Relationship with Gothic Architecture

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The relationship between Gothic architecture and spirituality is quite interesting. Gothic architecture influences from other styles of architecture are added to the bold touch of the Middle Ages, which some consider strangely. Spirituality had much to do with the style that became known as Gothic architecture. Creative tensions in medieval society and politics led to new ideas, such as those exchanged in the debates over faith and reason in the new universities. They also led to the rise of new religious orders and forms of spirituality. New ideas emerged in popular religion during the struggle between orthodox Christianity and numerous heresies. The influence of Jewish and Muslim scholarship, the rise of an educated class of career scholars, and the growth of an urban reading public also contributed to this cultural and intellectual ferment in Europe. During the 12th and 13th centuries, universities arose in the major European cities. These universities met the demand for education in the seven liberal arts—grammar, rhetoric, logic, astronomy, geometry, arithmetic, and music—education that became a significant path to career advancement. Universities specializing in the higher disciplines—law at Bologna, medicine at Salerno, and theology and philosophy at Paris—became centers for intellectual debate. The 12th-century philosophical school known as Scholasticism developed new systems of logic based on Europeans’ rediscovery of Aristotle from Islamic and Jewish sources. Scholars debated how humans can know truth—whether knowledge of truth occurs through faith, through human reason and investigation, or through some combination of both means. Although none of these scholars denied Christian truth as it was revealed in the Bible, some, such as Anselm of Canterbury, placed faith before reason. Others, such as Peter Abelard, put reason first. The great 13th-century Dominican philosopher Thomas Aquinas produced a brilliant synthesis of faith and reason, while a group...
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