The critics of Aquinas - Duns Scotus and the later Nominalists - show some tendency towards rational scepticism.
The latter position, ascribed by the schoolmen to the Averroists, becomes dominant among the later Nominalists, William of Occam and his disciples, who withdraw all doctrines of faith from the sphere of reason.
The controversy between nominalists and realists arose from a passage in Boethius' translation of Porphyry's Introduction to the Categories of Aristotle, which propounded the problem of genera and species, (1) as to whether they subsist in themselves or only in the mind; (2) whether, if subsistent, they are corporeal or incorporeal; and (3) whether separated from sensible things or placed in them.
The Realists held that universals alone have substantial reality, existing ante res; the Nominalists that universals are mere names invented to express the qualities of particular things and existing post res; while the Conceptualists, mediating between the two extremes, held that universals are concepts which exist in our minds and express real similarities in things themselves.
The controversy was between Nominalists and Realists; and, exclusively logical as the point may at first sight seem to be, adherence to one side or the other is an accurate indication of philosophic tendency.
There were Nominalists before Roscellinus among these early thinkers.
Realism was in the beginning of the 12th century the dominant doctrine and the doctrine of the church; the Nominalists were the innovators and the especial representatives of the Rationalistic Summists.
Finally, by abstraction from the individual things of sense, the mind is able to contemplate the universal apart from its accompaniments (animal sine homine, asino, et aliis speciebus); these subjective existences are the universalia post rem of the Nominalists and Conceptualists.
He is with the nominalists of the later Scholasticism and the naturalists of the early Renaissance.
Thus, quite apart from the general similarity of their ethical doctrine, the Cynics were materialists; they were also nominalists, and combated the Platonic ideas; in their theory.
Though he may technically be classed as an " extreme realist, " Duns is the forerunner of those later Nominalists, like William of Occam, who unsettled every intellectual ground of belief in order that they might resettle belief upon Church authority, not reason but rather scepticism being for them the ancilla domini.
The tradition that he was forced to flee from France along with other nominalists, and founded the university of Vienna in 1356, is unsupported and in contradiction to the fact that the university was founded by Frederick II.
An ordinance of Louis XI., in 1473, directed against the nominalists, prohibited the reading of his works.