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John of Salisbury on Science and Knowledge

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Chapter Summary

Knowledge is by nature uncertain. This is something that John of Salisbury strongly believes, and it has profound consequences for his general views on science and knowledge. John considers himself an Academic skeptic and as such certain knowledge is unobtainable, except by the intervention by God. The Metalogicon is particularly concerned with adopting Aristotle's theories, most of which seem to be considered by Aristotle as well as by John the foundation of science, knowledge and education. But Aristotle himself was not a skeptic, so John faced a difficult task, to combine his skepticism with an Aristotelian theory of science and knowledge. Whereas the Augustinian and Boethian views would be natural for John's contemporaries, such a conception of knowledge and wisdom, a conception that is found scattered particularly throughout Books 1 and 4 of the Metalogicon, might seem difficult to combine with John's skeptical and Aristotelian dialectical views.

Keywords: Aristotelian theory; Augustinian; Boethian; John of Salisbury; knowledge; Metalogicon; science; skepticism

10.1163/9789004282940_011
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