These two, with William of Auvergne, Bishop of Paris (1218-1248), consolidated that system called the Scholastic Philosophy, which saved Catholicism from the heretical wisdom of the Arabians.
The greatest of the three was Albert, and twenty folio volumes attest his industry. He commented on all the works of Aristotle. Albert perceived that general concepts are at the base of all philosophies. He held that they existed independently of the mind; but he did not recognize a being called Humanity independent of actual human being; nor of Animality beyond actual animals. He held that the genus is an essence which only exists in particulars, but does not depend upon them. It emanates from the mind of God. Thus humanity and all other essences are the concepts, ideas, or forms existing in the mind of God, realized in individual beings. Hence, to find the origin of the universal, it was necessary to go back to the first cause. Albert was thus a modified realist. All realities were supposed to exist as concepts of the Divine mind; and also all concepts of the Divine mind had corresponding realities.
By this means all knowledge of external nature was to be found in the concepts or ideas of the mind; and these mental abstractions were supposed to be real physical existences.
Now, theology is the creation of the human mind, and consists in abstract concepts; and these were formed into a logical system of dogmatic theology. This being granted, these great master-minds saw the prodigious use of the Aristotelian logic in forming the subject into a great scientific system. In fact, if the freedom of inquiry could be curbed, and opinion restrained to certain orthodox fundamental concepts, there was nothing like the Aristotelian logic for reducing them to systematic form. Hence the Aristotelian logic, instead of being adverse to the Church, was now its greatest defender.
The greatest of all the scholastic doctors was Thomas Aquinas, the pupil of Albert of Cologne; and his works are the very incarnation of the scholastic philosophy.
It was then supposed that theology comprehended every other science; and physics was framed in the same spirit as theology. All physical science was supposed to be founded on certain mental concepts, which were supposed to be real. But all reference to Nature herself was prohibited, as savoring of heresy, and from fear of contradicting some doctrine of theology. Aristotle's theory of matter and form was adopted—the matter being the physical substance and quality of things, and form being that which distinguishes them into different classes.
Thus all physical science was reduced to syllogisms; and it was supposed that by varying these all physical truth might be discovered. The system was therefore entirely a priori; it began with the highest abstractions pure fictions of the mind and reasoned deductively from causes to effects. By this means the idealism of Plato, together with