Philosophy, the handmaiden of theology?!!

handmaidensIn the Middle Ages, especially  in the works of the Scholastic writers, arises the problem of the relationship between theology and philosophy. An attempt was usually made to resolve this problem by resorting to the idea of subordination and recalling the old phrase “Philosophy, the Handmaiden of Theology,” from this viewpoint, philosophy is an auxiliary, subordinate discipline, which theology makes use of its own ends.

But as Aristotle already knew, philosophy is not useful for anything, and all the other sciences are more necessary than philosophy, though none is superior to it. Therefore philosophy is not and cannot be a subordinate science, used as a means to something else.

The problems of Scholasticism were primarily theological problems. These theological problems calls forth new questions and these are philosophic questions. For instance, the dogma of Creation compels us to consider the problem of being, bringing us back to the realm of metaphysics. It is the same for all the other dogmas. Thus Scholasticism deals with philosophical problems that arise in connection with religious and theological questions. But philosophy is not used as a tool in these cases; rather, the framework within which the philosophy problems are considered is rigorously determined by the actual situation from which they arise.

The philosophical way of solving problems:

philosophical wayPhilosophy gives no information about matters of fact, and so cannot solve any problem in a concrete and physical way. It cannot, for example, help man either to gain longevity or defy death, nor can it help him to gain riches and avoid poverty. What it can do, however, is to give man a point of view, from which he can see that life is no more than death and loss is equal to gain. From the “practical” point of view, philosophy is useless, yet it can give us a point of view which is very useful. To use an expression of the well known Chinese philosopher, Chuang-tzu, this is the “usefulness of useless.”