A third contrast or conflict was between Thomism and Scotism (Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus – 13th century). In some way this is a continuation of the other struggle, since Duns Scotus was a Franciscan and Thomas a Dominican. But it was not the old problem, it was another new and very important problem, also decisive for the whole modern world – namely, the fight between intellect and will as ultimate principles. For the Dominicans, for Thomism, for the Aristotelian rationality which Thomas introduced into the Church, the intellect is the predominant power; man is man qua intellect. For the Augustinian line, which leads to Duns Scotus, will is the predominant power which makes man man, and God God. God is first of all will, and only on a second level, intellect. Man is first of all will – this is the center of his personality – and only on a second level, intellect.

The world is first created by will and therefore irrational and to be taken empirically, and only on the second level, intellectually ordered; but this order is never final and cannot be taken in by us in deductive terms. So we have another form of conflicting, going on all the time also, going on also through the modern world where people like Bergson can be confronted with a man, for example, like Professor (Brand) Blanshard of Yale who fight with each other, in terms of will and intellect. This is the third of the conflicts going through all the Middle Ages, on which all of us are dependent whether we know it or not, if we start thinking.

The fourth of the conflicting trends is Nominalism against the so-called Realism. Now in order to make this very powerful conflict understandable, we must understand the word “realism.” If you understand what realism was in the Middle Ages, then simply translate it by “idealism”: it was what we call idealism, if idealism is not meant in a moral sense or a special epistemological sense, but if it means that the ideas, the essences, the ousia’s of things have reality and power of being.

Medieval realism is almost 180 degrees the opposite of what we call realism today, and realism today is almost identical with what the medieval people called nominalism. Now this is very confusing, but you as people who have to learn these things should at least be able to understand this confusion.

The reason for it is the following: For medieval man, the universals, the essences, the nature of things, the nature of truth, the nature of man, are powers which determine what every individual tree or every individual man always will become when he or it develops. This is, if you want, mystical realism or, if you want, idealism. Universalia realia – this is medieval realism. They are not, of course, things in time and space; that is a misunderstanding, and then it is a little too easy to reject them and say, “I have never seen “manhood,” I have only seen “Paul” and “Peter”.

Of course this is a wisdom the medieval people, also, knew. But they said all Pauls and Peters always have a nose and eyes and feet and language – this is a phenomenon which must be understood, and it can be understood only if it is understood in terms of the universal, the power of being which we call manhood, and which makes it possible for every man again to become a man, with all these potentialities – which may not develop, which may be destroyed; but he has these potentialities. That is what realism means.