Original Research

The case for post-scholasticism as an internal period indicator in Medieval philosophy

Johann Beukes
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 77, No 4 | a6270 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v77i4.6270 | © 2021 Johann Beukes | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 July 2020 | Published: 19 March 2021

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Johann Beukes, Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Humanities, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa

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This article responds to a critical research challenge in Medieval philosophy scholarship regarding the internal periodisation of the register. By arguing the case for ‘post-scholasticism’ as an internal period indicator (1349–1464, the era between the deaths of William of Ockham and Nicholas of Cusa), defined as ‘the transformation of high scholasticism on the basis of a selective departure thereof’, the article specifies a predisposition in the majority of introductions to and commentaries in Medieval philosophy to proceed straight from 1349 to 1464, understating 115 years of pertinent Medieval philosophical discourse. It is argued that in the modern account of Medieval philosophy, this understatement is manifested in either a predating of Renaissance philosophy to close the gap between 1349 and 1464 as far as possible or in proceeding straight from 1349 to Renaissance philosophy. The article presents five unique philosophical themes from this delicate period, indicating that ‘post-scholasticism’ was indeed a productive period in late Medieval philosophy, which should not be bypassed as an inconsequential entrance to Renaissance philosophy. The period 1349–1464 should accordingly be appreciated for its idiosyncratic contributions to the history of ideas in the late-14th and early-15th centuries, with reference to the political intensification of the via moderna, the pivotal separation of philosophy and theology and the resulting independence of the natural sciences, in res critique of institutions, transforming pragmatics and the rise of philosophical materialism.

Contribution: This article contributes to methodological development in Medieval philosophy by responding to a critical research challenge regarding the internal periodisation of the later Middle Ages. Arguing the case for ‘post-scholasticism’ as an internal period indicator (1349 to 1464 in Medieval philosophy, the article presents unique philosophical themes from the period, indicating that it was a productive stage in late Medieval philosophy which should not be bypassed as an inconsequential entrance to Renaissance philosophy.


internal periodisation of Medieval philosophy; late Medieval philosophy; neo-scholasticism; orientalism in Medieval philosophy; Oxford Calculators; the problem of the ‘canon’ in Medieval philosophy; post-scholasticism; Renaissance philosophy


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