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Title: The term 'synderesis' and its transformations : a conceptual history of synderesis, ca. 1150-1450
Author: Zamore, Gustav
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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This dissertation explores the development of the concept of synderesis between 1150 and 1450. In medieval moral psychology, synderesis referred to the innate capacity of the mind to know the first principles of natural law, or, alternatively, the will to follow these principles. But it was also interpreted as a mystical power of the soul, capable of uniting it to God. synderesis also appears in Late Medieval vernacular literature, as a character in moralising texts. By approaching synderesis from the point of view of conceptual history I synthesise these fields and explore how synderesis operated beyond the formal treatises of scholastic theology. Chapter two explores how synderesis developed in medieval scholasticism from Peter Lombard up to Thomas Aquinas. Chapters three and four explore how the mystical interpretation of synderesis first proposed by Thomas Gallus of Vercelli was incorporated into the mystical treatise Itinerarium mentis in Deum by Bonaventure of Balneoregio. Here, I analyse when, where and how Bonaventure integrated this mystical interpretation into his pre-existing moral-psychological interpretation of it and how his use of synderesis relates to the historical context in which the Itinerarium was written. I argue that synderesis should be seen as existing on a continuum of interpretations between moral psychology and mysticism. After Bonaventure and Aquinas, the concept undergoes a period of stagnation in academia, which is the subject of Chapter five. However, synderesis also appears in a number of non-academic texts in which the moral-psychological and mystical interpretations of the term coexist. Chapter six explores how Late Medieval vernacular authors drew on previous scholastic discussions of the concept. I focus here in particular on Guillaume de Deguileville's Le pèlerinage de l'âme, where synderesis appears not as the moral guide of the soul, but as the accuser of the soul before the court of heaven.
Supervisor: Sutherland, Annie ; Smith, Lesley Janette Sponsor: Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation ; Sixten Gemzéus Foundation ; Birgit and Gad Rausing Foundation
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Intellectual History ; Middle Ages ; Medieval Theology and Philosophy ; Bonaventure ; Conscience ; Thomas Aquinas ; Itinerarium mentis in Deum ; Guillaume de Deguileville ; Scholasticism ; Synderesis ; Thomas Gallus