There cannot be any doubt that some of the characteristics fit — religious life in the age of ‘One God, One Church,’ as compared to religious life in the age of hundreds of denominations, is the standard example. But neither can there be any doubt that as a whole those abstract pictures are ludicrously inadequate. Is it possible to imagine a fiercer individualist than a knight? Did not the whole trouble that medieval civilization experienced with military and political management (and which largely accounts for its failures) arise precisely from this fact? And is the member of a modern labor union or the mechanized farmer of today really so much more of an individualist than was the medieval member of a craft guild or the medieval peasant? Therefore, the reader should not be shocked to learn that the individualist streak in medieval thought also was much stronger than is commonly supposed. This is true, both in the sense that opinion was much more differentiated individually and in the sense that the individual phenomenon and (in speculations about society) the individual man were much more carefully attended to than we are apt to think.
Scholastic sociology and economics, in particular, are strictly individualist, if we understand this to mean that the doctors, so far as they aimed at description and explanation of economic facts, started invariably from the individual’s tastes and behavior. That they applied super-individual canons of justice to these facts is not relevant to the logical nature of their analysis; but even these canons were derived from a moral schema in which the individual was an end in himself and the central idea of which was the salvation of individual souls.