Scholasticism

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Synopsis

Scholasticism (from Latin scholasticus meaning "that which belongs to the school") was a method of learning taught by the academics (or school-men) of medieval universities from around 1,100–1,500 AD. Scholasticism originally looked at reconciling ancient classical philosophy with medieval Christian theology. It was not a philosophy or theology in itself, but a tool and method for learning which put emphasis on dialectical reasoning. It aimed to find answers to question and resolve contradictions. It is most well known in its application in medieval theology, but was eventually applied other fields of study.

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Scholasticism (from Latin scholasticus meaning "that which belongs to the school") was a method of learning taught by the academics (or school-men) of medieval universities from around 1,100–1,500 AD. Scholasticism originally looked at reconciling ancient classical philosophy with medieval Christian theology. It was not a philosophy or theology in itself, but a tool and method for learning which put emphasis on dialectical reasoning. It aimed to find answers to question and resolve contradictions. It is most well known in its application in medieval theology, but was eventually applied other fields of study.

Scholastic method

The scholastics would choose a book by a renowned scholar as a subject of investigation, for example the Bible. By reading the book thoroughly and critically, the disciples learned to appreciate the theories of the author and book. Then other documents related to the source document would be referenced, such as Church councils, and papal letters, be they ancient or contemporary texts. The points of disagreement and contention between these multiple sources would be written down. For example, the Bible contains apparent contradictions for Christians, such as the laws regarding what foods are kosher - these contradictions have been examined by scholars ancient and contemporary, and a scholastic would gather all the arguments about the contradictions, aiming to look at the issue with an open mind. Once the sources and points of disagreement had been laid out, through a series of dialectics the two sides of an argument would be made whole so that they would be found to be in agreement and not contradictory. This was done in two ways. First, through philological analysis, where words were examined and it would be argued they could have more than one meaning, that the author could have intended the word to mean something else. Ambiguity in words could be used to find common ground between two otherwise contradictory statements. Second, through logical analysis which relied on the rules of formal logic to show contradictions did not exist, but were subjective to the reader.

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