The purpose of this research is to compare and contrast humanism and scholasticism. The plan of the research will be to set forth definitions of scholasticism and humanism, to show how the transition from the former to the latter took place in Western culture, and to discuss the major commentators and theorists involved in each of the intellectual movements. In particular, the research will treat of humanism's role in overtaking scholasticism as the prevalent intellectual framework of Western culture, with a view toward showing how the transition figured in the emergence of the Renaissance.
To appreciate the differences between scholasticism and humanism, it is useful to explore the genesis of the scholastic method as derived from classical models. According to Kirchner, the eleventh century marked the beginning of a revival of interest in classical or ancient models, which appears to have prefigured the later Renaissance. He refers to the growth of liberal arts, particularly in medieval literature and the new study of law. The model for this revival was Roman rather than Greek during the Middle Ages, and Kirchner says that the study of Roman law led to the development of universities, "regular meeting place for outstanding teachers and mature students, who organized themselves into a closely knit community" (Kirchner, 1960, p. 184). This provided an intellectual forum for speculative philosophy and theology.
Herlihy says that the classical contribution to the intellectual environment of the Middle Ages was "the extraordinary range and wealth of the ideas and values it nurtured" (Herlihy, 1968, p. 5). More specifically, the "ancient world developed remarkable skills in organizing human groups effectively. On the intellectual it also created vigorous habits and effective techniques of systematic thought" (Herlihy, 1968, p. 5).
As an intellectual habit, scholasticism combined authority (biblical) with reason (classical) to const...