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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 [5] 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.
[5] 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.


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