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


455. General View. -- The sixteenth century witnessed a remarkable restoration of scholastic philosophy and theology. The theological movement, which was the more important one, issued from a reaction against the Reformation. It was fostered by the deliberations of the Council of Trent (1563), and it drew its inspiration from the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, who was declared doctor of the Church by Pope Pius V. in 1567. It devoted special attention to all questions connected with the recent heresies of the Reformation.

Accompanying this theological activity there came a philosophical revival movement which advocated in the first place a return to the great philosophical systems of the thirteenth century, and more especially to Thomism. Theories and arguments were closely studied and carefully criticized. The great, leading doctrines of thirteenth-century scholasticism (282-307) were interpreted in the light of another age, and new theories were broached. Spanish scholasticism was therefore an original and autonomous movement of thought, and its leaders may not be regarded as mere commentators -- as their own modest declarations might suggest. Moreover, some of them reveal the influence of the new Renaissance speculations in the domain of political and social theories. And all of them return to the clear language and simple, direct methods from which the later adepts of the schools had fallen away. In this they were wisely turning to account the criticisms directed by the humanists against their predecessors and contemporaries.

With its centre in Spain and Portugal, this revival extended into Italy. It was cradled in the University of Salamanca:{1} hence the title by which the movement is usually known -- "Spanish scholasticism of the Sixteenth Century ". Under the influence of Thomism, the University of Salamanca substituted for the Book of Sentences the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas as textbook in the schools. The other universities of Spain and of all Europe, gradually followed this example. The first fruits of the movement were textual commentaries like those of Cajetan and Ferrariensis: but as thought advanced, the commentary gave way to independent exposition and systematic treatises, which left freer scope for choice and arrangement of the matters to be treated. The revival was promoted first by the Dominicans, and then, even to a greater extent, by the Jesuits.

{1} The universities of Alcala, Seville, Valladolid, Coimbra and Evora also promoted the movement.

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