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SCHOLASTICISM is a method of critical thought which dominated
teaching by the academics ("scholastics," or "schoolmen") of medieval
universities in Europe from about 1100 to 1700, and a program of
employing that method in articulating and defending dogma in an
increasingly pluralistic context. It originated as an outgrowth of and
a departure from Christian monastic schools at the earliest European
universities. The first institutions in the West to be considered
universities were established in Italy, France, Spain, and England in
the late 11th and 12th centuries for the study of arts , law ,
medicine , and theology , such as
Schola Medica Salernitana , the
As a program, scholasticism began as an attempt at harmonization on
the part of medieval Christian thinkers, to harmonize the various
authorities of their own tradition, and to reconcile Christian
theology with classical and late antiquity philosophy, especially that
Some of the main figures of scholasticism include Anselm of
Peter Abelard ,
Alexander of Hales ,
* 1 Etymology
* 2 History
* 2.1 Early
* 3 Scholastic method * 4 Scholastic instruction * 5 See also * 6 References * 7 Primary sources * 8 Secondary sources * 9 Further reading * 10 External links
The terms "scholastic" and "scholasticism" derive from the
The first significant renewal of learning in the West came with the
Carolingian Renaissance of the
Early Middle Ages .
During this period, knowledge of
This period saw the beginning of the 'rediscovery ' of many Greek
works which had been lost to the
At the same time,
Anselm of Laon systematized the production of the
gloss on Scripture, followed by the rise to prominence of dialectic
(the middle subject of the medieval trivium ) in the work of
The 13th and early 14th centuries are generally seen as the high period of scholasticism. The early 13th century witnessed the culmination of the recovery of Greek philosophy . Schools of translation grew up in Italy and Sicily, and eventually in the rest of Europe. Powerful Norman kings gathered men of knowledge from Italy and other areas into their courts as a sign of their prestige. William of Moerbeke 's translations and editions of Greek philosophical texts in the middle half of the thirteenth century helped form a clearer picture of Greek philosophy, particularly of Aristotle, than was given by the Arabic versions on which they had previously relied, and which had distorted or obscured the relation between Platonic and Aristotelian systems of philosophy. His work formed the basis of the major commentaries that followed.
Universities developed in the large cities of Europe during this
period, and rival clerical orders within the church began to battle
for political and intellectual control over these centers of
educational life. The two main orders founded in this period were the
By contrast, the Dominican order, a teaching order founded by St
Dominic in 1215, to propagate and defend Christian doctrine, placed
more emphasis on the use of reason and made extensive use of the new
Aristotelian sources derived from the East and Moorish Spain. The
great representatives of Dominican thinking in this period were
Main article: Second scholasticism
Main article: Lutheran scholasticism
Main article: Reformed scholasticism
Following the Reformation, Calvinists largely adopted the scholastic method of theology, while differing regarding sources of authority and content of theology.
Main article: Neo-scholasticism
The revival and development from the second half of the 19th century of medieval scholastic philosophy is sometimes called neo- Thomism .
As J. A. Weisheipl O.P. emphasizes, within the Dominican Order Thomistic scholasticism has been continuous since the time of Aquinas: " Thomism was always alive in the Dominican Order, small as it was after the ravages of the Reformation, the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic occupation. Repeated legislation of the General Chapters, beginning after the death of St. Thomas, as well as the Constitutions of the Order, required all Dominicans to teach the doctrine of St. Thomas both in philosophy and in theology."
Thomistic scholasticism or scholastic Thomism identifies with the philosophical and theological tradition stretching back to the time of St. Thomas. It focuses not only on exegesis of the historical Aquinas but also on the articulation of a rigorous system of orthodox Thomism to be used as an instrument of critique of contemporary thought. Due to its suspicion of attempts to harmonize Aquinas with non-Thomistic categories and assumptions, Scholastic Thomism has sometimes been called "Strict Observance Thomism." A discussion of recent and current Thomistic scholasticism can be found in _La Metafisica di san Tommaso d'Aquino e i suoi interpreti_ (2002) by Battista Mondin, which includes such figures as Sofia Vanni Rovighi (1908-1990), Cornelio Fabro (1911-1995), Carlo Giacon (1900-1984), Tomas Tyn O.P. (1950-1990), Abelardo Lobato O.P. (1925-2012), Leo Elders (1926- ) and Giovanni Ventimiglia (1964- ) among others. Fabro in particular emphasizes Aquinas' originality, especially with respect to the _actus essendi_ or act of existence of finite beings by participating in being itself. Other scholars such as those involved with the "Progetto Tommaso" seek to establish an objective and universal reading of Aquinas' texts.
Thomistic scholasticism in the English speaking world went into
decline in the 1970s when the Thomistic revival that had been
A renewed interest in the "scholastic" way of doing philosophy has recently awoken in the confines of the analytic philosophy . Attempts emerged to combine elements of scholastic and analytic methodology in pursuit of a contemporary philosophical synthesis. Proponents of various incarnations of this approach include Anthony Kenny , Peter King , Thomas Williams or David Oderberg . Analytical Thomism can be seen as a pioneer part of this movement.
The scholasticists would choose a book by a renowned scholar, _auctor _ (author), as a subject for investigation. By reading it thoroughly and critically, the disciples learned to appreciate the theories of the author. Other documents related to the book would be referenced, such as Church councils, papal letters and anything else written on the subject, be it ancient or contemporary. The points of disagreement and contention between multiple sources would be written down in individual sentences or snippets of text, known as sententiae .
Once the sources and points of disagreement had been laid out through a series of dialectics , the two sides of an argument would be made whole so that they would be found to be in agreement and not contradictory. (Of course, sometimes opinions would be totally rejected, or new positions proposed.) This was done in two ways.
The first was through philological analysis. Words were examined and argued to have multiple meanings. It was also considered that the auctor might have intended a certain word to mean something different. Ambiguity could be used to find common ground between two otherwise contradictory statements.
The second was through logical analysis, which relied on the rules of formal logic — as they were known at the time — to show that contradictions did not exist but were subjective to the reader.
Scholastic instruction consisted of several elements. The first was the _lectio_: a teacher would read an authoritative text followed by a commentary, but no questions were permitted. This was followed by the _meditatio_ (meditation or reflection) in which students reflected on and appropriated the text. Finally, in the _quaestio_ students could ask questions (_quaestiones_) that might have occurred to them during _meditatio_. Eventually the discussion of _questiones_ became a method of inquiry apart from the _lectio_ and independent of authoritative texts. _Disputationes_ were arranged to resolve controversial _quaestiones_.
Questions to be disputed were ordinarily announced beforehand, but students could propose a question to the teacher unannounced – _disputationes de quodlibet_. In this case, the teacher responded and the students rebutted; on the following day the teacher, having used notes taken during the disputation, summarised all arguments and presented his final position, riposting all rebuttals.
The _quaestio_ method of reasoning was initially used especially when two authoritative texts seemed to contradict one another. Two contradictory propositions would be considered in the form of an either/or question, and each part of the question would have to be approved (_sic_) or denied (_non_). Arguments for the position taken would be presented in turn, followed by arguments against the position, and finally the arguments against would be refuted. This method forced scholars to consider opposing viewpoints and defend their own arguments against them.
* ^ See Steven P. Marone, "
Medieval philosophy in context" in A. S.
McGrade, ed., _The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Philosophy_