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Thomism in the xx Century

We call "neo-scholasticism" that renewal movement of philosophy and theology held during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries


1. Main characteristics of Neo-Scholasticism

We call "neo-scholasticism" that renewal movement of philosophy and theology held in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. We must take the term neo-scholastic in a very wide sense because on one hand we can speak of a Muslim or Jewish scholasticism, and not only Christian, and on the other hand we can speak about a not merely scholastic Christian philosophy. It should also be noted that, in medieval scholasticism, a number of schools of very diverse thought existed and were perpetuated far beyond their initial time frame. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the scotist oxonian opus enjoyed the same fame than the Summa Theologica of St. Thomas and had a crucial influence on Francisco Suárez. The scotist view was very present in the Auxiliis scholastic disputes and also in the documents of the Council of Trent. In 1966 Paul IV presents Scotus in the Alma Parens letter as one of the greatest teachers of the Church and encourages the publication of Dr. Subtle's works.

Thomists and Molinists invoked St. Augustine's authority to defend their respective positions regarding the controversy that confronted them during this period. Several forms of augustinians dissapeared over time but a permanently valid substrate always remained, which is non other than attention to man before any cosmological concern. Strictly speaking, Augustinianism did not represent an academy, but constituted a seed of constant renewal of christian thought. Thomism is the most important part of neo-scholasticism since most neo-scholastics are neo- thomists, although the differences between scholasticism and thomism are deeper today because in the second scholasticism a formalist thought prevailed, which had forgotten the act of Being as the backbone of St. Thomas Aquinas' thought. In the late nineteenth century, a major shift occurs in this evolution manifesting that in Aquinas there is not a system but rather a synthesis of principles always ready to new updates.

Inside neo-thomism a few precedents should be considered: first of all, the work done in the mid-eighteenth century by V. Buzzetti, A. Testa and A. Ranza - all of them teachers at Alberoni de Piacenza school - that culminated in the founding of the Divus Thomas journal; secondly, the works done by Italian jesuits Luigi Taparelli or Matteo Liberatore, grouped in La civilita cattólica journal; and thirdly, the writings of Jaime Balmes or Ceferino González, as well as those of J. Kleutgen in Germany, or those of G. Ferrari, G.M. Cornoldi and T. Zigliara in Italy. Gaetano Sanseverino (1811-1865) was the leading figure of the Italian neo-scholasticism of the nineteenth century. Since 1837 he exercises his Chair at the University of Naples; in 1840 he founded the Scienza e fede magazine and six years later the Academy of Thomistic Philosophy. Joseph Kleutgen, S.J. (1811-1883) was the initiator of the scholasticism renewal in Germany.

He taught Natural Law in Freiburg and Dogmatic Theology at the Gregorian University of Rome, and was probably the drafter of the first outline of the Aeterni Patris. His intellectual vigour is remarkable, as well as his clear exposition and his synthesis capacity of the thomistic thought. Generally, Italian authors, mostly clergymen, had a more apologetic disposition and elaborated more general works, specially textbooks. Spaniards, primarly lay people, were marked by their confrontations with Krausism, for their balance between Thomism and Suarecism, and for their interest in the history of thought and its political influence. German authors represent the most homogeneous group; with a good doctrinal formation, they mantain a controversial attitude towards the dominant currents of their country, and they began the study of medieval thought following scientific criteria. The event that caused the revival of the neo-thomicism was the publication of the Aeterni Patris encyclical of Leo XIII on August 4, 1879, wich caused the renewal of the scholastic studies of that time.

This momentum continued during subsequent pontificates and encouraged the critical edition of St. Thomas' works known as the Leonine edition of 1882, as well as the publication of philosophy manuals, discussions and controversies surrounding the figure of St. Thomas Aquinas. It is noteworthy in those years the importance that some thomistic schools had as gathering place for study and publication.Remarkable places like the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Milan - founded on 1921 - the University of Freiburg , the Dutch University of Nijmegen, the Institut Catholique of Paris and the Higher Institute of Philosophy of Louvain. On the other hand, philosophical thought finds a great broadcasting tool in the publication of specialized magazines. Among Dominican Order journals we should highlight Revue thomiste and Revue des sciencies philosophiques et théologiques, starting on 1908 during Le Saulchoir's novitiate and concentrating thomistic intellectualism faced to modernism, at the same time that the Society of Jesus edits Les Recherches de science religieuse and the Archives de philosophie. Among academic journals we must highlight the Revue d'histoire et de littérature religieuse (Paris 2886-1922) and the more conservative Revee de philosophie of the Catholic Institute of Paris. In the same line, Bibliothéque thomiste and the Bulletin thomiste de la Société Thomiste (1923) are also remarkable publications.






29/09/2017 09:00:00


See also
29/03/2015 Unpublished: Irenaeus

29/11/2015 Review: Black legends of the Church

29/02/2015 Review: After virtue


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