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

235. Influence of the Mendicant Orders on Scholastic Philosophy. -- The Dominicans and Franciscans exercised a very marked influence on the destinies of scholastic philosophy. These great religious corporations insisted on the education of their members in order to foster in the latter a taste for learning: they thus gave the philosophy of the thirteenth century some of its most illustrious exponents. The regulations of the Dominican order, though minute and ample from the beginning of the thirteenth century, afford but little information on the earlier organization of its studies. Distrust and opposition had to be overcome before the cultivation of philosophical studies was recognized along with the study of theology. But this early hostility gave way to an enthusiastic attachment, once Albert the Great and St. Thomas Aquinas vindicated for the secular branches of study their rightful place in the temple of knowledge. Soon, in addition to the studia solemnia, proper to each province, there were established studia generalia, common to the whole order, for the more advanced study of philosophy and theology. "Paris, to which each province had the right to send three students, became at once, and always remained, the most important centre of these studia generalia." {1} The Franciscans likewise had their studia particularia in each province and their studia generalia for higher theological studies at the great university centres. These studia generalia of the mendicant orders were not autonomous or independent teaching centres, but formed part of the university organism in proportion as the theological faculty of the university recognized chairs of theology held by the regulars. In the same manner, the magistri regentes who happened to wear the religious habit, shared in the jealously guarded privileges of the faculties. The rivalry between the Franciscans and Dominicans stimulated the zeal of all. Other religious orders also fell in with the intellectual movement and obtained theological chairs:{2} so much so indeed that in 1271 Roger Bacon could say -- with a small stretch of imagination, no doubt -- that for forty years the seculars had not composed a single treatise on theology or philosophy.{3}

To the Dominicans chiefly, on account of the gigantic labours of St. Thomas and Albert the Great, -- but to the Franciscans also in a lesser degree,{4} -- belongs the honour of carrying into execution the ambitious project of Gregory IX.: the correction of the works of Aristotle (228). In this way did the two great orders of St. Dominic and St. Francis contribute its peripatetic elements to scholasticism. Neither the Dominicans nor the Franciscans, however, followed out uniform, unchanging philosophical traditions. Apart altogether from the testimony of St. Bonaventure, that the Friars Minors aimed at unction rather than speculation -- differing in this from the Friars Preachers,{5} -- the Franciscan school developed two decidedly different tendencies: (1) the early philosophical line marked out by Alexander of Hales, pursued by St. Bonaventure, and ending in a compromise between Aristotelian theories and theories inspired from other sources; (2) the later direction, towards purer peripateticism, initiated by Duns Scotus. This latter was the more influential current. Of secondary importance are the naturalist impulse due to Roger Bacon, and the theosophic tendency of Raymond Lully. What is known as the "terminist" movement appeared at a later period with William of Ockam and extended rapidly outside the Franciscan order. The earlier Dominicans first rallied to the body of doctrines then current, constituting the older scholasticism; but from the time of St. Thomas, they all, with a few exceptions, espoused one single philosophical tradition: that of scholastic peripateticism, as propounded by Albert the Great and St. Thomas.

{1} DOUAIS, Essai sur l'organisation des études dans l'ordre des Frères-Prècheurs, p. 130. The general chapter of 1248 decided on erecting four new studia generalia: that of Cologne, organized by Albert the Great on his departure from Paris, and those of Bologna, Montpellier and Oxford.

{2} The Cistercians were allowed to teach in 1256, the Hermits of St. Augustine towards 1287 (Giles of Rome), the Carmelites in 1295. According to THUROT, op. cit., p. 112, "in 1253, out of the twelve chairs required by the number of students in theology, no less than nine were in the convents of the regulars".

{3} Opera inedita, Brewer's edit., p. 428.

{4} PÈRE MANDONNET attributes this too exclusively to the Dominicans. It is certain that on many points Alexander of Hales made Aristotle known to medieval scholasticism.

{5} Opera, Quaracchi edit., v., p. 440.

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