ERWIN R. GOODENOUGH
scholars these days try to produce anything which could be called a magnum opus. Wolfson is one of the few; and when it is remembered that the two large volumes before
represent a relatively small part of his total undertaking, he must be put into the forefront of even that little group. For it is Wolfson's plan to present a history of philosophy which will begin with at least one volume on the Greeks, then consider Philo as here, then give the whole development of philosophy in Christian, Islamic, and Jewish circles of the Middle Ages, and finally show the beginnings of the new age where Spinoza breaks the pattern of medieval thought and returns to the Greek approach. Wolfson believes that medieval philosophy had a distinctive character because it had a distinctive source of knowledge quite foreign to both the Greek and modern thinkers, the source we usually call "revelation," but which Wolfson calls the "preamble of faith" (p. v). The moderns, like the Greeks, try by observation, hypothesis, and intuition, whatever these words mean, to discover the truth about the nature of man, and the nature of his environment up to and including God himself. The medieval world had to square all such data of "reason" with the data of their inspired Scriptures where the answers were all given. More than this, the medievalists had to square their reasons with a philosophical tradition which determined how Scripture itself was to be interpreted, Wolfson says, for in
I Harry Austryn Wolfson, Philo: Foundations of Religious Philosophy in
Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Structure and Growth of Philosophic Systems from Plato to Spinoza, II). Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1947. Pp. I, xvi+462; II, 531.