How much more “incompatible” was rationalism with Catholicism compared to Protestant christianity?
Of course everyone learned in high school that the enlightenment was in direct opposition to Catholic dogma. In the 18th century it relentlessly attacked and ridiculed the Catholic Church, we all know enough examples – so this question may sound a bit naive.
The difference to me seems:
Rationalism has always been
- completely incompatible with Catholicism
- an important part of Protestant thought
But… the curious thing is: it starts right with the early enlightenment, with someone as as careful as the Catholic Descartes (when it comes to faith, he sounds more like a spokesman for the Middle Ages). His works ended upon the Index (stayed there till its abolition in the 20th century) and were also banned by royal decree… while Leibniz was revered in Protestantism.
I wonder if I overstate things?
Were there any instances in history were rationalism was tolerated by the Catholic Church? Did any other rationalist philosopher after Descartes make an attempt to reconcile his philosophy with Catholic faith?
Or were there were major conflicts between Protestant authorities and a Protestant rationalist (like Descartes vs. the Catholic Church)?
Edit (some clarification): I do understand rationalism as the Enlightenment philosophy that regards reason as the chief source and test of knowledge. Empiricists are obviously a part of the Enlightenment, too, but afaik they didn’t feel – like rationalists – to reserve an important place for God in their systems.
Empiricists could either chose to set the issue of God aside (like Locke (?)) and avoid controversy or be an infuriating skeptic (like Hume). For Empiricists it seems clear that they couldn’t get a positive reaction by Christians (that is, only something between neutral and hostile) – Protestant and Catholic alike.
Many rationalists OTOH, like Descartes and Leibniz, used God aggressively in their philosophies. So one could expect a positive reaction by Christians, because they gave God an important place and somewhat synthesized theism with the early modern philosophy. But this positive reaction seems solely a Protestant thing. The Catholic church didn’t want to hear anything of it.