A case of medieval Platonism and Augustinism. Matthew of Acquasparta: knowledge and existence
This study concerns the thought of Matthew of Acquasparta (1240-1302), a thinker who brings significant elements of originality into the scholastic-augustinian philosophical tradition to which he belongs. In this article the author addresses the gnoseological problem, in light of the “theory of content” and of the “links between objectivity and existence”, with the aim of showing how Matthew of Acquasparta’s philosophical reflection is chiefly characterized by eclecticism and a sense of measure. Aspecific trait of his gnoseological perspective is in fact his capacity to maintain a balance between classical aristotelianism and cognitive theory of augustinian inspiration, a balance that is the fruit of a synthesis of the aristotelian doctrine of form and St. Augustine’s doctrine of illumination. According to Matthew of Acquasparta, the conjunction of the experience of extramental reality with the natural capacity of reason — a union that reaches its final term in the understanding of the aeternae veritates — constitutes the necessary condition for there being a cognitive act. At the same time, the influence of aristotelianism upon his thought also emerges clearly from the question of the non-existent. Here he shows his profound assimilation not only of augustinian thought but also of the philosophy of Avicenna, from whom he takes the distinction between being and essence.