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One aspect of medieval variety was a love of this world and of nature. This naturalism had many bases in addition to the fact that man has always found nature unavoidable. It was due also, in part, to the pronounced emphasis on the other world, and arose as an understandable reaction to the prevailing concern for things spiritual. It was also due in part to the fact that, according to Christian teachings, this world of nature was in and of itself good because it had been created by a good God. Therefore it was not to be despised. Naturalism was further strengthened by the appearance of Aristotle's thought. A mixture of such motives as these produced two very different results, both of which we can illustrate by poems, one of them by a Goliard poet and the other by St. Francis. [excerpt]

Additional Resources

Some material in the original text is restricted by copyright. Here are links to earlier editions or translations of the same material:

Waddell, Helen. The Wandering Scholars (London: Constable & Co., 1934), 211-233.


This is a part of Section IV: The Medieval Ferment. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.