Date of Award
Rev. Patrick Murray
Scholastic Philosophy has ’’emerged once more into the philosophical arena and it has forced recognition from its adversaries." It is no longer studied as a system of thought that "was", but a system of thought that "is". The modern mind, after groping about for truth in the materialism of Locke and Hume, in the idealism of Hegel, in the agnosticism of Kant and Spenser, is n o w ready to investigate the tenets of Aristotle and Thomas, provided the latter are presented to it intelligibly.
Two external reasons are given for this emergence of the philosophy of the Schoolmen, and although not conclusive proof, have their value. First, the discovery that the term "Dark Ages" and all which made up its connotation was a myth, has dispelled the disdain for anything Medieval. The terra Scholastic suggests to the modern mind the Middle Ages, and rightly so, for this period of intellectual pursuit was the Golden age of Scholasticism. Historians have found in the darkness the never to be extinguished "light" of intellectual endeavor in its highest form. The term "Middle Ages" and its characteristic philosophy can at least be tolerated by the modern mind. And once this toleration gives way to curiosity, the thinker of today has made the first step in the discovery of the true philosophy? that which holds things as they really are— the moderate realism of Thomas. The second reason given for the acceptance of Scholasticism as a recognized system of thought is that modern thought, though unconsciously, is directing itself toward Scholastic ideas. The interaction between body and mind is being discovered; and as a result the concept of the soul is given its place. Also, there is a definite trend toward realism in the epistemologies of the day. "...realistic philosophy is still alive and is once more arousing widespread interest and serious study” is the comment of Dr. John Wild of Harvard University.
Scholastic Philosophy is regaining its lost prestige. The basic reason for this, however, is internal to the system itself. The guardian of scholasticism, the Church, realized its decadence and in the voice of Leo XIII and his successors have urged and commanded its rejuvenation. Scholastic Philosophy has come into its own, not because of any reason extrinsic to it, but because of a revival from within.
On August 4, 1879* Pope Leo XIII issued the Encyclical Aeterni Patris on the return to the Philosophy of St. Thomas. Leo realized the fact that Thomism as such was dead. Philosophers continued to call themselves Scholastics but the philosophy they held was far removed from that of the Angelic Doctor. Addressed to the laity as well as to the clergy, the Papal letter Places the cause of the ’’troubles that vex public and private life” in the fact that the masses have accented "false conclusions concerning divine and human things...” Leo points out that since it is man*s nature to follow his reason in his activities, the sins of his intellect will also corrupt his will. Although he does not place the cause for the existing evils entirely in the philosophic systems of the time, he does stress the right use of philosophy as a remedy.
Stupca, Edward, "The Position Of The Scholastic In The Twentieth Century" (1957). Philosophy Undergraduate Theses. 45.