Biography of San Alberto Magno (1206-1280)

San Alberto Magno.

German theologian and philosopher. Known as Bollstadt Alberto or Cologne and San Alberto Magno, called by its immense know Doctor universalis, it belonged to the Dominican order, and was Professor of Santo Tomás de Aquino. In it we find the first serious decision to give autonomy to the philosophy with regard to theology. His work prepared the great and definitive systematization of Santo Tomás.

Life and works.

He was born in Lauingen (Swabia), at the beginning of the 13th century. It is known that he/she spent a few years studying in Italy, probably in Padua and Bologna. From a young age he/she showed great interest towards nature. The years spent in Paris completing his studies 1243-1244. He/She was named magister theologiae in 1246, occupying the Chair of theology in the University of Paris. He/She later taught at the College of the Dominicans of Cologne. From 1254 to 1257, he/she held the office of Provincial of the Dominicans in Germany. When the dispute over the mendicant orders emerged, he/she moved to the papal curia, then in Anagni, to defend them, successfully, against his adversaries. Alejandro IV nominated him Bishop of Regensburg in 1260, but a year later, following the election of Pope Urban VI, renounces his headquarters. In 1263 he/she was appointed preacher of the Crusades, and representative of the Pope in German-speaking countries. He/She participated in the II Council of Lyon (1274). He/She died in the convent of Santa Cruz de Colonia, and his remains rest in the Church of San Andrés in the same city.

His philosophical works include comments on the works of Aristotle. His method is to paraphrase the text sometimes adding their own harvest digressions. This makes be sometimes difficult to determine own Alberto thinking on some issues. There are two series in these comments: the first that starts with physics and includes "Philophia realis" (naturalis, mathematica and metaphisica). His great work De animalibus which widely paraphrased the books of Aristotle on the subject deserves special mention.

The second series corresponds to the logical writings, which also includes responses to the books of Boecio Liber de sex principiis and the divisione.

Theological character are: treated about the nature of the good, the sum of creatures and the Summa Theologica, about which there are doubts.


Alberto defends the difference between theology and philosophy based on the principles on which each is based: Theology is based on divine revelation, while the philosophy is all based on reason. According to that philosophy has An eigenvalue, and not only on the basis of theology. Alberto is very respectful of the authority of the philosophers, who compares in philosophy, with the Holy fathers theology. But it knows comply with and distinguish this authority according to the competence of each one. Thus, in medicine it will prefer to Galen and Hippocrates; on scientific problems, it will give priority to Aristotle or another scholar. It is also known to Arab and Jewish philosophers such as Avicenna, Averroes, Alfarabi and Avicebron. CITES Maimonides and Boethius, Cicero latinos and others. His vast knowledge allowed him to confront doctrines of Aristotle with those of Plato and the neoplatonic.

San Alberto Magno.

It took position in favour of Aristotelianism, against the agustinismo defended in the school of the Franciscans, in thesis as the of the essential form, in the rejection of the seminal procurantis, and as for the doctrine of the lighting. On the concept of the esse and the Essentia is very noticeable the influence of Avicenna. Front of the pure potentiality of matter by Santo Tomas, Alberto teaches that the shape is already present in the raw material, but in germinal and confusing way.

His thinking on Mystical Theology is influenced by the neoplatonic Dionisio. It teaches that the divine is received through reason, but by the singular experience of pathos. Displays the path to a Trinitarian mysticism, as well as also the most traditional of the Mystic Christ and his wife.

In the field of scientific thought it gave empirical and causal notions a universal validity, earning the admiration of his contemporaries and even the people who today are approaching their writings.


SCHNEIDER, j.: Das Gute und die Liebe nach der Lehre Alberts des großen, Vienna, 1967.

RUELLO, f.: La notion de verite chez saint Albert le Grand et saint Thomas D'Aquin from 1243 to 1254, Paris, 1969.