What is the difference between mindset and belief

Faith and Knowledge - The Scholasticism

The Dominican monk, known to his contemporaries as Albert the German, is today considered to be one of the most important representatives of scholasticism. Albertus commented on the works of Aristotle and tried to bring them into harmony with Christian teaching.

His aim was not to replace faith with science, but to combine the two. Albertus Magnus also dealt with medicine, biology and geography, which is why he was led by Pope Pius XII in 1941. was named the patron saint of natural scientists.

Knowledge as evidence of God's greatness

A particularly docile student of Albertus Magnus was the Dominican Thomas Aquinas (around 1225 to 1274). Originally from the Neapolitan nobility, Thomas developed the work of his master.

Almost 50 years after his death, the most important scholastic was canonized for his great contributions to theology and science.

While Albertus Magnus had largely considered the various currents of church doctrine as well as ancient and Arabic philosophy side by side, Thomas Aquinas succeeded in combining these elements into a school of thought.

He did not see the search for knowledge and science as competition to faith, on the contrary: By striving for scientific knowledge, Thomas wanted to emphasize the divine greatness even more. For him, the laws of science were just further evidence of God's omnipotence.

Authoritarian sources and authoritative truths

The basis for the research of the scholastics were the "auctoritates", writings from the pen of inviolable religious and knowledge authorities. This included, on the one hand, the Church Fathers, whose works had made a decisive contribution to the beliefs and self-understanding of Christianity, such as Augustine.

On the other hand, the ancient authors were studied, especially the natural philosophical writings of Aristotle. In order to achieve scientific and theological knowledge, the scholastics under Thomas Aquinas created a strictly regulated working method: dialectics.

The starting point of the cognitive process was always a text from the "auctoritates", which was read together and then confronted with questions. In the following - quite controversial - discussion, the participants exchanged their different points of view in order to come closer to a "true" answer.

The conclusion formed the "resolutio": The chairman of the course announced the valid doctrine. During the discussion, different points of view were possible and desired, but in the end there was a single valid and binding truth that could be reconciled with Christian beliefs.

"Defective Femininity" and Purgatory

The knowledge of scholasticism extended to all areas of life, gender roles, marriage, ideals of beauty and much more. For example, Aquinas believed that the birth of a girl was the result of various defects.

Only the man was in his eyes the perfect representative of the human species. Thomas also regarded the female soul as inferior to the male. No wonder he was of the opinion that women must submit to their husbands in marriage.

The scholastics also spoke out on the subjects of dying and the afterlife. Thomas Aquinas, for example, considered suicide as a threefold sin - against nature, community and God.

The scholastic doctrine of purgatory, in which the souls of the deceased were painfully freed from their sins, was also formative for the medieval conception of the afterlife. Thomas Aquinas located purgatory below the earth, near hell, and thus created an idea that was widespread in the Middle Ages.

How strong the influence of scholasticism was on the individual cannot be said with absolute certainty. What is certain, however, is that Thomas Aquinas in particular was one of the greatest authorities of the late Middle Ages. His teachings were decisive for the education of the intellectual elites at the universities and thus also - at least for a short time - for the medieval worldview.

Damned and revived

With its "valid truths", scholasticism made a decisive contribution to the establishment of a unified worldview. But this harmony was just as unsustainable as the school of thought itself.

Already in the 14th century the unity of medieval intellectual life began to crumble, the heyday of the doctrine created by Thomas Aquinas was over only a few decades after his death.

The humanists of the Renaissance even regarded scholasticism as a "barbaric philosophy", partly because the pagan author Aristotle was one of their most important sources.

But despite the great rejection, scholasticism did not completely disappear from the spiritual life of the following centuries. The "School of Salamanca" dedicated itself in the 16th century to Thomism, a theology based on Thomas Aquinas.

From the middle of the 19th century, the neo-scholasticism also dealt with Thomas' ideas again, this time even encouraged by a papal encyclical.