ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf

109. Definition of Scholasticism by the use of certain Teaching Methods. -- It is unnecessary to dwell on the superficial truisms emphasized by those who define scholasticism by the "peripatetic" language it used,{1} or the technical terminology it cultivated.{2} We might as well define Grecian philosophy as the philosophy taught in Greek, or Kantism as the philosophy that can be studied only with the aid of a certain specially compiled glossary.

Others regard scholasticism as simply a method, a certain scientific manner of discovering and propagating truth. By method they understand either this or that particular procedure, or else the whole pedagogic system in all its branches

(1) Scholasticism is the preparation of (any) science for the purpose of school teaching (Schulwissenschaft), its "cut-and-dried" arrangement in the rigid and highly artificial compartments of the medieval schools, as opposed to the chaotic disorder in which its materials were left by the Fathers of the Church.{3}

(2) Scholasticism is sometimes defined not as pedagogical arrangement in general, but as one special type of such arrangement. Thus, we find it described as the syllogistic method "drawing inferences ad indefinitum,"{4} or again as the use of dialectic in defence of catholic dogma.

Those definitions have this defect in common that they regard merely the formal arrangement without touching the material, the doctrine itself, of scholasticism. Pedagogic arrangement in general, and indeed a definite, specific method, may be applied to any philosophy, to Kantism no less than to Thomism. Moreover, the application of method in the Middle Ages was not confined to philosophy: in accordance with the spirit of the scholastic logic, it was extended to all branches of knowledge. Then, as regards the syllogism, we may observe that it was not the sole procedure employed by the scholastics. Finally, the application of dialectic to the elucidation and defence of dogma concerns not philosophy, but exclusively scholastic theology. A fuller exposition of these various methods below will illustrate these few remarks (113, 114, and farther on: The Theological Movement in the Twelfth Century).{5} {1} FOUILLLÉE, Hist. de la philos., p. 198 (Paris, 1883). Cf. DIDEROT, "Scholasticism is less a philosophy than a certain dry and rigid sort of argumentation" (Oeuvres comlètes, t. xix., p. 362).

{2} We might classify with the above "definitions by method," the notion that scholasticism is a sort of vague and ill-defined mentality, a bias or tendency or spirit, peculiar to the whole intellectual output of the Middle Ages -- a mentality that is almost invariably understood in an unfavourable sense.

{3} E.g., HUET, Recherches hist. et crit. sur la vie, les oeuvres et la doctrine de Henri de Gand (Ghent, 1838), p. 95.

{4} HOGAN, Clerical Studies, p. 67.

{5} See WILLMANN, Gesch. d. Idealismus, ii., § 67, nn. 2 and 4.

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