In medieval Europe, the Church was specifically opposed to "Latin Averroists" (see Averroës), such as the prominent Averroist Siger of Brabant. It sought to halt the spread of certain of Aristotle's doctrines — those that dealt with physical science (see Aristotelian physics, Condemnations of 1210-1277), which the reconquest of Spain and, accordingly, access to the libraries of the Moors had re-introduced into the Latin literate world.
Neoplatonism and Aristotelianism
At the time, much of the theology of the Roman Catholic Church was influenced by Neoplatonic ideas, and Aristotelianism struck many as heretical. Siger and others seem to have conceded this, and to have used the sharp reason/faith distinction that came to be known as "double truth" as a way of legitimizing discussion of Aristotle despite that concession. The teachings of Aristotle came to be accepted as second only to the teachings of the Church. Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologica (1267–73), rejected Neoplatonism and stated that there can be no conflict between reason and faith.
Revival in the Renaissance
Questions remained, and again came to the fore when scientists such as Copernicus made discoveries which seemed to contradict scripture. The doctrine of "double truth" was revived by the scholastics under the rubric "two truths". Thus, according to the scholastics, there was a lesser truth, that the Earth circled the Sun, as Copernicus said, and a greater truth, that when Joshua fought at Jericho it was the Sun, not the Earth, which stood still. The scholastics held that both "truths" were true in their own sphere.
Historical relevance of the concept
Today both sides of the controversy reject the "double truth" concept, and it is primarily of historical interest.
- "double-truth theory". Encyclopedia Britannica.
- Gilson, Etienne, Reason and Revelation in the Middle Ages, Charles Scribner's Sons 1938 (1966 Reprint), pp. 19-30
- See, e.g., Gilson, Etienne, "La doctrine de la double vérité," Études de philosophie médiévale (1921), pp. 51-69; translated as, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages (1955).
- John Francis Quinn (1973). The historical constitution of St. Bonaventure's philosophy. PIMS. ISBN 978-0-88844-023-5.
- "The Metaphysics of John Duns Scotus", pathways (essays), Fr. Seamus Mulholland
- See, e.g.,
- St Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologica (translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province), Christian Classics, 1981, ISBN 0-87061-063-5 ISBN 978-0870610639.
- "The Battle of Aristotle", Arthur Little, Studies: An Irish Quarterly Review, Vol. 36, No. 141 (Mar., 1947), pp. 57–68
- Will Durant, The Reformation, Simon and Schuster, 1957.
- See also: Dictionary of the History of Ideas Double Truth
- The History of Western Philosophy by Bertrand Russel (1947), Allen & Unwin, p. 564.