Tota familia Aristotelis: On Some Sources of Bacon’s Contribution to Medieval Political Discourse

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Roberto Lambertini

Abstract

Writing his Moralis philosophia, Roger Bacon discussed issues relevant to medieval political discourse. He felt the need to appeal to the authority of Aristotle, but having no access to Aristotle’s Politica, he tried to reconstruct its main tenets through the writings of other thinkers, such as Avicenna and Alfarabi. The result of this attempt is a sketch of a political theory that goes mainly under the name of Aristotle but has little to do with the actual contents of the Politica. In the following years, Bacon remained faithful to his first reconstruction. The author suggests that, with all probability, Bacon, never read the actual text of the Politica. the result is that Bacon’s contribution in this field was not influenced by Aristotle’s political masterpiece, but by other texts, in particular by Avicenna’s Philosophia prima. Such an assessment should not imply a negative judgement on Bacon. Rather, we should consider him among those authors who contributed to the rich diversity of medieval political thought independent of Aristotle’s Politica.

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References

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