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

Chapter II.

Non-Scholastic Philosophies.{1}


423. Leading Features. -- The first note of the non-scholastic systems of this period is their independence of Catholic dogma. The tendency to disregard Catholic teaching and to pursue philosophy in new domains and by new methods, is an almost universal characteristic of the systems sprung from the Renaissance. Some of them renounced all religious teaching, emphasizing the doubts of Scotists and Ockamists on the demonstrability of certain religious truths, and making capital out of these doubts to teach that all dogma is anti-rational. Others admitted new articles of faith, but reserved to themselves the right of picking and choosing. Rarely and by way of exception, some innovator made a show of safeguarding Catholic dogma.

A second striking fact about the Renaissance systems is their coalition against scholastic philosophy -- a coalition joined even by those systems which professed submission to Catholic teaching (cf. 114).

Apart from this purely negative point of contact there was nothing common to the various philosophies of the Renaissance. Their heterogeneity may in fact be set down as a third great characteristic. Delivered up to themselves, they developed in diverging and often opposite directions: diversity of language, academic decentralization arising from the appearance of new universities, inanition of thought, the incorporation of a mosaic of theories -- often mutually incompatible -- into a single "system," -- all these factors and features give the philosophy of the Renaissance a clearly marked individuality in history.

Finally, the Renaissance systems all betray a want of that organic unity which constitutes the power and the beauty of a philosophic synthesis. There is a lack of originality and synthetic unity throughout. The philosophy of the time reminds one almost of a lunatic at large, engaging successively in a series of aimless and chimerical exploits.

{1} On the philosophy of the Renaissance, see HÖFFDING, History of Modern Philosophy, vol. i. 464

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