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In search of nominalism: Two centuries of historical debate

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Chapter Summary

Almost any current textbook on medieval philosophy will, to some extent, characterize the early twelfth century in light of the introduction of nominalism, will view the thirteenth century as an age of moderate realism, and the late Middle Ages as a period dominated by the revival of nominalism. This chapter looks at the changes that have occurred in the historiographical understanding of that topic from the nineteenth century to the present. Johannes (Aventinus) Turmair saw realism and nominalism as two opposing ideologies throughout the scholastic period. The decade of the 1920s not only saw the publication of a number of major studies that extended and reinforced the traditional picture of nominalism, especially those of Michalski, Ritter, Franz Ehrle, and Feckes. It was also the decade in which new texts and approaches appeared that ultimately formed the basis for a reassessment of nominalism, both its twelfth-century and its late medieval history.

Keywords: Franz Ehrle; Johannes (Aventinus) Turmair; nominalism



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