Ars et methodus. Philipp Melanchthon’s Humanist concept of philosophy

Sandra Bihlmaier

Sandra Bihlmaier, Ars et methodus. Philipp Melanchthon’s Humanist concept of philosophy. R5AS: Band 047 Sandra Bihlmaier constitutes a historical and philosophical analysis of Philipp Melanchthon’s concept of method and philosophy. By means of a detailed inquiry into Melanchthon’s textbooks of dialectic and rhetoric it uncovers the emergence and development of a notion of method which underlies an encyclopedic understanding of philosophy. The work reveals both the traditions of rhetoric and dialectic which Melanchthon builds on in his own works, as well as the Reformer’s own original reinterpretation of these traditions. Moreover, the reinterpretation and transformation of essential concepts taken from traditional accounts is thematized against the background of the canon of arts and sciences, which undergoes a fundamental change during the European Renaissance. The understanding, configuration, and the applicability of this canon is deeply influenced by this original concept of method. Philipp Melanchthon’s concept of method and philosophy is central to the understanding of 16th century definition of philosophy. Melanchthon’s attempt to integrate into a former theoretical discipline, both the aspect of usefulness, as well as a degree of general applicability in human affairs, testifies to the fertility of his philosophical program. Also his project is highly relevant for an understanding of philosophy which transgresses contemporary idiosyncratic categories of philosophical knowledge and draws attention to two fundamental historiographical aspects. First, it cautions historians and philosophers against transferring current definitions of philosophy to works which emerge from different historical, social and intellectual traditions. Second, it raises the awareness of the reader regarding his own understanding of philosophy and of its underlying presuppositions.

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