Knowledge, Belief, and the Crisis of Authority
This chapter traces the breakdown of the medieval vocabulary of justification that was characterized by certain knowledge on one hand (scientia) and probable belief on the other (opinio). Terms associated with scientia such as “certainty” and “demonstration” came under intense attack by nominalists such as William of Ockham in the fourteenth century, and these nominalist suspicions were reinforced by the discovery and dissemination of ancient skeptical writings a century later. Whereas terms associated with opinio such as “probability” and “authority” were battered by the forces of the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation. In the place of a shared language of cognitive appraisal, Europeans encountered multiple and contending methods of justification.
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