Albert the Great (1193–1280) – A Great Personality Essay


What can be more great than to write an essay about the great person who is Albert the Great? The name alone creates an impression that this individual hides a lot of hidden talents. But who was this personality? “A German philosopher” – one will say. “He was the first one to isolate arsenic” – others will presume. But the reality is that both of these are right, even more of them as Albert the Great had a variety of talents for which he was called Doctor universalis (from Latin) and the greatest of all German philosophers in the Middle Ages.

In 1941 Albertus Magnus was named a patron saint of natural scientists by Pope Pius XII, this day of celebration is on the 15th of November.

Origin of a Brilliant Mind

Albert of Cologne (named after the town where he was living and died) was born in Swabia, Germany, the precise date is still unknown but some studied in the University of Padua, however, not for long as he quit and went to join the Dominicans. He has been worldwide known as a commentator to lots of works, among which there were Bible, Aristoteles’s works and Peter Lombard’s Sentences. Nevertheless, the main goal of his studying was to interpret works of an ancient Greek philosopher Aristoteles and explain them within dogma of Christianity. His intense work on the study of Christian as well as Greek and Arabic wisdom has brought him up to the most influential think-tankers of the Medieval Times.

All in all, what was that special about this personality? First of all, it was one of the most notable Christian philosophers, scientists and theologians who devoted their life to universal studies and, moreover, succeeded in all of them. His curiousness has been extended to the areas of natural science, music, zoology, metaphysics, logic, meteorology, mineralogy and his ideas were most likely to be brand new and original at that time. He did not feel ashamed of studying things from other wise minds but collected drops of knowledge from scientists all over the world which have helped him to explore the world at its best views.

Contribution to Philosophy

Person Thinking

Albert as one of the most influential philosophers of all times has overdone a huge work to bring Aristoteles’s thoughts to the Christian world. His scholastic method of philosophical and dialectical learning has been mastered in the Dominicans and formed Catholic philosophy. Albert has written tons of works on philosophical thinking as: De fato, De unitate intellectus, De natura boni, De bono, De sacramentis, De quattuor coaequaevis, De incarnatione, De homine, De XV problematibus, Problemata determinate, Summa theologiae de mirabilis scientia Dei (which was not finished). All of them have been evaluated as extremely important contributions to a new Western mind, claiming the natural order as a way of Christian development.

His comments on the logical thinking described in Aristoteles’s Organon have evoked debates in medieval philosophical culture and he had developed an astrological thinking as the central part of philosophical system, arguing that it is reasonable and very true to come to the harmony described in Christian life principles through understanding of celestial bodies in the universe.

If you ever happen to write about this personality, that is why you are probably reading this article right now, bear in mind that this person was a new and fresh bank with ideas, logical thinking and innovative inventions. He was not afraid to gather knowledge from everything he saw, his mind was not limited only to the territory of Europe as it might happen with people of that range but he was eager to learn during his whole life and the outcome of this hard work fascinates us even nowadays.

Albert the Great as a Theologian

Thanks to his passionate dedication to serving God, he has contributed to the Catholic religion as well as defended the orthodoxy of his pupil Thomas Aquinas. He has written the Summa Theologiae in two volumes to comment on the books of the Sentences by Peter Lombard. Throughout his life, Albert the Great was convinced in his belief in God as a creator of the world and everything surrounding us, nevertheless it did not prevent him from exploring it from a scientific point of view.

Discoveries in Physics

The great physics specialist has succeeded to comment on Aristotle’s Meteors and wrote his own works. He has been trying to investigate the conceptions of physical good and the good as a general state.

Although being a philosopher as well as theologian at first, he has revealed the principles of justice and placed God as a superiority of natural law on the first place though.

When it comes to alchemy, many people were convinced he was a magician as the great discoveries he made at that times were completely innovative and unknown to the Western world before. Apart from being known as a discoverer of arsenic element and experimentalist with photosensitive chemicals, he was believed to have invented the way to create a philosopher’s stone and revealed the secret to his pupil Thomas Aquinas. The latter is, however, quite unlikely as he died and his pupil has passed even earlier than him.

Nevertheless, Albert’s contributions to the chemistry are reflected in his writings also known as Theatrum Chemicum are of the greatest value for Middle Ages and today’s world.



Albert has published a world known Super Ethica to define the word “friendship” as he saw it. He commented on the definition of friendship by Aristoteles and extended this “harmony” to the concept of moral goodness, based on which the friendship can only exist. Dante was inspired by the writings of Albert and that is how he created his ethic system which included the famous doctrine of free will.

Albert the Great had many nicknames for amazing stories of his life activities. The bishop with the boots was his nickname for Europe trotting when being a bishop of Ratisbon. A patron of scientists has been honored to him not without a reason. The biography of Albertus Magnus, also known as a great lover of wisdom (as mentioned in Dante’s Divine Comedy) is a clear evidence how mighty the power of human wisdom is and being well armed with knowledge, one single individual can contribute at its best and devote their life to the search for life truth.

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