Thomas Aquinas’s aesthetic theory stands as an example of intellectual hybridity in medieval scholasticism. Aquinas was neither a pure Aristotelian nor a pure Platonist in his understanding of beauty. Nor did he simply select certain truthful elements from Plato and Aristotle and reassemble them to suit his own purposes. Rather, recognizing a need to integrate these two distinctive, though interrelated, theories of the beautiful, Aquinas produced a kind of hybrid kalology that embraces both the transcendental and aesthetic aspects of beauty.
Elements of pagan theism and Christian theology appear in this salvific treatise, but most Boethian scholars dismiss them as instances of unconscious syncretism. Yet Boethius deliberately effects an ideological synthesis by internalizing and christianizing the Platonic dialogue. Boethius’s emphasis on the importance of the role of chance, as expressed through both Lady Philosophy and Lady Fortune, reminds us that uncertainty is the necessary foundation upon which faith is built. Faith itself permits what Derrida calls “a venture into absolute risk,” in which ultimate consolation can perhaps be found.
Scholars have become increasingly aware of the importance of a work defending astrology as “the most Christian science,” known today as the Speculum Astronomiae. There have been a number of articles and books written on the subject; most scholars, however, have concentrated on the authorship and dating of the text. This study turns away from the traditional scholarly orientation to focus instead on the content of the Speculum, its sources, and its impact on the intellectual world of the medieval period.