Volume 15, Issue 1, 2018
Was There a Downturn in Fifteenth-Century Scholastic Philosophy?
In the history of scholastic philosophy, the fifteenth century is traditionally regarded as a period of decay, a downturn between the heights of fourteenth-century nominalism and the Spanish revival of scholasticism in the sixteenth century. This paper sets out to challenge this received view. First, however, the received view is confirmed on the basis of sixteenth-century lists of ecclesiastical writers containing very few notable scholastic philosopher-theologians for the fifteenth century. On the other hand, the same lists show a significant increase in notable scholastics in the fields of practical ethics and jurisprudence. The overall picture signals a shift of philosophical and theological activity from theoretical towards practical concerns. If practical philosophy is not considered to be of lesser rank than theoretical philosophy, there was thus no downturn of scholastic philosophy in the fifteenth century.