The dominant moralists had said that man must not seek his ultimate fulfillment
on earth; that he must renounce the pleasures of this life, whether as a
flesh-mortifying ascetic or as an abstemious toiler, for the sake of God,
salvation, and the life to come . . . . Whatever their concern with the
individual soul, the medievals had derogated or failed to discover the
individual man. In philosophy, the Platonists had denied his reality; in
practice, the feudal system had (by implication) treated the group—the caste,
the guild, etc.—as the operative social unit.