ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf


173. Life and Works. -- PETER ABELARD was born at Pallet in 1079. Sprung from a family of warriors he had a stormy and chequered career in the intellectual battlefield of dialectic. From the school of Roscelin he passed to that of William of Champeaux; from Paris to Melun, thence to Corbeil; back once more to Paris, challenging all and sundry to philosophical controversies in which he always boasted of victory in advance. He studied theology under Anselm of Laon. Subsequently, when teaching the sacred science at the French metropolis, elated beyond measure by the applause of an admiring and enthusiastic audience, he believed and proclaimed himself the only philosopher of his time. But "Pride goeth before destruction: and the spirit is lifted up before a fall" (Prov. xvi. 18). After success came misfortune. Forced to quit Paris, Abelard wandered proscribed and almost unbefriended from monastery to monastery until his death, in 1142, at the abbey of St. Marcel-lez-Châlons.

Abelard's writings are numerous. In dogmatic theology: Tractatus de Unitate et Trinitate Divine; Theologia Christiana; Introductio ad Theologiam, which is only the first -- and sole surviving -- part of the preceding; the Sic et Non. In philosophy: Scito Teipsum seu Ethica; Dialogus inter Philosophum, Judaeum et Christianum; Glosses on Aristotle, Porphyry and Boëthius; Dialectica. His Historia Calamitatum is a long narrative of his own misfortunes. We shall deal only with his philosophy here, postponing our notice of his theology to the next article.

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