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History of Philosophy|
Retrospect [of the Close of Scholastic Philosophy]
by Turner, William (S.T.D.)
|It is not necessary to point out the signs of decay
and dissolution which mark the fourth period in the history of
Scholasticism. The effort to simplify Scholastic philosophy was, no
doubt, intended as a reform; it aimed at correcting an evil which
really existed; the process, however, of pruning the superabundant
growth of philosophy was carried to the extent of cutting out the very
core of Scholasticism  Durandus, Aureolus, and Ockam, by setting aside
as useless the most essential elements of Scholastic philosophy, did
more harm to Scholasticism than even the Averroists had done. For it
was Ockam and his followers who, by neglecting the serious study of the
great masters of the school, contributed to bring about that profound
ignorance of the real doctrines of Scholasticism which, at the opening
of the new era, rendered impossible the alliance of the schoolmen with
the advocates of the new science. The
Averroists wrought, irreparable injury to Scholasticism both directly
and indirectly: directly, by their doctrines of determinism and of the
unity of the active intellect, as well as by their principle that what
is true in theology may be false in philosophy; indirectly, by their
peculiar method, which was known as ipsedixitism. The Averroists
outdid the Thomists and Scotists in their reverence for the word of the
master; they gloried in the title of "Aristotle's monkey," or "
Averroes' monkey," and when the Renaissance came, and the antagonism
between science and philosophy arose out of the misunderstandings of
the philosophers and the scientists, the greatest source of
misunderstanding was the failure of the scientists to distinguish
between the method of the earlier schoolmen and that of the degenerate
Scholastics, who had fallen into the ways of the Averroists, and had
begun to test all truth by an appeal to the authority of a master.
 As a Certain John Letourneur (Joannes Versor, died 1480) quaintly
says: "Quasi abusus rei tolli non posset nisi ipsa res e media
removeretur, quasi infantem abluere mater nequiret nisi eumdem in
flumen prorsus abjiceret," apud Hauréau, op. cit.,
II, 2, 491.