Centre and Periphery in the Historiography of Philosophy: Peter Olivi and Medieval Psychology
The paper inquiries into the (historiographical) question what does it mean to be a “marginal thinker” in the context of the medieval philosophy. The question is investigated on the example of Franciscan philosopher and theologian Peter Olivi (1248/49–1298) and his philosophical psychology. First, a preliminary option is introduced: for a thinker, being “marginal” depends on his relation to who is considered to be canonical. Since the most famous thinker of the Middle Ages is Thomas Aquinas (at least according to the traditional canon of medieval philosophy), Olivi’s positions in psychology are compared with these of Aquinas. It is revealed that Olivi’s psychology is very different from the Aquinas’ one. (E.g. Olivi stresses the activity of perception, proprioceptual nature of the sense of touch, and direct access of the intellect to its own acts.) Moreover, Olivi is very critical towards the Aristotelian philosophy as is done by some thinkers of his time. Nevertheless, it does not follow that Olivi is a marginal thinker only because of his dissimilarity from the more Aristotelian-minded ones. It is argued that “centre” and “periphery” in the history of medieval philosophy depends not on the canon (which is rather a historians’ construct and instrument), but rather on the tradition. Hence, although Olivi can be considered as a marginal thinker if we take into the account the Aristotelian tradition of medieval philosophy, he is definitely a central and important thinker, if considered as a member of the Augustinian tradition.