Monday, June 15, 2009


French scholastic philosopher and theologian. Born in Pallet, near Nantes, of an aristocratic Breton family, he studied under Roscellinus, William of Champeaux, and Anselm of Laon. In 1113 he began lecturing in Paris on dialectic and theology. Here in 1118 his tragic love affair with Héloïse resulted in his horrible mutilation by her uncle, Fulbert, a canon of Notre Dame, and his subsequent withdrawal to the abbey of St. Denis as a monk. In 1121 the Council of Soissons condemned his teaching on the Trinity. Because Dionysius the Areopagite, and because of other differences sequently he established a small refuge of his own. “The Paraclete,” near Troyes. In 1125 he was made abbot of St. Gildas, where he tried vainly to reform the undisciplined life of the monks. Around 1136 Abelard was teaching again in Paris, where Arnold of Brescia and John of Salisbury were his pupils. But, arousing the enmity of St. Bernard, he was condemned for heresy again in 1141 by the Council of Sens. Summoned to Rome by Innocent II, he stopped at Cluny, where, weakened by illness, he was well received by Peter the Venerable, impressed everyone with the piety of his life, and was reconciled with St. Bernard. In 1142 he died at the Cluniac priory of St. Marcel. In philosophy Abelard’s position lies between the extreme realism of William of Champeaux and the crude nominalism of Roscellinus. In theology he used dialectic as an adjunct of authority.

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