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History of Philosophy
First Period -- Transition from Scholastic to Modern Philosophy
by Turner, William (S.T.D.)

The change from Scholastic to modern philosophy was gradual, and, while its course is not easy to follow, the causes which led to the change are not far to seek. First among these must be mentioned the decay of Scholasticism itself. The representatives of Scholastic philosophy in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries seem for the most part to have completely forgotten the principles of the classic Scholasticism of the thirteenth century. Busying themselves with subtleties too refined to be grasped even by the learned, they utterly neglected the study of the scientific movement of their own day, and, in defiance of the method sanctioned by usage in the schools of the Golden Age of Scholasticism, raised the argument from authority to a position of undue importance. There were, however, as we shall see, some notable exceptions to this.

The decay of philosophical speculation in the schools and universities of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, the humanistic movement, the rapid progress of the natural sciences, and the influence of the first reformers contributed to bring about the transition from Scholastic to modern philosophy. Mention must also be made of the political condition of the times, the disintegration of the idea of a united Christian empire, the growth of the idea of the political individuality of nations, the discovery of America, the invention of the art of printing, all of which necessitated a development and adaptation of speculative thought to the changed conditions of the time. That Scholastic philosophy was capable of such development and adaptation must be admitted by all who recognize that thought is continuous in its historical evolution; and if such development and adaptation did not take place, the fault lay with those who failed to put Scholasticism in its true light at this the most critical period in its history.


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