Bernard of Clairvaux

Authored by: Brian Patrick McGuire

Medieval Philosophy of Religion

Print publication date:  July  2013
Online publication date:  October  2014

Print ISBN: 9781844652211
eBook ISBN: 9781315729626
Adobe ISBN: 9781317546481


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Bernard of Clairvaux (1090–1153) was not a philosopher in the strict sense of the word. His writings, however, have an epistemological foundation and belong to a perennial discussion within Christian thought about the relationship between faith and reason. Thus the great historian of medieval philosophy, Etienne Gilson, had no qualms about including Bernard in his History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages. In a chapter called “Speculative Mysticism”, Gilson showed how Bernard described a process by which the human soul seeks the love that God offers: “Ecstasy is nothing else than the extreme point of this union of wills and this coinciding of a human love with the divine” (Gilson 1955: 167).

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