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 theology within the monastic schools at the earliest European universities.[1] The rise of scholasticism was closely associated with the rise of the 12th and 13th century schools that developed into the earliest modern universities, including those in Italy, France, Spain and England.[2]

Scholasticism is not so much a philosophy or a theology as a method of learning, as it places a strong emphasis on dialectical reasoning to extend knowledge by inference and to resolve contradictions. Scholastic thought is also known for rigorous conceptual analysis and the careful drawing of distinctions. In the classroom and in writing, it often takes the form of explicit disputation; a topic drawn from the tradition is broached in the form of a question, opponents' responses are given, a counterproposal is argued and opponents' arguments rebutted. Because of its emphasis on rigorous dialectical method, scholasticism was eventually applied to many other fields of study.[3][4]

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 of Aristotle but also of Neoplatonism.[5] (See also Christian apologetics.)

Some of the main figures of scholasticism include Anselm of Canterbury (the "father of scholasticism"[6]), Peter Abelard, Alexander of Hales, Albertus Magnus, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham, Bonaventure, and Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas's masterwork Summa Theologica is considered to be the pinnacle of scholastic, medieval, and Christian philosophy;[7] it began while Aquinas was regent master at the studium provinciale of Santa Sabina in Rome, the forerunner of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum. Important work in the scholastic tradition has been carried on well past Aquinas's time, for instance by Francisco Suárez and Luis de Molina, and also among Lutheran and Reformed thinkers. The historical legacy of scholasticism lay not in specific scientific discoveries, for these were not made,[8] but laying the foundations for the development of natural science.[9]

Laurentius de Voltolina 001
14th-century image of a university lecture


The terms "scholastic" and "scholasticism" derive from the Latin word scholasticus, the Latinized form of the Greek σχολαστικός (scholastikos), an adjective derived from σχολή (scholē), "school".[10] Scholasticus means "of or pertaining to schools". The "scholastics" were, roughly, "schoolmen".


The foundations of Christian scholasticism were laid by Boethius through his logical and theological essays,[3] and later forerunners (and then companions) to scholasticism were Islamic Ilm al-Kalām, literally "science of discourse",[11] and Jewish philosophy, especially Jewish Kalam.[12]

Early Scholasticism

The first significant renewal of learning in the West came with the Carolingian Renaissance of the Early Middle Ages. Charlemagne, advised by Peter of Pisa and Alcuin of York, attracted the scholars of England and Ireland. By decree in AD 787, he established schools in every abbey in his empire. These schools, from which the name scholasticism is derived, became centers of medieval learning.[13]

During this period, knowledge of Ancient Greek had vanished in the West except in Ireland, where its teaching and use was widely dispersed in the monastic schools.[14] Irish scholars had a considerable presence in the Frankish court, where they were renowned for their learning.[15] Among them was Johannes Scotus Eriugena (815–877), one of the founders of scholasticism.[16] Eriugena was the most significant Irish intellectual of the early monastic period and an outstanding philosopher in terms of originality.[15] He had considerable familiarity with the Greek language and translated many works into Latin, affording access to the Cappadocian Fathers and the Greek theological tradition.[15]

The other three founders of scholasticism were the 11th-century scholars Peter Abelard, Archbishop Lanfranc of Canterbury and Archbishop Anselm of Canterbury.[16]

This period saw the beginning of the 'rediscovery' of many Greek works which had been lost to the Latin West. As early as the 10th century, scholars in Spain had begun to gather translated texts and, in the latter half of that century, began transmitting them to the rest of Europe.[17] After a successful burst of Reconquista in the 12th century, Spain opened even further for Christian scholars, and as these Europeans encountered Islamic philosophy, they opened a wealth of Arab knowledge of mathematics and astronomy.[18] Scholars such as Adelard of Bath traveled to Spain and Sicily, translating works on astronomy and mathematics, including the first complete translation of Euclid's Elements into Latin.[19]

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 Abelard. Peter Lombard produced a collection of Sentences, or opinions of the Church Fathers and other authorities[20]

High Scholasticism

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.[21] 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. Edward Grant writes "Not only was the structure of the Arabic language radically different from that of Latin, but some Arabic versions had been derived from earlier Syriac translations and were thus twice removed from the original Greek text. Word-for-word translations of such Arabic texts could produce tortured readings. By contrast, the structural closeness of Latin to Greek, permitted literal, but intelligible, word-for-word translations."[18]

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 Franciscans and the Dominicans. The Franciscans were founded by Francis of Assisi in 1209. Their leader in the middle of the century was Bonaventure, a traditionalist who defended the theology of Augustine and the philosophy of Plato, incorporating only a little of Aristotle in with the more neoplatonist elements. Following Anselm, Bonaventure supposed that reason can only discover truth when philosophy is illuminated by religious faith.[22] Other important Franciscan scholastics were Duns Scotus, Peter Auriol and William of Ockham.[23][24]

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 Albertus Magnus and (especially) Thomas Aquinas, whose artful synthesis of Greek rationalism and Christian doctrine eventually came to define Catholic philosophy. Aquinas placed more emphasis on reason and argumentation, and was one of the first to use the new translation of Aristotle's metaphysical and epistemological writing. This was a significant departure from the Neoplatonic and Augustinian thinking that had dominated much of early scholasticism. Aquinas showed how it was possible to incorporate much of the philosophy of Aristotle without falling into the errors of the Commentator, Averroes.[25]

Reformed Scholasticism

Following the Reformation, Calvinists largely adopted the scholastic method of theology, while differing regarding sources of authority and content of theology.[26]


The revival and development from the second half of the 19th century of medieval scholastic philosophy is sometimes called neo-Thomism.[27]

Thomistic Scholasticism

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."[28]

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, according to philosophers like Edward Feser, "Strict Observance Thomism".[29] 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),[30] Cornelio Fabro (1911–1995), Carlo Giacon (1900–1984),[31] 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.[32]

Thomistic scholasticism in the English speaking world went into decline in the 1970s when the Thomistic revival that had been spearheaded by Jacques Maritain, Étienne Gilson, and others, diminished in influence. Partly, this was because this branch of Thomism had become a quest to understand the historical Aquinas after the Second Vatican Council.

Analytical Scholasticism

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.

Scholastic method

Cornelius O'Boyle explained that Scholasticism focuses on how to acquire knowledge and how to communicate effectively so that it may be acquired by others. It was thought that the best way to achieve this was by replicating the discovery process (modus inveniendi).[33]

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.[34]

Scholastic instruction

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.[35]

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.[34][36]

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.[37]

See also


  1. ^ See Steven P. Marone, "Medieval philosophy in context" in A. S. McGrade, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003). On the difference between scholastic and medieval monastic postures towards learning, see Jean Leclercq, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God (New York: Fordham University Press, 1970) esp. 89; 238ff.
  2. ^ Gracia, Jorge JE, and Timothy B. Noone, eds. A companion to philosophy in the middle ages. John Wiley & Sons, 2008, 55–64
  3. ^ a b Patte, Daniel. The Cambridge Dictionary of Christianity. Ed. Daniel Patte. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010, 11132-1133
  4. ^ Grant, Edward. God and Reason in the Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press, 2004, 159
  5. ^ Particularly through Pseudo-Dionysius, Augustine, and Boethius, and through the influence of Plotinus and Proclus on Muslim philosophers. In the case of Aquinas, for instance, see Jan Aertsen, "Aquinas' philosophy in its historical setting" in The Cambridge Companion to Aquinas, ed. Norman Kretzmann and Eleonore Stump (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993). Jean Leclerq, The Love of Learning and the Desire for God (New York: Fordham University Press, 1970).
  6. ^ Grant, Edward. God and Reason in the Middle Ages. Cambridge University Press, 2004, 56
  7. ^ Gilson, Etienne (1991). The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy (Gifford Lectures 1933–35). Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press. p. 490. ISBN 978-0-268-01740-8.
  8. ^ Verger, Jacques, "The universities and scholasticism" in The New Cambridge Medieval History: Volume 5 c. 1198–1300. Cambridge University Press, 2007, 273
  9. ^ Colish, Marcia L. Medieval foundations of the western intellectual tradition, 400–1400. Yale University Press, 1999, 317–351
  10. ^ "school". "scholastic". Online Etymology Dictionary. σχολή, σχολαστικός. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project.
  11. ^ Winter, Tim J. "Introduction." Introduction. The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2008. 4–5. Print.
  12. ^ Madeleine Pelner Cosman, Linda Gale Jones, Handbook to Life in the Medieval World, p. 391. ISBN 1438109075
  13. ^ Colish, Marcia L. Medieval foundations of the western intellectual tradition, 400–1400. Yale University Press, 1999, 66–67
  14. ^ MacManus, p. 215
  15. ^ a b c "John Scottus Eriugena". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Stanford University. 2004-10-17. Retrieved 2008-07-21.
  16. ^ a b Toman 2007, p. 10: "Abelard himself was ... together with John Scotus Erigena (9th century), and Lanfranc and Anselm of Canterbury (both 11th century), one of the founders of scholasticism."
  17. ^ Lindberg 1978, pp. 60–61.
  18. ^ a b Grant, Edward, and Emeritus Edward Grant. The foundations of modern science in the Middle Ages: their religious, institutional and intellectual contexts. Cambridge University Press, 1996, 23–28
  19. ^ Clagett 1982, p. 356.
  20. ^ Hoffecker, Andrew. "Peter Lombard, Master of the Sentences". Ligonier Ministries.
  21. ^ Lindberg 1978, pp. 70–72.
  22. ^ Hammond, Jay, Wayne Hellmann, and Jared Goff, eds. A companion to Bonaventure. Brill, 2014, 122
  23. ^ Evans, Gillian Rosemary. Fifty key medieval thinkers. Routledge, 2002, 93–93, 147–149, 164–169
  24. ^ Gracia, Jorge JE, and Timothy B. Noone, eds. A companion to philosophy in the middle ages. John Wiley & Sons, 2008, 353–369, 494–503, 696–712
  25. ^ Hannam, James. The genesis of science: How the Christian Middle Ages launched the scientific revolution. Simon and Schuster, 2011, 90–93
  26. ^ Douglass, Jane Dempsey, et al. The Cambridge Companion to John Calvin. Cambridge University Press, 2004, 227–228
  27. ^ Edward Feser. "The Thomistic tradition, Part I (archived copy)". Archived from the original on 29 November 2010. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
  28. ^ Weisheipl, James (1962). "The Revival of Thomism: An Historical Survey". Archived from the original on 2013-09-27. Retrieved 2013-08-21.
  29. ^ Accessed 5 September 2013
  30. ^ Vanni Rovighi, Sofia. Treccani Encyclopedia./ Accessed 17 August 2013
  31. ^ GIACON, Carlo. Treccani Encyclopedia./ Accessed 9 April 2013
  32. ^ See Rizzello, Raffaele (1999). "Il Progetto Tommaso". In Giacomo Grasso, O.P.; Stefano Serafini. Vita quaerens intellectum. Rome: Millennium Romae. pp. 157–161. Archived from the original on 2013-09-28. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
  33. ^ Cornelius, O'Boyle (1998). The art of medicine: medical teaching at the University of Paris, 1250–1400. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 9789004111240. OCLC 39655867.
  34. ^ a b Colish, Marcia L. Medieval foundations of the western intellectual tradition, 400–1400. Yale University Press, 1999, 265–273
  35. ^ van Asselt 2011, p. 59.
  36. ^ van Asselt 2011, p. 60.
  37. ^ van Asselt 2011, pp. 61–62.

Primary sources

  • Hyman, J.; Walsh, J. J., eds. (1973). Philosophy in the Middle Ages. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing. ISBN 978-0-915144-05-1.
  • Schoedinger, Andrew B., ed. (1996). Readings in Medieval Philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-509293-6.

Secondary sources

  • van Asselt, Willem J. (2011). Inleiding in de Gereformeerde Scholastiek [Introduction to Reformed Scholasticism] (in Dutch). With contributions by T. Theo J. Pleizier, Pieter L. Rouwendal, and Maarten Wisse; Translated by Albert Gootjes. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Reformation Heritage Books. ISBN 978-1-60178-121-5.
  • Clagett, Marshall (1982). "William of Moerbeke: Translator of Archimedes". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 126 (5): 356–366. JSTOR 986212.
  • Fryde, E., The Early Palaeologan Renaissance, Brill 2000.
  • Gallatin, Harlie Kay (2001). "Medieval Intellectual Life and Christianity". Archived from the original on 2009-02-01.
  • Gracia, J. G. and Noone, T. B., eds., (2003) A Companion to Philosophy in the Middle Ages. London: Blackwell, ISBN 0-631-21672-3
  • McGrade, A. S., ed., (2003) The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Lindberg, David C. (1978). Science in the Middle Ages. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0-226-48232-3.
  • Maurer, Armand A. (1982). Medieval Philosophy (2nd ed.). Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. ISBN 978-0-88844-704-3.
  • Toman, Rolf (2007). The Art of Gothic: Architecture, Sculpture, Painting. photography by Achim Bednorz. Tandem Verlag GmbH. ISBN 978-3-8331-4676-3.

Further reading

  • Trueman, Carl R. and R. Scott Clark, jt. eds. (1999). Protestant Scholasticism: Essays in Reassessment. Carlisle, Eng.: Paternoster Press. ISBN 0-85364-853-0

External links

Aristotelian theology

Aristotelian theology and the scholastic view of God have been influential in Western intellectual history.


Averroism refers to a school of medieval philosophy based on the application of the works of 12th-century Andalusian Islamic philosopher Averroes, a Muslim commentator on Aristotle, in 13th-century Latin Christian scholasticism.

Latin translations of Averroes' work became widely available at the universities which were springing up in Western Europe in the 13th century, and were received by scholasticists such as Siger of Brabant, Boetius of Dacia who examined Christian doctrines through reasoning and intellectual analysis.The term Averroist was coined by Thomas Aquinas in the restricted sense of the Averroists' "unity of the intellect" doctrine in his book De unitate intellectus contra Averroistas.

Based on this, Averroism came to be near-synonymous with atheism in late medieval usage.As a historiographical category, Averroism was first defined by Ernest Renan in Averroès et l'averroïsme (1852) in the sense of

radical or heterodox Aristotelianism.The reception of Averroes in Jewish thought has been termed "Jewish Averroism".

Jewish Averroist thought flourished in the later 14th century, and gradually declined in the course of the 15th century.

The last representative of Jewish Averroism was Elia del Medigo, writing in 1485.

Catholic dogmatic theology

The history of Catholic dogmatic theology divides into three main periods: the patristic, the medieval, the modern.

Christianity in the 12th century

Christianity in the 12th century was marked by scholastic development and monastic reforms in the western church and a continuation of the Crusades, namely with the Second Crusade in the Holy Land.

Christianity in the 15th century

The 15th century is part of the High Middle Ages, the period from the coronation of Charlemagne in 800 to the close of the 15th century, which saw the fall of Constantinople (1453), the end of the Hundred Years War (1453), the discovery of the New World (1492), and thereafter the Protestant Reformation (1515). It also marked the later years of scholasticism and the growth of Christian humanism and other developments of the early Renaissance.


The Conimbricenses were the Jesuits of the University of Coimbra in Coimbra, Portugal.

German mysticism

German mysticism, sometimes called Dominican mysticism or Rhineland mysticism, was a late medieval Christian mystical movement that was especially prominent within the Dominican order and in Germany. Although its origins can be traced back to Hildegard of Bingen, it is mostly represented by Meister Eckhart, Johannes Tauler, and Henry Suso. Other notable figures include Rulman Merswin and Margaretha Ebner, and the Friends of God.

This movement often seems to stand in stark contrast with scholasticism and German Theology, but the relationship between scholasticism and German mysticism is debated. Viewed as a predecessor of the reformation, the contrast becomes very apparent. For example, the use of an approachable vernacular stands in stark contrast to the constrained Latin of the Scholastics, the increased focus on the laity stands in contrast to the more deeply sacramental understanding of the Church, and these elements are both taken up and transformed in the writings of Martin Luther. German mysticism can also be viewed as a practical application of Scholasticism. Though Meister Eckhart is most well known for his popular German sermons, he also wrote a lengthy philosophical exposition of the same teachings in Latin. Some scholars have read him as a rather orthodox Thomist, seeing his mysticism as flowing naturally from established teachings through Eckhart's own idiosyncrasies and exaggerations.

Some of the movement's characteristics:

A focus on laymen as well as clerics

An emphasis on instruction and preaching

Downplaying ascetism

A focus on the New Testament rather than the Old Testament

A focus on the Christ rather than the Church

A use of the vernacular (German and Dutch) rather than Latin or HebrewSome in the movement came under criticism by the Church for heterodox or heretical opinions.

History of Christian theology

The doctrine of the Trinity, considered the core of Christian theology by Trinitarians, is the result of continuous exploration by the church of the biblical data, thrashed out in debate and treatises, eventually formulated at the First Council of Nicaea in AD 325 in a way they believe is consistent with the biblical witness, and further refined in later councils and writings. The most widely recognized Biblical foundations for the doctrine's formulation are in the Gospel of John.Nontrinitarianism is any of several Christian beliefs that reject the Trinitarian doctrine that God is three distinct persons in one being. Modern nontrinitarian groups views differ widely on the nature of God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.

History of theology

This is an overview of the history of theology in Greek thought and its relationship with Abrahamic religions.

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

"How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?" (alternatively "How many angels can stand on the point of a pin?") is a reductio ad absurdum challenge to medieval scholasticism in general, and its angelology in particular, as represented by figures such as Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas.

It is first recorded in the 17th century, in the context of Protestant apologetics. It also has been metaphorically linked to the fall of Constantinople, with the imagery of scholars debating about minutiae while the Turks besieged the city.In modern usage, the term has lost its theological context and is used as a metaphor for wasting time debating topics of no practical value, or questions whose answers hold no intellectual consequence, while more urgent concerns accumulate.

Lutheran scholasticism

Lutheran scholasticism was a theological method that gradually developed during the era of Lutheran Orthodoxy. Theologians used the neo-Aristotelian form of presentation, already popular in academia, in their writings and lectures. They defined the Lutheran faith and defended it against the polemics of opposing parties.


Neo-scholasticism (also known as neo-scholastic Thomism or neo-Thomism because of the great influence of the writings of Thomas Aquinas on the movement), is a revival and development of medieval scholasticism in Roman Catholic theology and philosophy which began in the second half of the 19th century.

Reformed scholasticism

Reformed scholasticism was academic theology practiced by Reformed theologians using the scholastic method during the period of Protestant orthodoxy in the 16th to 18th centuries. While the Reformed often used "scholastic" as a term of derision for their Roman Catholic opponents and the content of their theology, most Reformed theologians during this period can properly be called scholastics with respect to the method of theology, though they also used other methods. J. V. Fesko describes scholasticism in this sense as "a method of doing theology that sets out to achieve theological precision through the exegesis of Scripture, an examination of how doctrine has been historically defined throughout church history, and how doctrine is expounded in contemporary debate."

Renaissance humanism

Renaissance humanism is the study of classical antiquity, at first in Italy and then spreading across Western Europe in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. The term humanism is contemporary to that period, while Renaissance humanism is a retronym used to distinguish it from later humanist developments.Renaissance humanism was a response to the utilitarian approach and what came to be depicted as the "narrow pedantry" associated with medieval scholasticism. Humanists sought to create a citizenry able to speak and write with eloquence and clarity and thus capable of engaging in the civic life of their communities and persuading others to virtuous and prudent actions. This was to be accomplished through the study of the studia humanitatis, today known as the humanities: grammar, rhetoric, history, poetry, and moral philosophy.

According to one scholar of the movement,

Early Italian humanism, which in many respects continued the grammatical and rhetorical traditions of the Middle Ages, not merely provided the old Trivium with a new and more ambitious name (Studia humanitatis), but also increased its actual scope, content and significance in the curriculum of the schools and universities and in its own extensive literary production. The studia humanitatis excluded logic, but they added to the traditional grammar and rhetoric not only history, Greek, and moral philosophy, but also made poetry, once a sequel of grammar and rhetoric, the most important member of the whole group. Humanism was a pervasive cultural mode and not the program of a small elite, a program to revive the cultural legacy, literary legacy, and moral philosophy of classical antiquity. There were important centres of humanism in Florence, Naples, Rome, Venice, Genoa, Mantua, Ferrara, and Urbino.


Scholastic may refer to:

a philosopher or theologian in tradition of scholasticism

Scholastic (Notre Dame publication)

Scholastic Corporation, an American publishing company of educational materials

Scholastic Building, in New York City

Jan I the Scholastic (14th c. AD), Duke of Oświęcim

School of Salamanca

The School of Salamanca (Spanish: Escuela de Salamanca) is the Renaissance of thought in diverse intellectual areas by Spanish and Portuguese theologians, rooted in the intellectual and pedagogical work of Francisco de Vitoria. From the beginning of the 16th century the traditional Catholic conception of man and of his relation to God and to the world had been assaulted by the rise of humanism, by the Protestant Reformation and by the new geographical discoveries and their consequences. These new problems were addressed by the School of Salamanca. The name refers to the University of Salamanca, where de Vitoria and others of the school were based.

The leading figures of the school, theologians and jurists Francisco de Vitoria, Domingo de Soto, Martín de Azpilcueta (or Azpilicueta), Tomás de Mercado, and Francisco Suárez, were all scholars of natural law and of morality, who undertook the reconciliation of the teachings of Thomas Aquinas with the new political-economic order. The themes of study centered on man and his practical problems (morality, economics, jurisprudence, etc.), but almost equally on a particular body of work accepted by all of them, as the ground against which to test their disagreements, including at times bitter polemics within the School.

The School of Salamanca in the broad sense may be considered more narrowly as two schools of thought coming in succession, that of the Salmanticenses and that of the Conimbricenses from the University of Coimbra. The first began with Francisco de Vitoria (1483–1546), and reached its high point with Domingo de Soto (1494–1560). The Conimbricenses were Jesuits who, from the end of 16th century took over the intellectual leadership of the Catholic world from the Dominicans. Among those Jesuits were Luis de Molina (1535–1600), the aforementioned Francisco Suárez (1548–1617), and Giovanni Botero (1544–1617), who would continue the tradition in Italy.

The juridical doctrine of the School of Salamanca represented the end of medieval concepts of law, with a revindication of liberty not habitual in Europe of that time. The natural rights of man came to be, in one form or another, the center of attention, including rights as a corporeal being (right to life, economic rights such as the right to own property) and spiritual rights (the right to freedom of thought and to human dignity).

The School of Salamanca reformulated the concept of natural law: law originating in nature itself, with all that exists in the natural order sharing in this law. Their conclusion was, given that all humans share the same nature, they also share the same rights to life and liberty. Such views constituted a novelty in European thought and went counter to those then predominant in Spain and Europe that people indigenous to the Americas had no such rights.

Second scholasticism

Second scholasticism (or late scholasticism) is the period of revival of scholastic system of philosophy and theology, in the 16th and 17th centuries. The scientific culture of second scholasticism surpassed its medieval source (Scholasticism) in the number of its proponents, the breadth of its scope, the analytical complexity, sense of historical and literary criticism, and the volume of editorial production, most of which remains hitherto little explored.


The Four Books of Sentences (Libri Quattuor Sententiarum) is a book of theology written by Peter Lombard in the 12th century. It is a systematic compilation of theology, written around 1150; it derives its name from the sententiae or authoritative statements on biblical passages that it gathered together.

Treatise on Law

Treatise on Law is St. Thomas Aquinas' major work of legal philosophy. It forms questions 90–108 of the Prima Secundæ ("First [Part] of the Second [Part]") of the Summa Theologiæ, Aquinas' masterwork of Scholastic philosophical theology. Along with Aristotelianism, it forms the basis for the legal theory of Catholic canon law.

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