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


181. Life and Works of John of Salisbury. -- John of Salisbury (Johannes Parvus) is one of the most striking figures and remarkable thinkers of his time. Mixed up with the intrigues of politics in Church and State, he became successively secretary to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Theobald, intimate companion of Thomas á Becket, confidential adviser to the English King, Henry II., and trusted friend of Pope Hadrian IV., his fellow-countryman. The intense philosophical movement of the middle of the twelfth century none of his contemporaries followed more closely than he. He arrived in Paris at an early age in the year 1136 and there followed the lectures of the most distinguished professors of the university: Abelard, Alberic, William of Conches, Theoderic of Chartres, Walter of Mortagne, Adam of PetitPont, Gilbert de la Porrée, Robert Pulleyn and many others. In 1176 he was made Bishop of Chartres and died there in 1180.

The exceptionally liberal training of John of Salisbury, his numerous connections with men of learning as testified by his letters, and his remarkable position in the public life of his time, all these things combine to give weight and authority to his writings. Besides his Letters, two lives of saints and some minor religious writings, he has left a philosophical poem entitled Entheticus de Dogmate Philosophorum, a brochure De Septem Septenis and, most important of all, the two treatises, the Polycraticus (1155) and the Metalogicus (1159), which form a unique monument of the history of thought in the twelfth century. No thoroughly exhaustive study of John of Salisbury has yet been made. We will confine ourselves to the more salient points in his personality and life-work.

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