Medieval thought about reality: off topic
I have a friend who made a recent disparaging remark about the Middle Ages.  Thinking was dominated by the Church, and that was all he needed to know in order to dismiss it.  But a couple of recent article support me feeling that this is not quite fair.  (Tom C. B. McLeish et al.  A Medieval Multiverse NATURE vol. 507 no. 7491 March 13, 2014 page 161 and Amir Alexander The Secret Spiritual History of Calculus SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN April 2014 page 82)

One article recounts the work of one Robert Gross who in 1225 attempted to describe the universe with a single set of laws.  According to the article his work implies the kind of “multiverse” that some modern cosmologists envision.  That’s not so bad for a time when the rest of the world was not doing much about being rational.  There was an attempt to form a rational system in China early on, but it foundered on the question of whether there is an absolute distinction between dream and reality.

The other article describes a debate over a concept at the heart of calculus: does a plane consist of an infinite number of lines?  The debate was carried out with great energy and an understanding of some of the implications. 

I do recall that witch hunts were not medieval.  At that time the Church said more or less, “It isn’t Christian to believe in witches at all.”  It was the Renaissance that saw the rise of the notorious witch hunt.  For that matter torture was not a medieval invention, it was revived by the Renaissance after having been practiced in the ancient world and then abandoned in the Middle Ages. 

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