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

208. Pantheism. -- The intellectual impulse which sooner or later works out an idea into its ultimate logical consequences, was bound to push realism into pantheism. And it did. A revival of the popularity of Scotus Eriugena's De Divisione Naturae, marks the appearance of pantheism in this period.

(1) The Pantheism of Chartres. -- Some time between 1145 and 1153, BERNARD OF TOURS (Silvestris), an intimate friend of the Chartres teachers, composed a treatise De Mundi Universitate, which he dedicated to Theoderic of Chartres. It bristles with Neo-Platonic and Pythagorean theories. On a basis of Divine monism and emanation, it builds up a philosophy closely resembling the Alexandrian systems. "Ea igitur noys summi et exsuperantissimi Dei est intellectus et ex ejus divinitate nata natura."{1} It deduces its metaphysics from the Pythagorean monas. The whole volume De Mundi Universitate is an allegorical poem, part rhyme and part blank verse, in which metaphysical concepts are all anthropomorphized and transformed into so many stage actors.

(2) Amalric (or Amaury) of Bène and the Amauritian Sect. -- AMALRIC OF BÈNE, born in the neighbourhood of Chartres in the second half of the twelfth century, was undoubtedly influenced by the Chartres theories, but he spent his life at Paris, where he taught in philosophy, and afterwards in theology, a sort of pantheism intermingled with theosophic rationalism. All that is, is One; God is immanent in all things, for the being of all things is based on the Divine being. "Omnia unum, quia quidquid est, est Deus." Thus humanity is deified, and every man is an apparition of the Divinity just as Christ was. "Nemo potest esse salvus nisi credat se esse membrum Christi."{2} The Scripture texts that refer to the Divinity may be literally applied to each one of us. There can be no doubt about the kinship of these ideas with Scotus Eriugena's. It was detected by Amalric's own contemporaries; and both master and disciple were involved in a common condemnation. For Amalric's theories were being exploited by numerous heretical sects, so that the Church had to take action. He was called to account for his teachings; and he retracted before his death in 1204.

But his theories made progress notwithstanding. His deification theory was put into practice by the heretics, who publicly preached to the crowds that man, being a member of God, cannot sin, and that after a few years (about 1210) every man would be the Holy Ghost! Such notions as these were persistently propagated in the early years of the thirteenth century by -- among others -- a certain GODINUS and a goldsmith named WILLIAM. Their preachings have an evident kinship with certain other extravagant theories circulated independently about the same time by one JOACHIM DE FLORIS (fl. 1202); and they must have met with a willing welcome from the followers of the Evangelium Aeternum,{3} who sought to identify the succession of the great periods of the world's history with the procession of the Divine persons, and to justify disorderly, immoral lives on the ground of the abiding immanence of the Divinity in human nature.

The orthodox theologians rose up against the Amauritian doctrines. An anonymous treatise Contra Amaurianos, dating from 1208 or 1210, and attributed by Baeumker{4} to GARNERIUS OF ROCHEFORT,{5} examines and refutes their principal errors. As a source of information on the Amauritian theories it is invaluable. These were condemned at a synod held in Paris in 1210; a number of priests and clerics were likewise condemned for having encouraged the heresies; and these censures were renewed about five years later by Robert de Courçon at Paris, and again by the Lateran Council in 1216.

(3) David of Dinant. -- Independently of Amalric of Bène, DAVID OF DINANT in Belgium, or OF DINAN in France -- a philosopher of whose life we know practically nothing, but whose works have won considerable celebrity -- propounded an out-and-out materialistic pantheism in the closing years of the twelfth century. The very title of his work, De Tomis, id est de Divisionibus (also quoted under the name of Quaternuli), suggests the influence which Scotus Eriugena's writings must have had in shaping David's pantheism. David may have been acquainted also with Avicebron's Fons Vitae, but his pantheism has nothing in common with the De Unitate of Gundissalinus. The latter work is conceived in the spirit of Scholastic individualism, and historians have been mistaken in connecting it with David's pantheism.{6} We owe our knowledge of David's teaching to the criticisms which Albert the Great and Thomas Aquinas have levelled against it, and to the ecclesiastical censures of which it has been the object. God is the matter which constitutes the inmost core of things.{7} David indeed distinguishes three classes or categories of substances: God, souls and matter; but all three are merged in one, single, numerical unity. Albert the Great has preserved his subtle line of reasoning for us: "In order that two things differ, we must find in them a common element and a differential element. But if spirit differed from matter, there would be needed a second matter in this matter, and we should thus have to go on ad infinitum."{8}

The Quaternuli were condemned at a council assembled at Paris by Peter of Corbeil, Archbishop of Sens, in the year 1210. Five years later the Paris Faculties of Theology and Arts were forbidden to read the works of David, by Cardinal Robert de Courçon. This prohibition embraced also the works of MAURICE OF SPAIN.{9}

Amalric of Bène and David of Dinant appear at the dawn of the thirteenth century but belong historically to the twelfth. In the thirteenth century anti-scholasticism will again be found under various forms, still attacking the triumphant scholastic system.

{1} De Mundi Univers., i., 2.

{2} BAEUMKER, Ein Traktat gegen die Amalricianer, etc., pp. 386-454.

{3} DENIFLE, Das Evangelium Aeternum end die Commission zu Anagni (Arch. f. Litt. u. Kirchengesch. d. Mittelalters, i., 1885, p. 49).

{4} BAEUMKER, op. cit., p. 346.

{5} Garnerius of Rochefort, who was a Cistercian monk, was Bishop of Langres in 1192, and died at Clairvaux after the year 1215. He composed sermons, drawing from the writings of Peter of Poitiers and John Beleth. He did not escape the influence of Eriugena, though he never fell under suspicion of pantheism. Baeumker's attribution of the treatise is rejected by Mandonnet (R. Thomiste, i., p. 261), who regards Rodolph of Namur as its author. See Baeumker's reply in the Jahrb. f. Philos. u. spek. Theol., 1894.

{6} We correct, in this sense, our Histoire de la Philos. scol. dans les Pays-Bas, etc., p. 36.

{7} ST. THOMAS, Summa Theol., i., q. iii., art. 8, in corp.

{8} ALB. MAGNUS, S. Theol., p. Ia, tr. 4, q. 20, m. 2.

{9} Chartul. Univers. Paris., published by DENIFLE and CHATELAIN, i., p. 70.

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