CLEP Humanities : Analyzing the Form of Medieval and Renaissance Nonfiction and Philosophy

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for CLEP Humanities

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Analyzing The Form Of Medieval And Renaissance Nonfiction And Philosophy

Which of the following is the most standard form of philosophical style during the mid to late thirteenth century?

Possible Answers:

Disputed questions

Small treatises

Cursus philosophicus


Homiletic philosophy

Correct answer:

Disputed questions


During the second half of the 13th century, there were several standard philosophical styles. One was the style of literal commentary, which was used for interpreting the texts of Aristotle and other accepted authorities. In addition, within theological circles, there was the development of the so-called "summae"—lengthier summaries of doctrine, sometimes quite systematic in nature.

These large texts, however, were made up of questions that were written in a style quite peculiar to the Middle Ages, namely that of "disputed questions." These texts would set forth a question, take options "pro" and "con" and then make a conclusion based upon both sides of the question. Sometimes, in shorter works like this, the author would only consider the options that were contrary to his own, helping the reader to understand some possible objections to the text. 

This style of disputation was used in many of the treatises that began to be written late in the 13th century and into the 14th. It remained a style that was used especially in Catholic thought for some time. It was, however, most vigorously used as a writing style during this period of the Middle Ages.

(It should be added that there were also short treatises written during this time. They are not, however, the most unique style of writing during the time period.)

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