of the fourteenth century, who established a like distinction between the individual essence proper to each creature, and its divine existence (esse formale).{3} At the same time it is clear that, despite such protests from their authors, a little logic would easily have converted these systems into anti-scholastic ones.{4}

In Cosmology Theoderic follows the teaching of his brother, reconciling it with the Biblical account of the Creation.

Among Theoderic's disciples the best known are John of Salisbury, Herman the Dalmatian, and Robert of Retines.

{1} "At aeternum nihil aliud est quam divinitas; unitas igitur ipsa divinitas est. At divinitas singulis rebus forma essendi est; nam sicut aliquid ex luce lucidum est, vel ex calore calidum, ita singulae res esse suum ex divinitate sortiuntur. Unde Deus totus et essentialiter ubique esse vere perhibetur. Unde vere dicitur: Omne quod est ideo est quia unum est" (HAURÉAU, Not. et Extr., etc., i., p. 63). BAEUMKER has shown that the latter phrase should read ideo est, and not in deo est (Archiv f. Geschichte d. Philos., x., p. 138, n. 37). It is a Pythagorean formula, common enough among Theoderic's contemporaries. Thus one of the main arguments for the latter's pantheism falls to the ground.

{2} "Sed cum dicimus singulis rebus divinitatem esse formam essendi, non hoc dicimus quod divinitas sit aliqua forms, quae in materia habeat consistere" (HAURÉAU, ibid.).

{3} This is Baeumker's suggested explanation, and we believe it to be correct (ibid., p. 138).

{4} See below, Eckhart and Nicholas of Cusa.

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