Theological and scholastic theory of Thomas Aquinas...

Theological-scholastic theory of Thomas Aquinas

Plato and Aristotle are not accidentally called geniuses. They have managed to create theories that many generations of educators have been guided by. But the assimilation of their content and, the more so, its development proved to be fraught with considerable difficulties, moreover, aggravated by various historical conditions. To this we have to add that the relations between philosophy, religion and science were rather strained. The latter circumstance, which is of exceptional importance for understanding the status and historical fate of the philosophy of pedagogy, deserves special discussion.

The development of Christianity and Islam led in the Middle Ages (V-XIV centuries) to the growth of antiscientific attitudes. Ancient science could not exist in its former form. Its rapid reform, however, proved impossible. The decline of science led to a transformation of the attitude towards Platonism and Aristotelianism. Two of these systems have now been viewed as a way to understand not so much a science as a theology. To what has been said, it must be added that many of the works of Plato and Aristotle were lost. And those that were preserved were not accessible to the Latins because they were written in Greek. Due to what was said throughout the Middle Ages, the works of Plato and Aristotle were opened by the Latins and Arabs anew, and, as a rule, not in a systematic way. The formation and development of a new pedagogical theory, which by right should be called the theological-scholastic, occurred in painful meditations throughout the Middle Ages. Especially significant in pedagogical respect was Aristotle's doctrine of forms, which, in theological and pedagogical terms, was elevated by Thomas Aquinas. According to Aristotle, God is an activity that suits everything properly. This view turned out to be very relevant for medieval scholastics.

The decisive semantic paradigm of medieval thinkers can be reflected as follows:

Theology as the realm of revelation and faith is metaphysics as the doctrine of the forms (ideas) cognizable by the mind of science as detailed teachings about various areas of reality.

Since medieval scholasticism is most vividly represented by "The sum of theology" Thomas Aquinas, then we will choose it as an example of theological-scholastic pedagogy. This work provides an answer to many questions that have a direct bearing on pedagogy.

What is knowledge ? This is the doctrine of universals as forms. Forms exist in things, in the human mind as abstractions and in the divine mind.

What should I learn? Logic, mathematics, natural science, moral philosophy, theology. First of all, one should learn logic, since it is universal and gives a method for all other teachings. After it comes the turn of mathematics, which is simpler than natural science and is adjacent to sensory cognition. Geometric figures and numbers are learned primarily sensually. Natural science develops intelligence, thinking, which finally culminates in metaphysics. The height of knowledge is theology. But she is not cognized by the intellect, but by a special volitional act - faith. Faith leads the mind, it is primary.

What is the learning method ? Synthesis of sensory impressions and abstraction, which leads to the knowledge of forms. The teacher not so much transfers knowledge to the student in a finished form, how many initiates his own efforts. At the same time, he should be guided by three principles: 1) constant following to the institute of truth; 2) the principle of clarity, protecting against vague explanations; 3) the purity of intentions, which does not allow to obscure the glory of God with one's own. These principles of teaching became relevant for all types of educational institutions (for monastic, episcopal and court schools, as well as for universities).

Who should be trained ? All people (otherwise they will not reach eternal blissful life).

Who can be a teacher ? He who is able to follow the principles of pedagogy (but the only teacher of humanity is only Christ).

Of course, medieval thinkers, in particular Avicenna, Pierre Abelar, William Ockham, offered various versions of theological and scholastic pedagogy. But the paradigm theology → metaphysics science was present to them all.

The scholastic method is often associated with the lecture-seminar methodology cultivated in medieval universities, both in the arts departments and in the theology departments. At the faculties of the arts, grammar, logic, mathematics, physics and ethics were studied. Teachers of these faculties seemingly were not obliged to take care of theology. But the theological censor was always invisibly present, he was feared by both professors and students. At the seminars, questions were raised that were discussed in the course of the dispute. But the conclusions made by the teacher, should not contradict the above paradigm. It was she who formed the essence of the theological-scholastic pedagogy.


1. In medieval pedagogy there was a complex comprehension of the conceptual organization of the world. But it was not possible to move much further than the theory of forms to medieval teachers.

2. The paradigm theology metaphysics science has led to an unjustified alienation of pedagogy from science. It was not easily overcome in the Modern Times.

thematic pictures

Also We Can Offer!

Other services that we offer

If you don’t see the necessary subject, paper type, or topic in our list of available services and examples, don’t worry! We have a number of other academic disciplines to suit the needs of anyone who visits this website looking for help.

How to ...

We made your life easier with putting together a big number of articles and guidelines on how to plan and write different types of assignments (Essay, Research Paper, Dissertation etc)