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

133. Division of this Period. -- The scholastic labour of this first period was concentrated mainly on the elaboration of the great leading doctrines which were to form the framework of the thirteenth-century synthesis (v. below). This long, laborious process of formation was not accomplished without many uncertain gropings. Numerous early scholastics incorporate unbalanced and inconsistent theories in their system. Nay, some of them attach to clearly scholastic ideas other teachings that would lead to contradictory conclusions if rigorously pushed to their logical issues. But these same philosophers take good care to avoid and even to protest against such issues: ignoring or rejecting the corollaries of their own principles. On this account we will regard all of them alike, though on different titles, as pioneers in the same work: we will call them all by the same family name of scholastics.

But there are other philosophers of opposite tendencies; philosophers in open conflict with scholasticism; committed to principles which are the antithesis of its main constitutive doctrines. For example, the Monism of Scotus Eriugena is irreconcilably opposed to the Individualistic Realism set forth in the glosses of Eric of Auxerre and in the treatises of Anselm of Canterbury: and this monism is in fact carried out into consequences whose opposition to scholasticism does not escape the notice even of contemporaries. So, too, the Materialism of the Cathari is frankly opposed to the Spiritualism of Alan of Lille: so much so that we find treatises written ex professo in refutation of it.

Now it would be unfair to determine the scholasticity of pre-scholastic doctrines by a crude comparison which would merely tabulate their points of diversity and similarity with the scholasticism of the thirteenth century. In a historical study we must consider doctrines not merely from a static point of view, but also and more especially in their dynamic tendency, in the sense of their development. Under this aspect, a process of doctrinal development is revealed by the history of scholasticism down to the twelfth century, and is seen to reach its culmination in the achievements of the thirteenth. The problem of the Universals affords an apt illustration.{1} We must, therefore, study the process in relation to its term, as the acorn is studied in relation to the oak-tree. The test we have chosen for a classification of the systems -- or fragments of systems -- of this period, into scholastic and non-scholastic, is their objective conformity or non-conformity with the fundamental tendencies of the great scholastic synthesis of the thirteenth century, which completes, unifies and harmonizes the doctrines transmitted from the early Middle Ages.

To this doctrinal basis of division we may add a secondary chronological basis. The twelfth century being the golden age of philosophical schools, we may divide the present period into two chapters which will deal respectively with: (1) Western philosophy from the Ninth to the Twelfth Century; (2) Western Philosophy in the Twelfth Century. Each chapter will distinguish between scholastic and non-scholastic theories.

{1} M. DOMET DE VORGES, writing of one of the leading personalities of this period, remarks very justly that "the peripateticism of the thirteenth century was not, as many seem to think, a complete transformation of the immediately preceding philosophy; its main solutions were in existence for a long time previously in the minds of the scholastic teachers, though not clearly formulated or methodically developed by the latter" (S. Anselme, p. 82). 10 *

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