for the school of Padua. Questions of permanent and present interest took the place of outworn scholastic problems. The disputants ranged themselves under the rival commentators, Alexander and Averroes; and the immortality of the soul became the battle-ground of the two parties. Pomponazzi defended the Alexandrist doctrine of the utter mortality of the soul, whilst Agostino Nifo (q.v.), the Averroist, was entrusted by Leo X. with the task of defending the Catholic doctrine. The parties seemed to have changed when Averroism thus took the side of the church; but the change was probably due to compulsion. Nifo had edited the works of Averroes (1495–1497); but his expressions gave offence to the dominant theologians, and he had to save himself by distinguishing his personal faith from his editorial capacity. Alessandro Achillini, the persistent philosophical adversary of Pomponazzi, both at Padua and subsequently at Bologna, attempted, along with other moderate but not brilliant Averroists, to accommodate their philosophical theory with the requirements of Catholicism. It was this comparatively mild Averroism, reduced to the merely explanatory activity of a commentator, which continued to be the official dogma at Padua during the 16th century. Its typical representative is Marc-Antonio Zimara (d. 1552), the author of a reconciliation between the tenets of Averroes and those of Aristotle.
Meanwhile, in 1497, Aristotle was for the first time expounded in Greek at Padua. Plato had long been the favourite study at Florence; and Humanists, like Erasmus, Ludovicus Vives and Nizolius, enamoured of the popular philosophy Summary. of Cicero and Quintilian, poured out the vials of their contempt on scholastic barbarism with its “impious and thrice-accursed Averroes.” The editors of Averroes complain that the popular taste had forsaken them for the Greek. Nevertheless, while Fallopius, Vesalius and Galileo were claiming attention to their discoveries, G. Zabarella, Francesco Piccolomini (1520–1604) and Cesare Cremonini (1550–1631) continued the traditions of Averroism, not without changes and additions. Cremonini, the last of them, died in 1631, after lecturing twelve years at Ferrara, and forty at Padua. The great educational value of Arabian philosophy for the later schoolmen consisted in its making them acquainted with an entire Aristotle. At the moment when it seemed as if everything had been made that could be made out of the fragments of Aristotle, and the compilations of Capella, Cassiodorus and others, and when mysticism and scepticism seemed the only resources left for the mind, the horizon of knowledge was suddenly widened by the acquisition of a complete Aristotle. Thus the mistakes inevitable in the isolated study of an imperfect Organon could not henceforth be made. The real bearing of old questions, and the meaninglessness of many disputes, were seen in the new conception of Aristotelianism given by the Metaphysics and other treatises. The former Realism and Nominalism were lifted into a higher phase by the principle of the universalizing action of intellect—Intellectus in formis agit universalitatem. The commentaries of the Arabians in this respect supplied nutriment more readily assimilated by the pupils than the pure text would have been.
Arabian philosophy, whilst it promoted the exegesis of Aristotle and increased his authority, was not less notable as the source of the separation between theology and philosophy. Speculation fell on irreligious paths. In many cases the heretical movement was due less to foreign example than to the indwelling tendencies of the dominant school of realism. But it is not less certain that the very considerable freedom of the Arabians from theological bias prepared the time when philosophy shook off its ecclesiastical vestments. In the hurry of first terror, the church struck Aristotle with the anathema launched against innovations in philosophy. The provincial council of Paris in 1209, which condemned Amalricus and his followers, as well as David of Dinant’s works, forbade the study of Aristotle’s Natural Philosophy and the Commentaries. In 1215 the same prohibition was repeated, specifying the Metaphysics and Physics, and the Commentaries by the Spaniard Mauritius (i.e. probably Averroes). Meanwhile Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, accepting the exegetical services of the Arabians, did their best to controvert the obnoxious doctrine of the Intellect, and to defend the orthodoxy of Aristotle against the unholy glosses of infidels. But it is doubtful whether even they kept as pure from the infection of illegitimate doctrine as they supposed. The tide meanwhile flowed in stronger and stronger. In 1270 Étienne Tempier, bishop of Paris, supported by an assembly of theologians, anathematized thirteen propositions bearing the stamp of Arabian authorship; but in 1277 the same views and others more directly offensive to Christians and theologians had to be censured again. Raymond Lully, in a dialogue with an infidel thinker, broke a lance in support of the orthodox doctrine, and carried on a crusade against the Arabians in every university; and a disciple of Thomas Aquinas drew up a list (De erroribus philosophorum) of the several delusions and errors of each of the thinkers from Kindi to Averroes. Strong in their conviction of the truth of Aristotelianism, the Arabians carried out their logical results in the theological field, and made the distinction of necessary and possible, of form and matter, the basis of conclusions in the most momentous questions. They refused to accept the doctrine of creation because it conflicted with the explanation of forms as the necessary evolution of matter. They denied the particular providence of God, because knowledge in the divine sphere did not descend to singulars. They excluded the Deity from all direct action upon the world, and substituted for a cosmic principle the active intellect,—thus holding a form of Pantheism. But all did not go the same length in their divergence from the popular creed.
The half-legendary accounts which attribute the introduction of Arabian science to Gerbert, afterwards Pope Sylvester II., to Constantinus Africanus and to Adelard of Bath, if they have any value, refer mainly to medical science and mathematics. It was not till about the middle of the 12th century that under the patronage of Raymond, archbishop of Toledo, a society of translators, with the archdeacon Dominicus Gundisalvi at their head, produced Latin versions of the Commentaries of Avicenna, and Ghazālī, of the Fons Vitae of Avicebron, and of several Aristotelian treatises. The working translators were converted Jews, the best-known among them being Joannes Avendeath. With this effort began the chief translating epoch for Arabic works. Avicenna’s Canon of Medicine was first translated into Latin by Gerard of Cremona (d. 1187), to whom versions of other medical and astronomical works are due. The movement towards introducing Arabian science and philosophy into Europe, however, culminated under the patronage of the emperor Frederick II. (1212–1250). Partly from superiority to the narrowness of his age, and partly in the interest of his struggle with the Papacy, this Malleus ecclesiae Romanae drew to his court those savants whose pursuits were discouraged by the church, and especially students in the forbidden lore of the Arabians. He is said to have pensioned Jews for purposes of translation. One of the scholars to whom Frederick gave a welcome was Michael Scot, the first translator of Averroes. Scot had sojourned at Toledo about 1217, and had accomplished the versions of several astronomical and physical treatises, mainly, if we believe Roger Bacon, by the labours of a Jew named Andrew. But Bacon is apparently hypercritical in his estimate of the translators from the Arabic. Another protégé of Frederick’s was Hermann the German (Alemannus), who, between the years 1243 and 1256, translated amongst other things a paraphrase of al-Fārābī on the Rhetoric, and of Averroes on the Poetics and Ethics of Aristotle. Jewish scholars held an honourable place in transmitting the Arabian commentators to the schoolmen. It was amongst them, especially in Maimonides, that Aristotelianism found refuge after the light of philosophy was extinguished in Islam; and the Jewish family of the Ben-Tibbon were mainly instrumental in making Averroes known to southern France.