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SCHOLASTICISM. In the early modern period the term "Scholasticism" denoted the systematization of learning in schools and universities, mainly in philosophy and theology, occasionally extended to law and medicine. It may be characterized by its distinctive method and language and by its elaboration into competing systems of thought.


What is called "scholastic method" started with the disputations that were held in the schools of the Middle Ages. A disputation began with the posing of a question that could be answered either affirmatively or negatively. It involved two interlocutors, one on each side, and the method of arguing was basically that explained in the Topics of Aristotle (384322 b.c.e.). The topics or problems were drawn from a teaching text, usually in philosophy or theology, and expressed in Latin. The rules of reasoning were those concerned with concepts, propositions, and arguments and contained in other logical works of Aristotle. The proponent of the affirmative, called the defendant, stated his thesis in the form of a proposition, and then proceeded to develop arguments that supported his thesis. In response, the proponent of the negative, called the objector, developed counterarguments that disproved the defendant's thesis. To these counterarguments the defendant then replied by reformulating his initial arguments, introducing distinctions of meaning to meet the opponent's objections. The argument went back and forth in this form until either the objector was convinced that his difficulties had been met and he conceded the thesis, or the defendant was unsuccessful in his defense of the thesis and conceded defeat.

Scholastic method grew out of this procedure. Its basic instruments were definition, distinction, and argumentation, and its ideal goal was certain truth, although frequently it could reach only probable conclusions. By the time of the Renaissance a stylized format had been developed for meeting these objectives. First the thesis was stated, usually as a universal affirmative proposition. Then three steps were commonly envisaged, consisting of prenotes, proofs, and difficulties that might be brought against the thesis. In the prenotes the proponent provided definitions of the terms in the thesis, distinctions relating to them, and different positions being held on the thesis. Then various proofs were offered, first from authority, such as the Bible or a noted philosopher, then from reason, using varieties of argument. Finally, objections against the thesis were restated and resolved, usually on the basis of distinctions introduced earlier in the presentation.


The development of Scholasticism coincided with the founding of universities in the late twelfth century and of religious orders such as Dominicans and Franciscans in the early thirteenth century. In the universities newly translated texts of Aristotle provided the basis for a system of thought known as Aristotelianism. Additionally, religious orders had their favorite doctors, whose teachings were also systematized.DominicansfollowedThomasAquinas (12251274), whose system was called Thomism, and Franciscans followed Duns Scotus (1266?1308) and William of Ockham (c. 12851347), whose systems were called Scotism and Ockhamism, respectively. A feature of medieval universities was public disputations in which doctors of these schools debated before the student body. Different though their systems were, the discourse was made possible by the participants' reliance on Aristotle's method of logic.

The language of Scholasticism was a technical Latin, with specialized vocabularies suited to particular subject matters. Geographically, Scholasticism flourished in Italy and on the Iberian Peninsula, in France, Germany, the Low Countries, and in the British Isles. The leading schools were the University of Oxford, noted for philosophy, the University of Paris, for theology, and the University of Bologna, for law and medicine.

In the late twelfth and thirteenth centuries Augustinianism, a theological form of Neoplatonism advanced by Augustine of Hippo (354430), was influential. In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Latin Averroism, a teaching of Averroës (Ibn Rushd; 11261198) that denied the immortality of the human soul, assumed importance, mainly at the University of Padua. Ockham's insistence that universal natures cannot be known in things, but only their names (nomina), led to his system's being known as nominalism. The opposing systems, which held that natures could be known to be real (realia), were then seen as various forms of realism. Debates between realists and nominalists were frequent in university disputations.


Scholasticism reached its highest state of development during the Renaissance, roughly from about 1450 to about 1650. The first phase, to the mid-sixteenth century, was focused in Italy and Spain and is known to historians as "Second Scholasticism." The second phase saw its development by the Jesuits and its extension to the schools of northern Europe, Protestant as well as Catholic.

In the first phase Thomism, Scotism, and nominalism developed extensively. Thomism was advanced mainly by Dominicans, of whom the most significant were the Italians Tommaso de Vio Cajetan (14691534) and Giovanni Crisostomi Javelli (1470c. 1538), and the Spaniards Francisco de Vitoria (c. 14861546) and Domingo de Soto (14951560). Cajetan was the most profound synthesizer of St. Thomas's theology, whereas Javelli is best known for his teaching manuals in philosophy. Vitoria and Soto worked extensively on social and political thought, arguing that natives in America had souls and therefore had the same rights as Europeans.

Scotism was largely the preserve of the Franciscans, who adopted Scotus as their order's doctor in 1539. Before that, a revival of Scotist teachings had been promoted by the French Peter Tartaretus (d. c. 1532), and the Italian Antonio Trombetta (14361517). Trombetta was a critic of Cajetan and is known especially for having combated Averroism at Padua.

A nominalist revival radiated out from the University of Paris to other countries, including Spain and the Low Countries. Its chief promoters were Gerard of Brussels (d. 1502) and the Scot John Major (14691550), both teaching at Paris, and Johannes Eck (14861543), whose career was mainly in Germany. Among Major's students were Pedro Ciruelo (14701554) and Gaspar Lax (14871560), the latter well known for his manuals in logic. Major's school made significant contributions to the study of motion and prepared the way for the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century.

The second phase of the Renaissance began with the founding of the Jesuit order in 1540. Jesuits blended humanism with Scholasticism and introduced methods of teaching that had profound effects throughout Europe. In general, they subscribed to Thomism but introduced variations within that system. Their most important school was the Collegio Romano, located in Rome, which was staffed initially by Iberians, notably Franciscus Toletus (15321596) and Gabriel Vázquez (15491604), who wrote influential textbooks. Their most outstanding teacher was Francisco Suárez (15481617), whose version of Thomism is referred to as Suarezianism.

Although Martin Luther (14831546) held a disputation against Scholasticism in 1517, it came to occupy a central place in Protestant universities within a hundred years. This was true whether the universities leaned to Calvinism, as in Heidelberg and Marburg, or to Lutheranism, as in Wittenberg, Altdorf, and Helmstedt. The basic approaches were those of Philipp Melanchthon (14971560), who composed textbooks on physics, psychology, and ethics at Wittenberg, and Jacob Schegk (15111587), who commented on Aristotle's logic and natural philosophy at Tübingen.

For metaphysics, Jesuit textbooks, particularly Suarez's, were used initially but were later replaced by Protestant manuals. Johannes Caselius (15351613), working at Helmstedt, wrote early texts in the Aristotelian tradition pioneered by Schegk. Works showing Suárez's influence include those of Jakob Martini (15701649) at Wittenberg and Christoph Scheibler (15891653) at Giessen, the latter called the Protestant Suárez. For systematic thought, notable works are those of Bartholomaeus Keckermann (15711608), who taught at Heidelberg and Gdańsk and wrote manuals for all of philosophy and science. Johann Heinrich Alsted (15881638) followed Keckermann's teachings with his own Encyclopediae in 1620 and 1630. At Leiden, Franco Burgersdijk (15901635) wrote similar compendia for Scholastic philosophy that were widely used throughout Protestant Europe.


By the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Scholasticism had run its course. The way of thought it had spawned, with its many "-isms," had become overburdened and toppled of its own weight. Disputations that had earlier held great interest had by then degenerated into making subtle distinctions and quibbling endlessly over terms. Scholastic method continued to be employed in religious houses of study and in universities, however, though in the latter it gradually gave way to new methods based on experimentation and mathematical reasoning. This transition is seen graphically in the early writings of Galileo Galilei (15641642) and Isaac Newton (16421727). Galileo's Latin notebooks on logic and natural philosophy, written at Pisa between 1588 and 1592, were couched in the language of Scholastic disputations. The same can be said of Newton's Trinity notebooks, written at Cambridge in the early 1660s.

Scholasticism was transplanted to the New World by religious orders in time for the founding of institutions of higher learning in North and South America and the Philippines. Those in Mexico and the Philippines followed the teachings of Spanish Scholastics, mainly from Salamanca and Alcalá, whereas American colleges, such as Harvard, Yale, and William and Mary, reflected teachings current in Protestant universities in England, Scotland, Germany, and the Low Countries.

See also Aristotelianism ; Galileo Galilei ; Humanists and Humanism ; Jesuits ; Newton, Isaac ; Renaissance ; Universities .


Marthaler, Berard, et al., eds. "Scholastic Philosophy," "Scholastic Terms and Axioms," and "Scholasticism." In New Catholic Encyclopedia. 2nd ed. Vol. 12, pp. 749779. New York, 2003. Very complete treatment.

Nauert, Charles G., Jr. Humanism and the Culture of Renaissance Europe. Cambridge, U.K., 1995.

Rummel, Erika. The Humanist-Scholastic Debate in the Renaissance and Reformation, Cambridge, Mass., and London, 1995.

Wallace, William. "Newton's Early Writings." In Newton and the New Direction in Science: Proceedings of the Cracow Conference, 25 to 28 May 1987, edited by George V. Coyne et al., pp. 2344. Vatican City, 1988.

. "Scholasticism." In Encyclopedia of the Renaissance, edited by Paul F. Grendler, vol. 5, pp. 422425. New York, 1999. See also the same author's entries on "Aristotle and Aristotelianism," vol. 1, pp. 107113, and "Logic," vol. 3, pp. 443446.

Wallace, William, trans. Galileo's Early Notebooks: The Physical Questions. Notre Dame, Ind., 1977.

Wallace, William A. "Aristotle in the Middle Ages." In Dictionary of the Middle Ages, edited by Joseph R. Strayer, vol. 1, pp. 456469. New York, 1989.

William A. Wallace

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Scholasticism is best understood not as a set of doctrines, but as a method, or body of intellectual practices. In particular, Scholasticism developed as the method through which Christian thinkers of the patristic and medieval periods gradually transformed the narratives of Scripture into a theological system. Scholastic method, then, has its roots in the earliest Christian times. It reached its fullest development in the schools of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. The disintegrating Scholasticism of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries laid the foundations for modern forms of intellectual discourse.

Biblical and Patristic Roots

In Matthew 5:17 Jesus declares, "Do not think that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfill (plērōsai )" (Douay-Rheims version). Christianity thus stands in a complex relationship of continuity and discontinuity with regard to its Jewish sources. The Christian faith views itself as preserving the Jewish heritage in its integrity, yet at a higher level. The precise definition of this "fulfillment"that is to say, of the relationship between the Old and the New Testamentswas one of the central tasks of the first Christian thinkers, the church fathers. In addition, tensions that occur within the narratives and teachings of each of the two Testaments (in the four Gospels, for example) had to be explained and smoothed over as well. Some of the strategies that the church fathers used in order to harmonize the texts of Scripture were themselves scriptural, such as allegorization, which patristic thinkers widely employed to read the Old Testament in light of the New. Other techniques, however, were derived from nonscriptural sources; most importantly, the church fathers borrowed philosophical terminology of Greco-Roman provenance in order to articulate certain elements of the scriptural narrative in a systematic fashion, that is to say, as "doctrine." Thus, for example, occasional references to God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit came to be transformed into the doctrine of the Trinity, which was defined, in the Latin West, by means of the Greco-Roman philosophical terms of substance and person.

Unlike their Greek counterparts, the Latin church fathers did not produce a comprehensive account of the Christian faith in a complete theological system. Rather, they limited themselves to discussions of specific areas of theology, such as the Trinity or the relationship between grace and free will. And although they availed themselves of methods of textual synthesis and system-building, they rarely reflected upon these techniques in a detailed fashion. For many centuries, St. Augustine of Hippo's (354430) treatise On Christian Teaching remained the standard text on Christian methodology.

The Early Middle Ages

The writings of the church fathers were soon subjected to the same synthesizing approach that they themselves had applied to Scripture. From the fifth century onward, Christian thinkers garnered sententiae "sentences" or authoritative quotationsfrom the writings of their predecessors. The resulting sentence collections gave rise to two challenges that were crucial in honing the emerging Scholastic method: first, the task of reconciling the often divergent teachings of one or several church fathers on a given theological topic, and of doing so in light of the scriptural texts upon which these teachings were built; and second, the task of arranging the theological topics in a meaningful order.

In subsequent centuries, the textual basis upon which this method was brought to bear became even broader; this increased breadth in turn called for improved strategies of structuring the material. Thus, the Carolingian era saw the introduction of Eastern theology into the Christian West, especially through the writings of John Scottus Eriugena (c. 810c. 877). But around the same time, Christian thinkers also began an ambitious project of systematically elucidating the whole of Scripture with pertinent quotations lifted from authoritative writers of the tradition. In the Glossa ordinaria, or "Standard Gloss," the text of the Bible was presented with interlinear notes to explain difficult words and phrases, while marginal annotations helped the reader understand the theological content of key passages. The Glossa ordinaria constituted a central step in the Scholastic project of translating the "stories" of Scripture into a theological system. It continued to be improved by successive generations of theologians, reaching its definitive shape only in the twelfth century.

The Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries

In the twelfth century, the sentence collection became the central genre of theological writing, overshadowing the Scripture commentary and the treatise. A theologian now had to prove his competence by presenting a comprehensive synthesis of traditional doctrine. A number of factors flowed together to produce this situation, especially the inherent dynamics of the development of the Christian intellectual tradition and the increasing importance of urban schools as centers of education. In the monasteriesthe paradigmatic institutional setting of earlier medieval writerseducation and learning served a contemplative goal: the monks saw themselves as pursuing salutaris scientia, "salvific knowledge." In the schools, on the other hand, knowledge came to be conceivable as an end in itself, dissociated from spirituality. The "master" teaching at the school was neither a monk nor a bishop entrusted with the care of souls, but an intellectual. He competed with masters at other schools for students, who judged his performance based not least upon how effectively he presented his subject matter.

The tradition of the sentence collections culminated in Peter Lombard's (c. 10951160) Sententiarum libri IV (Book of sentences), which quickly became the standard theological textbook of the medieval schoolsto the chagrin of more conservative thinkers, such as the English bishop Robert Grosseteste (c. 11681253), who believed that theology should remain centered on the study of Scripture. In the Sentences, Peter Lombard divides theology into four books, logically starting with God and the Trinity in book one, then moving on to Creation, the human being, and the Fall in book two, treating Christology in book three, and concluding with the sacraments in book four. The books were further broken down into chapters, with a table of contents placed at the beginning of the work to facilitate its consultationa remarkable innovation at the time. Moreover, Lombard indicated the internal structure of each chapter by means of red subheadings, so-called rubrics. Within each chapter, a theological question is posed, then answered provisionally by means of scriptural and patristic quotations that often remain discordant, therefore requiring reconciliation. This harmonization is effected through detailed examination of the texts, determination of each author's precise meaning, and careful weighing up of arguments. Lombard usually attempts to formulate a consensus position in a short paragraph at the end of the chapter.

From the beginning of the thirteenth century until the early sixteenth, the history of Scholasticism can to a large extent be written as the history of commentaries upon the Book of Sentences. In the commentaries of the theologians of the thirteenth century, Scholastic method reached its most developed stage. Under the influence of newly available Aristotelian methodology, theology came to be defined rigorously as scientia divina, "divine science." This scientia divina was conceived as being distinct both from philosophy (taught in a separate faculty at the recently founded universities) and from sacra pagina, that is to say, "sacred page" or Scripture commentary. Furthermore, in the commentaries upon the Sentences, the dialectical structure of Peter Lombard's analyses was formalized, to yield the schema with which every reader of Thomas Aquinas's (c. 12251274) Summa theologiae is familiar (the Summa is, in fact, a revised version of Aquinas's own Sentences commentary): question; arguments con; arguments pro; solution by means of a distinction in which both sides are usually shown to have seen parts of the truth; response to the opening arguments. The "divine science" of the Summa theologiae leaves the narrative structure of Scripture behind completely, replacing it with a system that articulates all the elements of the Christian faith as parts of a coherent wholea whole that represents the methodically generated sum total of all the authoritative voices of the tradition.

The Waning of Scholasticism

Already toward the beginning of the fourteenth century, however, the intellectual practices of high Scholasticismsuch as the question schema just describedwere disintegrating. The problems of Christian thought, together with its textual bases, had reached such a degree of complexity that a method designed to integrate discordant voices into a coherent tradition could no longer succeed. Authors now began to emphasize their originality, choosing a format for their presentation that allowed them greater independence. Thus, the "question" dissolved, and commentators on the Sentences used the genre for increasingly autonomous statements of doctrine.

See also Aristotelianism ; Christianity ; Logic .



Biblia latina cum Glossa ordinaria: Facsimile Reprint of the Editio Princeps, Adolph Rusch of Strassburg 1480/81. Edited by Karlfried Froehlich and Margaret T. Gibson. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 1992.

Lombard, Peter. Sententiae in IV libris distinctae. Edited by Ignatius Brady. 2 vols. Grottaferrata, Italy: Editiones Collegii S. Bonaventurae Ad Claras Aquas, 1971/1981.

St. Augustine of Hippo. On Christian Teaching. Edited and translated by R. P. H. Green. Oxford: Clarendon, 1995. Translation of De doctrina christiana.

Thomas Aquinas. Summa theologica. 5 vols. Translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province. Westminster, Md.: Christian Classics, 1981.


Froehlich, Karlfried, and Margaret T. Gibson. Biblia latina cum Glossa ordinaria: Introduction to the Facsimile Reprint of the Editio Princeps, Adolph Rusch of Strassburg, 148081. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 1992.

Grabmann, Martin. Die Geschichte der scholastischen Methode. 2 vols. Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 19091911. Reprint, Berlin: Akademie-Verlag, 1988.

Rosemann, Philipp W. Peter Lombard. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

. Understanding Scholastic Thought with Foucault. New York: St. Martin's, 1999.

Weijers, Olga. Le maniement du savoir: Pratiques intellectuelles à l'époque des premières universités (XIIIeXIVe siècles). Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 1996.

Philipp W. Rosemann

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scholasticism (skōlăs´tĬsĬzəm), philosophy and theology of Western Christendom in the Middle Ages. Virtually all medieval philosophers of any significance were theologians, and their philosophy is generally embodied in their theological writings. There were numerous scholastic philosophies in the Middle Ages, but basic to all scholastic thought was the conjunction of faith and reason. For the greatest of the scholastics, this meant the use of reason to deepen the understanding of what is believed on faith and ultimately to give a rational content to faith. It was in the course of applying reason to faith that medieval thinkers developed and taught important philosophical ideas not directly related to theology.

Influences on Scholasticism

The greatest of earlier Christian philosophers had been St. Augustine, who saw in Plato (or in Neoplatonism) a system congenial with Christianity. This influence combined with that of the Pseudo-Dionysius (see Dionysius the Areopagite, Saint) to color the speculations of Western thinkers with Neoplatonic ideas. Much knowledge of ancient philosophy came to the early scholastics through the writings of Boethius. John Scotus Erigena continued the tradition of Neoplatonism in the 9th cent., adding to it certain mystical notions of his own.

Early Scholasticism

The beginning of scholasticism can be identified in the methods used by civil and canon lawyers of the 11th and 12th cent. to reconcile seemingly contradictory statements. St. Anselm in the late 11th cent. took as his life's motto "fides quaerens intelligentiam" [faith seeking understanding], and sought to use reason to illuminate the content of belief. An example of this is his famous ontological proof of the existence of God, based on the assertion that the highest being of which our minds can conceive must exist in reality.

The most important philosophical problem in the 12th cent. was the question of the universal (see realism). Opposing both the extreme nominalism of Roscelin and the realism of William of Champeaux, Peter Abelard taught a moderate doctrine; he recognized the universal as a symbol to which human beings have attached a commonly agreed significance, based on the similarity they perceive in different objects. Abelard's emphasis on the powers of reason, which he exaggerated in his early years, led to his condemnation by Bernard of Clairvaux. John of Salisbury, an English scholar noted for his humanistic studies, was representative of the important work done at the noted school at Chartres.

Hugh of St. Victor, a German scholar and mystic, urged the study of every branch of learning. His treatise On Sacraments was the first summa, an important medieval literary genre. The summae were comprehensive, intricately arranged works on theology and philosophy; they were characterized by their wide scope and vast learning. The Book of Sentences, however, assembled by Peter Lombard in the early 12th cent., was to become the classical source book for medieval thinkers. It was a compilation of sources from the church fathers, especially St. Augustine, and in subsequent years virtually every great medieval thinker wrote a commentary on the Sentences.

The Golden Age

The 13th cent. is generally regarded as the golden age of medieval philosophy. It was marked by two important developments: the growth of universities, especially at Paris and Oxford (see colleges and universities), and the introduction of Aristotle into the West. Until then, only the early works of Aristotle had been known to Western scholars, and those in poor translations; between 1120 and 1220 virtually the whole body of Aristotle's work was rendered into Latin, mainly from Arabic translations. The impact on Western thinkers of this vast body of systematic thought and organized research and analysis was enormous. Also important was the influence of Avicenna and Averroës, the two Arabic commentators whose interpretations of Aristotle were translated as well.

The Univ. of Paris became a leading center for the study of Aristotle and attracted scholars from all over Europe; the Dominicans and Franciscans, popular new religious orders, played a leading role in the expansion of the universities and the development of scholasticism. It was in the universities that the two traditional forms of scholastic literature were developed: the question (a thesis that is posed and defended against objections) and the commentary. Although Aristotle's work was of central significance in the development of scholasticism, it did not make its way without difficulties. In 1210 and 1215 papal authority prohibited the teaching of some of Aristotle's works at the Univ. of Paris, although by 1240 the ban was no longer enforced.

The first Western Aristotelian was Albertus Magnus, who was an important student of the natural sciences as well. But the leading figure in the movement to "Christianize Aristotle" was St. Thomas Aquinas, a Dominican and one of the greatest intellectual figures of the Middle Ages. He produced a vast body of philosophical work, which was remarkably precise, detailed, and organized. Denying any basic conflict between faith and reason, Aquinas sought to demonstrate that reason could lead man to many of the great spiritual truths and could help him to understand those truths that he accepted on faith. He combated secular interpretations of Aristotle, especially "Latin Averroism," the doctrines of Siger de Brabant. In particular, Aquinas attacked the Averroist teaching that denied the immortality of the individual soul.

Aquinas himself was vigorously opposed by the Franciscans, led by St. Bonaventure. Bonaventure, rooted in an older theological tradition, feared the excesses of reason in its contact with faith and almost succeeded in having Aquinas' teachings condemned at Paris. Another opponent of Aquinas was Duns Scotus, who developed a new scholastic synthesis. He argued that natural reason is limited in its ability to penetrate matters of faith, thus separating philosophy and theology.

Continuation of the Scholastic Tradition

William of Occam, another Franciscan, is generally regarded as the last of the great medieval philosophers. By firmly separating philosophy and theology and insisting that there is no rational ground for faith, he brought an end to that synthesis of faith and reason that characterized the greatest scholastic thought. After the 15th cent. the reputation of medieval philosophy declined. But the break between medieval philosophy and Renaissance thought was mainly in the area of metaphysics; scholastic tradition and methods continued to be followed in politics and law—in canon law, civil law, and common law and, later, in the development of international law.

In the late 15th cent. the Dominicans began a Thomistic revival; its brilliant leader was the reformer Cajetan. There was also a living Scotist tradition, and every Catholic university had Thomists and Scotists in its theological faculty. After the 18th cent. the secularization of the universities resulted in the suppression of the theological faculties, and the old tradition was broken. The Scotists always suffered from the very bad state of the text of Duns Scotus' works, and in the 20th cent. the Franciscan order undertook a complete and authoritative edition of them.


Contemporary interest in scholasticism, particularly among the neoscholastics, began as a concerted effort toward the end of the 19th cent. at the Univ. of Louvain. Impetus was given to the movement by the papal encyclical of Leo XIII, Aeterni Patris (1879), which called upon Roman Catholics to renew the study of the scholastics, especially St. Thomas Aquinas. Neoscholastics are not unanimous in their approach, but do generally agree that their philosophical study must not proceed in a manner that is neglectful of their Christian faith. Among the foremost neoscholastics have been the Frenchmen Jacques Maritain and Étienne Gilson.


See E. Panofsky, Gothic Architecture and Scholasticism (1951, repr. 1963); J. Pieper, Scholasticism (tr. 1960, repr. 1964); J. R. Weinberg, A Short History of Medieval Philosophy (1964); J. Pelikan, The Growth of Medieval Theology (1978).

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Scholasticism. A Christian intellectual movement which endeavoured to penetrate, and perhaps to bring into a single system, the fundamental (especially revealed) articles of faith by use of reason. It flourished in the 13th cent., and is characterized by the production of Summae (i.e. summations) of theology and philosophy. The best known of these are the Summae of Thomas Aquinas. The method of scholasticism was that of disputation, in which problems were divided into parts, objections were raised and answered, and a conclusion was reached. Scholasticism was thus an assertion of the responsibility of reason in relation to revelation.

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scholasticism Medieval philosophy that attempted to join faith to reason by synthesizing theology with classical Greek and Roman thought. Scholasticism was first explored by John Scotus Erigena in the 9th century, and by Anselm of Canterbury in the 11th century. Its greatest thinkers were Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century, and Duns Scotus at the turn of the 14th century.

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scholasticism the system of theology and philosophy taught in medieval European universities, based on Aristotelian logic and the writings of the early Christian Fathers and having a strong emphasis on tradition and dogma.

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