The fact that the radical realism of the early Middle Ages was rejected has saved Europe from Asiatization, namely from collectivization. The fact that at the end of the Middle Ages all universals were lost has produced the imposition of the power of the church on individuals, making God Himself into an individual who, as a tyrant, gives laws to other individuals. This was the distortion which nominalism brought with itself, while the affirmation of the personal was its creativity.
So when you hear about nominalism and realism, and read about it in textbooks of logic, don’t be betrayed into the belief that this is in itself a basically logical problem. It is logical, it must be discussed in terms of the science of logic, too, but it is in terms of the attitude towards reality as a whole which expresses itself also in the logical realm.
The fifth and last of these trends, partly connected with realism in the Middle Ages, is, Pantheism – tendencies toward the complete extinction of the individual. This was done in different ways – in what is called Averroism (cf. Averroes, the greatest of the Arabian philosophers, who said that the universal mind which produces culture is a reality in which the individual. mind participates. But the individual mind is nothing independent. What is to be seen here is that it was just in the same line of Asiatization. And he was rejected. Another way in which pantheistic elements were brought down was, German mysticism of the type of Meister Eckhardt, which in itself could dissolve all the concreteness of medieval piety, and which has led to the philosophy of the Renaissance. But the Church rejected it, in the name of the individual authoritarian God.
Thus the trends: Dialectics against traditionalists.
Augustinians against Aristotelians – or Franciscans against Dominicans.
Thomism against Scotism — about the will.
Nominalism against mystical realism.
Pantheism against the Church doctrine, in its concreteness.
This alone should show you that the Middle Ages are not monolithic, although they had a definite authority; that they are very rich and varied, and have many tensions and problems. We cannot sweep them with the statement that they are the “dark ages,” since all their problems are present even now.
The Religious Forces The next consideration is about the religious forces. Which are the religious forces in the Middle Ages? First the hierarchy: it is the greatest and most fundamental of the religious forces. They represent the sacramental reality on which the existence of Church, state, and culture as a whole depend. They administer the central event in which this happens, namely the Mass.
Then, the hierarchy carrying through the educational work towards the Germanic- Romanic tribes, (from which barbaric state) They, the tribes, entered the Church and ancient civilization. In doing so they tried not only to influence the individual, through the sacrament of penance – which is the correlate to the sacrament of the Mass (the Mass is merely objective, penance merely subjective) – but beyond this they tried to influence the social status of reality; they wanted to control the world.