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

317. His Place in Philosophy. -- Like all the masters of theology at this time, Godfrey was more than a simple theologian. His Quodlibeta show him to have been a versatile and many-sided scholar: all at once dogmatic theologian, moralist, jurist, canonist, philosopher, pamphleteer and controversialist. With unrivalled freedom of language he states his views on all the vexed disciplinary questions that troubled the University life of his time. He openly takes Tempier to task for his ill-considered condemnations of Thomism, and even still more severely the latter's successor, Simon de Bucy, for not removing the censures. He also takes exception to the censures of Peckham and informs us that they were disregarded at Paris. On the other hand, he is a vigorous opponent of the privileges of the mendicant orders.

Godfrey's scholasticism is in substance Thomist. Though resolutely opposed to St. Thomas on the question of ecclesiastical privileges, he has left us an enthusiastic eulogium of the Angelic Doctor's prowess in philosophy. But Godfrey's own Thomism has a personal colouring: from his numerous original solutions of minor questions; from his combative attitude towards his contemporaries (Giles of Rome, James of Viterbo, Thomas Sutton and especially Henry of Ghent);{1} and from the hesitation and reserve with which he accepts the innovations of St. Thomas in scholasticism. These evidences of indecision, while they point to a weakness in Godfrey, show clearly also that he appeared at a turning-point in the intellectual history of the thirteenth century: Thomism was indeed launched, but between the date of its construction and that of its decisive victory in the schools there was a transition period, in which Godfrey was a striking and characteristic figure.

{1} An ancient table, which will appear in an appendix to the Quodlibeta of Godfrey of Fontaines, enumerates the points of doctrine on which the latter opposes St. Thomas, G. of Rome, J. of Viterbo, and T. Sutton.

<< ======= >>