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The Synthesis Tradition

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Chapter Summary

The passion for synthesis inflamed the Hellenic thinkers. Their Hellenistic successors, the Stoics and the Epicureans, sought for a world view which would integrate thought and action. In the early third century A.D. Plotinus made a new effort to synthesize. An examination of the writings of Augustine shows him to be in the great tradition of synthesis. This chapter emphasizes the fact that he was not only an avid learner of the classical philosophical tradition, but also of the Christian theological tradition. But as with all the truly great synthesizers, considerable intellectual progress occurred with Augustine. This is because the method of synthesis has been the method of those who are sincerely seeking truth from whatever source it comes and from whatever historical period it comes. In his role as a synthesizer of Augustinian positions in theology and philosophy, Thomas Aquinas became a paradigm for the proper way to synthesize.

Keywords: Augustine; Christian theological tradition; philosophical tradition; Plotinus; synthesis tradition; synthesizer; Thomas Aquinas; truth



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