©1996 by Eiichi Shimomissé

The Western culture remained for the most part inactive during the so called the Medieval Ages particularly in philosophy. Viewed from the global perspective, China and her sister civilizations were in peaks of the world civilization. By saying this, we do not necessarily contend that we shall be able to write a world history. In every genre of arts, it simply is ascertained, China and her sister civilizations were excelled. To be sure, the great Romanesque arts both in sculpture and building were developed. The grandeur of the Gothic building started in 12th century in Chartre. In this respect, it may not be possible for any other culture to equal in its accomplishments. They may be considered exceptions to the rules.

The Spiritual Liberation and The Paradigm Shift in Understanding Reality

The 15th century in the West is a certain kind of spiritual liberation. How great the cultural heritages the Medieval churches were, it would not change the fact that churches and monasteries monopolized knowledge and its pursuit. The majority of the people were kept in the darkness of ignorance. The clergies were considered to prophesy and indoctrinate the masses. Even the so called the university which was very unique institutions in the world were established for the church and clergymen. People were able to start learning and inquiry. It was the time of discovery. Instead of God and the Bibles with blind faith in them, people started first re-discovering the Ancient Civilization which was long forgotten. It was the attitude of mind in which the human being was encouraged to search for knowledge and discover truth for its own sake by one's own abilities rather than to be told what is truth and what is not truth by the church. They also started discovering for example how advanced and useful the Ancient laws were to the society of the time. Warfare among feudal lords also helped to understand (as Machiavelli clearly expressed himself) how powerful knowledge was. Intellectuals did not defy the authority of the church necessarily, but they discovered an enormous directions and activities in the pursuit of knowledge and they were excited with such pursuit.
The secular life of merchant classes became more and more powerful and important. They became patrons for arts, literature, music and theatres. The church was still powerful enough to support some of the greatest minds of Renaissance (Michelangelo for example). Secular paintings, secular sculptures, secular buildings and secular activities such as festivals, theatres, music concerts and writing and reading poetry found more audiences among these newly arisen merchants and their families. Their wealth allowed them to learn how to read and write and spent a great deal of their time for "recreations."
The paradigm of the God centered universe and its knowledge was quickly taken over by the paradigm of the human-centered universe. This does not mean that immediately, the human reason started to deify itself, but it was the intellectual movements which, on the one hand, discovered the Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations through influences from the Arab world and which, on the other hand, the human=being discovered itself as something unique, something exciting, something extremely real and something to be understood for its own sake.
The power of knowledge which was discovered both for its own sake and for some particular usefulness and did not gain such an articulation between them was overwhelming to the extent that as far as the universe which our experience reached must be understood on its own account, while many people believed that there would be the other "universe" where our experience and rational knowledge never reached must be left taken care of by the church and religion and faith. Nevertheless, the authority as the center of all activities in a culture was no longer with the church and was shifted to the knowledge of secular scientific inquiries and the monumental achievements of unparalleled artistic activities.

Humanitas as the Educational Ideal of Renaissance

Now the crucial questions were raised in the minds of the Renaissance people regarding how to educate children. To what ideal were their children supposed to be educated? In the past, it was always the church which had such a function. The newly rising class of merchants did not find the teaching of the Bibles enough for their children to be trained. They were not only interested in how skillful and how much in command in a special ability (accounting, negotiation, navigation, etc.) their children would be trained, but they were more interested in to educate their children how better human-beings they would become by such education. They found that the church failed to fulfill such tasks. Now suddenly, they found in the Ancient culture in which the ancient aristocrats and the wealthy educated their children. This educational ideal, in a one word, the people of Renaissance called "humanitas." The Greek original word was "paideia."
In this sense, Renaissance was the very unique period of transition from the church to the secular activities, that of transition from the faith to knowledge, that of transition of authority from the dogmatic faith to exploratory search for knowledge.

Philosophy of Consciousness

Philosophy of Contemporary Period may be best characterized best as the philosophy of consciousness. As Hegel properly said, "as long as the contemporary philosophy made the thinking as the principle of its philosophical inquiry, Descartes was the founder of the Contemporary philosophy." It may be necessary to comprehend why and how such a new approach and the choice of its principle took place.
When we talk about the universe, we always mean to comprehend that which may be intelligible to us in some way or other by the concept of the universe. Normally, when we had apparently no way to extend the scope of our knowledge, what we knew was that which was known by immediate experience. (To be continued).


The renaissance was a drastic change for the Western world.
Till then during the Middle Ages, the Western wold had been completely controlled by Christianity, the religion. So-called scientific inquiries occurred from time to time after 13th century, particularly under the influences of Islamic scientific pursuit, but they were generally considered dangerous to and heretic against Christianity.
The calling of priest had been considered to be much higher than any other profession and the priests were those for whom the rest of the humans had existed (Picture the Egyptian priests and the majority of the populace! There was no difference between Europe in the Middle Ages and Egypt in the Ancient Times.) The main concern had been the well-being of the soul in its after life.
Suddenly in Renaissance, the concern of the people was of this life, the secular activities, their profession, possession, well-being and this world (Nature, the world, the Humans and their society. Martin Luther's new affirmation of the secular professions to be equally important against the theological calling for example).
In the past, the tradition had been always the prime concern.
The new breakthroughs and originality were considered far more important in Renaissance (new scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs).
In the Middle ages, communal life and thinking had been considered of cardinal importance.
In Renaissance, on the contrary, the individuality and uniqueness was encouraged (the artists started signing their names on the works of art).
In the Medieval Time, philosophy, generally speaking, philosophy had been merely considered as ancilla theologiae (the maid servant for theology).
Then, philosophy as search for knowledge and truth for its own sake declared its own independence from theology and religion. The power of knowledge which was sought for its own sake was more strongly re-affirmed in Renaissance than even the Ancient Greece and Roman period.
While through the emphasis of tradition (as any religion was and is so), the religious, unquestionable, unquestioned authority of the absolute God was honored in the Middle Ages, freedom of the individual, the independent mind's search for truth, the human reason and rationality took its place in Renaissance and thereafter.

Philosophy of Renaissance

We talk about Renaissance, but there are many different kinds of Renaissance. In this context, it is only important to note that there are two kinds of aspects of Renaissance.

A) Reproductive Renaissance‹ Attempts to reproduce the culture and the values of the Ancient World

B) Productive Renaissance‹ Unintended byproducts of them, namely various values and cultural phenomena which are very original, unique to 15th and 16th Century Europe.

A) Reproductive Renaissance = renaiscantia romantitatis

Humanism = The most important value that was endeavored to reproduce
The world, Humanism and Humanity were created in Renaissance.

Humanitas was the translation of the Greek, paideia (The Educational Ideal of being a civilized Greek person) into Latin in the Ancient Roman culture. In other words, homo humanitas (the civilized genuine human-being) was contrasted to homo barbarus (the barbarians=non-humans).
Of course in the late Classical Period, humanitas meant human race and humanity, the same as what we today understand by humanity. This meaning, however, derived from the fact that in the classical period, the Greeks and Romans considered themselves as eminently humans, while the other human races (which they used to call "hoi barbaroi" ) were regarded as non-humans, thus they did not have any empathy to them as those of the same genus!

Humanitas in the sense of "homo humanum" in Renaissance was placed in opposition to"homo barbarus" of the gothic scholasticism of the Middle Ages, too.

Therefore, "humanism" or "humanity" goes back to a peculiar civilization of the late Greek and early Roman culture as it origin.

From the above two elements,
1) "humanism" referred to the revival and study of the Classic Greek and Roman texts (of philosophies and literature).

2) Humanism meant to be "human-centered," in opposition to the authoritarianism of Church and State

3) the revival of classical Latin
In distinction from the Medieval Latin, the classical Latin became an important part of the civilized people's culture (what we understand today as General Education)

4) The revival of Classical theatre, "music, " and drama.

4) The revival of the Classical philosophies

Platonism = the revival of Academy in Firenze in 1440 by the Medici
which is much more neo-Platonistic, viewed from today.

Plethon 1355-1450 (the Founder)
Bessarion 1403-1472
Ficino 1433-1499
Pico della Mirandola 1463-1494 ‹Theosophy, Neo-platonism and Cabala's mysticism

Aristotelianism = the controversies in Padva concerning whether the soul (reason within it) is eternal or not.

Those who denied that reason of the human soul is eternal were
Alexandros von Aphroaisias around 200 A.D.
Pietro Pomponazzi 1462-1525

The Arabic Aristotelian who affirmed the eternity of reason were
Averöes Ý1198

Stoicism = Justus Lipsius 1547-1606 in Belgium influenced René Descartes and
Spinoza's Ethics.

Epicurianism = Lorenzo Valla 1406-1457
de voluptate (on Pleasure)
influenced Gassendi 1592-1655

Skepticism = philosophers who influenced Montagne

Neo-Platonism = together with the revival of Platonism in Florence

Pythagoreanism = Kepler and Galilei

Atomism = the revival with Epicurianism

5) The revival of the principle of knowledge being power

Knowledge during the Middle Ages was the monopoly of the priests. Nobody else could read the Bibles, nor read anything else.
As a result, the priests were most powerful in monopolizing knowledge.

In Renaissance, not only through Reformation (1517), but Martin Luther in particular, translated the Bibles into the German (the dialect of Hannover).
Johannes Gutenberg invented the movable type printing, and
printed and published Luther's translation of the Bibles.
For the first time, the secular people were able to read the Bibles and understood what it meant by themselves, i.e., without the priest's interpretation or mediation.

Knowledge was understood as power, was revived and pursued as such by non-priests as well as priests as the source of power and power itself.

Philosophy, besides the knowledge as a powerful instrument,
regained the original meaning and its task, namely the pursuit of knowledge and for its own sake. The intellectuals were fascinated with new knowledge that they started discovering. This will lead us to the so-called Productive Renaissance.

From the original meaning of humanitas, it is quite natural to derive the meaning of today's notion of humanism in the sense that we view reality in terms of the humanity and look at the humans as the center of reality and the universe.
This notion of humanism became popular for the first time in the 19th century in Europe, and in Germany in particular. (Galileo, Montaigne, Machiavelli, in particular)

B) Productive Renaissance
In distinction form the Reproductive Renaissance, there were new movements inspired by the Reproductive Renaissance. There were also some misunderstandings of the Reproductive Renaissance, which produced an ingenious creative activities (the operas and ballets are prime examples of these).
In the field of philosophy, the revival and the re-cognition of the value of mathematical knowledge and its application to the understanding of Nature, the significance of empirical knowledge, i.e. the knowledge from experience were urgent agenda for those philosophers. Those problems could not be mere results of "returning to the Ancient philosophies."

A) Nicholas cusanus 1401-1464
Cusanus was borne in a little town on the Mosel, called Bernkastel-Cues in Germany (which was not so far from Trier where Karl Marx was born).
Cusanus thought was unauthodox at best, but being very close to the Pope at the time, Cusanus was not prosecuted.

Concordantia oppositorum

(to be worked out)

B) Agrippa von Nettesheim (1486-1535)

Spiritus mundi = the power or principle conceived by a psychic, i.e., spiritual power
C) Paracelsus 1493-1541

D) Jacob Böhme 1575-1624

The central problem of his philosophy = the problem of Evil



Galileo has been the well-known figure to us by many episodes in high school textbooks.
He was born in Pisa, Italy

Both Galilei and Kepler attempted to synthesize induction and deduction
experience and mathematics in sciences

Galileo did not invent the telescope which was primarily invented for military use (in 1608),
but he discovered its use in the sciences.
He was the first one to direct the telescope to the celestial bodies, made many discoveries.

Galilei observed that the moon is not a plate but a globe with many craters.
Galilei discovered that 4 planets of Jupiter and saw the same relationships between them of Copernicus' heliocentric hypothesis.
Galilei discovered that Saturn has a ring
Galilei discovered that Venus has many craters.

Galileo published Dialogo supra idue massioni sistemi del monds: Tolemaico e Copernicano in 1632

He was tried in 1633
and from 1642 till his death in confinement

Galileo published Discorsi in 1638

Galileo discovered the law of inertia against Aristotle's physics
in 159, Galilei was supposed to have an experiment of the law of a falling body.

Greatest contribution of Galileo's philosophy consists in the fact that Galileo recognized the significance of mathematics and his contention that laws of nature is expressed by mathematical terms, which made the revolutionary impacts on the further development of natural sciences and philosophy of the modern era (particularly through Descartes).

His words, "Nature (as a book) is written by the mathematical symbols..." emphasized the significance of experience and experiment as well as the inevitable application of mathematics to the natural sciences

Scientific method
a) metodo rosolutivo = Analysis into simple elements
simplify the perceived whole into its simple elements

b) metodo compositivo = Synthesis by theory and experiment
1. synthesize these simple elements by mathematics
2. check the results by experiment (by simplified conditions)


Bacon was born in London, studied at Cambridge, went to France for two years (Descartes was not yet born!).
Bacon was influenced by Montaigne.
Bacon as a bureaucrat served under Queen Elizabeth and James I but he was later dismissed by a bribery charge.

The Advancement of Learning 1605
De dignitate et augmentis scientiarum (the Latin translation of the above) 1622

Novum organum 1620
which was first published under the title of
Cogitate et visa in 1612

Essays 1597, and 1625

The whole purpose of Bacon's philosophy was to revolutionize the sciences (philosophy as well as other sciences) against the scholastic philosophy and in consequence against Aristotelian philosophy and sciences.

In Instauratio magna ( the Preface to Novum organum), Bacon states 6 plans for that revolution of sciences, but
he was able to actualize two of them.
1. partitiones scientiarum (classification of sciences)
This was actualized in his The Advancement of Learning.
2. Novum organum (the methodology of science)
This was actualized in his Novum organum.
3. Historia naturalis
The History of Nature
4. Scala intellectus
The steps of knowledge, explication of the method of proofs and examples.
5. Anticipationes philosophiae secundae
The anticipation of the second philosophy (the sciences)
6. Philosophia secunda sive scientia scientiarum
The Second Philosophy or the knowledge of sciences

The Classification of Sciences
The sphere of knowledge = globus inellectualis
organ memory imagination reason
area history poesy philosophy

history of nature
history of humankind


reason----------philosophy (= the sciences)
revealed theology
natural theology

speculative philosophy of nature (theoretical)
physics (investigate causa materialis and
causa efficiens)
metaphysics (investigate causa formalis and
causa finalis

operative philosophy of nature
mechanics = practical physics
magic = practical metaphysics
natural magic such as hypnosis, & e.s.p.

human philosophy (treated as separate)=anthropology
political philosophy (treated as being in a society)

Bacon recognized the necessity of reforming the traditional Aristotelian sciences, because they were making no progress. They were not certain, nor unpractical. They failed to expand our knowledge of the universe and the history
2) establish the new ideal of science, i.e., to obtain the knowledge of nature to control nature
(scientia potentia est = knowledge is power)
"Leave the words!" and
"Get to fact itself!"
invention = to follow nature and control it!
3) reveal the method for knowledge of nature
Use the empirical method,
Obtain new knowledge from experience.

As to Inquiry, there are 2 kinds of imperatives
negative imperatives (= the theory of idols)
positive imperatives (=experiences as the sources of knowledge)

Negative Imperative
= the destruction of the Idols (= prejudices), there 4 kinds
1) idola theatri (the idol of theater)
reliance on authority and tradition and general acceptance
2) idola fori (the idol of market place)
result from the use of the language, the language does not correspond the fact, but it is arbitrary
3) idola species (the idol of the cave)
arise from human's temperament, education, and others which shape the human as an individual
4) idola tribus (the tribal idol)
prejudices derived form the nature of humankind, e.g., sense deception, anthromorphism, confusions of causa efficiens (efficient cause) and causa finalis (final cause or purpose).
try to comprehend nature without teleology (which implies cause finalis and causa formalis), mechanically, i.e., purely by means of cause efficiens

Positive Imperative, having getting rid of those bias mentioned above,
Our attention and inquiry must be directed to Experience Itself!

Inductive method = an inquiry or an inference from the given phenomena to the conditions
systematic ---- facts are to be gathered by observation and experiment
cause and laws to be discovered

In order to systematically collect instances,
there are 3 instances
a) positive instances = tabula praesentiae
b) negative instances = tabula absentiae
c) comparative instances = tabula graduum.
e.g. increasing or decreasing heat
d) prerogative instances which are to supplement other instances

The Form of Nature = the Laws of Nature

Summary of his thought
1. rejection of Aristotle's logic (syllogism) as the method of inquiry into nature and his philosophy of nature
2. revival of Democritus' philosophy of nature = atomistic, quantitative understanding of nature
3. did not understand the significance of mathematics
in understanding of nature.


The most important political philosopher in Renaissance (the forerunner of Hobbes in arguing for the autocracy and the most significant realistic theory of politics until John Locke proposed the Democratic Theory of Government on the basis of the natural rights)

1) Being a man of Renaissance, he clearly recognize the significance of KNOWLEDGE AS POWER in contrast to physical power.
Machiavelli proposed a very practical theory of ruling.

2) The end justifies the Means

3) the aim of the political jurisprudence and ruling = the maintenance & development of the state (= the autocrat and his ruling)

4) the emphasis on the rational calculation in stead of emotive mercy and sympathy.

5) Only the appearance of moral values, not the moral values themselves, is important.

6) The independence of the state from the church

THOMAS MOORE (1480-1535)

the author of the book "The Utopia"
By this book, Moore baldly proposes an ideal condition of society and state. Moore is in this sense the first envisioner for the reform of the society, which would be sceeded by Jean-Jacques Rousseau a century later, those so-called uptopian socialists and Karl Marx in the 19th century.

One of his early insight into the further developemnt of political philosophy may be found in his fierce insistence on the independence of the state from the church and visa verse.

According to Thomas Moore, the genuine ideal of the state starts with two conditions: 1) the elimination of the inequality of possession, and 2) the abolishment of class distinction

The concept of UTOPIA was a creation of Moore and signifies a) eu-topos = the good place and
b) ou-topos = the no place at the same time, both of which were implied by the concept.

Even today, His "The Utopia" is widely read not only for political philolsophy, but also for his unique, innovative concepts.


Hobbes studied the scholastic philosophy at Oxford and was eight years older than Descartes.
Hobbes went to Paris many times, got acquainted with Gassendi and Mersenne and Descartes.
Hobbes was greatly influenced by Galileo and Descartes.
In England, Cromwell's revolution took place and It was the republics from 1649-1660 and Hobbes was supportive of the absolute monarchy due to that political turmoil.
Hobbes was a materialist and a skeptic.
Hobbes attacked the Scholastic philosophy
which, according to Hobbes, is a meaningless play with meaningless words.

1) Leviathan 1651

2) Elementa philosophiae
a) de corpore (1655)
b) de homine (1658)
c) de cive (1642,1654)

3) elements of Law natural and politie (1640)

4) Liberty and Necessityl (1646, 1654)


Defined from the method, according to Hobbes,
Philosophy is the cognition either of the effect from its cause (=deduction)
or of the cause from its effects (=induction)
by the proper employment of reason


The center of Hobbes' mertaphysics (=the doctrine of being) is the concept of BODY

Defined from its object,
is the science of Body and its motion.

Any being is a body and
any phenomenon is motion.

Anything real which is a body (=material entity) applies even to a point or a line.

Spirit is a matter too fine to the senses.
or it is considered a motion of a certain portion of an organism. so is feeling and emotion.

If the body and its motion are the proper objects of philosophy,
The only correct method of philosophy must be the mathematical.

Hobbes recognized the significance of mathematics and corrected Bacon's weakness.

The human-being is the most perfect body and it is a element of the body called the state.

Hobbes' metaphysics is a clear statement of materialism.


The most primary in the process of knowledge is our impression given to the sense.

The impression is caused by the external motion and will reach the heart and will create a reaction.

The sensation thus caused in us is purely subjective, exists only in our mind and does not correspond to (is not a copy of) the external cause.

Hobbes distinguished the secondary qualities
the primary qualities which are to be inferred from those impressions.

Hobbes was a nominalist.
Nominalism is the philosophical position such that the universals such as being, justice, number, etc. do not exist, but only words.
The universals are created by the humans.
According to Hobbes,

Words have meanings only when they are associated, directly or indirectly, with qualities of sense or feeling.

The qualities of sense or feeling are produced by the motions of bodies acting on our body:
These motions leave traces, and associations are made.
This engenders memory and imagination, which is "nothing but decaying sense."
Memory is the sensation to have sensed something.

Experience is something such that the totality of perceptions retained in memory is connected to the foresight which predicts a future event. The animals also possess the same ability.

the human-being being capable of the pursuit of knowledge (sciences) is due to our linguistic ability.

The humans have the ability and learn to attach names to their imaginations and
to use signs

Hobbes developed the theory of mind only the basis of the facts of memory and imagination

Reasoning is mere calculation, = the manipulation of signs
reasoning is said to be correct if the same signs are constantly attached to the same image.

imagination = an image or an idea, according to Hobbes.

Mathematics is the model of all knowledge.

Moral Philosophy

Hobbes took the position of Determinism (the doctrine which holds that our will does not have freedom, but is totally causally determined by the preceding conditions).

There are two different kinds of reaction that the human heart has upon the impression of an object.
The one which is a logical reaction is called sensation
The other which are practical reactions are called feelings of pleasure and pain.

Deliberation is the name for the interchanges of different desires.

Will is the name which is given to the strongest, the most winning desire

Freedom means that without any external hindrance an action is made from the will.
therefore, the action is necessarily resulted from the winning desire.

All motion is a consequence of the totality of the preceding motions.

Good is that which is desired.
Evil is that which is hated.
Therefore, nothing is either good or evil in itself.

What is good or evil is relative to a particular person, in a particular place, in a particular time and in the particular circumstances.

The standard of Good and Evil exists, therefore, only in a given society, in a given state.

What the law permits is good,
What the law prohibits is evil.
Good is in general profitable.

In the State of Nature where there is no (positive=man-made) law and nothing is prohibited,
Nature gave everyone the right to everything.

In other words,
The scope of one's right was the scope of one's power.

The transition from the State of Nature to the Civil State the State of War.

By Nature, the human being is not a social animal as Aristotle held.
The human being is Selfish.
In the State of War, we are fighting each other over the each one's rights and try to deprive others of their rights by destroying their lives.
The strongest would win and would subjugate others to slavery or even to their death.

the Fear and the Calculation of the people lead people to move to the Civil State or to form a Civil Government.
The political organization is the artificial human product of the Fear of Death and Calculation of one's benefit.

The highest Good is Self Preservation.
Such goods as friendship, wealth, wisdom, science or power is secondarily and is valuable as long as it is beneficial to Self Preservation.

In the State of Nature, Preservation of One's Life and Health is lacking.
The State of Nature immediately moves to the State of War (bellum omnium contra omnes).
Everyone is fighting for one's own happiness by killing each other.
In this State of War, even the strongest among them may not be safe.
Reason of People dictates to seek Peace and establish an Ordered Society.

The Preconditions for Peace is The Law of Nature, but in itself is not sufficient to guarantee the actual Peace. The Law of Nature actualizes itself by supplemented by the Positive Laws such that everyone in the given society is giving up all the other Natural Rights than the Right to Life for the sake of Protection of Life.

The Civil State comes into existence by the Covenant.
This Covenant is possible 1) by giving up all the other rights and freedom
2) by transferring all those rights and Subordination to One Will which by representing the rest of the subject will act for the Protection of the subject's Life.

This is the Absolute Monarchy.

The evils resulted from the Absolute Monarchy is better than\
the evils in the State of War.

The Absolute Monarch determines what is good or evil by Laws and Teachings
and what to believe.
The Religion which is not approved by the State is Superstition.
The Monarch is the highest Priest, while the other priests are his subordinates.
the community which consists of the humans is called a State,
the community which consists of the Christians is called a Church.

The Subject should not question of whether or not the doctrines established by laws are true.