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  Scholasticism (Greek, ‘studiousness’) was a method of analysis developed in pre-scientific societies, particularly in ancient Greece. It assumed that truth about any matter from the existence of God to the life cycle of the mosquito could be determined by thought alone. If enough people gave enough time to thinking about and discussing the issue in all its aspects, they would reach a consensus, and that would be truth. There was no need for examination, research or experiment; brainpower was all that was needed. The scholastic idea (it was hardly a method) bedevilled philosophical, religious, scientific and social thought for millennia, and still survives in the legal and religious thinking of many societies. In Europe, it degenerated into disputations about such matters as the size of angels or the nature of the soul of a butterfly until it was sliced down by the principle which is known in Jewish logic as sebhara, which was nicknamed ‘Ockham\'s razor’ (after William of Ockham, who enunciated it in the 14th century) and which is now known in science as the principle of economy. This states that ‘entities should not be unnecessarily multiplied’, that is that generalizations should be based on observed facts, not on other generalizations, and that all irrelevancies in an explanation should be pruned away. KMcL

See also logic; scientific method.



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