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Peter Abelard Essay Sample

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Peter Abelard Essay Sample

Peter Abelard was one of the most famous philosophers of the twelfth century. He was the main figure of theology during the said time and was considered a prominent person when it comes to teaching. Aside from being a philosopher, a logician, and theologian, he was also a well known poet and poet. He was the one responsible in the rise of the philosophical tradition of the native Latin. Through his efforts, the native Latin Philosophy heightened its influence and gained recognition on the field of philosophy. He was very famous during the Middle Ages and was considered by many as the greatest logician of the Middle Ages but some still oppose this consideration. He was often compared to the pioneering great nominalist philosopher in terms of popularity, he was also very popular.

His works in using reason with regards to faith were outstanding and was considered to be the best in this field. He was also noted as the pioneer in using theology on the modern sense.  The use of systematic treatment of religious doctrines was notably considered to be part of his effort. The contemporaries of Abelard gave him a certain degree of respect for being a very formidable opponent in debate, intellectually strong, witty, arrogant speaking skills, and a very good sense of memory. Comments range from his foes and friends saying that he was never lost arguments with a great sense power upon expressing those arguments. His love affair tragedy was with Heloise and was considered to be one of the most tragic love stories of his time. He was also regarded as the knight and shining armor of the Enlightenment due to his clash with Bernard of Clairvaux in terms of religion and reason. He was noted in the history as a man of philosophy and logic. (Knight 2008)

Noble Biography of Peter Abelard.

            In Pallet town located in Britanny, Peter Abelard was born on  1079. His early years were fortified by studying letters and associating himself in journeys with philosophers like William of Champeaux and Roscelin. (Keck 1996)

            It was in the early years of the twelfth century that he started to give lectures in Melun, at this point he tried to compete with fellow philosophers like William to gain reputation however, his health degenerated which caused him to go back to Britanny for some time. This time was used in contemplating and thinking for his ambition. After recovery, he returned to Paris and tried to start his ambition. (King 2008)

            In Paris, he listened in the lectures of his mentor, William of Champeaux. After quite some time he gained the confidence to ask his teacher for a debate regarding the problem of universals. In that debate, he was able to show that he has better arguments and eventually beaten his teacher. On the tie that he bested his teacher, he gained reputation and studied theology afterwards. Back in Paris, he enjoyed a positioned at Notre Dame at the same time he was also a scholar, all of this ended when he fell with Heloise that caused him his castration and they departed. The recovery from castration took him some time and he went back to teaching theology and trinity. His philosophical analyses used in his writings was found to be on the road against traditional belief and he was forced to declare his faith in public and then subjected to live in wild and alone to give him time to think.  (Turner 2006)

            During this time the Paraclete which is an oratory was established, where he continued his desires for intellectual activities. He handed it to Heloise when he become abbot of the monastery of Saint Gildas de Rhuys in Britanny. He wrote there the Historia calamitatum.

            When he returned to Paris, he was still an abbot and he started giving lectures. That was the time that Bernard of Clairvaux raised questions on Abelard’s ideas regarding faith and then they tried to settle the score using a pubic debate. The debate was made due to Abelard’s request however Bernard deferred to participate, after a while he accepted it knowing that Abelard will be subjected to a kangaroo court for a heresy case rather than a debate. When Abelard knew it, he immediately started to travel to Rome to talk to the Pope himself. When he was in Cluny, he was ordered to be in silence and he even reconciled with Bernard. With the help of Peter the Venerable’s letter to the Pope, the sentence was uplifted Abelard remained protected with Peter. The health of Abelelard deteriorated and died on April 21, 1142. (Guilfoy 2007)

Works of Abelard

            His works concerning logic, philosophy, and knowledge was known as dialectics his works known as dialectics are as follows: “Dialectica” and “Logica ingredientibus.” It is notable that the both works contains some kind of a pattern from antiquity like the one in logica vetus or old logic. The later work is more like of a remarks on the logica vetus. Aside from these two major work, there are other non-major works which are “Introductiones parvulorum,” “Logica nostrorum petitioni sociorum,” “Tractatus de intellectibus,” ans “Sentinae secundum Magistrum Petrum” This works also gave remarks on the old logic.

Abelard stated that the most important element in the theory of argument is in inferential or entailment. He pointed out that propositions should be relevant and necessary and with that, conclusion is necessary for the next statement. H further stated that the completeness of the entailment is only created if it has the virtue of logical form. (King 2008)

Logical contributions of Abelard

Due to his works in logic, he was regarded as the best logician since the time of Antiquity, he was able to create a purely truth functional logic, finding the difference between force and content, he was also the author of the theory of entailment as its function in argument. This achievements in logic was very astonishing, however the handling of topical inference was a way flawed. He was able to see that the propositional content can be stated in a manner with such different force in different context. Using the technique in defining context, he was able to define negation and further prepositional connectives.

His works in philosophy and theology focused on Trinity where the philosophical analysis was used.  Hew had this three major works named “Theologia summi boni,” “Theologia Christiana,” “Theologia scholarum.” He also made works entitled “Analysis of the Lord’s Prayer,” “Analysis of the Apostle’s creed,” “Analysis of the Faith in the Athanasian Creed,” “Commentary on Genesis 1-2:35,” and the “Commentary on St. Paul’s letter to the Romans.” These works tried to criticize the  Councils of Sens and Soissons.”

Theological contributions of Abelard

            In theological contributions of Abelard, he was the proponent of the idea that reasoning has small role in matters of faith. The fact that Abelard gave reasoning a role in faith, provided him a lot of conflict with his contemporaries. One of his contemporaries of that time is his co-abbot Bernard of Clairvaux which was considered as anti-dialecticians and former teacher Roscelin which was considered to be a pseudo-dialectician. The anti-dialecticians stated the faith is something that we cannot grasp or untouchable thus the reality that it is beyond the plain of the physical, reason is absolutely no role in matters of faith. On the defense of Abelard, he stated that since the doctrines or religious ideas can be understood by the human mind, the possibility that the human mind also has the capable to reason and understand the basis of faith in relation to the doctrines that they have understood. (King 2008)

Pseudo-dialecticians should be the referee for the battle between anti and pro dialecticians but Abelard argue toward the pseudo-dialecticians that first, there is no such thing in this world that exist that human reason cannot explain; second, the only choice that we have is to accept what reason influences us of; lastly, he stated that appeals to authority have no rational persuasive force. He finally stated that true dialecticians do not agree on the statements rendered above due to the fact that human reasons have limits which should always be considered.

The works and contributions of Abelard in the field of logic made him the supreme logician since the time of antiquity. His concepts in theology, philosophy and ethics were outstanding that they contributed a lot in the foundations of the said studies.

Works Cited

King, Peter. “Peter Abelard.” 3 August 2004. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 10 May 2008 < http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/abelard/>

Turner, Willliam. “Abelard.” 2006. Notre Dame University: Jacques Maritain Center. 10 May 2008 <http://www2.nd.edu/Departments/Maritain/etext/abelard.htm>

Keck, Karen. “Peter Abelard.” 1996. University of Evansville. 10 May 2008 <http://ecole.evansville.edu/glossary/abelard.html>

Guilfoy, Kevin. “Peter Abelard (1079-1142).” 2007. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 10 May 2008 <http://www.iep.utm.edu/a/abelard.htm>

Knight, Kevin. “Peter Abelard.” 2008. New Advent . 10 May 2008 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01036b.htm>

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