The Difference Theology Makes (for Philosophy)

With apologies for the, er, radio? silence here recently, I’m just popping back in for a quick quotation from Günter Frank on the relation of philosophy and theology in Philip Melanchthon’s ethics.

Nevertheless, both these concepts [about practical philsosophy] [i.e., Albert’s and Thomas’s] which arose during the first reception of Aristotelianism in the the thirteenth century are based on explicitly philosophical considerations. This constitutes the major difference between them and Melanchthon’s concept of practical philosophy. His ethics and politics, as summarized in his moral philosophy textbook of 1538 [i.e., the Philosophiae moralis epitome], are based on resolutely theological, not philosophical, arguments. So in considering the final objective of this discipline, he argues as theologian, maintaining that it is the explanation of the law of nature, in other words, that the discipline of ethics and politics are part of the lex divina which governs the external actions of men.

Günter Frank, “The Reason of Acting: Melanchthon’s Concept of Practical Philosophy and the Question of the Unity and Consistency of His Philosophy,” in J. Kraye and R. Saarinen (eds.), Moral Philosophy on the Threshold of Modernity (Springer, 2005), 230


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