What is necessary for Scholasticism?

Scholasticism had many traits. It’s interesting to lay them out and then determine how many are necessary for an activity to be called scholasticism and how many were just historical contingencies.

In thinking of Scholasticism I’m thinking chiefly of its high-era between Abelard and the Reformation. It continued to be a dominant force for centuries after this, arguably till Vatican II, which if true means that Scholasticism died only recently and perhaps is simply dormant.

a.) A theological movement or era.

b.) Advanced by clerics, initially clerics of dynamic new orders (St. Thomas, for example, entered the Dominican order within 25 years of Dominic’s death.)

c.) sought to create a unified system out of theological, philosophical, logical and scientific authorities.

d.) disagreed over who should play the role of a preeminent or guiding authority, though they agreed that the field was narrow. Either Aristotle or Augustine. Lombard (and later, Thomas) was taken as writing the central textbook for theology. After Albert, Thomas, ans Scotus (particularly in the minimalization or outright refutation of the idea of divine illumination) the issue was decided in favor of Aristotle.

e.) took as its chief method the disputed question and textual commentary.

f.) was almost entirely centered in universities and houses of study.

g.) gave moral philosophy a pride of place, as it was an aid to preaching and contemplation of God. The moral section of any summa- format work tended to be the largest section.

h.) was done by persons who prayed constantly, fasted for weeks on end, begged for food, etc. Most would say mass daily.

i.) was characterized by extreme, far reaching disagreements over many fundamental points. Forget the well-known disputes over Franciscans and Dominicans – riots could erupt over disputes between Albertists and Thomists.

j.) lived in a world where all that was known about nature would have fit on a modest sized bookshelf. Likewise for the knowledge of logic and even philosophy.

h.) had a large agreement over the central texts that were to be commented on.

i.) one or two languages sufficed to get access to almost all the relevant scholarly literature.

j.) the participants had a common grammatical, logical, and mathematical training.

k.) Areas of research specialization were very narrow. The university offered only three main degrees, and theology was seen as a single area of research.

%d bloggers like this: