jeudi 15 novembre 2012

Saint ALBERT le GRAND ALBERTUS MAGNUS), religieux dominicain, évêque et Docteur de l'Église


Saint Albert Le Grand

Docteur de l'Église

(1193-1280)

Saint Albert Le Grand

Saint Albert le Grand naquit aux environs d'Augsbourg, de parents riches des biens de la fortune. Dès son enfance, il montra dans ses études une rare perspicacité; le goût des sciences lui fit abandonner les traditions chevaleresques de sa famille et le conduisit à l'université de Padoue, alors très célèbre, où il sut tempérer son ardeur pour l'étude par une vive piété. À l'âge de trente ans, encore incertain de son avenir, mais inspiré par la grâce, il alla se jeter aux pieds de la très Sainte Vierge, et crut entendre la céleste Mère lui dire: "Quitte le monde et entre dans l'Ordre de Saint-Dominique." Dès lors, Albert n'hésita plus, et malgré les résistances de sa famille, il entra au noviciat des Dominicains. Tels furent bientôt ses progrès dans la science et la sainteté, qu'il dépassa ses maîtres eux-mêmes.

Muni du titre de docteur en théologie, il fut envoyé à Cologne, où sa réputation lui attira pendant longtemps de nombreux et illustres disciples. Mais un seul suffirait à sa gloire, c'est saint Thomas d'Aquin. Ce jeune religieux, déjà tout plongé dans les plus hautes études théologiques, était silencieux parmi les autres au point d'être appelé par ses condisciples: "le Boeuf muet de Sicile". Mais Albert les fit taire en disant: "Les mugissements de ce boeuf retentiront dans le monde entier." De Cologne, Albert fut appelé à l'Université de Paris avec son cher disciple. C'est là que son génie parut dans tout son éclat et qu'il composa un grand nombre de ses ouvrages.

Plus tard l'obéissance le ramène en Allemagne comme provincial de son Ordre ; il dit adieu, sans murmurer, à sa cellule, à ses livres, à ses nombreux disciples, et voyage sans argent, toujours à pied, à travers un immense territoire pour visiter les nombreux monastères soumis à sa juridiction. Il était âgé de soixante-sept ans quand il dut se soumettre à l'ordre formel du Pape et accepter, en des circonstances difficiles, le siège épiscopal de Ratisbonne; là, son zèle infatigable ne fut récompensé que par de dures épreuves où se perfectionna sa vertu. Rendu à la paix dans un couvent de son Ordre, il lui fallut bientôt, à l'âge de soixante-dix ans, reprendre ses courses apostoliques. Enfin il put rentrer définitivement dans la retraite pour se préparer à la mort.

On s'étonne que, parmi tant de travaux, de voyages et d'oeuvres de zèle, Albert ait pu trouver le temps d'écrire sur les sciences, la philosophie et la théologie des ouvrages qui ne forment pas moins de vingt et un volumes in-folio, et on peut se demander ce qui a le plus excellé en lui du savant, du saint ou de l'apôtre.

Il mourut âgé de quatre-vingt-sept ans, le 15 novembre 1280 ; son corps fut enterré à Cologne dans l'église des Dominicains. Il lui a fallu attendre jusqu'au 16 décembre 1931 les honneurs de la canonisation et l'extension de son culte à l'Église universelle. En proclamant sa sainteté, le pape Pie XI y ajouta le titre si glorieux et si bien mérité de docteur de l'Église. Sa fête a été fixée au 15 novembre, jour de sa mort. De temps immémorial, il était connu sous le nom d'Albert le Grand.

Abbé L. Jaud, Vie des Saints pour tous les jours de l'année, Tours, Mame, 1950



Leçon des Matines 1960

Albert, surnommé le Grand pour sa science extraordinaire, naquit à Lauingen sur le Danube, en Souabe, et reçut dès l’enfance une éducation soignée. Il quitta sa patrie pour faire ses études et, pendant son séjour à Padoue, sur les conseils du bienheureux Jourdain, Maître général de l’Ordre des Prêcheurs, il demanda, malgré l’opposition de son oncle, à être reçu dans la famille Dominicaine. Admis parmi les frères, il se distingua par l’observance religieuse et la piété, il aima ardemment la Bienheureuse Vierge Marie et brûla du zèle des âmes. Il fut envoyé à Cologne pour achever ses études. Ensuite, il fut nommé lecteur à Hildesheim, à Fribourg, à Ratisbonne et à Strasbourg. Il acquit une grande renommée dans son enseignement à Paris. Il eut pour disciple préféré Thomas d’Aquin et fut le premier à reconnaître et à proclamer la profondeur de son esprit. A Anagni, devant le Souverain Pontife Alexandre IV, il réfuta Guillaume qui, avec une audace impie, attaquait les Ordres mendiants et il fut ensuite nommé évêque de Ratisbonne. Il sut admirablement donner des conseils et régler des différends, et on put l’appeler à juste titre médiateur de paix. Il composa de très nombreux écrits sur presque toutes les sciences, et surtout les sciences sacrées, il écrivit de façon remarquable sur le Sacrement admirable de l’autel. Très illustre par ses vertus et ses miracles, il mourut dans le Seigneur, en 1280. Le Pape Pie XI accrut le culte qui, par autorisation des Pontifes Romains, lui était rendu depuis longtemps déjà dans plusieurs diocèses et dans l’Ordre des Prêcheurs et, accueillant favorablement le vœu de la Sacrée Congrégation des Rites, il lui décerna le titre de Docteur et étendit sa fête à l’Église universelle. Pie XII le constitua Patron céleste auprès de Dieu de ceux qui étudient les sciences naturelles.


Dom Pius Parsch, le Guide dans l’année liturgique


« Il fut nommé à juste titre un pacificateur »

Saint Albert. — Jour de mort : 15 novembre 1280. Tombeau : à Cologne, dans l’église paroissiale Saint André. Vie : Saint Albert, le saint allemand, « la lumière de l’Allemagne », surnommé le Grand à cause de sa science éminente, naquit à Lauingen, sur le Danube, en 1193, de la noble famille des Bollstaedt. Il fit ses études à Padoue, où l’influence du Bienheureux Jourdain, second général de l’Ordre des Dominicains, le décida à entrer dans cet Ordre des Frères Prêcheurs, récemment fondé. Bientôt il fut envoyé en Allemagne, où il exerça le professorat dans différentes villes, spécialement à Cologne ; c’est là qu’il eut pour élève saint Thomas d’Aquin. Il reçut à Paris, en 1240, le grade de maître en théologie. Il y avait grande affluence à ses cours. En 1254, il fut élu provincial de son Ordre pour l’Allemagne. Il séjourna longtemps à la cour du pape Alexandre Il, qui le nomma, en 1259, évêque de Ratisbonne ; mais il revint, en 1263, à Cologne pour reprendre en main la direction de son Ordre, œuvre qui fut couronnée du plus grand succès. Son action comme conseiller, comme pacificateur et comme directeur spirituel reçut d’abondantes bénédictions de Dieu. Il mourut à Cologne, à l’âge de 87 ans. Le 16 décembre 1931, le pape Pie XI l’a mis au nombre des saints et élevé au rang de docteur de l’Église. Le grand œuvre de sa vie fut sa production littéraire qui remplit 21 volumes. Ce sont, pour une part importante, des commentaires d’Aristote, qui fut ainsi révélé à l’Occident, et de la Sainte Écriture. La légende raconte qu’Albert le Grand aurait jeté les plans de la cathédrale de Cologne ; ce n’est certainement pas exact. En réalité, il a jeté les plans d’une nouvelle et puissante cathédrale, « de la nouvelle cathédrale de la philosophie chrétienne, élevée sur les fondations et sur les piliers de la pensée et de la conception aristotélicienne, que le disciple de saint Albert, saint Thomas d’Aquin, a achevée » (Söhngen). — La Messe est du commun des docteurs de l’Église (In medio.



BENOÎT XVI

AUDIENCE GÉNÉRALE

Place Saint-Pierre

Mercredi 24 mars 2010

Saint Albert le Grand


Chers frères et sœurs,

L'un des plus grands maîtres de la théologie médiévale est saint Albert le Grand. Le titre de « grand » (magnus), avec lequel il est passé à l'histoire, indique l'étendue et la profondeur de sa doctrine, qu'il associa à la sainteté de sa vie. Mais ses contemporains déjà n'hésitaient pas à lui attribuer des titres d'excellence; l'un de ses disciples, Ulrich de Strasbourg, le définit comme « merveille et miracle de notre temps ».

Il naquit en Allemagne au début du XIIIe siècle, et tout jeune encore, il se rendit en Italie, à Padoue, siège de l'une des plus célèbres universités du moyen-âge. Il se consacra à l'étude de ce que l'on appelle les « arts libéraux »: grammaire, rhétorique, dialectique, arithmétique, géométrie, astronomie et musique, c'est-à-dire de la culture générale, manifestant cet intérêt typique pour les sciences naturelles, qui devait bientôt devenir le domaine de prédilection de sa spécialisation. Au cours de son séjour à Padoue, il fréquenta l'église des dominicains, auxquels il s'unit par la suite avec la profession des vœux religieux. Les sources hagiographiques font comprendre qu'Albert a pris cette décision progressivement. Le rapport intense avec Dieu, l'exemple de sainteté des frères dominicains, l'écoute des sermons du bienheureux Jourdain de Saxe, successeur de saint Dominique à la tête de l'Ordre des prêcheurs, furent les facteurs décisifs qui l'aidèrent à surmonter tout doute, vainquant également les résistances familiales. Souvent, dans les années de notre jeunesse, Dieu nous parle et nous indique le projet de notre vie. Comme pour Albert, pour nous tous aussi, la prière personnelle nourrie par la Parole du Seigneur, l'assiduité aux sacrements et la direction spirituelle donnée par des hommes éclairés sont les moyens pour découvrir et suivre la voix de Dieu. Il reçut l'habit religieux des mains du bienheureux Jourdain de Saxe.

Après son ordination sacerdotale, ses supérieurs le destinèrent à l'enseignement dans divers centres d'études théologiques liés aux couvents des Pères dominicains. Ses brillantes qualités intellectuelles lui permirent de perfectionner l'étude de la théologie à l'Université la plus célèbre de l'époque, celle de Paris. Albert entreprit alors l'activité extraordinaire d'écrivain, qu'il devait poursuivre toute sa vie.

Des tâches prestigieuses lui furent confiées. En 1248, il fut chargé d'ouvrir une université de théologie à Cologne, l'un des chefs-lieux les plus importants d'Allemagne, où il vécut à plusieurs reprises, et qui devint sa ville d'adoption. De Paris, il emmena avec lui à Cologne un élève exceptionnel, Thomas d'Aquin. Le seul mérite d'avoir été le maître de saint Thomas d'Aquin suffirait pour que l'on nourrisse une profonde admiration pour saint Albert. Entre ces deux grands théologiens s'instaura un rapport d'estime et d'amitié réciproque, des attitudes humaines qui contribuent beaucoup au développement de la science. En 1254, Albert fut élu provincial de la « Provincia Teutoniae » – teutonique – des Pères dominicains, qui comprenait des communautés présentes dans un vaste territoire du centre et du nord de l'Europe. Il se distingua par le zèle avec lequel il exerça ce ministère, en visitant les communautés et en rappelant constamment les confrères à la fidélité, aux enseignements et aux exemples de saint Dominique.

Ses qualités n'échappèrent pas au pape de l'époque, Alexandre IV, qui voulut Albert pendant un certain temps à ses côtés à Anagni – où les papes se rendaient fréquemment – à Rome même et à Viterbe, pour bénéficier de ses conseils théologiques. Ce même souverain pontife le nomma évêque de Ratisbonne, un grand et célèbre diocèse, qui traversait toutefois une période difficile. De 1260 à 1262, Albert accomplit ce ministère avec un dévouement inlassable, réussissant à apporter la paix et la concorde dans la ville, à réorganiser les paroisses et les couvents, et à donner une nouvelle impulsion aux activités caritatives.

Dans les années 1263-1264, Albert prêcha en Allemagne et en Bohême, envoyé par le pape Urbain IV, pour retourner ensuite à Cologne et reprendre sa mission d'enseignant, de chercheur et d'écrivain. Etant un homme de prière, de science et de charité, il jouissait d'une grande autorité dans ses interventions, à l'occasion de divers événements concernant l'Eglise et la société de l'époque: ce fut surtout un homme de réconciliation et de paix à Cologne, où l'archevêque était entré en opposition farouche avec les institutions de la ville; il se prodigua au cours du déroulement du II Concile de Lyon, en 1274, convoqué par le pape Grégoire X pour favoriser l'union avec les Grecs, après la séparation du grand schisme d'Orient de 1054; il éclaircit la pensée de Thomas d'Aquin, qui avait rencontré des objections et même fait l'objet de condamnations totalement injustifiées.

Il mourut dans la cellule de son couvent de la Sainte-Croix à Cologne en 1280, et il fut très vite vénéré par ses confrères. L'Eglise le proposa au culte des fidèles avec sa béatification, en 1622, et avec sa canonisation, en 1931, lorsque le pape Pie XI le proclama Docteur de l'Eglise. Il s'agissait d'une reconnaissance sans aucun doute appropriée à ce grand homme de Dieu et éminent savant non seulement dans le domaine des vérités de la foi, mais dans de très nombreux autres domaines du savoir; en effet, en regardant le titre de ses très nombreuses œuvres, on se rend compte que sa culture a quelque chose de prodigieux, et que ses intérêts encyclopédiques le conduisirent à s'occuper non seulement de philosophie et de théologie, comme d'autres contemporains, mais également de toute autre discipline alors connue, de la physique à la chimie, de l'astronomie à la minéralogie, de la botanique à la zoologie. C'est pour cette raison que le pape Pie XII le nomma patron de ceux qui aiment les sciences naturelles et qu'il est également appelé « Doctor universalis », précisément en raison de l'ampleur de ses intérêts et de son savoir.

Les méthodes scientifiques utilisées par saint Albert le Grand ne sont assurément pas celles qui devaient s'affirmer au cours des siècles suivants. Sa méthode consistait simplement dans l'observation, dans la description et dans la classification des phénomènes étudiés, mais ainsi, il a ouvert la porte pour les travaux à venir.

Il a encore beaucoup à nous enseigner. Saint Albert montre surtout qu'entre la foi et la science il n'y a pas d'opposition, malgré certains épisodes d'incompréhension que l'on a enregistrés au cours de l'histoire. Un homme de foi et de prière comme saint Albert le Grand, peut cultiver sereinement l'étude des sciences naturelles et progresser dans la connaissance du micro et du macrocosme, découvrant les lois propres de la matière, car tout cela concourt à abreuver sa soif et à nourrir son amour de Dieu. La Bible nous parle de la création comme du premier langage à travers lequel Dieu – qui est intelligence suprême – nous révèle quelque chose de lui. Le Livre de la Sagesse, par exemple, affirme que les phénomènes de la nature, dotés de grandeur et de beauté, sont comme les œuvres d'un artiste, à travers lesquelles, par analogie, nous pouvons connaître l'Auteur de la création (cf. Sg 13, 5). Avec une comparaison classique au Moyen-âge et à la Renaissance, on peut comparer le monde naturel à un livre écrit par Dieu, que nous lisons selon les diverses approches de la science (cf. Discours aux participants à l'Assemblée plénière de l'Académie pontificale des sciences, 31 octobre 2008). En effet, combien de scientifiques, dans le sillage de saint Albert le Grand, ont mené leurs recherches inspirés par l'émerveillement et la gratitude face au monde qui, à leurs yeux de chercheurs et de croyants, apparaissait et apparaît comme l'œuvre bonne d'un Créateur sage et aimant! L'étude scientifique se transforme alors en un hymne de louange. C'est ce qu'avait bien compris un grand astrophysicien de notre époque, Enrico Medi, et qui écrivait: « Oh, vous mystérieuses galaxies..., je vous vois, je vous calcule, je vous entends, je vous étudie, je vous découvre, je vous pénètre et je vous recueille. De vous, je prends la lumière et j'en fais de la science, je prends le mouvement et j'en fais de la sagesse, je prends le miroitement des couleurs et j'en fais de la poésie; je vous prends vous, étoiles, entre mes mains, et tremblant dans l'unité de mon être, je vous élève au-dessus de vous-mêmes, et en prière je vous présente au Créateur, que seulement à travers moi, vous étoiles, vous pouvez adorer » (Le opere. Inno alla creazione).

Saint Albert le Grand nous rappelle qu'entre science et foi une amitié existe et que les hommes de science peuvent parcourir à travers leur vocation à l'étude de la nature, un authentique et fascinant parcours de sainteté.

Son extraordinaire ouverture d'esprit se révèle également dans une opération culturelle qu'il entreprit avec succès: l'accueil et la mise en valeur de la pensée d'Aristote. A l'époque de saint Albert, en effet, la connaissance de beaucoup d'œuvres de ce grand philosophe grec ayant vécu au quatrième siècle avant Jésus Christ, en particulier dans le domaine de l'éthique et de la métaphysique, était en effet en train de se répandre. Celles-ci démontraient la force de la raison, elles expliquaient avec lucidité et clarté le sens et la structure de la réalité, son intelligibilité, la valeur et la fin des actions humaines. Saint Albert le Grand a ouvert la porte à la réception complète de la philosophie d'Aristote dans la philosophie et la théologie médiévales, une réception élaborée ensuite de manière définitive par saint Thomas. Cette réception d'une philosophie, disons, païenne pré-chrétienne, fut une authentique révolution culturelle pour cette époque. Pourtant, beaucoup de penseurs chrétiens craignaient la philosophie d'Aristote, la philosophie non chrétienne, surtout parce que celle-ci, présentée par ses commentateurs arabes, avait été interprétée de manière à apparaître, au moins sur certains points, comme tout à fait inconciliable avec la foi chrétienne. Il se posait donc un dilemme: foi et raison sont-elles ou non en conflit l'une avec l'autre?

C'est là que réside l'un des grands mérites de saint Albert: avec une rigueur scientifique il étudia les œuvres d'Aristote, convaincu que tout ce qui est vraiment rationnel est compatible avec la foi révélée dans les Saintes Ecritures. En d'autres termes, saint Albert le Grand a ainsi contribué à la formation d'une philosophie autonome, distincte de la théologie et unie à elle uniquement par l'unité de la vérité. Ainsi est apparue au XIIIe siècle une distinction claire entre ces deux savoirs, philosophie et théologie qui, en dialogue entre eux, coopèrent de manière harmonieuse à la découverte de la vocation authentique de l'homme, assoiffé de vérité et de béatitude: et c'est surtout la théologie, définie par saint Albert comme une « science affective », qui indique à l'homme son appel à la joie éternelle, une joie qui jaillit de la pleine adhésion à la vérité.

Saint Albert le Grand fut capable de communiquer ces concepts de manière simple et compréhensible. Authentique fils de saint Dominique, il prêchait volontiers au peuple de Dieu, qui était conquis par sa parole et par l'exemple de sa vie.

Chers frères et sœurs, prions le Seigneur pour que ne viennent jamais à manquer dans la sainte Eglise de doctes théologiens, pieux et savants comme saint Albert le Grand et pour que ce dernier aide chacun de nous à faire sienne la « formule de la sainteté » qu'il adopta dans sa vie: « Vouloir tout ce que je veux pour la gloire de Dieu, comme Dieu veut pour sa gloire tout ce qu'Il veut », soit se conformer toujours à la volonté de Dieu pour vouloir et faire tout, seulement et toujours pour Sa gloire.

* * *

C'est avec joie que j'accueille ce matin les pèlerins francophones, en particulier les jeunes venus de France et le groupe du diocèse de Vannes. A tous je souhaite de vivre une fervente Semaine Sainte afin de découvrir toujours plus la profondeur de l'amour de Dieu pour les hommes. Que Dieu vous bénisse!

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana



ALBERT LE GRAND.

De son vrai nom A. de Bollstaedt. Appelé par ses contemporains Albertus Lauingensis (de Lauingen), A. Theutonicus, A. de Colonia, Dominus Albertus (après sa consécration épiscopale), et de bonne heure par la postérité : A. Magnus.

1. Biographie.

2. Ecrits.

3. Influence.

I. BIOGRAPHIE.

Albert naquit en 1206 (non en 1193, ainsi que le croient universellement ses modernes historiens) dans la petite ville souabe de Lauingen sur le Danube. Il était le fils aîné du comte de Bollstaedt, une famille féodale puissante et riche dévouée à Frédéric II. Elevé dans la société de jeunes seigneurs, il fut conduit, adolescent, à Padoue, pour y faire ses études sous la surveillance d’un oncle, vraisemblablement ecclésiastique, tandis que son père guerroyait en Lombardie, au service de l’empereur. Le second maître général des frères prêcheurs, Jourdain de Saxe, étant venu prêcher aux étudiants de Padoue pendant les premiers mois de 1223, attira à l’ordre un grand nombre de jeunes gens, parmi lesquels Albert, alors âgé de seize ans et demi. Malgré les résistances de son oncle et de ses condisciples et une tentative d’enlèvement de la part de son père, Albert entra dans l’ordre et fut conduit, pour y continuer ses études, dans un ou plusieurs couvents qu’on ne peut désigner avec sécurité, mais vraisemblablement à Cologne. C’est là qu’il commença plus tard son enseignement en interprétant deux fois le Maître des Sentences. Il fut successivement lecteur de théologie dans les couvents de Hildesheim, Fribourg-en-Brisgau, Ratisbonne (pendant deux ans) et Strasbourg.

En 1245, Albert fut envoyé à Paris pour y conquérir le titre de maître en théologie et régenter une des deux écoles dominicaines du couvent de Saint-Jacques, incorporées à l’université. C’est pendant ce séjour à Paris qu’Albert commença, concurremment à l’enseignement de la théologie, la publication de la vaste encyclopédie scientifique qui lui valut son incomparable célébrité, et qu’il compléta jusque vers la fin de sa vie, bien qu’elle fût déjà achevée en grande partie en 1256. Le maître quitta vraisemblablement Paris à la fin de l’année scolaire 1248. Au chapitre général de cette année, l’ordre des prêcheurs ayant établi quatre studia generalia, en plus de celui de Paris, pour étendre la formation intellectuelle supérieure de ses recrues, l’une de ces études générales fut établie à Cologne et Albert en devint le premier régent. Malgré les nombreuses absences du célèbre maître, cette ville devait être, jusqu’à la fin de ses jours, sa résidence ordinaire, ce qui lui valut d’être souvent nommé par ses contemporains Albert de Cologne.

Cette nouvelle période de la vie d’Albert est marquée par l’intensité de son activité littéraire. Il compta alors Thomas d’Aquin parmi ses disciples. Pendant son séjour à Cologne, Albert ne cessa aussi d’intervenir comme arbitre de 1252 à 1272 dans les graves différends qui éclatèrent entre la ville et ses évêques. En 1254, le chapitre de la province d’Allemagne, tenu à Worms, confia à Albert le gouvernement de la province dont il s’occupa très activement. Deux ans plus tard, étant encore provincial, il se rendit à la cour romaine pour prendre la défense des prêcheurs contre les attaques de Guillaume de Saint-Amour, dont le célèbre pamphlet De novissimorum temporum periculis fut condamné à Anagni par Alexandre IV le 5 octobre 1256. Pendant son séjour à la curie, Albert remplit l’office de lecteur du sacré palais et interpréta, à la demande du pape et de ses cardinaux, l’Evangile de saint Jean et toutes les Epîtres canoniques. Ce fut encore pendant ce séjour à la curie qu’Albert, sur la demande d’Alexandre IV, écrivit contre la théorie averroïste de l’unité de l’intelligence son traité De unitate intellectus. Ce voyage jusque dans le midi de l’Italie fournit à Albert, comme tous ses autres déplacements, l’occasion de recherches scientifiques, et c’est alors qu’il découvrit le De motibus animalium d’Aristote dont il publia le commentaire.

Albert rentra à Cologne en 1257. Il fut relevé de sa charge de provincial par le chapitre général de Florence de cette même année, et reprit le cours de son enseignement. Au printemps de 1259, Albert de rendit au chapitre général de Valenciennes, où il élabora avec thomas d’Aquin et Pierre de Tarentaise, le futur Innocent V, un important règlement pour les études dans l’ordre. Il est très probable qu’Albert se rendit à Rome au cours de cette même année, appelé par le souverain pontife. Le pape le désigna pour l’évêché de Ratisbonne, le 5 janvier 1260, malgré les efforts du général de l’ordre, Humbert de Romans, pour éviter cette nomination. Albert s’adonna avec zèle aux devoirs de sa nouvelle charge. Mais la nécessité de se mêler à de graves affaires temporelles, en un temps où les églises d’Allemagne vivaient encore du régime féodal, poussa le nouvel évêque, plus amoureux d’étude que de guerre, à résigner sa charge au printemps de 1262.

Le 13 février 1263, Urbain IV le préposa à la prédication de la croisade pour l’Allemagne, la Bohême et autres lieus de langue teutonique. Cette mission lui fit parcourir l’Allemagne pendant les années 1263 et 1264 dans toutes les directions, de Ratisbonne et Cologne jusqu’aux frontières de la Pologne. De 1265 au commencement de 1267, Albert fit un long séjour à Wurzbourg où il joua, comme à Cologne, le rôle de pacificateur, tout en continuant d’étudier et d’écrire. Vers le milieu de 1267, l’évêque démissionnaire, le seigneur Albert, dominus Albertus, ainsi qu’on l’appela dès lors jusqu’à la fin de sa vie, offrit au général de l’ordre, Jean de Verceil, de reprendre l’enseignement. Celui-ci accepta avec reconnaissance et songea même un instant à le renvoyer professer à Paris.

Ce fut l’étude de Cologne qui le reçut encore une fois. Bien que résidant ordinairement dans cette ville, Albert se déplaça fréquemment pendant une dizaine d’années (1268-1277). On le trouve spécialement pendant cette période en différents points de l’Allemagne, au nord comme au midi, consacrant des églises nouvelles et des autels, ou faisant même des ordinations sacerdotales. En 1270, au fort de la lutte soutenue, à Paris, par Thomas d’Aquin contre Siger de Brabant et les autres averroïstes de la faculté des arts, Albert intervint par l’envoi d’un mémoire qu’avait sollicité Gilles de Lessines et dans lequel il réfute les théories fondamentales du péripatétisme averroïste.

L’année 1274 vit Albert se rendre au second concile général de Lyon et y siéger parmi les Pères de cette assemblée. Il quitta encore une fois Cologne, vraisemblablement pendant le second trimestre de 1277, pour venir à Paris défendre les doctrines de Thomas d’Aquin que l’évêque Etienne Tempier et les maîtres séculiers de la faculté de théologie avaient tenté d’envelopper dans une commune réprobation avec les erreurs averroïstes, le 7 mars précédent. Revenu à Cologne, Albert y rédigea, en janvier 1278, son testament. Ce fut, semble-t-il, le dernier acte important de sa vie lucide. Le cerveau de l’homme qui avait absorbé la science de l’antiquité et de son siècle céda sous le poids du travail et des années. Albert perdit la mémoire et sa raison s’affaiblit. Il était pris de fréquentes crises de larmes, surtout au souvenir de son disciple bien-aimé, Thomas d’Aquin, descendu dans la tombe avant lui. Il mourut le 15 novembre 1280, âgé de soixante-quatorze ans. Cologne lui fit de magnifiques funérailles. Il a été béatifié par l’Eglise le 27 novembre 1622, et sa fête de célèbre le 16 novembre.

SOURCES BIOGRAPHIQUES.

Il n’existe pas de biographie d’Albert le Grand écrite par un contemporain. On peut toutefois reconstituer les faits principaux de sa vie, avec les données synchroniques tirées soit de ses propres écrits, soit surtout d’auteurs du XIIIe siècle et des actes officiels émanés d’Albert ou le concernant. La plupart de ces sources, mais non toutes, sont utilisées dans les biographies modernes. Comme elles sont très nombreuses, nous renonçons à les énumérer ici. Nous faisons exception pour la suivante à raison de son importance, et parce que les biographes d’Albert ne l’ont pas encore utilisée : H. Finke, Ungedruckte Dominikanerbriefe des 13. Jahrhunderts, Paderborn, 1891, Passim.

La première notice biographique d’Albert est celle tracée par Henri de Hervordia († 1370) dans son Liber de rebus memorabilibus sive Chronicon, édit. A. Potthast, Gœttingue, 1859, p. 201.

Une vie anonyme du XIVe siècle a été éditée par les bollandistes : Catalogus codicum hagiographicorum bibliothecæ regiæ Bruxellensis. Codices latini, t. II, Bruxelles, 1889, p. 95-104.

Une autre vie est insérée dans la chronique anonyme publiée par Martène et Durand : Amplissima collectio, t. VI, p. 358-362. L’auteur [Alberto Castellani, O. P.] déclare (889) avoir emprunté le fond de sa chronique à Jacques de Soest, O. P. († 1423). Louis de Valladolid, dans sa Tabula quorumdam doctorum ordinis prædicatorum, utilisée par Echard ; Petrus de Prussia, Vita B. Alberti doctoris magni…, Cologne, 1486, et Anvers, 1621, à la suite du De adhærendo Deo, p. 61-326 ; Petrus Noviomagensis, Legenda venerabilis Dominis Alberti Magni…, Cologne, 1490.

Le premier travail critique important sur Albert est l’œuvre d’Echard : Scriptores ordinis prædicatorum, Paris, 1719, t. I, p. 162-184, reproduit au tome I de l’édition nouvelle des Opera omnia B. Alberti Magni ; G. de Ferrari, Vita del beato Alberto Magno, Rome, 1847 ; J. Sighart, Albertus Magnus. Sein Leben und seine Wissenschaft, Ratisbonne, 1857 ; traduction française par un religieux dominicain : Albert le Grand, Paris, 1862 ; H. Iweins, Le bienheureux Albert le Grand, 2e édit., Bruxelles, 1874 ; F. Ehrle, Der selige Albert der Grosse, dans Stimmen aus Maria-Laach, t. XIX, 1880, p. 241-258, 395-414 ; A. Gloria, Quot annos et in quibus Italiæ urbibus Albertus Magnus moratus sit ? dans Atti del’Istituto Veneto, 1879-80, p. 5, etc. ; [N. Thoemes], Albertus Magnus in Geschichte und Sage, Cologne, 1880, p. 1-18 ; A. van Weddingen, Albert le Grand, le maître de saint Thomas d’Aquin d’après les plus récents travaux critiques, Paris-Bruxelles, 1881 ; H. Goblet, Der selige Albertus Magnus und die Geschichte seiner Reliquien, Cologne, 1880 ; C. W. Kaiser, Festbericht über die Albertus-Magnus-Feier in Lauingen am 12 september 1881, Donauwörth, 1881.

On trouve des notices sur Albert dans tous les grands ouvrages biographiques (voir spécialement l’article de Jourdain dans le Dictionnaire des sciences philosophiques et Hurter, Nomenclator literarius, t. IV, col. 297-302), dans les histoires de la philosophie (B. Hauréau, Histoire de la philosophie scolastique, IIe part., t. I, Paris, 1880, p. 214-333 ; A. Stöckl, Geschichte der Philosophie der Mittelalters, Mayence, 1865, t. II, p. 352-421 ; K. Werner, Der heilige Thomas von Aquino, Ratisbonne, 1858, p. 82-95 ; P. Feret, La faculté de théologie de Paris, t. II, Paris, 1895, p. 421-441), et dans la plupart des ouvrages cités à la fin de cet article. Voir Analecta bollandiana, 1900-1902.


II. ECRITS D’ALBERT LE GRAND.

L’activité littéraire d’Albert le Grand paraît incontestablement la plus gigantesque du moyen âge. Elle s’étend à presque toutes les sciences profanes et sacrées. Deux éditions de ses écrits ont été publiées sous le titre d’Opera omnia. La première, celle du dominicain Pierre Jammy, comprend 21 vol. in-fol., Lyon, 1651. La seconde qui la reproduit quant au nombre de ses écrits, celle de l’abbé Borgnet, est au terme de publication, commencée en 18901, et comprend 38 volumes in-4° (Paris, Vivès).

Un grand nombre d’ouvrages d’Albert le Grand ont été édités séparément ou par groupes. Quelques-uns ont eu de nombreuses éditions, mais il serait ici hors de propos de chercher à les énumérer ici. Un travail fondamental de critique n’ayant pas été exécuté pour préparer une édition complète des œuvres d’Albert le Grand, le texte de ses écrits laisse à désirer et la détermination des œuvres authentiques est insuffisamment établie. De nombreux et même d’importants ouvrages sont indubitablement restés inédits. Nous donnons ici la liste de ceux qui font partie des deux éditions des œuvres dites complètes, en renvoyant aux volumes qui les contiennent.

A. SCIENCES PROFANES, OU PHILOSOPHIE.

– Les éditeurs n’ont pas observé l’ordre naturel entre les traités d’Albert. Nous le rétablissons, tel qu’il résulte des indications fournies par les données internes de ces ouvrages, en indiquant, par la lettre L, les tomes de l’édition de Lyon et, par la lettre P, les tomes de l’édition de Paris.

I. LOGIQUE (L., t. I ; P., t. I, II) :

De prædicabilibus. De prædicamentis. De sex principiis Gilberti Porretani. Super duos libros Aristotelis Perihermenias. Super librum priorum Analyticorum primum. Super secundum. Super librum posteriorum Analyticorum primum. Super secundum. Super libros octo Topicorum. Super duos Elenchorum.

II. SCIENCES NATURELLES.

– De physico auditu (L., t. II ; P., t. III). De cælo et mundo (L., t. II ; P., t. IV). De natura locorum (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De proprietabus elementorum (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De generatione et corruptione (L., t. II ; P., t. IV). Meteororum libri IV (L., t. II ; P., t. IV). De passionibus aeris (L., t. V ; P., t. IV). De mineralibus (L., t. II ; P., t. V). De anima (L., t. III ; P., t. V). De natura et origine animæ (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De nutrimento (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De sensu et sensato (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De memoria et reminiscentia (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De intellectu et intelligibili (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De somno et vigilia (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De spiritu et respiratione (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De motibus animalium (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De motibus progressivis animalium (L., t. V ; P., t. X). De ætate, de juventute et senectute (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De morte et vita (L., t. V ; P., t. IX). De vegetabilibus (L., t. V ; P., t. X). De animalibus (L., t. VI ; P., t. X-XI).

Dans l’exécution de ses traités de sciences naturelles Albert n’a pas suivi rigoureusement l’ordre qu’il avait annoncé tout d’abord Phys., l. I, tr. I, c. IV. Il a en outre ajouté, au cours de la composition, le De ætate, et il a écrit plus tard trois traités destinés à être intercalés dans l’ensemble de l’œuvre, à savoir : De passionibus aeris, De natura et origine animæ, de motibus progressivis.

III. METAPHYSIQUE.

– Metaphysicorum libri XIII (L., t. III ; P., t. VI). De causis et processu universalitatis (L., t. V ; P., t. X). Ce dernier traité a été composé plus tard comme complément au Xie livre de la métaphysique.

IV. SCIENCES MORALES.

– Ethicorum libri X (L., t. IV ; P., t. VII). Politicorum libri VIII (L., t. IV ; P., t. VIII). Le traité qui porte en titre Philosophia seu Isagoge (L., t. XXI ; P., t. V) est un abrégé de sciences naturelles. Le De unitate intellectus contra Averroem (L., t. V ; P., t. IX) et les Quindecim problemata contra Averroistas (édités par nous dans Siger de Brabant, p. 15-36) sont deux écrits polémiques, le premier de 1256, le second de 1270. Les traités De apprehensione et apprehensionis modis (L., t. XXI ; P., t. V), Speculum astronomicum (L., t. V ; P., t. V), Libellus de alchimia (L., t. XXI ; P., t. XXXVII), Scriptum super arborem Aristotelis (L., t. XXI ; P., t. XXXVIII) sont apocryphes.

B. SCIENCES SACRÉES.

I. ÉCRITURE SAINTE.

– Commentarii in Psalmos (L., t. VII ; P., t. XV-XVII). In Threnos Jeremiæ (L., t. VIII ; P., t. XVIII). In librum Baruch (L., t. VIII ; P., t. XVIII). In librum Danielis (L., t. VIII ; P., t. XVIII). In duodecim Prophetas minores (L., t. VIII ; P., t. XIX). In Matthæum (L., t. IX ; P., t. XX, XXI). In Marcum (L., t. IX ; P., t. XXI). In Lucam (L., t. X ; P., t. XXII, XXIII). In Joannem (L., t. XI ; P., t. XXIV). In Apocalypsim (L., t. XI ; P., t. XXXVIII). M. Weiss a édité : Comment. in Job, 1904.

II. THÉOLOGIE.

– Commentarii in Dionysium Areopagitam. De cælesti hierarchia (L., t. XIII ; P., t. XIV). De ecclesiastica hierarchia (L., t. XIII ; P., t. XIV). De mystica theologica (L., t. XIII ; P., t. XIV). In undecim Epistolas Dionysii (L., t. XIII ; P., t. XIV). Commentarium in quatuor libros Sententiarum (L., t. XIV-XVI ; P., t. XXV-XXX). Summa theologiæ (L., t. XVII, XVIII ; P., t. XXXI-XXXIII). Summa de creaturis (L., t. XIX ; P., t. XXXIV-XXXV). Compendium theologicæ veritatis (L., t. XIII ; P., t. XXXIV), n’est probablement pas d’Albert, mais de son école (voir l’article HUGUES DE STRASBOURG). De sacrificio Missæ (L., t. XXI). De sacramento Eucharistiæ (L., t. XXXI ; P., t. XXXVIII). Super evangelium missus est quæstiones CCXXX (L., t. XX ; P., t. XXXVII).

III. PARENETIQUE.

– Sermones de tempore (L., t. XII ; P., t. XIII). Sermones de sanctis (L., t. XII ; P., t. XIII). Sermones XXXII de sacramento Eucharistiæ (L., t. XII ; P., t. XIII). Voir sur cet ouvrage les observations faites dans un article spécial qui suit. De muliere forti (L., t. XII ; P., t. XVIII). Orationes super evangelia dominicalia totius anni (L., t. XII ; P., t. XIII). Le Paradisus animæ (L., t. XXI ; P., t. XXXVII) et le Liber de adhærendo Deo (L., t. XXI ; P., t. XXXVII) ne sont probablement pas d’Albert. Le De laudibus B. Virginis libri duodecim (L., t. XX ; P., t. XXVI) et la Biblia Mariana (L., t. XX ; P., t. XXXVII) ne sont pas de lui.

Les écrits d’Albert le Grand qui constituent, à peu de choses près, son encyclopédie scientifique, c’est-à-dire les écrits sur la logique, les sciences naturelles, la métaphysique et l’éthique proprement dite, ont été composés avant 1256. Revue thomiste, t. V, p. 95-104.

Les plus anciens catalogues des ouvrages d’Albert le Grand sont ceux de Bernard Guidonis (Denifle, Archiv für literatur-und Kirchengeschichte des Mittelalters, Berlin, 1886, t. II, p. 236), de Henri de Hervordia, voyez plus haut, loc. cit., p. 202, de la vie anonyme publiée par les bollandistes, loc. cit., de la chronique anonyme éditée par Martène et Durand, loc. cit., les catalogues de Louis de Valladolid et de Laurent Pignon, utilisés par Echard, loc. cit., celui de Pierre de Prusse, dans la vie d’Albert, loc. cit. Ces catalogues, qui fournissent de nombreuses et importantes indications, ne sont pas toujours des guides sûrs dans le détail.

On trouvera dans les ouvrages de bibliographie de Hain, Brunet, Graesse, Pellechet et autres, l’indication de nombreuses éditions des écrits divers d’Albert, surtout des plus anciennes et les plus rares. Sur les éditions et les manuscrits en général, on devra surtout consulter Echard, Script. ord. Præd., loc. cit., et Melchor Weiss, Primordia novæ bibliographiæ B. Alberti Magni, Paris, L. Vivès, 1898. Du même, Uber mariologische Schriften des seligen Albertus, Paris, 1898.


III. INFLUENCE D’ALBERT LE GRAND.

L’action intellectuelle exercée par Albert sur le moyen âge a été probablement de toutes la plus puissante, sans en excepter celle de Thomas d’Aquin, qui, étendue à un domaine moins vaste, a été plus profonde et plus durable. Thomas fut un fleuve, Albert un torrent. On doit examiner l’influence de ce dernier dans le domaine des sciences profanes dont l’ensemble portait encore de son temps, comme chez les Grecs, le nom de philosophie, et aussi son influence dans la science sacrée, qui prit alors définitivement le nom de théologie.

I. INFLUENCE D’ALBERT SUR LES SCIENCES PROFANES.

L’action littéraire et intellectuelle d’Albert est liée étroitement au travail d’assimilation de la science antique qui s’opère spécialement dans l’Europe, au XIIIe siècle. Albert a été le premier et le plus grand intermédiaire qui ait porté à la connaissance des lettrés de son temps l’ensemble de la science grecque, latine et arabe. Doué d’une activité et d’une faculté d’assimilation surprenantes, membre d’un ordre religieux qui, en se vouant le premier à l’étude, préparait un milieu spécial à la culture scientifique, Albert joua un véritable rôle de révélateur intellectuel, dans une époque où le progrès de l’esprit était entravé par des difficultés que ne pouvaient surmonter la plupart des hommes d’étude.

L’œuvre encyclopédique d’Albert résolvait en effet les problèmes les plus urgents qui arrêtaient alors le mouvement général de la pensée. Sa vaste entreprise permettait d’entrer en contact avec tous les grands résultats de science antique, ou étrangère, sans aller à des sources à peine abordables, à cause de leur rareté, sous le régime des manuscrits. Albert lui-même, malgré des conditions exceptionnellement favorables, déclare qu’il a dû recueillir les écrits fragmentaires d’Aristote avec difficulté et un peu partout : quæ diligenter quæsivi per diversas mundi regiones. Mineral., l. III, tr. I, c. I. C’est ainsi que nous savons qu’il découvrit au fond de l’Italie, en 1256, le De motibus progressivis animalium, tr. I, c. I, ad finem.

D’autre part les sources elles-mêmes faisaient double et triple emploi, et elles étaient souvent si difficiles à utiliser, à raison de l’obscurité des traductions, que des hommes d’étude comme Robert Grossetête et Roger Bacon renoncèrent à s’en servir.

Enfin, en 1210 et 1215, des condamnations ecclésiastiques avaient prohibé l’usage des écrits d’Aristote, autres que la logique, dans l’enseignement des écoles de Paris, c’est-à-dire au centre même de la vie intellectuelle d’alors. En 1231, Grégoire IX avait songé, il est vrai, à une correction des livres d’Aristote, mais le projet n’eut pas de suite. Albert, en incorporant les œuvres du Stagirite dans les siennes, et en rectifiant ses théories opposées à la foi, résolvait le problème de l’acceptation d’Aristote dans la société chrétienne. Ce fut, en somme, l’utilité de premier ordre et l’à-propos de l’entreprise d’Albert qui firent son extraordinaire succès.

Pour réaliser son dessein, Albert ne songea pas, comme Vincent de Beauvais, à constituer une simple bibliothèque scientifique avec des extraits et des abrégés d’une multitude d’écrits peu abordable aux gens d’étude, il chercha à réaliser une encyclopédie formant un corps organique et embrassant l’ensemble du savoir humain tel qu’il était possible de l’exposer en ce temps. Pour cela, il adopta une classification ou distribution des sciences empruntée, dans ses grandes lignes, à l’antiquité et répartit le savoir humain en trois sections générales : les sciences logiques, physiques et morales. La seconde division, qui est la principale, porte aussi le nom de philosophie réelle et embrasse les sciences physiques ou naturelles, les mathématiques et la métaphysique. Placé entre les divisions classiques d’une part et la surabondance des matériaux littéraires de l’autre, Albert n’arrive pas toujours à mettre un ordre bien formel entre plusieurs de ses traités. Il cherche d’ordinaire à se maintenir dans les cadres tracés par Aristote et les anciens péripatéticiens. Mais en différents points, son œuvre les déborde de beaucoup. Albert incorpore, en effet, à son encyclopédie, non seulement tout ce qui lui vient d’Aristote, mais encore ce que lui apprennent ses commentateurs, ce qu’il sait de Platon, les sources grecques, latines et arabes, auxquelles il joint ses recherches et ses expériences personnelles, qui, dans certains domaines, sont très importantes, si bien que son critique passionné, Roger Bacon, a dû reconnaître l’étendue de ses observations : homo studiossimus est, et vidit infinita, et habuit expensum ; et ideo multapotuit colligere in pelago actorum infinito. Opera, édit. Brewer, p. 327.

Quant à sa méthode d’exposition, on l’a appelée avec assez de raison une paraphrase, et rapprochée de celle d’Avicenne. Cela est exact quand Albert interprète Aristote, mais en beaucoup d’endroits, il ne travaille pas sur Aristote. Il s’est d’ailleurs expliqué lui-même clairement sur son procédé au début même de ses travaux sur les sciences physiques et naturelles : Erit autem modus noster in hoc opere, Aristotelis ordinem et sententiam sequi, et dicere ad explanationem ejus et ad probatione ejus quæcumque necessaria esse videbuntur, ita tamen quod textus ejus nulla fiat mentio. Et præter hoc disgressiones faciemus, declarantes dubia subeuntia, et supplentes quæcumque minus dicta in sententia philosophi obscuritatem quibusdam attulerunt. Distinguemus autem totum hoc opus per titulos capitulorum, et ubi titulus ostendit simpliciter materiam capituli, sciatur hoc capitulum esse de serie librorum Arsitotelis. Ubicumque qutem in titulo præsignatur quod disgressio fit, ibi additum est ex nobis ad suppletionem vel probationem inductum. Taliter autem procedento libros perficiemus eodem numero et nominibus quibus fecit libros suos Aristoteles. Et addemus eliam alicubi partes librorum imperfectorum, et alicubi libros intermissos vel omissos, quos vel Aristoteles non fecit, et forte si fecit, ad nos non pervenerunt. Physic., l. I, tr. I, c. I.

La méthode adoptée par Albert avait l’avantage de fournir à ses contemporains une somme énorme de connaissances positives. C’était là d’ailleurs le but poursuivi par l’infatigable encyclopédiste. Les inconvénients de son système se traduisaient par contre dans le développement excessif de son œuvre, et le manque partiel de précision dans son interprétation d’Aristote. Mais ces inconvénients étaient presque inhérents aux conditions qui présidèrent à la création de l’œuvre d’Albert et en commandèrent le mode d’exécution.

Les doctrines d’Albert représentent pour le fond les théories d’Aristote, rectifié sur les points où il pouvait se trouver en conflit avec l’enseignement chrétien. Dans le domaine des sciences naturelles surtout, c’est le Stagirite qui est son docteur. Toutefois il déclare qu’Aristote n’est pas pour lui un dieu, mais un homme qui a pu se tromper comme les autres, et à l’occasion il n’hésite pas à le contredire. Albert a d’ailleurs soin de répéter à maintes reprises qu’il a pour but d’exposer les doctrines des péripatéticiens et non de les faire siennes, ce qui trahit sa préoccupation de respecter la position encore hésitante de l’autorité ecclésiastique à l’égard d’Aristote.

Néanmoins, on doit reconnaître que c’est par l’action d’Albert que le péripatétisme a surtout accompli son entrée chez les lettrés chrétiens, et a conquis ses lettres de naturalisation dans l’Eglise. Albert fait d’ailleurs, dans son exposé philosophique, une part importante à Platon qu’il connaît par plusieurs de ses écrits originaux et leurs dérivés alexandrins. On a souvent rapporté sa parole qui déclare qu’on ne peut devenir philosophe que par Aristote et Platon à la fois : Scias quod non perfecitur homo in philosophia, nisi ex scientia duarum philosophiarum Aristotelis et Platonis. Metaph., l. I, tr. V, c. XV. Cette formule représente assez son point de vue, surtout dans les questions métaphysiques où, à l’exemple d’autres philosophes antérieurs, il rectifie et complète Aristote par Platon. Les grandes lignes de son système ne sont pas toujours très fermes et très nettes, comme chez Thomas d’Aquin. Néanmoins il a des vues et des analyses quelquefois très pénétrantes, qui supportent le parallèle avec la manière de son disciple. Mais on doit le dire, la gloire et l’influence d’Albert consistent moins dans la construction d’un système de philosophie originale, que dans la sagacité et l’effort qu’il a déployés pour porter à la connaissance de la société lettrée du moyen âge le résumé des connaissances humaines déjà acquises, créer une nouvelle et vigoureuse poussée intellectuelle dans son siècle, et gagner définitivement à Aristote les meilleurs esprits du moyen âge.

L’action d’Albert et son succès furent énormes, de son vivant même et après sa mort. Ulrich Engelbert, un de ses auditeurs, traduit ainsi l’étonnement où l’œuvre d’Albert jeta ses contemporains, quand il définit son maître : Vir in omni scientia adeo divinus, ut nostri temporis stupor et miraculum congrue vocari possit. De summo bono, tr. III, c. IV.

Le témoignage de ses principaux adversaires que trouva Albert de son vivant est surtout à retenir, car plus que toute autre donnée, il est significatif. Siger de Brabant, le chef de l’averroïsme parisien, ne nomme, pour les combattre, que deux contemporains, Albert et Thomas, qu’il qualifie ainsi : Præcipui viri in philosophia Albertus et Thomas. De anima intellectiva, III, p. 94. Roger Bacon, le critique passionné et injuste d’Albert, nous montre à quel degré d’influence et de renommée l’œuvre du maître était parvenue quand, en 1266, il écrit ces paroles : " La foule des gens d’étude, des hommes réputés auprès de beaucoup pour très savants, et un très grand nombre de personnes judicieuses estiment, bien qu’elles se trompent en cela, que les latins sont déjà en possession de la philosophie, qu’elle est complète et écrite dans leur langue. Elle a été, en effet, composée de mon temps et publiée à Paris. On cite son auteur comme autorité, car de même que dans les écoles on allègue Aristote, Avicenne et Averroès, ainsi fait-on avec lui. Et cet homme vit encore, et il a eu, de son vivant, une autorité qu’aucun homme n’eut jamais en matière de doctrine. " Opera, édit. Brewer, p. 30.

Cette influence d’Albert se constate en outre dans les écrits du XIIIe siècle et des siècles suivants, où les productions de tout ordre ne cessent de lui faire des emprunts. Cette persuasion de l’universalité scientifique d’Albert alla même à lui faire attribuer un grand nombre d’ouvrages à la composition desquels il est certainement étranger, et spécialement les ouvrages d’alchimie, de magie et autres sciences occultes pour lesquelles Albert n’eut jamais de goût. Le cycle de légendes, toutes plus merveilleuses les unes que les autres, qui se forma autour du nom d’Albert, est aussi la conséquence de la réputation sans pareille qu’il s’était faite chez ses contemporains dans le domaine des sciences physiques et naturelles.

II. INFLUENCE D’ALBERT SUR LA THÉOLOGIE.

L’action d’Albert dans le domaine de la théologie a été moins éclatante que dans celui de la philosophie. C’est lui cependant quia inauguré le mouvement dont saint Thomas d’Aquin est devenu le chef. Albert a le premier utilisé les nouvelles connaissances philosophiques pour les mettre au service de la constitution d’un corps de théologie. S’il n’a eu dans ses essais ni la réserve ni la fermeté de Thomas d’Aquin, manquant de son génie sobre et synthétique, il n’a pas hésité néanmoins sur le parti que la science sacrée pouvait tirer de la science profane. Dans cette tentative, il a substitué les conceptions philosophiques d’Aristote à celles de Platon qui formaient en différents point la substruction du dogme augustinien, et a préparé la voie à Thomas d’Aquin, le disciple dont la réputation a surpassé et effacé la sienne.

Albert n’a pas constitué, à proprement parler, une école théologique indépendante. Thomas, qui a repris et poussé à un degré bien autrement supérieur la direction qu’il avait inaugurée, a donné son nom et son cachet définitif à la nouvelle direction théologique que l’Eglise catholique a considérée comme s’identifiant le mieux à son enseignement officiel.

Il se forma à Cologne, dans le cours du XVe siècle, une école albertiste. Elle était représentée spécialement par le collège Laurentien (bursa Laurentii), tandis que le collège du Mont suivait saint Thomas. Heymeric van de Velde (de Campo) écrivit trois traités sur la philosophie d’Albert le Grand pour l’opposer à celle de saint Thomas. L’ordre des frères prêcheurs fut étranger à cette tentative qui traduit l’état de décadence où étaient tombées les sciences philosophiques et théologiques.

A. et Ch. Jourdain, Recherches critiques sur l’âge et l’origine des traductions latines d’Aristote, Paris, 1843, p. 310-358 ; Fr. Rogeri Bacon opera quædam hactenus inedita, édit. J. S. Brewer, Londres, 1859, p. 30 sq., 327 et passim ; P. Mandonnet, Siger de Brabant et l’averroïsme latin au XIIIe siècle, Fribourg (Suisse), 1899, passim, surtout les deux premiers chapitres ; O. d’Assailly, Albert le Grand, l’ancien monde devant le nouveau, Paris, 1870 ; Reinhard de Liechty, Albert le Grand et saint Thomas d’Aquin, ou la science au moyen âge, Paris, 1880 ; G. von Hertling, Albertus Magnus, Beiträge zu seiner Würdigung, Cologne, 1881 ; J. Bach, Des Albertus Magnus Verhältniss zu der Erkenntnisslehre der Griechen, Lateiner, Araber und Juden, Vienne, 1881 ; K. Zell, Albertus Magnus als Erklärer der Aristoteles (Der Katholik, t. LXIX, p. 166-178) ; G. Endriss, Albertus Magnus als Interpret der Aristotelisohen Metaphysik, Munich, 1886 ; M. Joël, Verhältniss Albert der Grossen zu Moses Maimonides, Breslau, 1863 ; B. Haneberg, Zur Erkenntnisslehre von Ibn Sina und Albertus Magnus (Abhandlungen Bayer-Akad. Wissensch., Munich, 1866-68, XI, I, 189-268) ; H. de Blainville, Histoire des sciences de l’organisation et de leurs progrès, Paris, 1845, t. II, p. 1-95 ; F.-A. Pouchet, Histoire des sciences naturelles au moyen âge, ou Albert le Grand et son époque considérés comme point de départ de l’école expérimentale, Paris, 1853 ; L. Choulant, Albertus Magnus in seiner Bedeutung für die Naturwissenschaften, historisch und bibliographisch dargestelt (Janus, Zeitschrift für Geschichte und Literatur der Medicin, 1846, p. 127-160, 687-690) ; Bormans, Mémoire sur les livres d’histoire naturelle d’Albert le Grand (Bulletin de l’Académie royale de Belgique, XIX, 1852) ; F. X. Pfeifer, Harmonische Beziehungen zwischen Scholastik und moderner Naturwissenschaft mit spezieller Rücksicht auf Albertus Magnus und Thomas von Aquino, Augsbourg, 1881 ; E. Meyer, Albertus Magnus ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Botanik im XIII Jahrhundert (Linnäa, 1836, t. X, p. 641-741 ; 1837, t. XI, p. 545) ; J. Meyer, C. Jessen, Alberti Magni De vegetabilibus libri septem, Berlin, 1867 ; S. Fellner, Albertus Magnus als Botaniker, Vienne, 1881 ; Buhle, De fontibus unde Albertus Magnus libris XXVI animalium materiam hauserit (Commentationes Societ. regiæ scientiarum Gottingensis, 1773-1774, t. XII, p. 94-115) ; M. Glossner, Das objectiv Princip. De aristot. scholast. Philosophie, besonders Albrecht des Gr. Lehre vom objectiven Ursprung, verglichen mit dem subjectiv Princip der neueren Philosophie, Ratisbonne, 1880 ; W. Feiler, Die Moral des Albertus Mag., Leipzig, 1891 ; A. Schneider, Die psychologie Alberts des Gr., Munster, 1903. Sur l’école albertine de Cologne. – Bianco, Die atte Universität Köln, t. I, Cologne, 1855 ; Paquot, Mémoires pour servir à l’histoire littéraire des dix-sept provinces, Louvain, 1770, t. I, p. 478 ; Goethals, Histoire des lettres, des sciences et des arts en Belgique, Bruxelles, 1840, t. I, p. 47.

ALBERT LE GRAND. Les XXXII sermones de Eucharistia qui lui sont attribués. Nous ne plaçons pas sans une expresse réserve les XXXII sermons sur l’eucharistie parmi les œuvres authentiques d’Albert le Grand. Les plus anciens catalogues des œuvres d’Albert, ceux de Bernard Guidonis et de Henri de Herfordia, ne les mentionnent pas, et les manuscrits les attribuent, quoique à tort, plus souvent à Thomas d’Aquin qu’à Albert le Grand. Weiss, Primordia novæ bibliographiæ, p. 27. On les trouve même parmi les œuvres de saint Bonaventure, Bassano, 1767, t. III, p. 756-951. C’est donc un ouvrage vague. Pierre de Prusse déclare toutefois dans sa vie d’Albert, édit. d’Anvers, 1621, p. 181, avoir vu l’original au couvent de Cologne, écrit partiellement et corrigé de la main de l’auteur. Le Dr G. Jacob, qui a donné une édition critique de ces sermons (Ratisbonne, 1893), admet aussi l’authenticité. Un passage de ces sermons, fréquemment imprimés à la fin du XVe siècle, a fourni le prétexte aux protestants, depuis la confession de foi d’Augsbourg (1530), d’accuser les catholiques d’enseigner une doctrine erronée sur la satisfaction du Christ et les effets de l’eucharistie. Les théologiens catholiques n’ont cessé d’opposer un démenti formel à ces accusations sans fondement. L’origine de cette accusation est dans le passage suivant tiré du premier des sermons attribués à Albert : Secunda causa institutionis hujus sacramenti est sacrificium altaris, contra quandam quotidianam delictorum nostrorum rapinam, ut, SICUT CORPUS DOMINI SEMEL OBLATUM EST IN CRUCE PRO DEBITO ORIGINALI, SIC OFFERATUR JUGITER PRO NOSTRIS QUOTIDIANIS DELICTIS. Cette formule est inexacte, mais il ne semble pas que dans la pensée de son auteur elle ait le sens restrictif qu’elle paraît comporter, puisque dans le même sermon il fait dire à Jésus-Christ : Pro debitis omnium sufficiens sacrificium in cruce offerebam. La doctrine d’ailleurs exposée ex professo par Albert dans ses autres traités sur l’eucharistie et dans ses commentaires sur les Sentences est correcte : Dico quod justificatio naturæ ad causam meritoriam relata, quæ est meritoria secundum condignum, refertur ad passionem Christi, quia meruit nobis solutionem a peccato, ad quam sequitur justificatio… Relata autem ad causam sacramentalem… Secundum debitum originalis (peccati) refertur ad baptismum, secundum debitum actualis refertur ad pœnitentiam, si est post baptismum. IV Sent., l. III, dist. XIX, a. 1, solutio. Quant à l’eucharistie, elle n’est pas ordonnée contre le péché, mais bien contre les suites du péché qu’on peut appeler la faiblesse spirituelle : Si considerentur reliquiæ (peccati) secundum defectum boni, cujus longus defectus inediam inducit boni naturalis secundum destitutionem sui in seipso, sicut longus defectus cibi inducit inediam et defectum boni corporis in seipso, sic contra reliquias peccati ordinatur sacramentum Eucharistiæ per modum medicinæ. De Eucharistia, dist. VI, tr. I, c. II, 3. Voir N. Paulus, Une prétendue " doctrine monstrueuse " sur le sacrifice de la messe, Revue anglo-romaine, Paris, 1896, t. I, p. 252-260.

Article rédigé par P. MANDONNET. Dictionnaire de Théologie Catholique


St. Albertus Magnus

Known as Albert the Great; scientist, philosopher, and theologian, born c. 1206; died at Cologne, 15 November 1280. He is called "the Great", and "Doctor Universalis" (Universal Doctor), in recognition of his extraordinary genius and extensive knowledge, for he was proficient in every branch of learning cultivated in his day, and surpassed all his contemporaries, except perhaps Roger Bacon (1214-94), in the knowledge of nature. Ulrich Engelbert, a contemporary, calls him the wonder and the miracle of his age: "Vir in omni scientia adeo divinus, ut nostri temporis stupor et miraculum congrue vocari possit" (De summo bono, tr. III, iv).

Life

Albert, eldest son of the Count of Bollstädt, was born at Lauingen, Swabia, in the year 1205 or 1206, though many historians give it as 1193. Nothing certain is known of his primary or preparatory education, which was received either under the paternal roof or in a school of the neighbourhood. As a youth he was sent to pursue his studies at the University of Padua; that city being chosen either because his uncle resided there, or because Padua was famous for its culture of the liberal arts, for which the young Swabian had a special predilection. The date of this journey to Padua cannot be accurately determined. In the year 1223 he joined the Order of St. Dominic, being attracted by the preaching of Blessed Jordan of Saxony second Master General of the Order. Historians do not tell us whether Albert's studies were continued at Padua, Bologna, Paris, or Cologne. After completing his studies he taught theology at Hildesheim, Freiburg (Breisgau), Ratisbon, Strasburg, and Cologne. He was in the convent of Cologne, interpreting Peter Lombard's "Book of the Sentences", when, in 1245, he was ordered to repair to Paris. There he received the Doctor's degree in the university which, above all others, was celebrated as a school of theology. It was during this period of reaching at Cologne and Paris that he counted amongst his hearers St. Thomas Aquinas, then a silent, thoughtful youth, whose genius he recognized and whose future greatness he foretold. The disciple accompanied his master to Paris in 1245, and returned with him, in 1248, to the new Studium Generale of Cologne, in which Albert was appointed Regent, whilst Thomas became second professor and Magister Studentium (Master of Students). In 1254 Albert was elected Provincial of his Order in Germany. He journeyed to Rome in 1256, to defend the Mendicant Orders against the attacks of William of St. Amour, whose book, "De novissimis temporum periculis", was condemned by Pope Alexander IV, on 5 October, 1256. During his sojourn in Rome Albert filled the office of Master of the Sacred Palace (instituted in the time of St. Dominic), and preached on the Gospel of St. John and the Canonical Epistles. He resigned the office of Provincial in 1257 in order to devote himself to study and to teaching. At the General Chapter of the Dominicans held at Valenciennes in 1250, with St. Thomas Aquinas and Peter of Tarentasia (afterwards Pope Innocent V), he drew up rules for the direction of studies, and for determining the system of graduation, in the Order. In the year 1260 he was appointed Bishop of Ratisbon. Humbert de Romanis, Master General of the Dominicans, being loath to lose the services of the great Master, endeavoured to prevent the nomination, but was unsuccessful. Albert governed the diocese until 1262, when, upon the acceptance of his resignation, he voluntarily resumed the duties of a professor in the Studium at Cologne. In the year 1270 he sent a memoir to Paris to aid St. Thomas in combating Siger de Brabant and the Averroists. This was his second special treatise against the Arabian commentator, the first having been written in 1256, under the title "De Unitate Intellectus Contra Averroem". He was called by Pope Gregory X to attend the Council of Lyons (1274) in the deliberations of which he took an active part. The announcement of the death of St. Thomas at Fossa Nuova, as he was proceeding to the Council, was a heavy blow to Albert, and he declared that "The Light of the Church" had been extinguished. It was but natural that he should have grown to love his distinguished, saintly pupil, and it is said that ever afterwards he could not restrain his tears whenever the name of St. Thomas was mentioned. Something of his old vigour and spirit returned in 1277 when it was announced that Stephen Tempier and others wished to condemn the writings of St. Thomas, on the plea that they were too favourable to the unbelieving philosophers, and he journeyed to Paris to defend the memory of his disciple. Some time after 1278 (in which year he drew up his testament) he suffered a lapse of memory; his strong mind gradually became clouded; his body, weakened by vigils, austerities, and manifold labours, sank under the weight of years. He was beatified by Pope Gregory XV in 1622; his feast is celebrated on the 15th of November. The Bishops of Germany, assembled at Fulda in September, 1872, sent to the Holy See a petition for his canonization; he was finally canonized in 1931.


Albert the Great

Albertus Magnus, also known as Albert the Great, was one of the most universal thinkers to appear during the Middle Ages. Even more so than his most famous student, St. Thomas of Aquinas, Albert's interests ranged from natural science all the way to theology. He made contributions to logic, psychology, metaphysics, meteorology, mineralogy, and zoology. He was an avid commentator on nearly all the great authorities read during the 13th Century. He was deeply involved in an attempt to understand the import of the thought of Aristotle in some orderly fashion that was distinct from the Arab commentators who had incorporated their own ideas into the study of Aristotle. Yet he was not averse to using some of the outstanding Arab philosophers in developing his own ideas in philosophy. His superior understanding of a diversity of philosophical texts allowed him to construct one of the most remarkable syntheses in medieval culture.

• 1. Life of Albert the Great

• 2. Philosophical Enterprise

• 3. Logic

• 4. Metaphysics

• 5. Psychology and Anthropology

• 6. Ethics

• 7. The Influence of Albert the Great

• Bibliography

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1. Life of Albert the Great

The precise date of Albert's birth is not known. It is generally conceded that he was born into a knightly family sometime around the year 1200 in Lauingen an der Donau in Germany. He was apparently in Italy in the year 1222 where he was present when a rather terrible earthquake struck in Lombardy. A year later he was still in Italy and studying at the University of Padua. The same year Jordan of Saxony received him into the Dominican order. He was sent to Cologne in order to complete his training for the order. He finished this training as well as a course of studies in theology by 1228. He then began teaching as a lector at Cologne, Hildesheim, Freiburg im Breisgau, Regensburg, and Strassburg. During this period he published his first major work, De natura boni.

Ten years later he is recorded as having been present at the general chapter of the Dominican Order held in Bologna. Two years later he visited Saxony where is observed the appearance of a comet. Some time between 1241 and 1242 he was sent to the University of Paris to complete his theological education. He followed the usual prescription of lecturing on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. In addition he began writing his six part Summa parisiensis dealing with the sacraments of the Church, the incarnation and resurrection of Christ, the four coevals, human nature, and the nature of the good. He took his degree as master of theology in 1245 and began to teach theology at the university under Gueric de Saint-Quentin. St. Thomas Aquinas became his student at this time and remained under Albert's direction for the next three years. In 1248 Albert was appointed regent of studies at the studium generale that was newly created by the Dominican order in Cologne. So Albert, along with Thomas Aquinas, left Paris and went to Cologne. Thomas continued his studies under Albert in Cologne and served as magister studium in the school as well until 1252. Then Thomas returned to Paris to take up his teaching duties while Albert remained in Cologne, where he began to work on the vast project he set himself of preparing a paraphrase of each of the known works of Aristotle.

In 1254 the Dominican order again assigned Albert a difficult task. He was elected the prior provincial for the German-speaking province of the order. This position mandated that Albert spend a great deal of his time traveling throughout the province visiting Dominican convents, priories, and even a Dominican mission in Riga. This task occupied Albert until 1256. That year he returned to Cologne, but left the same year for Paris in order to attend a General Chapter of his order in which the allegations of William of St. Amour's De periculis novissimorum temporum against mendicant orders were considered. A little later Pope Alexander IV asked Albert to go to Anagni in order to speak to a commission of Cardinals who were looking into the claims of William. While engaged in this charge Albert completed his refutation of Averroistic psychology with his De unitate intellectus contra Averroistas. Afterwards Albert departed for another tour of the province of Germany. In 1257 he returned to the papal court, which was now located in Viterbo. He was relieved of his duties as prior provincial and returned again to Cologne as regent of studies. He continued to teach until 1259 when he traveled to Valenciennes in order to attend a General Chapter of his order. At that time, along with Thomas Aquinas, Peter of Tarentasia, Bonhomme Brito, and Florent de Hesdin, he undertook on behalf of his order an extensive discussion of the curriculum of the scholastic program used by the order.

The next year of his life found Albert once again appointed to an onerous duty. In obedience to the wishes of the pope Albert was consecrated a bishop of the Church and sent to Ratisbon (modern Regensburg) in order to undertake a reform of abuses in that diocese. Albert worked at this task until 1263 when Pope Urban IV relieved him of his duties and asked Albert to preach the Crusade in the German speaking countries. This duty occupied Albert until the year 1264. He then went to the city of Würzburg where he stayed until 1267.

Albert spent the next eight years traveling around Germany conducting various ecclesiastical tasks. Then in 1274 while he was traveling to the Council of Lyons Albert received the sad news of the untimely death of Thomas Aquinas, his friend and former student of many years. After the close of the Council Albert returned to Germany. There is evidence that he traveled to Paris in the year 1277 in order to defend Aquinas' teaching, which was under attack at the university. In 1279, anticipating his death he drew up his own last will and testament. On November 15, 1280 he died and was buried in Cologne. On December 15, 1931 Pope Pius XI declared Albert both a saint and a doctor of the Church. On the 16th of December 1941 Pope Pius XII declared Albert the patron saint of the natural sciences.

2. Philosophical Enterprise

An examination of Albert's published writings reveals something of his understanding of philosophy in human culture. In effect he prepared a kind of philosophical encyclopedia that occupied him up to the last ten years of his life. He produced paraphrases of most of the works of Aristotle available to him. In some cases where he felt that Aristotle should have produced a work, but it was missing, Albert produced the work himself. If he had produced nothing else it would be necessary to say that he adopts the Aristotelian philosophical-scientific program as his own. Albert's intellectual vision, however, was very great. Not only did he paraphrase “The Philosopher” (as the medievals called Aristotle) but Porphyry, Boethius, Peter Lombard, Gilbert de la Porrée, the Liber de causis, and Ps.-Dionysius. He also wrote a number of commentaries on the Bible. In addition to all of this work of paraphrasing and commenting, in which Albert labored to prepare a kind of unified field theory of medieval Christian intellectual culture, he also wrote a number of works in which he developed his own philosophical-scientific-theological vision. Here one finds titles such as De unitate intellectus, Problemata determinate, De fato, De XV problematibus, De natura boni, De sacramentis, De incarnatione, De bono, De quattuor coaequaevis, De homine, and his unfinished Summa theologiae de mirabilis scientia Dei.

Albert's labors resulted in the formation of what might be called a Christian reception of Aristotle in the Western Europe. Although Albert himself had a strong bias in favor of Neo-Platonism, his work on Aristotle shows him to have a deep understanding of the Aristotelian program. Along with his student Thomas Aquinas he was of the opinion that Aristotle and the kind of natural philosophy that he represented was no obstacle to the development of a Christian philosophical vision of the natural order. In order to establish this point Albert carefully dissected the method that Aristotle employed in undertaking the task of expounding natural philosophy. This method, Albert decided, is experientially based and proceeds to draw conclusions by the use of both inductive and deductive logic. Christian theology, as Albert found it taught in Europe rested firmly upon the revelation of Sacred Scripture and the Church Fathers. Therefore, he reasoned, the two domains of human culture are distinct in their methodology and pose no threat to each other. Both can be pursued for their own sake. Philosophy was not to be valued only in terms of its ancillary relation to theology.



3. Logic

Albert carefully prepared a paraphrase of Aristotle's Organon (the logical treatises in the Aristotelian corpus). He then used the results of this paraphrase to address the problem of universals as he found it discussed in the philosophical literature and debates of the medieval philosophical culture. He defined the term universal as referring to “ … that which, although it exists in one, is apt by nature to exist in many.”[1] Because it is apt to be in many, it is predicable of them. (De praed., tract II, c. 1) He then distinguished three kinds of universals, those that pre-exist the things that exemplify them (universale ante rem), those that exist in individual things (universale in re), and those that exist in the mind when abstracted from individual things (universale post rem).

Albert attempted to formulate an answer to Porphyry's famous problem of universals — namely, do the species according to which we classify beings exist in themselves or are they merely constructions of the mind? Albert appealed to his three-fold distinction, noting that a universal's mode of being is differentiated according to which function is being considered. It may be considered in itself, or in respect to understanding, or as existing in one particular or another.[2] Both the nominalist and realist solutions to Porphyry's problem are thus too simplistic and lack proper distinction. Albert's distinction thus allowed him to harmonize Plato's realism in which universals existed as separate forms with Aristotle's more nominalistic theory of immanent forms. For universals when considered in themselves (secudum quod in seipso) truly exist and are free from generation, corruption, and change.[3] If, however, they are taken in reference to the mind (refertur ad intelligentiam) they exist in two modes, depending on whether they are considered with respect to the intellect that is their cause or the intellect that knows them by abstraction.[4] But when they are considered in particulars (secundum quod est in isto vel in illo) their existence is exterior to as well as beyond the mind, yet existing in things as individuated.[5]

4. Metaphysics

Albert's metaphysics is an adaptation of Aristotelian metaphysics as conditioned by a form of Neo-Platonism. His reading the Liber de causis as an authentic Aristotelian text influenced his understanding of Aristotle. It seems that Albert never realized the Neo-Platonic origin of the work. As with the other works of Aristotle he prepared a paraphrase of the work entitled De causis et processu universitatis, and used it as a guide to interpreting other works by Aristotle. However, he also used the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius to correct some of the doctrine found in the Liber de causis.

Albert blends these three main sources of his metaphysics into a hierarchical structure of reality in which there is an emanation of forms directed by what Albert calls “a summoning of the good” (advocatio boni). The good operates metaphysically as the final cause of the order of forms in the universe of beings. But it is also the First Cause. And its operation in the created order of being is discovered as an attraction of all being back to itself. “We exist because God is good,” Albert explains, “and we are good insofar as we exist.”[6] Thus the balanced relations of the exit and return of all things according to classical Neo-Platonism is skewed in favor of the relationship of return. This is because Albert, as a Christian philosopher, favors a creationist view of being over the doctrine of pure emanation. Rejecting also the doctrine of universal hylomorphism Albert argues that material beings are always composite in which the forms are inchoate until they are called forth by the ultimate good. Spiritual creatures (excluding man) have no material element. Their being summoned to the good is immediate and final. The summoning of the inchoate forms of material beings, however, is not direct. It depends upon the intervention of the celestial spheres.

The First Cause, which Albert understands as God, is an absolutely transcendent reality. His uncreated light calls forth a hierarchically ordered universe in which each order of being reflects this light. God's giving existence to creatures is understood by Albert as their procession from him as from a first cause.[7] At the top of this hierarchy of light are found the purely spiritual beings, the angelic orders and the intelligences. Albert carefully distinguishes these two kinds of beings. He basically accepts the analysis of the angelic orders as found in Pseudo-Dionysius' treatise of the celestial hierarchy. The intelligences move the cosmic spheres and illuminate the human soul. The intelligences, just as the order of angels, form a special hierarchy. The First Intelligence, as Albert calls it, contemplates the entire universe and uses the human soul, as illuminated by the lower intelligences, to draw all creatures into a unity.

Beneath the angels and intelligences are the souls that possess intellects. They are joined to bodies but do not depend on bodies for their existence. Although they are ordered to the First Intelligence so as to enjoin contemplative unity on the entire cosmos, Albert rejects the Averroistic theory of the unity of the intellect. Each human soul has its own intellect. But because the human soul uniquely stands on the horizon of both material and spiritual being it can operate as a microcosm and thus can serve the purpose of the First Intelligence, which is to bind all creatures into a universe.

Finally there are the immersed forms. Under this heading Albert establishes another hierarchy with the animal kingdom at the top, followed by the plant kingdom, then the world of minerals (in which Albert had a deep interest), and finally the elements of material creation.



Gerhard Marcks (b Berlin, 18 Feb 1889; d Burgbrohl, nr Cologne, 13 Nov 1981). 
Albertus Magnus, 1955


5. Psychology and Anthropology

Albert's interest in the human condition is dominated by his concern with the relationship of the soul to the body on the one hand and the important role that the intellect plays in human psychology. According to Albert, the essence of man is not the intellect.[8] With regard to the relationship between the soul and the body Albert appears to be torn between the Platonic theory which sees the soul as a form capable of existing independently of the body and the Aristotelian hylomorphic theory which reduces the soul to a functional relationship of the body. With respect to human knowing, for example, he maintains the position that the human intellect is dependent upon the senses.[9] In order to resolve the conflict between the two views Albert availed himself of Avicenna's position that Aristotle's analysis was focused on the function and not the essence of the soul. Functionally, Albert argues, the soul is the agent cause of the body. “Just as we maintain that the soul is the cause of the animated body and of its motions and passions insofar as it is animated,” he reasons, “likewise we must maintain that the lowest intelligence is the cause of the cognitive soul insofar as it is cognitive because the cognition of the soul is a particular result of the light of the intelligence.”[10] Having been created in the image and likeness of God it not only governs the body, as God governs the universe, but it is responsible for the very existence of the body, as God is the creator of the world. And just as God transcends his creation, so does the human soul transcend the body in its interests. It is capable of operating in complete independence of corporeal functions. This transcendental function of the soul allows Albert to focus on what he believes is the essence of the soul — the human intellect.

Viewed as essentially an intellect, the human soul is an incorporeal substance. Albert divides this spiritual substance into two powers — the agent intellect and the possible intellect.[11] Neither of these powers needs the body in order to function. Under certain conditions concerning its powers the human intellect is capable of transformation. While it is true that under the stimulus or illumination of the agent intellect the possible intellect can consider the intelligible form of the phantasms of the mind which are derived from the senses, it can also operate under the sole influence of the agent intellect. Here, Albert argues, the possible intellect undergoes a complete transformation and becomes totally actualized, as the agent intellect becomes its form. It emerges as what he calls the “adept intellect” (intellectus adeptus).[12] At this stage the human intellect is susceptible to illumination by higher cosmic intellects called the “intelligences”. Such illumination brings the soul of man into complete harmony with the entire order of creation and constitutes man's natural happiness. Since the intellect is now totally assimilated to the order of things Albert calls the intellect in its final stage of development the “assimilated intellect” (intellectus assimilativus). The condition of having attained an assimilated intellect constitutes natural human happiness, realizing all the aspirations of the human condition and human culture. But Albert makes it clear that the human mind cannot attain this state of assimilation on its own. Following the Augustinian tradition as set forth in the De magistro Albert states that “because the divine truth lies beyond our reason we are not able by ourselves to discover it, unless it condescends to infuse itself; for as Augustine says, it is an inner teacher, without whom an external teacher labors aimlessly.”[13] There is thus an infusion involved with divine illumination, but it is not a pouring forth of forms. Rather, it is an infusion of an inner teacher, who is identified with divine truth itself. In his commentary on the Sentences Albert augments this doctrine when he argues that this inner teacher strengthens the weakness of the human intellect, which by itself could not profit by external stimulation. He distinguishes the illumination of this interior teacher from the true and final object of the intellect.[14] Divine light is only a means by which the intellect can attain its object.[15] This is consistent with his emphasis upon the analogy of divine light and physical light, which pervades so much of his thinking. It follows, then, that in the order of human knowing there are first of all the forms that are derived from external things. They cannot teach us anything in any useful way until the light of an inner teacher illuminates them. So light is the medium of this vision. But the inner teacher himself is identified with the divine truth, which is the final object and perfection of the human intellect. In his Summa, however, Albert makes further distinctions concerning the object of human knowing. Natural things, he tells us, are received in a natural light, while the things that the intellect contemplates in the order of belief (ad credenda vero) are received in a light that is gratuitous (gratuitum est), and the beatifying realities are received in the light of glory.[16] It seems that Albert has abandoned the position that even naturalia require divine illumination. Strictly speaking, he has not abnegated his earlier position. Naturalia may very well still require the work of a restorative inner teacher. In the Summa, however, Albert is anxious to stress the radical difference natural knowing has from supernatural knowing. He has already established this difference in his study of the human intellect (De intellectu) where he tells us, “Some [intelligibles] with their light overpower our intellect which is temporal and has continuity. These are like the things that are most manifest in nature which are related to our intellect as the light of the sun or a strong scintillating color is to the eyes of the bat or the owl. Other [intelligibles] are manifest only through the light of another. These would be like the things which are received in faith from what is primary and true.”[17] But in both natural and supernatural knowing Albert is careful to stress the final object and perfection of the human intellect. This leads naturally to a consideration of Albert's understanding of ethics.

6. Ethics

Albert's ethics rests on his understanding of human freedom. This freedom is expressed through the human power to make unrestricted decisions about their own actions. This power, the liberum arbitrium, Albert believes is identified neither with the intellect nor the will. He holds this extraordinary position because of his analysis of the genesis of human action. In his treatise on man (Liber de homine) he accounts for human action as beginning with the intellect considering the various options for action open to a person at a given moment in time. This is coupled by the will desiring the beneficial outcome of the proposed event. Then the liberum arbitrium chooses one of the options proposed by the intellect or the object of the will's desire. The will then moves the person to act on the basis of the choice of the liberum arbitrium. Brutes do not have this ability, he argues, and must act solely on their initial desire. Hence they have no power of free choice. In his later writings, however, Albert eliminates the first act of the will. But even so he distinguishes the liberum arbitrium from both the will and the intellect, presumably so that it can respond to the influences of both these faculties equally. Thus the way to ethics is open.

Albert's concern with ethics as such is found in his two commentaries on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. The prologues to both these works reveal Albert's original thoughts on some problems about the discipline of ethics. He wonders if ethics can be considered as a theoretical deductive science. He concludes that it can be so considered because the underlying causes of moral action (rationes morum) involve both necessary and universal principles, the conditions needed for a science according to the analysis of Aristotle that Albert accepted.[18] The rationes morum are contrasted by him to the mere appearance of moral behaviour.[19] Thus virtue can be discussed in abstraction from particular actions of individual human agents. The same is true of other ethical principles. However, Albert maintains that it is possible to refer to particular human acts as exemplifying relevant virtues and as such to include them in a scientific discussion of ethics.[20] Therefore, ethics is theoretical, even though the object of its theory is the practical.

Another concern that Albert expresses is how ethics as a theoretical deductive science can be relevant to the practice of the virtuous life. He addresses this problem by distinguishing ethics as a doctrine (ethica docens) from ethics as a practical activity of individual human beings (ethica utens).[21] The outcomes of these two aspects of ethics are different he argues. Ethics as a doctrine is concerned with teaching. It proceeds by logical analysis concentrating on the goals of human action in general. As such its proper end is knowledge. But as a practical and useful art ethics is concerned with action as a means to a desired end.[22] Its mode of discourse is rhetorical — the persuasion of the human being to engage in the right actions that will lead to the desired end.[23] Albert sees these two aspects of ethics as linked together by the virtue of prudence. It is prudence that applies the results of the doctrine of ethics to its practice.[24] Ethics considered as a doctrine operates through prudence as a remote cause of ethical action. Thus the two functions of ethics are related and ethics is considered by Albert as both a theoretical deductive science and a practical applied science.

Albert goes beyond these methodological considerations. He addresses the end of ethics, as he understands it. And here his psychology bears fruit. For he embraces the idea that the highest form of human happiness is the contemplative life. This is the true and proper end of man, he claims. For the adept intellect, as noted above, is the highest achievement to which the human condition can aspire. It represents the conjunction of the apex of the human mind to the separated agent intellect. In this conjunction the separated agent intellect becomes the form of the soul. The soul experiences self-sufficiency and is capable of contemplative wisdom. This is as close to beatitude as man can get in this life. Man is now capable of contemplating separated beings as such and can live his life in almost stoical detachment from the concerns of sublunar existence.

7. The Influence of Albert the Great

Albert's influence on the development of scholastic philosophy in the thirteenth century was enormous. He, along with his most famous student Thomas of Aquinas, succeeded in incorporating the philosophy of Aristotle into the Christian West. Besides Thomas, Albert was also the teacher of Ulrich of Straßburg (1225 – 1277), who carried forward Albert's interest in natural science by writing a commentary on Aristotle's Meteors along with his metaphysical work, the De summo bono; Hugh Ripelin of Straßburg (c.1200 – 1268) who wrote the famous Compendium theologicae veritatis; John of Freiburg (c.1250 – 1314) who wrote the Libellus de quaestionibus casualibus; and Giles of Lessines (c. 1230 – c. 1304) who wrote a treatise on the unity of substantial form, the De unitate formae. The influence of Albert and his students was very pronounced in the generation of German scholars who came after these men. Dietrich of Freiberg, who may have actually met Albert, is probably the best example of the influence of the spirit of Albert the Great. Dietrich (c. 1250 – c. 1310) wrote treatises on natural science, which give evidence of his having carried out actual scientific investigation. His treatise on the rainbow would be a good example. But he also wrote treatises on metaphysical and theological topics in which the echoes of Albert can be distinctly heard. Unlike Albert he did not write commentaries on Aristotle, but preferred to apply Albertist principles to topics according to his own understanding. On the other hand Berthold of Moosburg (+ c. 1361) wrote a very important commentary on Proclus' Elements of Theology, introducing the major work of the great Neo-Platonist into German metaphysics. Berthold's debt to Albert is found throughout his commentary, especially with regard to metaphysical topics. Many of these Albertist ideas and principles passed down to thinkers such as Meister Eckhart, John Tauler, and Heinrich Suso where they took on a unique mystical flavor. The Albertist tradition continued down to Heymeric de Campo (1395 – 1460) who passed it on to Nicholas of Cusa. From Nicholas the ideas pass down to the Renaissance. The philosophers of the Renaissance seem to have been attracted to the Albert's understanding of Neo-Platonism and his interest in natural science.

Albert the Great, Opera Omnia. Ed. P. Jammy, 21 vols (Lyon, 1651).

Albert the Great, Opera Omnia, Ed. E. Borgnet, 38 vols (Paris: Vives, 1890–1899).

Albert the Great, Alberti Magni Opera Omnia edenda curavit Institutum Alberti Magni Coloniense Bernhardo Geyer praeside (Münster: Aschendorff, 1951 – ).

Albert the Great, Book of Minerals. Transl. Dorothy Wyckoff (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967).

Albert the Great, Commentary on Dionysius' Mystical Theology. Transl. Simon Tugwell, O.P. in S. Tugwell, Albert and Thomas: Selected Writings (New York: Paulist Press, 1988).

Albert the Great, On the Causes of the Properties of the Elements. Transl. Irven M. Resnick (Milwaukee: Marquette U. Press, 2010).

(First published Mon Mar 20, 2006; substantive revision Fri Apr 20, 2012)
SOURCE : Führer, Markus, "Albert the Great", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2012 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL =

http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2012/entries/albert-great/

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/albert-great/


St. Albert the Great


St. Albert (or St. Albertus Magnus) is the patron saint of scientists and was the teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas. He was the greatest German philosopher and theologian of the Middle Ages. He was the first among medieval scholars to apply Aristotle’s philosophy to Christian thought. The Roman Catholic Church honors him as a Doctor of the Church. He is uniquely called  “The Universal Doctor”.

He was eldest son of the Count of Bollstädt, and born at Lauingen, Swabia, in the year 1205 or 1206, though many historians give it as 1193. Nothing certain is known of his primary or preparatory education, which was received either under the paternal roof or in a school of the neighbourhood. As a youth he was sent to pursue his studies at the University of Padua; that city being chosen either because his uncle resided there, or because Padua was famous for its culture of the liberal arts, for which the young Swabian had a special predilection. The date of this journey to Padua cannot be accurately determined.

In the year 1223 he joined the Order of St. Dominic, being attracted by the preaching of Blessed Jordan of Saxony second Master General of the Order. Historians do not tell us whether Albert’s studies were continued at Padua, Bologna, Paris, or Cologne. After completing his studies he taught theology at Hildesheim, Freiburg (Breisgau), Ratisbon, Strasburg, and Cologne. He was in the convent of Cologne, interpreting Peter Lombard’s “Book of the Sentences”, when, in 1245, he was ordered to repair to Paris.

There he received the Doctor’s degree in the university which, above all others, was celebrated as a school of theology. It was during this period of reaching at Cologne and Paris that he counted amongst his hearers St. Thomas Aquinas, then a silent, thoughtful youth, whose genius he recognized and whose future greatness he foretold. The disciple accompanied his master to Paris in 1245, and returned with him, in 1248, to the new Studium Generale of Cologne, in which Albert was appointed Regent, whilst Thomas became second professor and Magister Studentium (Master of Students).

In 1254 Albert was elected Provincial of his Order in Germany. He journeyed to Rome in 1256, to defend the Mendicant Orders against the attacks of William of St. Amour, whose book, “De novissimis temporum periculis”, was condemned by Pope Alexander IV, on 5 October, 1256.

During his sojourn in Rome Albert filled the office of Master of the Sacred Palace (instituted in the time of St. Dominic), and preached on the Gospel of St. John and the Canonical Epistles. He resigned the office of Provincial in 1257 in order to devote himself to study and to teaching. At the General Chapter of the Dominicans held at Valenciennes in 1250, with St. Thomas Aquinas and Peter of Tarentasia (afterwards Pope Innocent V), he drew up rules for the direction of studies, and for determining the system of graduation, in the Order.

In the year 1260 he was appointed Bishop of Ratisbon. Humbert de Romanis, Master General of the Dominicans, being loath to lose the services of the great Master, endeavoured to prevent the nomination, but was unsuccessful. Albert governed the diocese until 1262, when, upon the acceptance of his resignation, he voluntarily resumed the duties of a professor in the Studium at Cologne.

In the year 1270 he sent a memoir to Paris to aid St. Thomas in combating Siger de Brabant and the Averroists. This was his second special treatise against the Arabian commentator, the first having been written in 1256, under the title “De Unitate Intellectus Contra Averroem”. He was called by Pope Gregory X to attend the Council of Lyons (1274) in the deliberations of which he took an active part.

The announcement of the death of St. Thomas at Fossa Nuova, as he was proceeding to the Council, was a heavy blow to Albert, and he declared that “The Light of the Church” had been extinguished. It was but natural that he should have grown to love his distinguished, saintly pupil, and it is said that ever afterwards he could not restrain his tears whenever the name of St. Thomas was mentioned.

Something of his old vigour and spirit returned in 1277 when it was announced that Stephen Tempier and others wished to condemn the writings of St. Thomas, on the plea that they were too favourable to the unbelieving philosophers, and he journeyed to Paris to defend the memory of his disciple.

Some time after 1278 (in which year he drew up his testament) he suffered a lapse of memory; his strong mind gradually became clouded; his body, weakened by vigils, austerities, and manifold labours, sank under the weight of years. He was beatified by Pope Gregory XV in 1622; his feast is celebrated on the 15th of November. The Bishops of Germany, assembled at Fulda in September, 1872, sent to the Holy See a petition for his canonization; he was finally canonized in 1931.


St. Albertus Magnus

Known as Albert the Great; scientist, philosopher, and theologian, born c. 1206; died at Cologne, 15 November 1280. He is called "the Great", and "Doctor Universalis" (Universal Doctor), in recognition of his extraordinary genius and extensive knowledge, for he was proficient in every branch of learning cultivated in his day, and surpassed all his contemporaries, except perhaps Roger Bacon (1214-94), in the knowledge of nature. Ulrich Engelbert, a contemporary, calls him the wonder and the miracle of his age: "Vir in omni scientia adeo divinus, ut nostri temporis stupor et miraculum congrue vocari possit" (De summo bono, tr. III, iv).

Life

Albert, eldest son of the Count of Bollstädt, was born at Lauingen, Swabia, in the year 1205 or 1206, though many historians give it as 1193. Nothing certain is known of his primary or preparatory education, which was received either under the paternal roof or in a school of the neighbourhood. As a youth he was sent to pursue his studies at the University of Padua; that city being chosen either because his uncle resided there, or because Padua was famous for its culture of the liberal arts, for which the young Swabian had a special predilection. The date of this journey to Padua cannot be accurately determined. In the year 1223 he joined the Order of St. Dominic, being attracted by the preaching of Blessed Jordan of Saxony second Master General of the Order. Historians do not tell us whether Albert's studies were continued at Padua, Bologna, Paris, or Cologne. After completing his studies he taught theology at Hildesheim, Freiburg (Breisgau), Ratisbon, Strasburg, and Cologne. He was in the convent of Cologne, interpreting Peter Lombard's "Book of the Sentences", when, in 1245, he was ordered to repair to Paris. There he received the Doctor's degree in the university which, above all others, was celebrated as a school of theology. It was during this period of reaching at Cologne and Paris that he counted amongst his hearers St. Thomas Aquinas, then a silent, thoughtful youth, whose genius he recognized and whose future greatness he foretold. The disciple accompanied his master to Paris in 1245, and returned with him, in 1248, to the new Studium Generale of Cologne, in which Albert was appointed Regent, whilst Thomas became second professor and Magister Studentium (Master of Students). In 1254 Albert was elected Provincial of his Order in Germany. He journeyed to Rome in 1256, to defend the Mendicant Orders against the attacks of William of St. Amour, whose book, "De novissimis temporum periculis", was condemned by Pope Alexander IV, on 5 October, 1256. During his sojourn in Rome Albert filled the office of Master of the Sacred Palace (instituted in the time of St. Dominic), and preached on the Gospel of St. John and the Canonical Epistles. He resigned the office of Provincial in 1257 in order to devote himself to study and to teaching. At the General Chapter of the Dominicans held at Valenciennes in 1250, with St. Thomas Aquinas and Peter of Tarentasia (afterwards Pope Innocent V), he drew up rules for the direction of studies, and for determining the system of graduation, in the Order. In the year 1260 he was appointed Bishop of Ratisbon. Humbert de Romanis, Master General of the Dominicans, being loath to lose the services of the great Master, endeavoured to prevent the nomination, but was unsuccessful. Albert governed the diocese until 1262, when, upon the acceptance of his resignation, he voluntarily resumed the duties of a professor in the Studium at Cologne. In the year 1270 he sent a memoir to Paris to aid St. Thomas in combating Siger de Brabant and the Averroists. This was his second special treatise against the Arabian commentator, the first having been written in 1256, under the title "De Unitate Intellectus Contra Averroem". He was called by Pope Gregory X to attend the Council of Lyons (1274) in the deliberations of which he took an active part. The announcement of the death of St. Thomas at Fossa Nuova, as he was proceeding to the Council, was a heavy blow to Albert, and he declared that "The Light of the Church" had been extinguished. It was but natural that he should have grown to love his distinguished, saintly pupil, and it is said that ever afterwards he could not restrain his tears whenever the name of St. Thomas was mentioned. Something of his old vigour and spirit returned in 1277 when it was announced that Stephen Tempier and others wished to condemn the writings of St. Thomas, on the plea that they were too favourable to the unbelieving philosophers, and he journeyed to Paris to defend the memory of his disciple. Some time after 1278 (in which year he drew up his testament) he suffered a lapse of memory; his strong mind gradually became clouded; his body, weakened by vigils, austerities, and manifold labours, sank under the weight of years. He was beatified by Pope Gregory XV in 1622; his feast is celebrated on the 15th of November. The Bishops of Germany, assembled at Fulda in September, 1872, sent to the Holy See a petition for his canonization; he was finally canonized in 1931.

Works

Two editions of Albert's complete works (Opera Omnia) have been published; one at Lyons in 1651, in twenty-one folio volumes, edited by Father Peter Jammy, O.P., the other at Paris (Louis Vivès), 1890-99, in thirty-eight quarto volumes, published under the direction of the Abbé Auguste Borgnet, of the diocese of Reims. Paul von Loë gives the chronology of Albert's writings the "Analecta Bollandiada" (De Vita et scriptis B. Alb. Mag., XIX, XX, and XXI). The logical order is given by P. Mandonnet, O.P., in Vacant's "Dictionnaire de théologie catholique". The following list indicates the subjects of the various treatises, the numbers referring to the volumes of Borgnet's edition. Logic: seven treatises (I. 2). Physical Sciences: "Physicorum" (3); "De Coelo et Mundo", "De Generatione et Corruptione". "Meteororum" (4); "Mineralium" (5); "De Natura locorum", " De passionibus aeris" (9). Biological: "De vegetabilibus et plantis" (10) " De animalibus" (11-12); "De motibus animalium", "De nutrimento et nutribili", "De aetate", "De morte et vita", "De spiritu et respiratione" (9). Psychological: "De Anima" (5); "De sensu et sensato", "De Memoria, et reminiscentia", "De somno et vigilia", "De natura et origine animae", "De intellectu et intelligibili", "De unitate intellectus" (9). The foregoing subjects, with the exception of Logic, are treated compendiously in the "Philosophia pauperum" (5). Moral and Political: "Ethicorum" (7); "Politocorum (8). Metaphysical: "Metaphysicorum" (6); "De causis et processu universitatis" (10). Theological: "Commentary on the works of Denis the Aereopagite" (14); "Commentary on the Sentences of the Lombard" (25-30); "Summa Theologiae" (31-33); "Summa de creaturis" (34-35); "De sacramento Eucharistiae" (38); "Super evangelium missus est" (37). Exegetical: "Commentaries on the Psalms and Prophets" (15-19); "Commentaries on the Gospels" (20-24); "On the Apocalypse" (38). Sermons (13). The "Quindecim problemata contra Averroistas" was edited by Mandonnet in his "Siger de Brabant" (Freiburg, 1899). The authenticity of the following works is not established: "De apprehensione" (5); "Speculum astronomicum" (5); "De alchimia" (38); Scriptum super arborem Aristotelis" (38); "Paradisus animae" (37); "Liber de Adhaerendo Deo" (37); "De Laudibus B. Virginis" (36); "Biblia Mariana" (37).

Influence

The influence exerted by Albert on the scholars of his own day and on those of subsequent ages was naturally great. His fame is due in part to the fact that he was the forerunner, the guide and master of St. Thomas Aquinas, but he was great in his own name, his claim to distinction being recognized by his contemporaries and by posterity. It is remarkable that this friar of the Middle Ages, in the midst of his many duties as a religious, as provincial of his order, as bishop and papal legate, as preacher of a crusade, and while making many laborious journeys from Cologne to Paris and Rome, and frequent excursions into different parts of Germany, should have been able to compose a veritable encyclopedia, containing scientific treatises on almost every subject, and displaying an insight into nature and a knowledge of theology which surprised his contemporaries and still excites the admiration of learned men in our own times. He was, in truth, a Doctor Universalis. Of him it in justly be said: Nil tetigit quod non ornavit; and there is no exaggeration in the praises of the modern critic who wrote: "Whether we consider him as a theologian or as a philosopher, Albert was undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary men of his age; I might say, one of the most wonderful men of genius who appeared in past times" (Jourdain, Recherches Critiques). Philosophy, in the days of Albert, was a general science embracing everything that could be known by the natural powers of the mind; physics, mathematics, and metaphysics. In his writings we do not, it is true, find the distinction between the sciences and philosophy which recent usage makes. It will, however, be convenient to consider his skill in the experimental sciences, his influence on scholastic philosophy, his theology.

Albert and the experimental sciences

It is not surprising that Albert should have drawn upon the sources of information which his time afforded, and especially upon the scientific writings of Aristotle. Yet he says: "The aim of natural science is not simply to accept the statements [narrata] of others, but to investigate the causes that are at work in nature" (De Miner., lib. II, tr. ii, i). In his treatise on plants he lays down the principle: Experimentum solum certificat in talibus (Experiment is the only safe guide in such investigations). (De Veg., VI, tr. ii, i). Deeply versed as he was in theology, he declares: "In studying nature we have not to inquire how God the Creator may, as He freely wills, use His creatures to work miracles and thereby show forth His power: we have rather to inquire what Nature with its immanent causes can naturally bring to pass" (De Coelo et Mundo, I, tr. iv, x). And though, in questions of natural science, he would prefer Aristotle to St. Augustine (In 2, Sent. dist. 13, C art. 2), he does not hesitate to criticize the Greek philosopher. "Whoever believes that Aristotle was a god, must also believe that he never erred. But if one believe that Aristotle was a man, then doubtless he was liable to error just as we are." (Physic. lib. VIII, tr. 1, xiv). In fact Albert devotes a lengthy chapter to what he calls "the errors of Aristotle" (Sum. Theol. P. II, tr. i, quaest. iv). In a word, his appreciation of Aristotle is critical. He deserves credit not only for bringing the scientific teaching of the Stagirite to the attention of medieval scholars, but also for indicating the method and the spirit in which that teaching was to be received. Like his contemporary, Roger Bacon (1214-94), Albert was an indefatigable student of nature, and applied himself energetically to the experimental sciences with such remarkable success that he has been accused of neglecting the sacred sciences (Henry of Ghent, De scriptoribus ecclesiasticis, II, x). Indeed, many legends have been circulated which attribute to him the power of a magician or sorcerer. Dr. Sighart (Albertus Magnus) examined these legends, and endeavoured to sift the truth from false or exaggerated stories. Other biographers content themselves with noting the fact that Albert's proficiency in the physical sciences was the foundation on which the fables were constructed. The truth lies between the two extremes. Albert was assiduous in cultivating the natural sciences; he was an authority on physics, geography, astronomy, mineralogy, chemistry (alchimia), zoölogy, physiology, and even phrenology. On all these subjects his erudition was vast, and many of his observations are of permanent value. Humboldt pays a high tribute to his knowledge of physical geography (Cosmos, II, vi). Meyer* writes (Gesch. der Botanik): "No botanist who lived before Albert can be compared with him, unless it be Theophrastus, with whom he was not acquainted; and after him none has painted nature in such living colours, or studied it so profoundly, until the time of Conrad, Gesner, and Cesalpini. All honour, then, to the man who made such astonishing progress in the science of nature as to find no one, I will not say to surpass, but even to equal him for the space of three centuries." The list of his published works is sufficient vindication from the charge of neglecting theology and the Sacred Scriptures. On the other hand, he expressed contempt for everything that savoured of enchantment or the art of magic: "Non approbo dictum Avicennae et Algazel de fascinatione, quia credo quod non nocet fascinatio, nec nocere potest ars magica, nec facit aliquid ex his quae timentur de talibus" (See Quétif, I, 167). That he did not admit the possibility of making gold by alchemy or the use of the philosopher's stone, is evident from his own words: "Art alone cannot produce a substantial form". (Non est probatum hoc quod educitur de plumbo esse aurum, eo quod sola ars non potest dare formam substantialem — De Mineral., lib. II, dist. 3).

Roger Bacon and Albert proved to the world that the Church is not opposed to the study of nature, that faith and science may go hand in hand; their lives and their writings emphasize the importance of experiment and investigation. Bacon was indefatigable and bold in investigating; at times, too, his criticism was sharp. But of Albert he said: "Studiosissimus erat, et vidit infinita, et habuit expensum, et ideo multa potuit colligere in pelago auctorum infinito" (Opera, ed. Brewer, 327). Albert respected authority and traditions, was prudent in proposing the results of his investigations, and hence "contributed far more than Bacon did to the advancement of science in the thirteenth century" (Turner, Hist. of Phil.). His method of treating the sciences was historical and critical. He gathered into one vast encyclopedia all that was known in his day, and then expressed his own opinions, principally in the form of commentaries on the works of Aristotle. Sometimes, however, he hesitates, and does not express his own opinion, probably because he feared that his theories, which were "advanced" for those times, would excite surprise and occasion unfavourable comment. "Dicta peripateticorum, prout melius potui exposui: nec aliquis in eo potest deprehendere quid ego ipse sentiam in philosophia naturali" (De Animalibus, circa finem). In Augusta Theodosia Drane's excellent work on "Christian Schools and Scholars" (419 sqq.) there are some interesting remarks on "a few scientific views of Albert, which show how much he owed to his own sagacious observation of natural phenomena, and how far he was in advance of his age. . . ." In speaking of the British Isles, he alluded to the commonly received idea that another Island — Tile, or Thuleexisted in the Western Ocean, uninhabitable by reason of its frightful clime, "but which", he says, has perhaps not yet been visited by man". Albert gives an elaborate demonstration of the sphericity of the earth; and it has been pointed out that his views on this subject led eventually to the discovery of America (cf. Mandonnet, in "Revue Thomiste", I, 1893; 46-64, 200-221).

Albert and Scholastic philosophy

More important than Albert's development of the physical sciences was his influence on the study of philosophy and theology. He, more than any one of the great scholastics preceding St. Thomas, gave to Christian philosophy and theology the form and method which, substantially, they retain to this day. In this respect he was the forerunner and master of St. Thomas, who excelled him, however, in many qualities required in a perfect Christian Doctor. In marking out the course which other followed, Albert shared the glory of being a pioneer with Alexander of Hales (d. 1245), whose "Summa Theologiae" was the first written after all the works of Aristotle had become generally known at Paris. Their application of Aristotelean methods and principles to the study of revealed doctrine gave to the world the scholastic system which embodies the reconciliation of reason and Orthodox faith. After the unorthodox Averroes, Albert was the chief commentator on the works of, Aristotle, whose writings he studied most assiduously, and whose principles he adopted, in order to systematize theology, by which was meant a scientific exposition and defence of Christian doctrine. The choice of Aristotle as a master excited strong opposition. Jewish and Arabic commentaries on the works of the Stagirite had given rise to so many errors in the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries that for several years (1210-25) the study of Aristotle's Physics and Metaphysics was forbidden at Paris. Albert, however, knew that Averroes, Abelard, Amalric, and others had drawn false doctrines from the writings of the Philosopher; he knew, moreover, that it would have been impossible to stem the tide of enthusiasm in favour of philosophical studies; and so he resolved to purify the works of Aristotle from Rationalism, Averroism, Pantheism, and other errors, and thus compel pagan philosophy to do service in the cause of revealed truth. In this he followed the canon laid down by St. Augustine (II De Doct. Christ., xl), who declared that truths found in the writings of pagan philosophers were to be adopted by the defenders of the true faith, while their erroneous opinions were to be abandoned, or explained in a Christian sense. (See St. Thomas, Summa Theol., I.84.5.) All inferior (natural) sciences should be the servants (ancillae) of Theology, which is the superior and the mistress (ibid., 1 P., tr. 1, quaest. 6). Against the rationalism of Abelard and his followers Albert pointed out the distinction between truths naturally knowable and mysteries (e.g. the Trinity and the Incarnation) which cannot known without revelation (ibid., 1 P., tr. III, quaest. 13). We have seen that he wrote two treatises against Averroism, which destroyed individual immortality and individual responsibility, by teaching that there is but one rational soul for all men. Pantheism was refuted along with Averroism when the true doctrine on Universals, the system known as moderate Realism, was accepted by the scholastic philosophers. This doctrine Albert based upon the Distinction of the universal ante rem (an idea or archetype in the mind of God), in re (existing or capable of existing in many individuals), and post rem (as a concept abstracted by the mind, and compared with the individuals of which it can be predicated). "Universale duobus constituitur, natura, scilicet cui accidit universalitas, et respectu ad multa. qui complet illam in natura universalis" (Met., lib. V, tr. vi, cc. v, vi). A.T. Drane (Mother Raphael, O.S.D.) gives a remarkable explanation of these doctrines (op. cit. 344-429). Though follower of Aristotle, Albert did not neglect Plato. "Scias quod non perficitur homo in philosophia, nisi scientia duarum philosophiarum, Aristotelis et Platonis (Met., lib. I, tr. v, c. xv). It is erroneous to say that he was merely the "Ape" (simius) of Aristotle. In the knowledge of Divine things faith precedes the understanding of Divine truth, authority precedes reason (I Sent., dist. II, a. 10); but in matters that can be naturally known a philosopher should not hold an opinion which he is not prepared to defend by reason ibid., XII; Periherm., 1, I, tr. l, c. i). Logic, according to Albert, was a preparation for philosophy teaching how we should use reason in order to pass from the known to the unknown: "Docens qualiter et per quae devenitur per notum ad ignoti notitiam" (De praedicabilibus, tr. I, c. iv). Philosophy is either contemplative or practical. Contemplative philosophy embraces physics, mathematics, and metaphysics; practical (moral) philosophy is monastic (for the individual), domestic (for the family), or political (for the state, or society). Excluding physics, now a special study, authors in our times still retain the old scholastic division of philosophy into logic, metaphysics (general and special), and ethics.

Albert's theology

In theology Albert occupies a place between Peter Lombard, the Master of the Sentences, and St. Thomas Aquinas. In systematic order, in accuracy and clearness he surpasses the former, but is inferior to his own illustrious disciple. His "Summa Theologiae" marks an advance beyond the custom of his time in the scientific order observed, in the elimination of useless questions, in the limitation of arguments and objections; there still remain, however, many of the impedimenta, hindrances, or stumbling blocks, which St. Thomas considered serious enough to call for a new manual of theology for the use of beginners — ad eruditionem incipientium, as the Angelic Doctor modestly remarks in the prologue of his immortal "Summa". The mind of the Doctor Universalis was so filled with the knowledge of many things that he could not always adapt his expositions of the truth to the capacity of novices in the science of theology. He trained and directed a pupil who gave the world a concise, clear, and perfect scientific exposition and defence of Christian Doctrine; under God, therefore, we owe to Albertus Magnus the "Summa Theologica" of St. Thomas.


Kennedy, Daniel. "St. Albertus Magnus." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 8 May 2015 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01264a.htm>.
SOURCE : http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01264a.htm


Albert the Great, OP B Dr. (RM)
(also known as Albertus Magnus)

Born in Lauingen, Swabia, Germany, c. 1207; died in Cologne, 1280; beatified in 1622; canonized and named a doctor of the Church in 1931 by Pope Pius XI.


Among Christians there often arises a dispute regarding the relative merits of science and theology, of intellectual versus spiritual understanding. Some say that the two are irreconcilable, forgetting that, according to the technical definition, myths (such as the Creation Story) offer more than simply a surface explanation of the mechanics of science. Studying the life of Saint Albert the Great should put aside these disputes. Today in Cologne, the spires of a building began seven centuries earlier still point to heaven. It is only a legend that credits the design of the cathedral to Saint Albert the Great. But it is so typical of his own life, pointing all beauty to heaven, that it is a legend that is very easy to believe. Albert, who even secular history calls "the Great," spent his life in teaching that science and faith have no quarrel, and that all earthly loveliness and order can be traced directly to God.

Early Life

Albert was born in a castle in the diocese of Bavaria, the eldest son of the count of Bollstaedt. Albert was of small stature, but strongly built, having gigantic shoulders and a mole on one eyelid. Albert's keen observation, which was later to show itself in his scientific works, had its initial training in the woods near his father's castle, where he and his brother Henry--who also became a Dominican--hunted with hawks and hounds, and became experts in falconry. Their first education was at home under private tutors.

That both his brother Henry and his sister also became Dominicans attests to the piety of his family.
In 1222, at the age of 16, he was sent to study law at the famous university of Padua (some say Bologna) under the supervision of his uncle who was a canon there. He proved to be an outstanding student, and a brilliant future lay before him in a well-paid career. But God had other plans for Saint Albert.

The Call

Here in Italy Albert met Jordan of Saxony, a fellow-countryman and the second master-general of the Dominican Order following the death of Saint Dominic on August 4, 1221. Jordan's enormous charisma earned him the nickname 'Siren of the Schools' as he travelled from place to place seeking recruits for the young order. Albert was greatly affected by what he heard, and vowed to become a Dominican.

He wavered, though, both because he doubted whether he could persevere and because his uncle opposed him. On the false pretext that travel helps form the character of a youth, his uncle took him on a trip to Venice, and at the same time obtained from the pope an annulment of the vow that he thought so rash. But what can a man, even a priest, do against the will of God?

On their return Albert went to the University of Padua, where he encountered the crisis of his life when he heard another sermon by Blessed Jordan. The preacher spoke of those young men who wavered between certainty and doubt, who hesitated because they feared they might not persevere, when in reality they ought to offer themselves entirely to God and trust in him.

Albert was astonished at what he heard. Going after Blessed Jordan he said, "Master, who has laid bear my heart to you?" Blessed Jordan comforted him, explaining that he had not been addressing any particular individual, but all alike who might be so affected, yet no doubt this was a message of God to him personally; transfixed by these words, he immediately offered himself. He was received into the Order, probably in 1223, and completed his theological studies.

A legend is told of this period which serves to bring out both the greatness of Albert's science and his love for Our Lady. Albert, it is related, had not worn the white habit for long when it became plain to him that he was no match for the mental wizards with whom he was studying. Anything concrete, which he could take apart and study, he could understand, but the abstract sciences were too much for him.

He decided to run away from it all; planning a quiet departure, he carefully laid a ladder against the wall and waited for his opportunity. As he was kneeling for one last Hail Mary before he should go over the wall, Our Lady appeared to him. She reproached him gently for his forgetfulness of her--why had he not remembered to ask her for what he wanted? Then she gave him the gift of science he so much desired, and disappeared. Whatever the truth behind the legend--and it has survived, almost unchanged, through the many years--it is equally certain that Albert was a devout client of Our Lady and a master scientist.

Teaching

Albert was ordained a priest in 1228. He was then sent to teach in Cologne, where his critical lectures on the Sentences of Peter Lombard made his name; he afterward came to be known as the greatest German scholar of the Middle Ages. Later he taught in Hildesheim, Freiburg-im-Breisgau, Regensburg (Ratisbon) for two years, Strasbourg and again in Cologne. He traveled from one place to another on foot, preaching, praying, and observing. His mind was receptive, daring, modern, and picked up an extraordinary amount of information. From the first his great erudition had been recognized, to say nothing of his deep piety and humility.

Albert rejected nothing of value that his age could offer him, doing so not out of a superficial syncretism, which would try to please everybody, but out of his concern not to lose anything that might be an element of the truth.

From 1240 to 1248 Albert was at the monastery of Saint-Jacques in Paris; Place Maubert and Rue Maitre-Albert in the Latin Quarter evoke his memory, while the Rue du Fouarre recalls the crowd of students who gathered round his pulpit, seated on their small bundles of straw.

It was in Paris that he had the happiness of seeing a quiet student from the Kingdom of Sicily rise like a brilliant star that would outshine all the others. What must it have been like to watch the mind of Saint Thonas Aquinas develop and unfold to the wisdom of time and eternity, and to help him open the doors to profound truth?

Albert was one of the first to recognize, cultivate, and proclaim the brilliance of his good friend and student Saint Thomas Aquinas. It takes a man of great humility and great sanctity to see and cultivate the potential for it in others, and these Albert had.

Albert took Thomas under his wing, assigned him a room adjoining his own, and for nearly five years was his inseparable companion. They studied together in both Paris, where Albert taught and earned his doctorate in theology in 1244-45, and in Cologne. He helped adapt the Scholastic method, which applied Aristotelian methods to revealed doctrine, an approach that was further developed by Saint Thomas.

In 1248 Albert again moved to University of Cologne, where he served as regent of the new studia generalia until 1254, when he was elected provincial of the Teutonia, a vast Dominican province including Alsace, Belgium, and Germany as far as the frontiers of Poland and Hungary. He personally visited all the monasteries in his province, convened chapters, imposed penances, ensured that observances were respected, and, above all, preached by his own example.

In 1256 Albert went to Rome, where he defended the mendicant orders against William of Saint Armour (who was condemned later in the year by Pope Alexander IV). Then he served for a time as the personal theologian to the pope and professor of Holy Scripture. By 1257, when a general chapter was held in Florence, Albert had completed his mandate and gladly resigned his provincialatae to return to his studies and his pulpit in Cologne. But, unfortunately for him and for his pupils, not for very long.

During his short return to study, together with Thomas Aquinas and Peter of Tarentais, Albert drew up a new curriculum of study for the Dominicans (1259).

As Bishop

The time for study was interrupted too soon, when on January 5, 1260, Pope Alexander IV appointed Albert bishop of Regensburg (Ratisbon) against his wishes and, though the master general tried the stop the appointment, very reluctantly Albert was obliged to accept. Vigorous reforms were needed in Regensburg and Albert was the man for the job.

The new bishop used his authority with severity against those who were injuring the Church in her temporal possessions. He cleaned up the administration, ordered economies, put the debts in order, solicited generous gifts, and restored deteriorating buildings. By his own example he showed his priests a life of purity, strict poverty, harsh penance, and piety; he helped greatly to restore to fervor a diocese in disorder. He dealt severely with his clergy, condemning their concubinage, idleness and simony.

As for his episcopal robes, he just settled for a pair of stout shoes, which he needed for his long journeys on foot. The people were astonished and called him "the bishop in clogs," or simply, "Clodhopper." Saint Clodhopper for God, forever in the march along the paths of the Gospel!

The clergy resented his simplicity and rejected his reforms, and the avaricious nobles refused to return the Church's property. Once the worst problems were corrected, Albert clearly recognized that he could serve God better from a pulpit. Albert felt called back to his life's work of teaching and the restoration of theology.

After two years as bishop, he journeyed to Rome and asked to be relieved of the office. The petition was granted, but he was appointed to preach the crusade in the German-speaking countries, a work he continued for several years with a companion preacher, the Franciscan Berthold of Ratisbon, going as far as Lithuania. These labors ended with the death of Pope Urban IV. And Albert returned to Wurzburg (where he lived for three years), Strasbourg, and once more to Cologne in 1270 to teach again under the obedience of the Dominican Order.

Old Age

For the last dozen years of his life he taught theology in Cologne, with a break in 1274 to take an active part in the general council of Lyons, working for the reunion of the Greek and Roman Churches. Albert's sadness at the failure of the council was surpassed by the death of Thomas Aquinas, age 49, on the road from Rome to the council in the little monastery of Hautecombe. He died calmly while making a commentary on the Song of Songs. Thomas's last wish, as he told the monks attending him, was to eat a good French herring. Such is the simplicity of saints.

Albert wept bitterly that the 'glory and ornament of the world' had gone. He outlived his beloved pupil by several years, and, in extreme old age, he walked halfway across Europe to defend a thesis of Thomas's that was challenged. He fiercely and brilliantly defended Saint Thomas and his position against Bishop Stephen Tempier of Paris and a group of theologians at the university there in 1277.

On his return to the monastery at Cologne, Albert ceased teaching forever and retired permanently to his cell. He had kept the innocence and freshness of his faith, and prayed like a child. He love the Virgin Mary with tenderly, and wrote one of his most beautiful theological treatises in her praise. For the last two years of his life, Albert suffered from increasing memory loss and ill health, which led to his death in Cologne on November 15, 1280. Saint Albert is enshrined in the church of Saint Andreas in Cologne.

Works

Albert had an enquiring mind, ranking beside Roger Bacon as one of the first and greatest natural scientists. He was an experimenter and a classifier at a time when all experimental knowledge was under suspicion. There was not a field in which he did not at least try his hand, and his keenness of mind and precision of detail make his remarks valuable, even though, because he lacked facts which we now have, his conclusions were incomplete. It is difficult to estimate his vast erudition, the acuteness of mind and keenness of intellect of this learned and saintly man. In philosophy his work exhibited the highest achievement of human reason when thrown on its own resources.

The whole realm of nature and grace are covered by his encyclopedic knowledge; he wrote even more than Saint Thomas Aquinas himself. Some of his works still remain in manuscript unpublished and as many as seventy others have been lost. His printed works fill 38 quarto volumes and deal with all branches of learning. Among his works are Summa theologie, De unitate intellectus contra Averren, De vegetabilibus, and Summa de creaturis.

He stands out in particular for his recognition of the autonomy of human reason in its own sphere, of the validity of knowledge gained from sensory experience, and of the value of Aristotle's philosophy in systematizing theology. Aquinas perfected the synthesis now known as the Scholastic method.

At the time of his scientific investigations, the field was almost exclusively in the hands of the Arabian philosophers--inheritors of the work of Avicenna and Averroes--who had drawn a great part of their errors from faulty interpretation of Aristotle. Since Aristotle, who must be regarded as the greatest comprehensive genius of any age, no other had written on the subject (as far as known), until Albert the Great.

During the intervening millennia between Aristotle and Albert, there had been a void; after his time three hundred years passed before botany was taken seriously. Albert commenced by making a catalogue of all the trees, plants, and herbs known in his own time. His minute observations on their forms and variations show an exquisite sense of their floral beauty, which he attributed to God. He was acquainted with the sleep of plants, with the periodic opening and closing of flowers, with the diminution of sap during evaporation from the cuticle of the leaf, and with the influence of the distribution of bundles of vessels on the foliar indentations. And this is only the beginning of his observations.

In addition to botany, he wrote in similar detail on astronomy, chemistry, physics, biology, metaphysics, ethics, scripture, geography, geology (one of his treatises proved the earth to be spherical), logic, mathematics, theology, and meteorology; he made maps and charts and experimented with plants; he studied chemical reactions; designed instruments to help with navigation; and he made detailed studies of birds and animals. His brilliance and erudition caused him to be called the "Universal Doctor" by his contemporaries.

Albert's admiration for Arabic learning and culture caused suspicion in some quarters. His and Thomas Aquinas's adaptation of Aristotelian principles to systematic theology and their attempts to reconcile Aristotelianism to Christianity caused bitter opposition among many of their fellow theologians. Conservatives condemned these dangerous innovations as being tainted with heresy since they came from pagan Greek, Islamic, and Jewish thinkers.

Saint Albert knew that studying the minute beauty and perfection of creation gives us reason to glorify God. The universe is full of mystery; the intellect of man has only touched its outer fringe. Had the students of natural science proceeded along the lines Albert had laid down, the wrong road taken for three centuries might have been avoided.

In the modern mechanistic view, God is excluded, but Albert saw the whole universe as the work of God's hand. I've stressed Albert's erudition, but his whole life was absorbed in God; the Master of the Universe developed in him a greatest also of soul. He found God everywhere and in all things and always saw some good in others and in their books. His work was to sift out the good and to reserve it for Christ.
True greatness of soul is not content with merely observing the good, but passes on its revelation to others, thus revealing the noble disposition towards magnanimity. His task was to demonstrate the harmony between natural truth and divine revelation and to give this abundantly to others.

Saint Albert was canonized by being enrolled among the doctors of the Church by Pope Pius XI in 1931. He was also named patron saint of students of the natural sciences, for he had, said the pope, 'that rare and divine gift, scientific instinct, in the highest degree . . .; he is exactly the saint whose example ought to inspire the present age' (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Delaney, Dorcy, Encyclopedia, Murray, White, Wilms).

Faith and Science

The opposition between science and faith is only apparent. It originates either in the error of scientists who forward unprovable hypotheses as undoubted facts--the theory of evolution, for instance--or in the mistakes of theologians who would give their private, false opinions as gospel truths. If both would remain within the confines of their own science, no opposition would be possible.

Saint Albert insisted that 'purely from reason no one can attain to knowledge of the Trinity, the Incarnation of Jesus and the Resurrection.'

But, in fact reason and faith are helpful to each other. Reason gives faith a solid foundation, so that we are not asked to give blind assent to truths we cannot know. It also furnishes us with strong extrinsic proof of the contents of divine revelation. Faith, on the other hand, "furnishes facts to the other sciences," Cardinal Newman says, "which these sciences, left to themselves, would never reach, and it invalidates apparent facts, which left to themselves, they would imagine."

Science deals only with secondary causes; when it questions why things happen it ceases to be science and becomes philosophy, but religion interests itself with the Primary Cause of all things.

We are surrounded by the mystery of the universe; it is in no way peculiar to religion. Science may make continual progress and tell us of countless new and marvelous things, but the why and the wherefore of them are altogether beyond its scope. There are mysteries in God's world, both of nature and of grace.

The First Vatican Council teaches us, "The Church therefore, far from hindering the pursuit of the arts and sciences, fosters and promotes them in many ways. Nor does she prevent sciences, each in its own sphere, from making use of their own principles and methods. Yet, while acknowledging the freedom due to them, she tries to preserve them from falling into error contrary to divine doctrine, and from overstepping their own boundaries and throwing into confusion matters that belong to the domain of faith" (Decree 16.12.41).

Saint Albert is represented in art as a Dominican with a doctor's cap and a book. Sometimes he is shown (1) lecturing from a pulpit; (2) with Saint Thomas Aquinas; or (3) as a Dominican bishop with pen and book (Roeder).


Patron of all natural sciences, scientists, and students of science (Roeder). 



Voir aussi : http://agora.qc.ca/dossiers/Saint_Albert_le_Grand

http://www.traditioninaction.org/SOD/j230sd_AlbertusMagnus_11-15.html