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Encyclopedia > Pierre Abélard
Abaelardus and Heloïse

Pierre Abélard (in English, Peter Abelard) or Abailard (1079April 21, 1142) was a French scholastic philosopher. The story of his affair with Heloise has become legendary. Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Wikipedia does not have an article with this exact name. ... Events Halsten and Ingold I succeed Haakon the Red in Sweden. ... April 21 is the 111th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar (112th in leap years). ... Events End of the reign of Emperor Sutoku of Japan Emperor Konoe ascends to the throne of Japan Henry the Lion becomes Duke of Saxony Births Muin ad-Din Hasan, Indian Muslim saint Farid ad-Din Attar, Sufi mystic poet Deaths April 21 - Pierre Abélard, French scholastic philosopher (b. ... Scholasticism comes from the Latin word scholasticus which means that [which] belongs to the school, and is the school of philosophy taught by the academics (or schoolmen) of medieval universities circa 1100 - 1500. ... A philosopher is a person devoted to studying and producing results in philosophy. ... Heloise imagined in a mid-19th century engraving The letters of Heloise (1101 - 1162) and Pierre Abélard are among the best known records of early romantic love. ...




He was born in the little village of Pallet, about 10 miles east of Nantes, in Brittany, the eldest son of a noble Breton family. The name Abaelardus (also written Abailardus, Abaielardus, and in many other ways) is said to be a corruption of HAbélardus, substituted by Abélard himself for a nickname ('Bajolardus') given him when a student. As a boy, he learned quickly, and, choosing an academic life instead of the military career usual for one of his birth, acquired the art of dialectic, called a branch of philosophy, which at that time consisted chiefly of the logic of Aristotle transmitted through Latin channels and which was the great subject of liberal study in the episcopal schools. The nominalist Roscellinus, the famous canon of Compiegne, claims to have been his teacher; but whether this was in early youth, when he wandered from school to school for instruction and exercise, or some years later, after he had already begun to teach, remains uncertain. For a place in Brazil, see Nantes, Brazil City motto: Favet Neptunus eunti. ... Traditional coat of arms This article is about the historical duchy and French province, as well as the cultural area of Brittany. ... Traditional coat of arms This article is about the historical duchy and French province, as well as the cultural area of Brittany. ... Broadly speaking, a dialectic (Greek: διαλεκτική) is an exchange of propositions (theses) and counter-propositions (antitheses) resulting in a disagreement. ... Aristotle (sculpture) Aristotle (Greek: Αριστοτέλης Aristotelēs) (384 BC – March 7, 322 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher. ... Roscellinus (~1050 - ~1122), often called the founder of Nominalism (see Scholasticism), was born at Compigne (Compendium). ... Compi gne is a commune in the Oise d partement of France, of which it is a sous-pr fecture. ...

Rise to fame

Abélard's travels finally brought him to Paris while still in his teens. There, in the great cathedral school of Notre-Dame de Paris, he was taught for a while by William of Champeaux, the disciple of Saint Anselm and most advanced of Realists. 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 Abélard's Conceptualism, or by Nominalism, the principal rival of Realism prior to Abélard). First, against opposition from the metropolitan teacher, while yet only twenty-two, Abélard set up a school of his own at Melun, then, for more direct competition, he moved to Corbeil, nearer Paris. The Eiffel Tower has become a symbol of Paris throughout the world. ... This article is about the Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris. ... William of Champeaux (c. ... Saint Anselm of Canterbury ( 1033 or 1034 – April 21, 1109), a widely influential medieval philosopher and theologian, held the office of Archbishop of Canterbury from 1093 to 1109. ... Realism is commonly defined as a concern for fact or reality and rejection of the impractical and visionary. ... The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... In philosophy, the doctrine, intermediate between nominalism and realism, that universals exist only within the mind and have no external or substantial reality. ... Nominalism is the position in metaphysics that there exist no universals outside of the mind. ... Melun is a French city and commune on the river Seine, about 50 km south-southeast of Paris. ... Corbeil is the name or part of the name of several communes in France: Corbeil, in the Marne département Corbeil-Essonnes, in the Essonne département This is a disambiguation page — a navigational aid which lists other pages that might otherwise share the same title. ... The Eiffel Tower has become a symbol of Paris throughout the world. ...

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 in a monastic retreat outside the city, and there they once again became rivals. Abélard 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, Abélard 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. Abélard was now at the height of his fame. He stepped into the chair at Notre-Dame, being also nominated canon, about the year 1115. Events May - Battle of Ucles Consecration of Chichester cathedral Saint Magnus becomes the first earl of Orkney In Pistoia, Italy, Cathedral of San Zeno burned to the ground. ... The Montagne Sainte-Geneviève is a hill on the left Bank of the Seine in Paris. ... Theology is literally reasonable discourse concerning God (Greek θεος, theos, God, + λογος, logos, word or reason). By extension, it also refers to the study of other religious topics. ... Laon is a city and commune of France, préfecture (capital) of the Aisne département. ... Events Clairvaux Abbey is founded by St. ...

Distinguished in figure and manners, Abélard 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.

His love Heloise

Abelard and Heloise

Living within the precincts of Notre-Dame, under the care of her uncle, the canon Fulbert, was a girl named Heloise, of noble birth, and born about 1101. She is said to have been beautiful, but still more remarkable for her knowledge, which extended beyond Latin, it is said, to Greek and Hebrew. Abélard fell in love with her; and he sought and gained a place in Fulbert's house. Becoming tutor to the girl, he used his power for the purpose of seduction, and she returned his devotion. Their relations interfered with his public work, and were not kept a secret by Abélard himself. Soon everyone knew except the trusting Fulbert. When he found out, they were separated, only to meet in secret. Heloise became pregnant, and was carried off by her lover to Brittany, where she gave birth to a son. To appease her furious uncle, Abélard proposed a secret marriage, in order not to mar his prospects of advancement in the church; but Heloise opposed the idea. She appealed to him not to sacrifice for her the independence of his life, but reluctantly gave in to pressure. The secret of the marriage was not kept by Fulbert; and when Heloise boldly denied it, life was made so difficult for her that she sought refuge in the convent of Argenteuil at Abélard's bidding. Immediately Fulbert, believing that her husband, who had helped her run away, wanted to be rid of her, plotted revenge. He and some others broke into Abélard's chamber by night, and castrated him. The priesthood and ecclesiastical office were canonically closed to him. Heloise, not yet twenty, consummated her work of self-sacrifice at Abélard's jealous bidding that she never again share romantic love with a man, and became a nun. The two-dimensional work of art depicted in this image is in the public domain in the United States and in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years. ... The two-dimensional work of art depicted in this image is in the public domain in the United States and in those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years. ... Heloise imagined in a mid-19th century engraving The letters of Heloise (1101 - 1162) and Pierre Abélard are among the best known records of early romantic love. ... Argenteuil is a French town and commune. ...

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 the priory of Maisonceile (1120). His lectures, now framed in a devotional spirit, were once again heard by crowds of students, and all 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 (apparently the Introductio ad Theologiam) 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. The life in his own monastery proved no more congenial than formerly. 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 Ecelesiastica 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 Abélard, and he was finally allowed to leave. In a desert place near Nogent-sur-Seine, he built himself a cabin of stubble and reeds, and turned 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. The Basilica of Saint Denis (in French, la Basilique de Saint-Denis), a famous burial site for French monarchs, is located in Saint Denis (near Paris). ... Trinitarianism is the Christian doctrine that God, although one being, exists in three distinct persons (hypostases) known collectively as the Holy Trinity. ... In Christianity, Sabellianism (also known as modalism) is the second-century belief that the three persons of the Trinity are merely different modes or aspects of God, rather than three distinct persons. ... A synod (also known as a council) is a council of a church, usually a Christian church, convened to decide an issue of doctrine or administration. ... The city of Soissons in the Aisne département, Picardie, France on the Aisne River is about 60 miles northeast of Paris and is one of the most ancient cities of France, and is probably the ancient capital of the Suessiones. ... Depiction of Bede from the Nuremberg Chronicle, 1493 Bede (Latin Beda), also known as Saint Bede or, more commonly, the Venerable Bede (c. ... Dionysius the Areopagite was the judge of the Areopagus who, as related in Acts, xvii, 34, was converted to Christianity by the preaching of Saint Paul. ... Temple of Apollo at Corinth Corinth, or Korinth (Κόρινθος) is a Greek city, on the Isthmus of Corinth, the original isthmus, the narrow stretch of land that joins the Peloponnesus to the mainland of Greece. ... Eusebius of Caesarea (~275 – May 30, 339) (often called Eusebius Pamphili, Eusebius [the friend of] Pamphilus) was a bishop of Caesarea in Palestine and is often referred to as the father of church history because of his work in recording the history of the early Christian church. ... , by Albrecht Dürer , by Peter Paul Rubens Jerome (about 340 - September 30, 420), (full name Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus) is best known as the translator of the Bible from Greek and Hebrew into Latin. ... Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite is the name scholars have given to an anonymous theologian and philosopher of the 5th century, who wrote a collection of books (Corpus Areopagiticum) falsely ascribed to the Dionysius mentioned in Acts 17:34. ... A hermit (from the Greek for solitary) is a person who retires from society and lives in solitude; a recluse; an anchorite or anchoress; especially, one who so lives from religious motives. ... Pierre Abélard founded the Benedictine Oratory of the Paraclete near Troyes, France, after he left the Abbey of St. ...

Abélard, fearing new persecution, 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 with fate before he left. The misery of those years was lightened because 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 respectably. Living on for some time apart (we do not know exactly where), after his flight from the Abbey of St Gildas, Abélard wrote, among other things, his famous Historia Calamitatum, and thus moved her 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. He soon returned to the site 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 time: a last great 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, from which rational inquiry like Abélard's was sheer revolt, and now the uncompromising Bernard was moving to crush the growing evil in the person of the boldest offender. After preliminary negotiations, in which Bernard was roused by Abélard's steadfastness to put forth all his strength, a council met at Sens (1141), before which Abélard, formally arraigned upon a number of heretical charges, was prepared to plead his cause. When, however, Bernard had opened the case, suddenly Abélard appealed to Rome. 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 there to urge his plea in person, Abélard collapsed 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-Saone, he died. First buried at St Marcel, his remains were soon carried off secretly 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 moved more than once afterwards, but they were preserved even through the vicissitudes of the French Revolution, and now lie in the well-known tomb in the cemetery of Père Lachaise at Paris. Bernard of Clairvaux, illustrated in A Short History of Monks and Monasteries by Alfred Wesley Wishart, 1900 Saint Bernard of Clairvaux (Fontaines, near Dijon, 1090 – August 21, 1153 in Clairvaux) was a French abbot and theologian who was the main voice of conservatism during the intellectual revival of Western Europe... Sens is a town of Burgundy, France. ... Cluny nowadays The town of Cluny or Clugny lies in the modern-day département of Saône-et-Loire in the région of France, near Mâcon. ... Not to be confused with Ch lons-en-Champagne, formerly known as Ch lons-sur-Marne. ... The period of the French Revolution in the history of France covers the years between 1789 and 1799, in which democrats and republicans overthrew the absolute monarchy and the Roman Catholic Church was forced to undergo radical restructuring. ... The Cimetière du Père Lachaise is the largest cemetery in Paris, and one of the most famous cemeteries in the world. ...


Abélard 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 Heloise. It was not till the 19th century, when Cousin in 1836 issued the collection entitled Ouvrages inedits d'Abélard, that his philosophical performance could be judged at first hand; of his strictly philosophical works only one, the ethical treatise Scito te ipsum, having been published earlier, namely, in 1721. Cousin's collection, besides giving extracts from the theological work Sic et Non ("Yes and No") (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 Abélard himself, but only to have sprung out of his school. A genuine work, the Glossulae super Porphyrium, from which Charles de Rémusat, in his classical monograph Abélard (1845), has given extracts, was published in 1930. Sic et non: written by Pierre Abélard. ... Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius (AD 480 - 524 or 525) was a Christian philosopher of the 6th century. ... Charles François Marie, Comte de Rémusat (March 13, 1797 - January 6, 1875), was a French politician and writer. ...

Philosophical Work

The general importance of Abélard lies in his having fixed more decisively than anyone 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 Abélard 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. (12th century - 13th century - 14th century - other centuries) As a means of recording the passage of time, the 13th century was that century which lasted from 1201 to 1300. ... For the historical era, see Middle Ages. ... Aristotle (sculpture) Aristotle (Greek: Αριστοτέλης Aristotelēs) (384 BC – March 7, 322 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher. ... The Organon is the name for Aristotles collected works on logic. ... Realism is commonly defined as a concern for fact or reality and rejection of the impractical and visionary. ... In philosophy, the doctrine, intermediate between nominalism and realism, that universals exist only within the mind and have no external or substantial reality. ... Scholasticism comes from the Latin word scholasticus which means that [which] belongs to the school, and is the school of philosophy taught by the academics (or schoolmen) of medieval universities circa 1100 - 1500. ... Aristotle (sculpture) Aristotle (Greek: Αριστοτέλης Aristotelēs) (384 BC – March 7, 322 BC) was an ancient Greek philosopher. ...


Wikisource has original works written by or about:
Pierre Abélard

Abélard'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 Abalard. There is a comprehensive bibliography in U. Chevalier, Repertoire des sources hist. du moyen age, s. "Abailard." File links The following pages link to this file: Abraham Lincoln Aristotle Ayn Rand Adolf Hitler Al Gore A Modest Proposal Articles of Confederation Arthur Schopenhauer Albert Einstein Amhrán na bhFiann Arthur Conan Doyle Ada programming language Antarctic Treaty System Andrew Jackson Andrew Johnson Adam Smith Bill Clinton Bible... Wikisource is a sister project to Wikipedia that aims to create a free wiki compendium of primary source texts in any language, as well as translations of source texts. ...

M.T. Clanchy Abelard: A Medival Life, Blackwell Pub., 1997 ISBN 0631205020


  • The Glosses of Peter Abailard on Porphyry (Petri Abaelardi Glossae in Porphyrium)
  • Sic et Non
  • Dialectica, before 1125
  • Introductio ad Theologiam, 1136-1140
  • Dialogue of a Philosopher with a Jew and a Christian, 1136-1139
  • Abelard's Ethics (Scito Teipsum, seu Ethica), before 1140
  • The Story of My Misfortunes (http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/abelard-histcal.html) (Historia Calamitatum), translated by Henry Adams Bellows, 1922, from Internet Medieval Sourcebook.
    • The Letters of Abelard and Heloise, translated by Betty Radice, 1972, ISBN 0140442979. A more modern translation of Historia Calamitatum.

Sic et non: written by Pierre Abélard. ... The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies and is part of the Online Reference Book for Medieval Studies (ORB). ...

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