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

131. Methods of Teaching. -- We must distinguish between scholastic methods of discovery or elaboration of doctrine and scholastic methods of teaching. The former have been already dealt with (126). The methods of teaching were of very gradual evolution. They were also remarkably uniform throughout the schools of the West. The adoption of an identical programme of studies in the monastic and abbey schools of every country, involved a similar organization of teaching methods; and the frequent migration of teachers and pupils from school to school facilitated the spread of every change adopted. The leading characteristics of the scholastic method of teaching are the following

(1) The teaching was done through the medium of one single language -- the scholastic or philosophical Latin, which was slowly formed during this period.

(2) Making a commentary on a text-book was the first and most natural form of teaching. But monographs soon began to make their appearance: not in the modern sense of treatises devoted ex professo to the study of some one single question or group of questions; but opuscula or smaller works on philosophy, having each its own proper plan.

(3) The didactic arrangement of each separate question, at first unfixed and doubtful, began to take definite shape after Abelard: he first outlined the formal scheme which all subsequent scholasticism adopted.

(4) The liberal arts and philosophy were regarded as a preparation for theology. This involved a peculiarity in medieval philosophy, and one that became more marked with time, -- the intermixture of matters and arguments in philosophy with theological questions and arguments. And hence the need of seeking for certain philosophical reasonings within the lines of the programme traced for theological studies. But, needless to say, this intermingling of questions and arguments does not in the least compromise the distinction between the two sciences, any more than the origin of philosophy within the domain of theology militates against the autonomous development of the former discipline. In the same way, notwithstanding their similarity and equal development, theological methods remained distinct from philosophical (v. below).

(5) With teaching methods we may connect the means and measures for the transmission of literary work achieved. The medieval doctors, especially the earlier ones, regarding history simply as an instrument in the service of truth, attached little importance to the historical fact as such. Hence all the plagiarism and mutilations of manuscripts; the habit of copying from second-hand copies, and often of modifying the copies: the mania for referring to contemporaries by veiled or anonymous indications; the ease with which apocryphal works were put in circulation, with which texts were truncated and interpolated, and all sorts of historical errors perpetuated.

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