The Ancient Scholastic Heritage
Around the beginning of the twelfth century the study of dialectic or logic achieved in Western Europe a pre-eminence within the fields of secular learning that it had never achieved before in the West and that it would never achieve again. Just what were the reasons for this intense interest in subjects which men in not a few other periods have thought were the driest dust of academic learning is not entirely clear. But in part it was no doubt due to the fact that of all the branches of ancient secular learning logic, and its cognate linguistic disciplines of grammar and rhetoric, managed in Western Europe best of all to preserve a continuity of tradition through the ‘dark ages’ of the seventh and eighth centuries. In fact, in the Latin West very little else did survive in any systematic form, and once the full panoply of Peripatetic science was restored in the thirteenth century, logic was forced to share equal honours with several other areas of study.
The tradition that was preserved was definitely Aristotelian, stemming from the Organon, passing through the great Greek commentators – Alexander, Ammonius, Porphyry, Themistius, Simplicius and others – acquiring in the process supplementa of Stoic origin, and making its way to the Western Middle Ages mainly via one remarkable figure: Boethius (ca. 480–524).
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