The Monks Contribution & Christian Writers Bias On Greek Philosophers

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What kinds of contributions did the monks make to European society?

Monasticism (mə-năs′tĭ-sĭz″əm) takes root early on in church history. It gave individuals the opportunity to separate themselves from the material world, so they can practice their spiritual life more intensely. Monasticism can be practiced in two different ways. Monks can either be eremitic, or cenobitic. Eremitic monasticism is the life of a hermit, and absolute isolation from the world. Cenobitic monasticism is living in isolation from the world, but in a community brotherhood. For women who became nuns, it is a sisterhood. Cenobitic monks made a more significant impact, because it was easier for people to learn from them. Monks lived spiritual lives of fulfillment, but they also made tremendous impacts on European society.

One of the most important things the monks did was establishing respect for the manual laborer. Manual labor was looked down upon, and considered to be the lowest position. The monks, however, changed this. The monks did everything they could to maintain their lives. Their work ethic was extremely efficient. They taught themselves and other young men different trades. They also established respect from society on manual labor. They also revolutionized both agriculture and technology, in many different ways. They preserved a lot of important historical manuscripts. Without their transcriptions, we wouldn’t have those foundations of history today. The monks, while they may not be credited for it, made a significant contribution to European society.

What was the attitude of most Christian writers toward the philosophers of Ancient Greece? 

Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, are just a few of the great philosophers of ancient Greece. These philosophers, and many more, were the first historically recorded thinkers to really challenge common thought. Their goal was to ultimately make many attempts to uncover the truth. It is important to take into consideration that these men had nothing to base their studies on. They were simply seeking the unknown truth. What may seem surprising to some people, is that most Christian writers (many years later) respected, and used the work of these ancient philosophers.

A number of Christian writers pointed out that these philosophers were seeking the truth. As Minucius Felix once said, “God can be known from reason, Greeks came to this knowledge.” The theories of the philosophers pointed to the existence of the omnipotent God. The common attitude of Christian philosophers towards the ancient Greek philosophers, was mostly positive. They respected the Greek thinkers that came hundreds of years before them. These Christian philosophers did not regard the teachings of Aristotle, Plato, or Socrates, to be heresies. Yet, rather the beginnings of trying to understand the God they believed in.

Lesson 70, Western Civilization @zbelles


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