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Power And Activity In Early Medieval Philosophy

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Chapter Summary

Discussions about power (posse, potestas, potentia) in the early medieval period centred primarily on questions dealing with divine power, but questions about human powers, and the notion of power in itself, were prompted by questions about the origin of evil, the nature of human free will, and the relation between free will and grace. This chapter looks primarily at three medieval thinkers, Peter Damian, Anselm of Canterbury, and Peter Abelard. These thinkers, working at a time when Aristotle?s works on physics and metaphysics had not yet been made available, inherited from Augustine and Boethius a certain action-theoretical understanding of power which plays a central role in their accounts of the powers of God and of human beings, and the connected issue of the nature of possibility.

Keywords: Anselm of Canterbury; Aristotle; divine power; early medieval period; grace; human free will; human powers; Peter Abelard; Peter Damian



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