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The Difference between Scholasticism and Empiricism

In his essay, “The Will to Believe”, the 20th century Harvard philosopher William James said the following:

“Our great difference from the Scholastic lies in the direction we face. The strength of his system lies in the principles, the origin, the terminus a quo of his thought; for us the strength is in the outcome, the upshot, the terminus ad quem.”

William James
“The Will to Believe”

I believe this expresses perfectly ny feelings about Catholic faith, Scholastic theology and modern science.

I am more confident in the source of my Catholic faith than in the results of my personal observation. I am more confident in the conclusions of Doctors of the Church than in those of modern scientists. This is exactly why I prefer to be a Scholastic than an Empiricist. This is why I will always trust the Scriptures and the Church and doubt the scientists who contradict them.

I would rather die doubting the observations of men and trusting in the authority of God. Interestingly, James argues in his essay that we are perfectly free to do so.


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