¶ 1 Leave a comment on Absatz 1 0 We have surveyed three main strategies for defining philosophy that can be found in early modern Spanish Aristotelianism. The first, relying on the etymology of the term “philosophy” is seen by most authors as unreliable. That wisdom should be loved is regarded either as a tautology or as a misleading category mistake, because love belongs to the will, whereas wisdom is a perfection of the intellect. If the phrase is read as a tautologous description of philosophy, it is taken to denote the simple fact that knowledge is intrinsically valuable, an end in itself. It is misleading, when taken to mean an emotion or the natural desire to know that is part of human nature.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on Absatz 2 0 The idea that there should be a close connection between philosophical knowledge and the way we get on with our lives, is as unacceptable for most authors (with the notable exception of Montañés and Villalpando). Therefore, the idea that philosophy is to be defined as meditatio mortis, i. e. something we do, cannot gain traction among Aristotelians. Subjective preconditions for attaining truth must not be identified with the system of truths philosophy consists of. Other definitions of philosophy through its aims (truth, the perfection of man) are referenced but not analysed in detail.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on Absatz 3 0 We may conclude that for most philosophers under discussion here the most promising strategy for defining philosophy consists in a reflection on its objects. The respective attempts at defining philosophy can be ordered according to their scope. The most general definition is accepted by Toletus: Philosophy is the cognition of human and divine things. This implies that the philosopher must be taken to know all there is to be known. To others, this is unacceptable. They hold that this most general definition must be qualified: Philosophy is the cognition of things qua their principles and causes. The even stricter assumption that philosophy as a whole should obey the standards of necessary and proveable knowledge (scientia) is accepted only by the Complutenses.
¶ 4 Leave a comment on Absatz 4 0 In order to assess these findings it is helpful to remember the principal goal of definitions of philosophy as stated by Ammonius: The student should get a first insight into philosophy as a discipline in order to grasp more easily the insights it can provide. Definitions are a pedagogical tool rather than the starting point of a codified “system of philosophy”. Whether moral philosophy must be included in philosophy (as Toletus holds) or whether mathematics belongs to philosophy (as the Complutenses negate) can only be decided on philosophical grounds. So we may assume that definitions of philosophy for early modern Spanish Aristotelians have the task to rationalise a certain course of philosophical study , not to argue for a ‚metaphilosophical position‘ in the contemporary sense. The status of moral philosophy or mathematics must be reflected on its own merits and cannot be deduced from an a-priori-definition of philosophy. Still, it might be a worthwhile project to examine to which extent differences in single aspects of doctrine may presuppose differences in the respective definition of philosophy.
¶ 5 Leave a comment on Absatz 5 0 Finally, the definitions discussed here show that the early moderns already were forced to address a problem that is still a very controversial point of contemporary philosophical debate, namely the relation of philosophy to other disciplines (cf. Heßbrüggen-Walter 2007). If philosophy is cognitio rerum divinarum et humanarum, als Toletus holds, there does not remain much to be known that is not a part of the subject matter of philosophy. That this is inacceptable to Toletus‘ successors shows that they tried to secure a sound basis for doing philosophy without promoting the idea that philosophy comprehends the totality of what humans may need to know.