This section focuses on the emergence of the first great systematic commentaries and encyclopedic overviews in the twelfth century, a development often ascribed to the resurgence of Aristotelian logic in the curricula. Aside from describing the doctrine on which each area is based, the commentaries of the period sought to explain the intellectual and cognitive principles that justify the divisions of knowledge. This period also saw a renewed interest in Platonic cosmology through studies of the Timaeus, as well as in the explanatory power of natural philosophy (that is, ‘physics’). One of the key institutional contexts for these emergent interests was the success of the cathedral schools found in or near many of the major commercial and administrative centres in northern France and along the Rhineland. This chapter also examines the implications of these developments for grammar and rhetoric.
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