Censure and Heresy at the University of Paris, 1200-1400
For the scholastic philosopher William Ockham (c. 1285-1347),
there are three kinds of heresy. The first, and most unmistakable,
is an outright denial of the truths of faith. Another is so obvious
that a very simple person, even if illiterate, can see how it
contradicts Divine Scripture. The third kind of heresy is less
clear cut. It is perceptible only after long deliberation and only
to individuals who are learned, and well versed in Scripture.
It is this third variety of heresy that J.M.M.H. Thijssen addresses
in Censure and Heresy at the University of Paris,
1200-1400. The book documents 30 cases in which university
trained scholars were condemned for disseminating allegedly
erroneous opinions in their teaching or writing, and focuses
particularly on four academic censures that have occupied prominent
positions in the historiography of medieval philosophy.
Thijssen grants central importance to a number of questions so far
neglected by historians regarding judicial procedures, the
authorities supervising the orthodoxy of teaching, and the effects
of condemnations on the careers of the accused. He also places
still current questions regarding academic freedom and the nature
of doctrinal authority into their medieval contexts.
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