Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Henrik Lagerlund


Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1151-5_496-2


In a broad sense, Thomism denotes a form of philosophical and theological thought which draws its main inspiration from the teaching of Thomas Aquinas. Despite differences in context and emphasis, all forms of Thomism purport to follow Aquinas’s doctrine in its principles or main conclusions. In its original scholastic form, Thomism represented the magisterial solution determined by Aquinas, whose adherents were normally, but not always, members of the Dominican order. The development of Thomism from the end of the thirteenth to the end of the sixteenth century can be traced in four main stages: (1) a first stage, roughly from Aquinas’s death in 1274 to the end of the thirteenth century, is marked by the Correctoria controversy, as Dominicans undertook the defense of Thomist teaching in face of external opposition arising from Church authorities and the Franciscan order. (2) On a second stage, from the beginning of the fourteenth century to Aquinas’s canonization in 1323, Thomist teaching is declared the official doctrine of the Dominican order in an effort to dissipate internal opposition and reaffirm its doctrinal credibility after the 1277 condemnation. Although Thomism is still a matter of interpretation, it is during this period that it begins to be established as a distinct philosophy. (3) On a third stage, from Aquinas’s full rehabilitation in 1325 to the end of the fourteenth century, Thomist doctrine gains in normative value. Although opposition still persists, it purports to act as a theological authority within the Church at large. (4) Finally, after a period of relative recession as a result of Dominican unpopularity during the Immaculate Conception controversy, the fifteenth century witnesses a gradual revival of Thomism extending well into the sixteenth. Commentaries on the Summa proliferate; Thomism becomes increasingly systematized and divorced from the dialectical character it owed to its scholastic origins.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Catholic TheologyStrasbourg UniversityStrasbourgFrance