How did thinkers from the late antiquity to the renaissance explore the relationship between faith and reason?
The relationship between faith and reason has been explored by a number of thinkers and philosopher’s since ancient times. The exploration undertaken by Renaissance writer; Machiavelli is a particularly significant due to its contrast with thinker of the late antiquity such as Thomas Aquinas, he is particularly interested in classical literature ttys to distil the experiences of Rome and Greece through its rulers. His book ‘The Prince’ and ‘The Discourses’ are books of particular interest which outline his views on reason and faith. The most famous piece and controversial piece of writing ‘The Prince’ acts is written guide for future princes on how to govern. His firm and well explained opinions regarding church, power and reason is contradictory to late antiquity write Thomas Aquinas who believes faith justifies reason.
Machiavelli’s emerged in the renaissance period; a time during which new ideas where developing in regards to science and technology, he felt that reason and faith should be associated as one. He felt that the faith should have a place within the state acting as a support and encouragement to the success and prosperousness of the state; ‘religion introduced into Rome was one of the chief causes of the prosperity of that city’. He felt faith was essential to ensure successful running of the state. The significance of the church for Machiavelli was that this organisation allowed control this is shown in his text ‘The Discourses’ where he mentions Numa as being the successor of religion and peace, she is described as more important then Romulus who represents soldiery and lawmaker; ‘I believe that the higher merit would be conceded to Numa; for where religion exists it is easier to introduce armies and discipline’ This shows Machiavelli understood that citizens will not obey by mere fear of being punished however will obey through faith and passion of belief. It further emphasises in what context he feels religion is important. He mentions that religion allows the people to remain faithful and thus allows discipline to be executed. He goes as far to say that the decline in Rome was due to shortcomings in the conduct of church. Machiavelli contradicts this importance by saying that one shouldn't be religious themselves; one should avoid faith and belief but they should give religion a prominent influence in a state. This was due to the fact that he believed religion made one lazy and encouraged leaving things to chance. He felt that religious values of morality and virtue contradict to order which is necessary to control a state, thus highlighting his dissatisfaction with religion. Furthermore Machiavelli rejects the doctrine of Natural Law therefore rejecting two main principles of the catholic system; automatic rejection of the divine law as he believes there is no supernatural end and also automatic rejection of moral virtues which Christianity would emphasis as he has a different linguistic connotation to virtue and believes a ruler can do what he needs to do to rule a state, even if its against moral virtue.
This view of faith and religion contradicted that of Thomas Aquinas’ who represents a philosopher present during the late antiquity. He undertook the task to separate faith and reason into two separate spheres while confirming that reason was inferior to faith. He wanted to reconcile faith and he felt that faith validated reason, he focused in particular on Aristotelianism. He believed that the human mind alone was insufficient in showing us things made manifest by faith. He argued that although the mind can understand physical things, it can not understand the spiritual concepts such as the trinity or incarnation and here Aquinas applied his philosophy to confirm the existence of god, he argues that something has to act as the ‘mover’ before something is ‘moved’; this process has...
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