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What is Scholasticism?

St. Thomas Aquinas, the  model of Scholasticism.
St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

Scholasticism is a medieval Christian philosophical movement that directed European universities from the 11th to the 17th centuries. It emphasized the use of dialectical reasoning to understand the world and God. This was a departure from the Patristic Age, which was characterized by a greater reliance on the authoritative teachings of the church fathers and the use of allegory to interpret the Bible.

Scholasticism grew out of the need for a more systematic and organized approach to understanding the truth. During the Patristic Age, there were many different interpretations of the Bible and Christian theology. Scholastics sought to bring some order to these debates by using Aristotelean reasoning to better understand the world and God. They believed that through the use of reason, they could arrive at a better understanding of the truth.

One of the key figures of Scholasticism was St. Thomas Aquinas. He was a Catholic priest and theologian who lived in the 13th century. He is best known for his work “Summa Theologica,” which is a comprehensive guide to Christian theology. In this work, he uses reason to explain the beliefs of the Catholic Church. He also sought to reconcile Aristotelian philosophy with Christian theology.

Another important aspect of Scholasticism was the use of dialectic, which is a method of argument that involves posing questions and then finding answers through discussion and debate. Scholastics believed that through this process, they could arrive at a better understanding of the truth. They used this method to debate and discuss important questions about God, the world, and morality.

Learn More: View Mr. Michael’s video “What is Dialectic?” on the Classical Liberal Arts Academy’s YouTube Channel.

Scholastics also believed in the importance of formal education. They established universities where students could learn about philosophy, theology, and other subjects. These universities became centers of learning, and many of the greatest minds of the time studied and taught there.

Despite the many positive aspects of Scholasticism, it was not without its critics. Some people felt that the emphasis on human reason took away from the importance of faith. They believed that God’s truth could not be fully understood through human reason and that faith was a more reliable guide than reason.

In conclusion, Scholasticism was a key period in the development of medieval Christian philosophy. It emphasized the use of reason and logic to understand the world and God, which was a departure from the Patristic Age, which relied more on the teachings of the church fathers and the use of allegory to interpret the Bible. Scholastics believed that through the use of reason and the dialectic method, they could arrive at a better understanding of the truth. They also believed in the importance of education, and established universities that became centers of learning. Despite its critics, Scholasticism remains an important part of the history of Christian thought.

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