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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ He becomes yet another defender of dead scholasticism, a mere hawker of dogma.
▪ If that is so he might almost be considered the initiator of scholasticism with its dialectic method.
▪ It was more broadly philosophical, and encapsulated a generalized dissatisfaction with scholasticism and tradition.
▪ That it turned aside from the traditional teaching of scholasticism and theology is certain.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Scholasticism \Scho*las"ti*cism\, n. The method or subtilties of the schools of philosophy; scholastic formality; scholastic doctrines or philosophy.

The spirit of the old scholasticism . . . spurned laborious investigation and slow induction.
--J. P. Smith.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1732, from scholastic + -ism.


n. a tradition or school of philosophy, originating in the Middle Ages, that combines classical philosophy with Catholic theology


Scholasticism is a method of critical thought which dominated teaching by the academics ("scholastics," or "schoolmen") of medieval universities in Europe from about 1100 to 1700, and a program of employing that method in articulating and defending dogma in an increasingly pluralistic context. It originated as an outgrowth of and a departure from Christian monastic schools at the earliest European universities. The first institutions in the West to be considered universities were established in Italy, France, Spain, and England in the late 11th and the 12th centuries for the study of arts, law, medicine, and theology, such as Schola Medica Salernitana, the University of Bologna, and the University of Paris. It is difficult to define the date at which they became true universities, although the lists of studia generalia for higher education in Europe are a useful guide, held by the Catholic Church and its various religious orders.

Scholasticism is not so much a philosophy or a theology as a method of learning, as it places a strong emphasis on dialectical reasoning to extend knowledge by inference and to resolve contradictions. Scholastic thought is also known for rigorous conceptual analysis and the careful drawing of distinctions. In the classroom and in writing, it often takes the form of explicit disputation; a topic drawn from the tradition is broached in the form of a question, opponents' responses are given, a counterproposal is argued and opponents' arguments rebutted. Because of its emphasis on rigorous dialectical method, scholasticism was eventually applied to many other fields of study.

As a program, scholasticism began as an attempt at harmonization on the part of medieval Christian thinkers, to harmonize the various authorities of their own tradition, and to reconcile Christian theology with classical and late antiquity philosophy, especially that of Aristotle but also of Neoplatonism. (See also Christian apologetics.)

Some of the main figures of scholasticism include Anselm of Canterbury, Peter Abelard, Alexander of Hales, Albertus Magnus, Duns Scotus, William of Ockham, Bonaventure, and Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas's masterwork Summa Theologica is considered to be the pinnacle of scholastic, medieval, and Christian philosophy; it began while Aquinas was regent master at the studium provinciale of Santa Sabina in Rome, the forerunner of the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Angelicum. Important work in the scholastic tradition has been carried on well past Aquinas's time, for instance by Francisco Suárez and Luis de Molina, and also among Lutheran and Reformed thinkers.

Usage examples of "scholasticism".

Really opposed, as Cartesianism has been in France, to the scholasticism which still reigned, its dogmatic form nevertheless bore such external similarity to it that it fell in with the old literary tastes.

He would eject scholasticism from the study of the Bible, and show to his readers that simplicity of inquiry is the safest way to happy results.

But the repulsive technicalities of Germany were not equally prevalent in Holland, and scholasticism refused to affiliate with the Reformed much longer than with the Lutheran church.

This opinion had a strong tendency to isolate theology still more than scholasticism had done, from all practical interests.

His long-cherished antipathy to Scholasticism was well known, but he pursued his course in quiet until 1658, when he was daringly assailed.

Cocceius was opposed when he arrayed the Bible against Scholasticism, Descartes might be expected to meet with increased resistance when he used only the weapon of philosophy.

The result of his labors was the overthrow, in many minds, of philosophical Scholasticism, but the enthroning of biblical Scholasticism in its stead.

No less important, the new scholasticism showed that the great authorities of the past sometimes disagreed and disagreed profoundly.

It was classical antiquity that provided the grounding for this approach and outside the church scholasticism was largely abandoned.

Aquinas, scholasticism was ossifying, becoming stultified and rigid in the universities, as scholars fought over the minutiae of what he and the other medieval masters had really meant.

Here scholasticism with a rabbinical tint forms the great attraction to the minds of thousands of intellectually highly gifted men of all ages.

But Egypt and Babylonia both had their own corresponding phenomena to our Crusades, Gothic religion, Holy Roman Empire, Papacy, Feudalism, Scholasticism, Reformation, Absolute State, Enlightenment, Democracy, Materialism, Class War, Nationalism, and annihilation wars.

Not for the first time since his arrival at Porterhouse, Sir Godber felt uneasy, aware, if only subliminally, that the facile assumptions about human nature upon which his liberal ideals were founded were somehow threatened by a devious scholasticism whose origins were less rational and more obscure than he preferred to think.

First, in spite of all that was once said about superstition, the Dark Ages and the sterility of Scholasticism, it was in every sense a movement of enlargement, always moving towards greater light and even greater liberty.

But nobody can honestly say that Scholasticism had greatly improved by the end of the Middle Ages.