Chris FruehHistory of Medieval Political ThoughtSeminar Paper Page 1 of 13
Die Weltgeschichte ist das Weltgericht
--Schiller Within this paper I hope to make a brief survey of the political philosophies presentwithin William of Ockham's
A Short Discourse on Tyrannical Government
, a major work thatsets a strong rational foundation for the rest of the world to examine their relationship to theCatholic church. Since Ockham has set up a remarkably well-ordered rhetorical progression, Iwill present the counterpoints, where existent, to his points and show how his refutation cuts thesupport out from under the claims of his opponents. While this debate is set within the 'PovertyControversy', I will avoid, as Ockham has, delving into the minutiae of that contention so as tofocus more specifically on the role of the pontiff in relation to the emperor or his congregantsand how such a role has become prominent to Ockham through the debate. What I hope to showis although the autocratic position advocated by supporters of papal power appears to have muchand varied Biblical support, the support is either contradictory, wildly allegorical or heretical.I begin with a brief summary of the context of the debate.
It is common knowledge thatthere had arisen various suborders within the Catholic church, most notably the Dominicans, theFranciscans and the Jesuits. Each of these groups adhered to slightly different minor points of doctrine and, with minimal conflict until this point, coexisted. The 'Poverty Controversy' came tothe public eye when “a Dominican Inquisitor... arrested [a Franciscan who] had asserted,amongst other things, that Christ and the apostles, in following the way of perfection, hadnothing individually or in common...”
, a proposition that was earth-shattering in its implications.The exact biblical citations for and against this claim will come up later as they deal obliquely