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

207. The Materialism of the Cathari and the Aibigenses. -- The Cathari and the Albigenses, two sister sects, exceedingly widespread in the twelfth century throughout Italy and France, professed, in opposition to scholastic monotheism, a dualism borrowed from the Manichaeans, which was really tantamount to atheism. Alongside and independent of God, the principle of Good, they recognized also a principle of Evil.

At the same time the Cathari taught in their psychology that the human spiritus perishes with the body, just as the spiritus of the lower animal. "Hi autem volunt dicere ideo resurrectionem non futuram, quia anima perit cum corpore, sicut nostri temporis multi falsi christiani, imo haeretici."{1}

Alan of Lille, who directly attacked them, has preserved many of their arguments in his works. Thus, they claim in favour of their teaching the opinion of many scholastics (e.g., Adelard, William of Conches), that all vital principles are immaterial; arguing thus: "Si incorporalis est (spiritus animalis) sicut spiritus humanus, qua ratione perit cum corpore et non spiritus hominis? Qua enim ratione aut vi conservabitur potius anima humana in corpore quam anima bruti?"{2} Their favourite sources, however, were Epicurus and Lucretius, whose materialistic atomism they reproduced. And, having disposed to their satisfaction of the immortality of the soul, they boldly denied the doctrine of reward and punishment for good and evil. The conduct of their lives was an unabashed application of these materialistic principles.{3}

From Alan of Lille we also learn that according to Albigensian theory the souls of some privileged and superior men are really fallen angels, condemned to abide for a long period of time in successive generations of human bodies (Pythagorism).{4}

{1} Alan of Lille, Contra Haeret., i., 27 (col. 238).

{2} Ibid.

{3} Alan of Lille, Contra Haeret., i., 63. Marbodius thus describes their materialism: "Inter quos habitus non ultimus est Epicurus -- Ex atomis perhibens mundi consistere molem. -- Iste voluptatem summum determinat esse -- Perfectumque bonum, quo quisque fruendo heatus -- Congaudensque sibi sine sollicitudine vivat; -- Scilicet aut animal cum corporibus perituras -- Aut nullum credens meritum post fata manere -- . . . Quis numerare queat regiones, oppida, vicos, -- Urbes atque domos Epicuri dogma sequentes?" (Liber decem capitulorum, c. 7. Quoted by PHILIPPE, Lucrèce dans la théologie chrétienne, etc., p. 67).

{4} Anticlaud., q. i., 11, 12, 318 CD.

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