Special Issue "Religious Philosophy and Aesthetics from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444). This special issue belongs to the section "Religions and Humanities/Philosophies".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 November 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Manuel Lázaro Pulido
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Department of Philosophy, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED), 28040 Madrid, Spain
2. Department of Sciences of Law, Bernardo O'Higgins University, Santiago, Chile
Interests: history of medieval, Renaissance and early modernity philosophy and theology; Franciscan School of Philosophy and Theology; philosophy of religion; metaphysics; systematic and fundamental theology; philosophy of law; religious pedagogy
Prof. Dr. Ricardo Piñero Moral
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Philosophy, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, Universidad de Navarra, 31009 Pamplona, Spain
Interests: history of aesthetics; theory of ancient and medieval arts; medieval bestiaries; philosophy of religion; Neoplatonism; art and social transformation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Aesthetics plays an essential role in religious experience as the most intuitive locus of the sublime. Some authors have suggested that aesthetics, no less than ethics, can play a central role in the study of religion and in the practice of theology (Frank Burch Brown. Religious Aesthetics. A Theological Study of Making and Meaning. Palgrave Macmillan 1990). Aesthetics implies the possibility of an encounter with the Mystery based on the sensible coordinates of the World, on a path that goes beyond the limits of the theory of knowledge itself.

In the Middle Ages, aesthetics is a philosophical, religious and theological space in which man can express the possibility and the capacity to penetrate the divine Mystery (Capax Dei). The world, which is a divine book and mirror (Alain de Lille), is offered as the stage for God’s love for man (who is himself the image and likeness of God). This man–world–God relationship evolves to the extent that the created human being broadens the knowledge of his existential and religious horizons and turns the axis of aesthetic production not only by penetrating the divine Mystery but also by discovering the contemplative subject.

Concepts, such as art, symbol, feeling, beauty, taste, imagination, perception, etc., are used in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in the light of God (Richard Vilasdesau, “Aesthetics and Religion”, in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and the Arts, ed. by Frank Burch Brown. Oxford 2014), as revelation and the sacred as expressions of the religions present in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance (periods that extend to the religious horizon of the West): Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

Academics and researchers specialising in the fields of philosophical aesthetics, aesthetic theory, philosophy of religion, theology, history of medieval and Renaissance philosophy are invited to participate in this Special Issue. We look forward to their research on concepts, themes and problems from synchronic or diachronic approaches to the religious horizon of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, especially those of the religions present at that time: Judaism, Islam and Christianity. Eventually, a comparative study could be carried out with other religious manifestations that coincided at that time in different geographical and cultural spaces.

Prof. Dr. Manuel Lázaro Pulido
Prof. Dr. Ricardo Piñero Moral
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • aesthetics
  • aesthetic theology
  • aesthetics and art theory
  • philosophy of religion
  • medieval and Renaissance philosophy and theology
  • Islam, Judaism and medieval Christianity

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

Article
The Renaissance Reception of Nahua Paideia in the Writings of Bernardino de Sahagún: An Aesthetic Approach to Religion
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Religions 2021, 12(12), 1070; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12121070 (registering DOI) - 03 Dec 2021
Viewed by 167
Abstract
In this article, I propose that books I–VI of Bernardino Sahagún’s Códice florentino, which discuss the moral and religious philosophies of indigenous Mexicans, should be interpreted through the lens of Renaissance humanist linguistic and philosophical theories. I demonstrate that, utilizing Franciscan–Bonaventurean epistemology, [...] Read more.
In this article, I propose that books I–VI of Bernardino Sahagún’s Códice florentino, which discuss the moral and religious philosophies of indigenous Mexicans, should be interpreted through the lens of Renaissance humanist linguistic and philosophical theories. I demonstrate that, utilizing Franciscan–Bonaventurean epistemology, Sahagún put forward a method of evangelizing that intended to separate “the good from the bad” in indigenous cultures. In an effort to defend my claim, I first lay out some of the problems surrounding the Códice florentino. Second, I describe the general theological and cosmological views held by the Aztecs, so that, third, I may develop the main principles of the philosophy of flor y canto (in xochitl in cuicatl). Against a political interpretation that is often defended by appealing to the traditional rituals performed in the Aztec empire, I contend that their philosophy should be interpreted from the perspective of Nahua religion and aesthetics. I also discuss Sahagún’s reception of Aztec philosophy in the Códice with a focus on his interest in the linguistic and empirical dimensions of Nahua religion. Full article
Article
From Mary’s Motherhood to the Immaculate Conception: An Iconographic Analysis of Marian Art in Spain during the Tenth to Nineteenth Centuries
Religions 2021, 12(12), 1061; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12121061 - 30 Nov 2021
Viewed by 233
Abstract
This article analyzes Marian art in Spain from the tenth to nineteenth centuries in order to show how popular piety represented Mary’s motherhood. Through art, including architecture, painting, sculpture, and oral preaching, a popular image of Mary emerged and, in turn, became key [...] Read more.
This article analyzes Marian art in Spain from the tenth to nineteenth centuries in order to show how popular piety represented Mary’s motherhood. Through art, including architecture, painting, sculpture, and oral preaching, a popular image of Mary emerged and, in turn, became key for understanding the history of the family in western Catholic countries. Studying the evolution of Marian iconography during this thousand-year period reveals a kind of grandeur, and then a certain crisis, surrounding Mary’s motherhood. This crisis specifically involves the meaning of the body as an effective sign of the personal gift-of-self. We argue that this process ran parallel to growing problems in theological culture related to reconciling the natural and supernatural realms, and we further sustain that it contains a true cultural revolution, a shift that is at the origin of many later transformations. This interpretation helps better understand the dilemmas surrounding the history of the family in the West, and specifically of motherhood, from the point of view of the Christian tradition. Full article
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Article
Aesthetics of Evil in Middle Ages: Beasts as Symbol of the Devil
Religions 2021, 12(11), 957; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12110957 - 02 Nov 2021
Viewed by 539
Abstract
Since the very origin of art, human beings have faced the challenge of the representation of Evil. Within the medieval Christian context, we may find many beings which have attempted to convey the power of the devil. Demonic beings, terrifying beasts, fallen angels [...] Read more.
Since the very origin of art, human beings have faced the challenge of the representation of Evil. Within the medieval Christian context, we may find many beings which have attempted to convey the power of the devil. Demonic beings, terrifying beasts, fallen angels or even Satan himself can be frequently found and appear in many forms. They can be seen in chapitols, stained glass windows, codices … Our aim is to evaluate different creatures, animals and monstruous hybrids, which represent the efficient presence of the devil. We base our evaluation on some bestiaries, natural history books and encyclopedias from the XII and the XIII century, like the Bestiaire from Philippe de Thaon, Pierre de Beauvais, Guillaume le Clerc, or the so-called Cambridge Bestiary as well as the one from Oxford, the Livres dou Tresor from Brunetto Latini, the Liber monstrorum de diversis generibus, L’image du Monde from Gossuin, the Bestiario moralizzato di Gubbio, and of course, the Physiologus. Natural beings acquire a supernatural dimension in bestiaries and in natural history books. We will present the reader with a satanic bestiary, a short selection of these evil-related beings. In this, we will distinguish between those beasts representing evil through their ability to deceive and those which are able to generate not only fear, but also death. Full article
Article
The Invention of Perspective and the Transition from the Sacred to the Religious
Religions 2021, 12(10), 818; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12100818 - 28 Sep 2021
Viewed by 344
Abstract
Many historical events and scientific and artistic discoveries took place at the twilight of the Late Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance. The great majority of them enabled the birth of individualism and the objectification of reality. This was decisively influenced [...] Read more.
Many historical events and scientific and artistic discoveries took place at the twilight of the Late Middle Ages and the beginning of the Renaissance. The great majority of them enabled the birth of individualism and the objectification of reality. This was decisively influenced by the devaluation of the oral and the prioritization of the visual. The priority of sight as a sovereign form of knowledge had in the invention of perspective one of its most unquestionable foundations. All of this caused a change in mentality that, in the field of aesthetics, gave rise to a new conception of the artist and his authorship and, undoubtedly, to the prevalence of the religious and devotional over the sacred. Full article
Article
On Surprising Beauty. Aquinas’s Gift to Aesthetics
Religions 2021, 12(9), 779; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12090779 - 16 Sep 2021
Viewed by 472
Abstract
The article addresses the basic elements of Thomas Aquinas’s thought on beauty by analyzing some selected texts and points out some of the debates that still exist regarding the interpretation of Thomas Aquinas’s position on various issues, such as the question of the [...] Read more.
The article addresses the basic elements of Thomas Aquinas’s thought on beauty by analyzing some selected texts and points out some of the debates that still exist regarding the interpretation of Thomas Aquinas’s position on various issues, such as the question of the transcendentality of the beautiful. The fundamental aim is to recover some of Aquinas’s basic intuitions for contemporary aesthetics, which no longer makes use of many of the intellectual categories that were in common use in medieval philosophy, and to show how some of Thomas Aquinas’s fundamental ideas are closer to the aesthetic thought of some fundamental contemporary authors than the modern categories with which aesthetics was forged. This article is also intended to show how the modern conception of the beautiful has meant an ontological impoverishment with respect to the medieval thought. Full article
Article
The Impossible Spaces: A Commentary on Gen. 2:8–15
Religions 2021, 12(8), 656; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12080656 - 18 Aug 2021
Viewed by 497
Abstract
A close analysis of the text of Gen. 2:8–15, pertaining to the Garden of Eden, shows the structural differences between said text and others from ancient mythologies that mention or describe a paradise. Likewise, that analysis suggests that the data provided by the [...] Read more.
A close analysis of the text of Gen. 2:8–15, pertaining to the Garden of Eden, shows the structural differences between said text and others from ancient mythologies that mention or describe a paradise. Likewise, that analysis suggests that the data provided by the Bible to locate paradise are merely a narrative device meant to dissipate all doubts as to the existence of a garden where God put human beings. Similar to other spaces that appear in the Bible, the Garden of Eden is, in fact, an impossible place. Throughout the centuries, however, recurring proposals have been made to locate paradise. As time went by, those proposals were progressively modified by the intellectual ideas dominant in any given era, thus leading the representations of the location of Paradise to be further and further away from the information provided by the biblical text. Full article
Article
Moral Aspects of Imaginative Art in Thomas Aquinas
Religions 2021, 12(5), 322; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12050322 - 01 May 2021
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Abstract
For Thomas Aquinas, the imagination, being one of the “inner senses”, is a doorway to attain true knowledge. In this paper, we first analyze his lexicon in this regard (imaginatio and phantasia). Second, we discuss imagination as the subject matter of [...] Read more.
For Thomas Aquinas, the imagination, being one of the “inner senses”, is a doorway to attain true knowledge. In this paper, we first analyze his lexicon in this regard (imaginatio and phantasia). Second, we discuss imagination as the subject matter of the intellectual virtues, which facilitate cognition and judgment. The development of imagination is the foundation of his vision of education not only on the natural but also on the supernatural level. Third, we explore Aquinas’ moral assessment of imaginative art and finally its influence on shaping the character. This influence occurs on two levels: it is assessed from the perspective of charity, justice, prudence and purity, namely to what extent the art serves these values, whereas the second criterion is beauty. Full article
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