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Birthname:Pierre Abélard

"Abaelardus and Heloïse surprised by Master Fulbert", by Romanticist painter Jean Vignaud (1819)
Full name Birthname:Pierre Abélard
Born 1079
Died 21 April 1142
Era Medieval Philosophy
Region Western Philosophers
School Scholasticism
Main interests Metaphysics, Logic, Philosophy of language, Theology
Notable ideas Conceptualism, Scholasticism

Peter Abelard (Lt: Petrus Abaelardus or Abailard; Fr: Pierre Abélard) (1079 – April 21, 1142) was a medieval French scholastic philosopher, theologian and preeminent logician. The story of his affair with and love for Héloïse has become legendary. The Chambers Biographical Dictionary describes him as "the keenest thinker and boldest theologian of the 12th Century".[1]

Contents

Life

Youth

Abelard, originally called 'Pierre le Pallet' was born in the little village of Le Pallet, about 10 miles east of Nantes, in Brittany, the eldest son of a minor noble Breton family. As a boy, he learned quickly, being encouraged by his father, he studied the liberal arts and excelled at the art of dialectic (a branch of philosophy), which, at that time, consisted chiefly of the logic of Aristotle transmitted through Latin channels. Instead of entering a military career, as his father had done, Abelard became an academic. During his early academic pursuits, Abelard wandered throughout France, debating and learning, so as (in his own words) "he became such an one as the Peripatetics."[2] The nominalist Roscellinus of Compiègne was his teacher during this period.[1]

Rise to fame

Abelard and his pupil, Héloïse, by Edmund Blair Leighton

Abelard's travels finally brought him to Paris while still in his teens. There, in the great cathedral school of Notre-Dame de Paris,[1] he was taught for a while by William of Champeaux, the disciple of Anselm of Laon (not to be confused with Saint Anselm) a leading proponent of Realism. It was during this time that he changed his surname to "Abélard", sometimes written "Abailard" or "Abaelardus". He was soon able to defeat the master in argument, resulting in a long duel that ended in the downfall of the philosophic theory of Realism, till then dominant in the early Middle Ages (to be replaced by Abelard's Conceptualism, or by Nominalism, the principal rival of Realism prior to Abelard). First, against opposition from the metropolitan teacher, while yet only twenty-two, Abelard set up a school of his own at Melun, then, for more direct competition, he moved to Corbeil, nearer Paris.

The success of his teaching was notable, though for a time he had to give it up, the strain proving too great for his constitution. On his return, after 1108, he found William lecturing at Saint-Victor, just outside the Ile-de-la-cite, and there they once again became rivals. Abelard was once more victorious, and now stood supreme. William was only temporarily able to prevent him from lecturing in Paris. From Melun, where he had resumed teaching, Abelard went on to the capital, and set up his school on the heights of Montagne Sainte-Geneviève, overlooking Notre-Dame. From his success in dialectic, he next turned to theology and attended the lectures of Anselm at Laon. His triumph was complete; the pupil was able to give lectures, without previous training or special study, which were acknowledged superior to those of the master. Abelard was now at the height of his fame. He stepped into the chair at Notre-Dame, being also nominated canon, about the year 1115.

Distinguished in figure and manners, Abelard was seen surrounded by crowds — it is said thousands of students — drawn from all countries by the fame of his teaching. Enriched by the offerings of his pupils, and entertained with universal admiration, he came, as he says, to think himself the only undefeated philosopher in the world. But a change in his fortunes was at hand. In his devotion to science, he had always lived a very regular life, enlivened only by philosophical debate: now, at the height of his fame, he encountered romance.

  1. ^  Though it was located on the same spot in the Île de la Cité, the cathedral of Abelard's time was not the same as the cathedral we see today. Construction on the current Notre-Dame de Paris would not be begun until 1163.

Héloïse

Abélard and Héloïse depicted in a 14th century manuscript

Living within the precincts of Notre-Dame, under the care of her uncle, the canon Fulbert, was Héloïse. She was remarkable for her knowledge of classical letters, which extended beyond Latin to Greek and Hebrew. Abélard sought a place in Fulbert's house, then seduced Héloïse. The affair interfered with his career, and Abélard himself boasted of his conquest. Once Fulbert found out, they were separated, but met in secret. Héloïse became pregnant and was sent by Abélard to Brittany, where she gave birth to a son she named Astrolabe after the scientific instrument.

To appease Fulbert, Abélard proposed a secret marriage in order not to mar his career prospects. Héloïse initially opposed it, but the couple married. When Fulbert publicly disclosed the marriage, and Héloïse denied it, she went to the convent of Argenteuil at Abélard's urging. Fulbert, believing that Abélard wanted to be rid of Héloïse, had him castrated, effectively ending Abélard's career. Héloïse was forced to become a nun. Héloïse sent letters to Abélard, questioning why she must submit to a religious life for which she had no calling.

According to historian Constant Mews in his The Lost Love Letters of Héloïse and Abélard, a set of 113 anonymous love letters found in a fifteenth century manuscript represent the correspondence exchanged by Héloïse and Abelard during the earlier phase of their affair.

Later life

It was in the Abbey of Saint-Denis that Abélard, now aged forty, sought to bury himself as a monk with his woes out of sight. Finding no respite in the cloister, and having gradually turned again to study, he gave in to urgent entreaties, and reopened his school at an unknown priory. His lectures, now framed in a devotional spirit, were once again heard by crowds of students, and his old influence seemed to have returned, but he still had many enemies against whom he could make less vigorous opposition.

No sooner had he published his theological lectures (the Theologia 'Summi Boni') than his adversaries picked up on his rationalistic interpretation of the Trinitarian dogma. Charging him with the heresy of Sabellius in a provincial synod held at Soissons in 1121, they obtained through irregular procedures an official condemnation of his teaching, and he was made to burn his book before being shut up in the convent of St. Medard at Soissons. It was the bitterest possible experience that could befall him.

Life in his own monastery proved no more congenial than before. For this Abélard himself was partly responsible. He took a sort of malicious pleasure in irritating the monks. As if for the sake of a joke, he cited Bede to prove that Dionysius the Areopagite had been Bishop of Corinth, while they relied upon the statement of the Abbot Hilduin that he had been Bishop of Athens. When this historical heresy led to the inevitable persecution, Abélard wrote a letter to the Abbot Adam in which he preferred to the authority of Bede that of Eusebius of Caesarea's Historia Ecclesiastica and St. Jerome, according to whom Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, was distinct from Dionysius the Areopagite, bishop of Athens and founder of the abbey, though, in deference to Bede, he suggested that the Areopagite might also have been bishop of Corinth.

Life in the monastery grew intolerable for Abélard, and he was finally allowed to leave. In a deserted place near Nogent-sur-Seine, he built a cabin of stubble and reeds, and became a hermit. When his retreat became known, students flocked from Paris, and covered the wilderness around him with their tents and huts. When he began to teach again, he found consolation and in gratitude he consecrated the new Oratory of the Paraclete.

Fearing new persecution, Abélard left the Oratory to find another refuge, accepting an invitation to preside over the Abbey of Saint-Gildas-de-Rhuys on the far-off shore of Lower Brittany. The region was inhospitable, the domain a prey to outlaws, the house itself savage and disorderly. Yet for nearly ten years he continued to struggle against fate before he left.

The misery of those years was lightened because he had been able, on the breaking up of Héloïse's convent at Argenteuil, to establish her as head of a new religious house at the deserted Paraclete, and in the capacity of spiritual director he often was called to revisit the spot thus made doubly dear to him.

During this time Héloïse had lived respectably and grown in stature within the religious community, where she would eventually become abbess.

Living on for some time apart (unknown exactly where), after his flight from the Abbey of St Gildas, Abélard wrote, among other things, his famous Historia Calamitatum. This moved Héloïse to write her first Letter, which remains an unsurpassed utterance of human passion and womanly devotion; the first being followed by the two other Letters, in which she finally accepted the part of resignation, which, now as a brother to a sister, Abélard commended to her.

Astrolabe, the son of Abelard and Héloïse, is mentioned by Peter the Venerable of Cluny, where Abelard spent his last years, when Peter the Venerable wrote to Heloise: "I will gladly do my best to obtain a prebend in one of the great churches for your Astrolabe, who is also ours for your sake".[3] A 'Petrus Astralabius' is recorded at the Cathedral of Nantes in 1150, and the same name appears at the Cistercian abbey at Hauterive in what is now Switzerland, but it is uncertain whether this is the same man. However, Astrolabe is recorded as dying at Paraclete on October 29 or 30, year unknown, appearing in the necrology as "Petrus Astralabius magistri nostri Petri filius".[4]"[3]

By 1136, when he was heard by John of Salisbury, Abélard returned to the site of his early triumphs, lecturing on Mount St. Genevieve, but only for a brief time: a last trial awaited him. As far back as the Paraclete days, his chief enemy had been Bernard of Clairvaux, in whom was incarnated the principle of fervent and unhesitating faith, to which rational inquiry like Abélard's was sheer revolt, and now the uncompromising Bernard moved to crush the growing evil in the person of the boldest offender.

In 1141, after preliminary negotiations, in which Bernard was roused by Abélard's steadfastness to put forth all his strength, a council met at Sens, before which Abélard, formally arraigned upon a number of heretical charges, prepared to plead his cause. When, however, Bernard had opened the case, Abélard appealed to Rome. Bernard, who had power to get a condemnation passed at the council, did not rest until a second condemnation was procured at Rome in the following year.

Death

Meanwhile, on his way to urge his plea in person in Rome, Abélard remained at the abbey of Cluny, and there he lingered only a few months before the approach of death. Removed by friends, for the relief of his sufferings, to the priory of St. Marcel, near Chalon-sur-Saône, Abélard died. He is said to have uttered the last words "I don't know", before expiring.[5]

Composite image of the tomb of Abelard et Héloïse and various details

First buried at St. Marcel, his remains were soon carried off secretly to the Paraclete, and given over to the loving care of Héloïse, who in time came herself to rest beside them in 1163. Their tomb is found in the Cimetière du Père Lachaise in Paris.

Disputed resting place/lovers' pilgrimage

The bones of the pair were moved more than once afterwards, but they were preserved even through the vicissitudes of the French Revolution, and now are presumed to lie in the well-known tomb in the cemetery of Père Lachaise in eastern Paris. The transfer of their remains there in 1817 is considered to have considerably contributed to the popularity of that cemetery, at the time still far outside the built-up area of Paris. By tradition, lovers or lovelorn singles leave letters at the crypt, in tribute to the couple or in hope of finding true love.

Dedicatory panel.

There is dissent as to their actual resting place. The Oratory of the Paraclete claims Abélard and Héloïse are buried on their site and that what exists in Père-Lachaise is merely a monument, or cenotaph. According to Père-Lachaise, the remains of both lovers were transferred from the Oratory in the early 1800s and reburied in the famous crypt on their grounds. There are still others who believe that while Abelard is buried in the tomb at Père-Lachaise, Heloïse's remains are elsewhere.

Philosophy

Philosophical work

The general importance of Abelard lies in his having fixed more decisively than anyone before him the scholastic manner of philosophizing, with the object of giving a formally rational expression to received ecclesiastical doctrine. However his own particular interpretations may have been condemned, they were conceived in essentially the same spirit as the general scheme of thought afterwards elaborated in the 13th century with approval from the heads of the Church.

He helped to establish the ascendancy of the philosophical authority of Aristotle which became firmly established in the half-century after his death. It was at this time that the completed Organon, and gradually all the other works of the Greek thinker, first came to be available in the schools. Before his time Plato's authority was the basis for the prevailing Realism. As regards his so-called Conceptualism and his attitude to the question of Universals, see Scholasticism.

Outside of his dialectic, it was in ethics that Abelard showed greatest activity of philosophical thought. He laid particular stress upon the subjective intention as determining, if not the moral character, at least the moral value, of human action. His thought in this direction, anticipating something of modern speculation, is the more remarkable because his scholastic successors accomplished least in the field of morals, hardly venturing to bring the principles and rules of conduct under pure philosophical discussion, even after the great ethical inquiries of Aristotle became fully known to them.

Pope Innocent III accepted Abelard's Doctrine of Limbo, which amended Augustine of Hippo's Doctrine of Original Sin. The Vatican accepted the view that unbaptized babies did not, as at first believed, go straight to Hell but to a special area of limbo, "limbus infantium". They would therefore feel no pain but no supernatural happiness either (only natural) because, it was held, they would not be able to see the deity that created them.[6]

Reception

Abelard was an enormous influence on his contemporaries and the course of medieval thought, but he has been known in modern times mainly for his connection with Héloïse. It was not till the 19th century, when Cousin in 1836 issued the collection entitled Ouvrages inedits d'Abelard, that his philosophical performance could be judged at first hand. Only one of his strictly philosophical works, the ethical treatise Scito te ipsum, had been published earlier, in 1721.

Cousin's collection gave extracts from the theological work Sic et Non ("Yes and No") which is an assemblage of opposite opinions on doctrinal points culled from the Fathers as a basis for discussion, the main interest in which lies in the fact that there is no attempt to reconcile the different opinions. Cousin's collection also includes the Dialectica, commentaries on logical works of Aristotle, Porphyry and Boethius, and a fragment, De Generibus et Speciebus.

The last-named work, and also the psychological treatise De Intellectibus, published separately by Cousin (in Fragmens Philosophiques, vol. ii.), are now considered upon internal evidence not to be by Abelard himself, but only to have sprung out of his school. A genuine work, the Glossulae super Porphyrium, from which Charles de Rémusat has given extracts in his classical monograph Abélard (1845), was published in 1930.

Primary Works

  • Logica ingredientibus (Logic for Beginners) completed before 1121 (the most important logical work)
  • Petri Abaelardi Glossae in Porphyrium (The Glosses of Peter Abailard on Porphyry) ca. 1120
  • Dialectica, before 1125 (1115-1116 according to John Marenbon, The Philosophy of Peter Abelard, Cambridge University Press 1997)
  • Logica nostrorum petitioni sociorum (Logic in response to the request of our comrades) ca. 1124-1125
  • Tractatus de intellectibus (A treatise on understanding) before 1128
  • Sic et Non (A list of quotations from Christian authorities on philosophical and theological questions)
  • Theologia 'Summi Boni', Theologia christiana, and Theologia 'scholarium'. His main work on systematic theology written between 1120 and 1140, and appeared in a number of versions under a number of titles (shown in chronological order).
  • Dialogue of a Philosopher with a Jew and a Christian, 1136–1139
  • Ethics or Know Yourself (Ethica or Scito Te Ipsum), before 1140
  • Historia calamitatum (The history of my calamities), Autobiography in epistolary form. Available at Fordham Medieval Sourcebook [2]
  • Abelard & Heloise: The Letters and other Writings, translated with introduction and notes, by William Levitan, 2007, ISBN 978-0-87220-875-9.

Music

Abelard was also long known as an important poet and composer. Abelard composed some celebrated love songs for Héloïse that are now lost, and which have not been identified in the anonymous repertoire. Héloïse praised these songs in a letter: "The great charm and sweetness in language and music, and a soft attractiveness of the melody obliged even the unlettered".[7]

Abelard later composed a hymn book for the religious community that Héloïse joined. This hymn book, written after 1130, differed from contemporary hymnals, such as that of Bernard of Clairvaux, in that Abelard used completely new and homogeneous material. They were grouped by metre, which meant that comparatively few melodies could be used. Only one melody from this hymnal survives, O quanta qualia.[7]

Abelard also left six biblical planctus (laments), which were very original and influenced the subsequent development of the lai, a song form that flourished in northern Europe in the 13th and 14th centuries.

Melodies that have survived have been praised as "flexible, expressive melodies [that] show an elegance and technical adroitness that are very similar to the qualities that have been long admired in Abelard's poetry."[8]

See also

William of St-Thierry

Cultural references

Bibliography

  • Gilson, Etienne (1960). Heloise and Abelard. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0472060384. 
  • Clanchy, M. (1997). Abelard: A Medieval Life.. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0631214445. 
  • Marenbon, John (1997). The Philosophy of Peter Abelard. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521663997. 
  • Brower, Jeffrey; Kevin Guilfoy (2004). The Cambridge Companion to Abelard. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0521772478. 
  • Mews, Constant (2001). The Lost Love Letters of Heloise and Abelard : Perceptions of Dialogue in Twelfth-Century France. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 0312239416. 
  • Mews, Constant (2005). Abelard and Heloise. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0195156897. 
  • de Rémusat, Charles (1845). Abélard. 2. Paris: Ladrange. OCLC 6403439. http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/12829. . Charles de Remusat's Abelard remains an authority; it must be distinguished from his drama Abelard (1877), which is an attempt to give a picture of medieval life.
  • Chevalier, Ulysse. "Abailard" in Repertoire des sources historiques du moyen age. Paris: Societe bibliographique, 1877-1903. A comprehensive bibliography.
  • Radice, Betty (1974). The Letters of Abelard and Heloise. London: Penguin Books. ISBN 0140442979. 
  • Sapir Abulafia, Anna (1995). Christians and Jews in the Twelfth-Century Renaissance. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-00012-3. 

References

  1. ^ a b Chambers Biographical Dictionary, ISBN 0-550-18022-2, page 3
  2. ^ Abelard, Peter. Historia Calamitatum. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/abelard-histcal.html. Retrieved 2008-12-07. 
  3. ^ a b Betty Radice (trans.), The Letters of Abelard and Heloise (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974), p. 287
  4. ^ Enid McLeod, Héloise (London: Chatto & Windus, 2nd edn., 1971, pp. 253, 283-84
  5. ^ Davies, Norman (1996). Europe: A history. Oxford University Press. p. 687. ISBN 978-0198201717. http://books.google.com/books?id=jrVW9W9eiYMC. Retrieved 2008-12-07. 
  6. ^ International Theological Commission, the Vatican. "The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptised". http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_20070419_un-baptised-infants_en.html. Retrieved 2008-12-07. 
  7. ^ a b Lorenz Weinrich. "Peter Abelard", Grove Music Online, ed. L. Macy (accessed April 10 2007), grovemusic.com (subscription access).
  8. ^ Oliver, Michael (1995). "Review: a CD of Abelard's music" (registration required). [[Gramophone (magazine)|]]. http://www.gramophone.co.uk/gramofilereview.asp?reviewID=9503094&mediaID=38977&issue=Reviewed%3A+Gramophone+3%2F1995. Retrieved 2008-12-07. 
  9. ^ "Press Release Comedy July 2006" (PDF). http://www.shakespeares-globe.org/docs/press_release_comedy_07-06.pdf. Retrieved 2008-12-07. 
  10. ^ "Rage of the Heart Home Page". http://rageoftheheart.com/. Retrieved 2008-12-07. 

External links

Universals


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Constant and frequent questioning is the first key to wisdom … For through doubting we are led to inquire, and by inquiry we perceive the truth.

Peter Abelard or Petrus Abaelardus (10791142-04-21) was a French scholastic philosopher and theologian. His tragic affair with his pupil Héloïse became one of the best-known love stories of the Middle Ages.

Sourced

When the same thing is done by the same man at different times, by the diversity of his intention, however, his action is now said to be good, now bad.
  • Prima sapientiae clavis definitur, assidua scilicet seu frequens interrogation … Dubitando enim ad inquisitionem venimus; inquirendo veritatem percipimus.
    • Constant and frequent questioning is the first key to wisdom … For through doubting we are led to inquire, and by inquiry we perceive the truth.
    • Sic et Non, Prologus; translation from Frank Pierrepont Graves A History of Education During the Middle Ages and the Transition to Modern Times ([1918] 2005) p. 53.
  • Bonam quippe intentionem, hoc est, rectam in se dicimus, operationem vero non quod boni aliquid in se suscipiat, sed quod ex bona intentione procedat. Unde et ab eodem homine cum in diversis temporibus idem fiat, pro diversitate tamen intentione eius operatio modo bono modo mala dicitur.
    • In fact we say that an intention is good, that is, right in itself, but that an action does not bear any good in itself but proceeds from a good intention. Whence when the same thing is done by the same man at different times, by the diversity of his intention, however, his action is now said to be good, now bad.
    • Ethica, seu Scito Teipsum, Bk. 1; translation by D E Luscombe from Peter Abelard's Ethics (1971) p. 53.
  • O quanta qualia
    sunt illa sabbata,
    quae semper celebrat
    superna curia.
    • How mighty are the Sabbaths,
      How mighty and how deep,
      That the high courts of heaven
      To everlasting keep.
    • "Sabbato ad Vesperas", line 1; translation from Helen Waddell Mediaeval Latin Lyrics ([1929] 1933) p. 163.
  • The purpose and cause of the incarnation was that He might illuminate the world by His wisdom and excite it to the love of Himself.
    • As quoted in "The Abelardian Doctrine Of The Atonement" (1892), published in Doctrine and Development : University Sermons (1898) by Hastings Rashdall, p. 138

External links

Wikipedia
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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

PETER ABELARD (1079-1142), scholastic philosopher, was born at Pallet (Palais), not far from Nantes, in 1079. He was the eldest son of a noble Breton house. The name Abaelardus (also written Abaelardus, Abaielardus, and in many other ways) is said to be a corruption of Habelardus, substituted by himself for a nickname Bajolardus given to him when a student. As a boy, he showed an extraordinary quickness of apprehension, and, choosing a learned life instead of the knightly career natural to a youth of his birth, early became an adept in the art of dialectic, under which name philosophy, meaning at that time chiefly the logic of Aristotle transmitted through Latin channels, was the great subject of liberal study in the episcopal schools. Roscellinus, the famous canon of Compiegne, is mentioned by himself as his teacher; but whether he heard this champion of extreme Nominalism in early youth, when he wandered about from school to school for instruction and exercise, or some years later, after he had already begun to teach for himself, remains uncertain. His wanderings finally brought him to Paris, still under the age of twenty. There, in the great cathedral school of Notre-Dame, he sat for a while under the teaching of William of Champeaux, the disciple of St Anselm and most advanced of Realists, but, presently stepping forward, he overcame the master in discussion, and thus began a long duel that issued in the downfall of the philosophic theory of Realism, till then dominant in the early Middle Age. First, in the teeth of opposition from the metropolitan teacher, while yet only twenty-two, he proceeded to set up a school of his own at Melun, whence, for more direct competition, he removed to Corbeil, nearer Paris. The success of his teaching was signal, though for a time he had to quit the field, the strain proving too great for his physical strength. On his return, after i108, he found William lecturing no longer at Notre-Dame, but in a monastic retreat outside the city, and there battle was again joined between them. Forcing upon the Realist a material change of doctrine, he was once more victorious, and thenceforth he stood supreme. His discomfited rival still had power to keep him from lecturing in Paris, but soon failed in this last effort also. From Melun, where he had resumed teaching, Abelard passed to the capital, and set up his school on the heights of St Genevieve, looking over Notre-Dame. From his success in dialectic, he next turned to theology and attended the lectures of Anselm at Laon. His triumph over the theologian was complete; the pupil was able to give lectures, without previous training or special study, which were acknowledged superior to those of the master. Abelard was now at the height of his fame. He stepped into the chair at Notre-Dame, being also nominated canon, about the year 1115.

Few teachers ever held such sway as Abelard now did for a time. Distinguished in figure and manners, he was seen surrounded by crowds - it is said thousands - of students, drawn from all countries by the fame of his teaching, in which acuteness of thought was relieved by simplicity and grace of exposition. Enriched by the offerings of his pupils, and feasted with universal admiration, he came, as he says, to think himself the only philosopher standing in the world. But a change in his fortunes was at hand. In his devotion to science, he had hitherto lived a very regular life, varied only by the excitement of conflict: now, at the height of his fame, other passions began to stir within him. There lived at that time, within the precincts of Notre-Dame, under the care of her uncle, the canon Fulbert, a young girl named Heloise, of noble extraction, and born about 1101. Fair, but still more remarkable for her knowledge, which extended beyond Latin, it is said, to Greek and Hebrew, she awoke a feeling of love in the breast of Abelard; and with intent to win her, he sought and gained a footing in Fulbert's house as a regular inmate. Becoming also tutor to the maiden, he used the unlimited power which he thus obtained over her for the purpose of seduction, though not without cherishing a real affection which she returned in unparalleled devotion. Their relation interfering with his public work, and being, moreover, ostentatiously sung by himself, soon became known to all the world except the too-confiding Fulbert; and, when at last it could not escape even his vision, they were separated only to meet in secret. Thereupon Heloise found herself pregnant, and was carried off by her lover to Brittany, where she gave birth to a son. To appease her furious uncle, Abelard now proposed a marriage, under the condition that it should be kept secret, in order not to mar his prospects of advancement in the church; but of marriage, whether public or secret, Heloise would hear nothing. She appealed to him not to sacrifice for her the independence of his life, nor did she finally yield to the arrangement without the darkest forebodings, only too soon to be realized. The secret of the marriage was not kept by Fulbert; and when Heloise, true to her singular purpose, boldly denied it, life was made so unsupportable to her that she sought refuge in the convent of Argenteuil. Immediately Fulbert, believing that her husband, who aided in the flight, designed to be rid of her, conceived a dire revenge. He and some others broke into Abelard's chamber by night, and perpetrated on him the most brutal mutilation. Thus cast down from his pinnacle of greatness into an abyss of shame and misery, there was left to the brilliant master only the life of a monk. The priesthood and ecclesiastical office were canonically closed to him. Heloise, not yet twenty, consummated her work of self-sacrifice at the call of his jealous love, and took the veil.

It was in the abbey of St Denis that Abelard, now aged forty, sought to bury himself with his woes out of sight. Finding, however, in the cloister neither calm nor solitude, and having gradually turned again to study, he yielded after a year to urgent entreaties from without and within, and went forth to reopen his school at the priory of Maisoncelle (1120). His lectures, now framed in a devotional spirit, were heard again by crowds of students, and all his old influence seemed to have returned; but old enmities were revived also, against which he was no longer able as before to make head. No sooner had he put in writing his theological lectures (apparently the Introductio ad Theologiam that has come down to us), than his adversaries fell foul of his rationalistic interpretation of the Trinitarian dogma. Charging him with the heresy of Sabellius in a provincial synod held at Soissons in 1121, they procured by irregular practices a condemnation of his teaching, whereby he was made to throw his book into the flames and then was shut up in the convent of St Medard at Soissons. After the other, it was the bitterest possible experience that could befall him, nor, in the state of mental desolation into which it plunged him, could he find any comfort from being soon again set free. The life in his own monastery proved no more congenial than formerly. For this Abelard himself was partly responsible. He took a sort of malicious pleasure in irritating the monks. Quasi jocando, he cited Bede to prove that Dionysius the Areopagite had been bishop of Corinth, while they relied upon the statement of the abbot Hilduin that he had been bishop of Athens. When this historical heresy led to the inevitable persecution, Abelard wrote a letter to the abbot Adam in which he preferred to the authority of Bede that of Eusebius' Historia Ecclesiastica and St Jerome, according to whom Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, was distinct from Dionysius the Areopagite, bishop of Athens and founder of the abbey, though, in deference to Bede, he suggested that the Areopagite might also have been bishop of Corinth. Life in the monastery was intolerable for such a troublesome spirit, and Abelard, who had once attempted to escape the persecution he had called forth by flight to a monastery at Provins, was finally allowed to withdraw. In a desert place near Nogent-sur-Seine, he built himself a cabin of stubble and reeds, and turned hermit. But there fortune came back to him with a new surprise. His retreat becoming known, students flocked from Paris, and covered the wilderness around him with their tents and huts. When he began to teach again he found consolation, and in gratitude he consecrated the new oratory they built for him by the name of the Paraclete.

Upon the return of new dangers, or at least of fears, Abelard left the Paraclete to make trial of another refuge, accepting an invitation to preside over the abbey of St Gildas-de-Rhuys, on the far-off shore of Lower Brittany. It proved a wretched exchange. The region was inhospitable, the domain a prey to lawless exaction, the house itself savage and disorderly. Yet for nearly ten years he continued to struggle with fate before he fled from his charge, yielding in the end only under peril of violent death. The misery of those years was not, however, unrelieved; for he had been able, on the breaking up of Heloise's convent at Argenteuil, to establish her as head of a new religious house at the deserted Paraclete, and in the capacity of spiritual director he often was called to revisit the spot thus made doubly dear to him. All this time Heloise had lived amid universal esteem for her knowledge and character, uttering no word under the doom that had fallen upon her youth; but now, at last, the occasion came for expressing all the pent-up emotions of her soul. Living on for some time apart (we do not know exactly where), after his flight from St Gildas, Abelard wrote, among other things, his famous Historia Calamitatum, and thus moved her to pen her first Letter, which remains an unsurpassed utterance of human passion and womanly devotion; the first being followed by the two other Letters, in which she finally accepted the part of resignation which, now as a brother to a sister, Abelard commended to her. He not long after was seen once more upon the field of his early triumphs lecturing on Mount St Genevieve in 1136 (when he was heard by John of Salisbury), but it was only for a brief space: no new triumph, but a last great trial, awaited him in the few years to come of his chequered life. As far back as the Paraclete days, he had counted as chief among his foes Bernard of Clairvaux, in whom was incarnated the principle of fervent and unhesitating faith, from which rational inquiry like his was sheer revolt, and now this uncompromising spirit was moving, at the instance of others, to crush the growing evil in the person of the boldest offender. After preliminary negotiations, in which Bernard was roused by Abelard's steadfastness to put forth all his strength, a council met at Sens (1141), before which Abelard, formally arraigned upon a number of heretical charges, was prepared to plead his cause. When, however, Bernard, not without foregone terror in the prospect of meeting the redoubtable dialectician, had opened the case, suddenly Abelard appealed to Rome. The stroke availed him nothing; for Bernard, who had power, notwithstanding, to get a condemnation passed at the council, did not rest a moment till a second condemnation was procured at Rome in the following year. Meanwhile, on his way thither to urge his plea in person, Abelard had broken down at the abbey of Cluny, and there, an utterly fallen man, with spirit of the humblest, and only not bereft of his intellectual force, he lingered but a few months before the approach of death. Removed by friendly hands, for the relief of his sufferings, to the priory of St Marcel, near Chalon-sur-Saone, he died on the 21st of April 1142. First buried at St Marcel, his remains soon after were carried off in secrecy to the Paraclete, and given over to the loving care of Heloise, who in time came herself to rest beside them (1164). The bones of the pair were shifted more than once afterwards, but they were marvellously preserved even through the vicissitudes of the French Revolution, and now they lie united in the well-known tomb in the cemetery of Pere-la-Chaise at Paris.

Great as was the influence exerted by Abelard on the minds of his contemporaries and the course of medieval thought, he has been little known in modern times but for his connexion with Heloise. Indeed, it was not till the 9th century, when Cousin in 1836 issued the collection entitled Ouvrages inedits d'Abelard, that his philosophical performance could be judged at first hand; of his strictly philosophical works only one, the ethical treatise Scito to ipsum, having been published earlier, namely, in 1721. Cousin's collection, besides giving extracts from the theological work Sic et Non (an assemblage of opposite opinions on doctrinal points, culled from the Fathers as a basis for discussion, the main interest in which lies in the fact that there is no attempt to reconcile the different opinions), includes the Dialectica, commentaries on logical works of Aristotle, Porphyry and Boethius, and a fragment, De Generibus et Speciebus. The last-named work, and also the psychological treatise De Intellectibus, published apart by Cousin (in Fragmens Philosophiques, vol. ii.), are now considered upon internal evidence not to be by Abelard himself, but only to have sprung out of his school. A genuine work, the Glossulae super Porphyrium, from which Charles de Remusat, in his classical monograph Abelard (1845), has given extracts, remains in manuscript.

The general importance of Abelard lies in his having fixed more decisively than any one before him the scholastic manner of philosophizing, with its object of giving a formally rational expression to the received ecclesiastical doctrine. However his own particular interpretations may have been condemned, they were conceived in essentially the same spirit as the general scheme of thought afterwards elaborated in the 13th century with approval from the heads of the church. Through him was prepared in the Middle Age the ascendancy of the philosophical authority of Aristotle, which became firmly established in the half-century after his death, when first the completed Organon, and gradually all the other works of the Greek thinker, came to be known in the schools: before his time it was rather upon the authority of Plato that the prevailing Realism sought to lean. As regards his so-called Conceptualism and his attitude to the question of Universals, see Scholasticism. Outside of his dialectic, it was in ethics that Abelard showed greatest activity of philosophical thought; laying very particular stress upon the subjective intention as determining, if not the moral character, at least the moral value, of human action. His thought in this direction, wherein he anticipated something of modern speculation, is the more remarkable because his scholastic successors accomplished least in the field of morals, hardly venturing to bring the principles and rules of conduct under pure philosophical discussion, even after the great ethical inquiries of Aristotle became fully known to them.

BIBLIOGRAPHY. - Abelard's own'works remain the best sources for his life, especially his Historia Calamitatum, an autobiography, and the correspondence with Heloise. The literature on Abelard is extensive, but consists principally of monographs on different aspects of his philosophy. Charles de Remusat's Abelard (2 vols., 1845) remains an authority; it must be distinguished from his drama Abelard (1877), which is an attempt to give a picture of medieval life. McCabe's life of Abelard is written closely from the sources. See also the valuable analysis by Nitsch in the article "Abelard" in Hauck's Realencyklopadie f. Prot. Theol. u. Kirche, 3rd ed., 1896. There is a comprehensive bibliography in U. Chevalier, Repertoire des sources hist. du moyen age, s. "Abailard." (G. C. R.; J. T. S.5)


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