Saturday, April 21, 2012

Peter Abelard (1079-1142 )

Abelard a medieval french scholastic philosopher, theologian, poet, musician and preeminent logician has been described as "the keenest thinker and boldest theologian of the 12th Century"  His love affair with Heloise is of the stuff that fuels legend

While only twenty-two, Abelard set up a school of his own at Melum,
 Eventually he set up a school school in Paris over looking 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. 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

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.

Helolise was living within the precincts of Notre-Dame, under the care of her uncle, the canon Fulbert.She was brilliant  and remarkable for her knowledge of classical letters.  Abélard seduced Héloïse.  She became pregnant and was sent to Brittany by Abelar, where she gave birth to a son whom she named Astrolabe

they were married in secret  in order not to mar his career prospects. Fulbert publicly disclosed the marriage, and Héloïse denied it, she went to the convent of Argentillat  on Abélard's urging. Fulbert, believing that Abélard wanted to be rid of Héloïse, had him castrated. 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.

 The 40-year-old Abélard sought to bury himself as a monk. Finding no respite in the cloister and having gradually turned again to study, he 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.

 No sooner had he published his theological lectures (the Theologia 'Summi Boni') and he found himself being charged with the heresy. An official condemnation of his teaching, forced made to burn his book before being shut up in the convent of St. Medard at Soissons.

 Life in the monastery grew intolerable  and he was finally allowed to leave. In a deserted place near  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  he consecrated the new Oratory of the Paraclete.

Fearing new persecution he left the oratory. During this time Héloïse had lived respectably and grown in stature within the religious community, where she would eventually become abbess. 

By 1136, Abélard returned to the site of his early triumphs, lecturing on Mount St. Genevieve.  In 1141   Bernard of Clarvioux, in whom was incarnated the principle of fervent and unhesitating faith, to which rational inquiry like Abélard's was sheer revolt, brought formal charges of heresy against Abélard. He appealed to Rome.

He died in the Abbey of Cluny while on his way to Rome to plea his case in person, 

 He is also closely associated with the moral influence theory of the atonement.

compiled from various sources

No comments: