The monks’ contribution to European society, and the attitude of Christian writers on toward ancient Greek philosophy.

1) What kinds of contributions did the monks make to European society?  Monasticism takes root early on in church history.   It gave individuals the opportunity to separate themselves from the material world so they can practice their spiritual life more intensely.  Monasticism can be practiced in two different ways; monks can be eremitic, or cenobitic.  Eremitic monasticism is the life of a hermit, and absolute isolation from the world.  Cenobitic monasticism is living in isolation from the world, but in a community brotherhood or, for women who became nuns, a sisterhood.  Cenobitic monks made a more significant impact, because people were more able to learn from them.  Monks lived spiritual lives of fulfillment, but they also made tremendous impacts on European society.

One of the most important things the monks did, was establish respect for the manual laborer.  Manual labor was looked down on, and considered to be the lowest position, however, the monks changed this.  The monks did everything to maintain their lives.  Their work ethic was extremely efficient.  They taught themselves and other young men different trades, and established respect from society on manual labor.  They also revolutionized both agriculture, and technology, in many different ways.  They preserved a lot of important historical manuscripts, that, without their transcriptions, we would never have today.  The monks, while they may not be credited for it, made a significant contribution to European society.

2) What was the attitude of most Christian writers toward the philosophers of ancient Greece?  The philosophers Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and many more ancient Greek philosophers were the first historically recorded thinkers to really challenge common thought, and ultimately attempt to uncover the truth.  It is important to take into consideration that these men had nothing to base their studies on, they were simply seeking the unknown truth.  What may seem surprising to some people, is that most Christian writers many years later, respected and used the work of these ancient philosophers.

A number of Christian writers pointed out that these philosophers were seeking the truth.  As Minucius Felix says, God can be known from reason, Greeks came to this knowledge.  The theories of the philosophers pointed to the existence of the omnipotent God.  The common attitude of Christian philosophers toward the ancient Greek philosophers was mostly positive.  They respected the Greek thinkers that came hundreds of years before them.  They did not regard the teachings of Aristotle, Plato, or Socrates, to be heresies, but rather the beginnings of trying to understand God.

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