Abelard Peter 1079ca 1142 A philosopher theologian

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spiritual guide, writer, preacher, and hymnist, Peter Abelard was born at Le Pallet, near Nantes. He studied dialectic under Roscelin of Compiegne, a nominalist, and William of Champeaux, an extreme realist. Abelard, as a dialectician, disagreed with the claim of Roscelin that universals were only spoken words. Around 1112, he turned to the study of theology, working under and then resisting the direction of Anselm of Laon. He began to teach at the cathedral school of Notre Dame around 1113, and drew students from many nations. At Paris, he became involved with Heloise, the niece of Fulbert, a canon of the cathedral. Peter, when Fulbert had him castrated in 1118, retired to the seclusion of the monastery of St. Denis. Heloise entered a convent. Retreating later to a smaller monastery dependent on St. Denis, Abelard wrote his Theologia "Summi boni" [Theology beginning with "Of the Highest Good"], a book that was attacked both by Roscelin and by students of Anselm of Laon. In 1121, his book was condemned at the Council of Soissons. A year later, when Abelard raised the ire of his fellow monks by contesting the authenticity of the abbey's claim to have been founded by St. Denis, he received permission from Suger, the abbot of St. Denis, to leave the abbey.

He established an oratory, which he named Le Paraclet, and established a school there. When Heloise and her companions were expelled from their Argenteuil convent that was taken over by St. Denis, Abelard offered them Le Paraclet as their home. He wrote a rule for the convent there and prepared more than 140 hymns for the nuns to use in the celebration of their liturgies. At the same time, Peter worked on his Sic et Non


[Yes and No], a training textbook for students of theology, and also on his Theologia Christiana [Christian Theology]. During the 1130s, he wrote a new version of his theology, entitled Theologia "Scholarium" (A Theology that begins with the words "At the Request of Our Students"), a commentary on St. Paul's Epistle to the Romans, and his ethical treatise, Scito te ipsum [Know Thyself]. His theological works raised objections from William of Saint-Thierry and Bernard of Clairvaux, which led to Peter's condemnation by the Council of Sens in 1140. While at Cluny, on his way to Rome to appeal to Pope Innocent II, he found out that the pope had already confirmed the condemnation of the council. He accepted his punishment, becoming a monk at Cluny under Peter the Venerable and refraining from public teaching. He died probably in 1142 at the priory of St. Marcel near Chalon-sur-Saône, where Peter the Venerable had sent him for care.

ABU MA'SHAR or ALBUMASAR (787-886). A native of Balkh (in Khurasan) who worked in Baghdad, Abu Ma'shar al-Balkhi Ja'Far ibn Muhammad was a contemporary and intellectual adversary of al-Kindi, who influenced him, particularly in metaphysics. Like al-Kindi, his general philosophical framework is Neoplatonic: all emanates from and seeks to return to the One. Albumasar, however, had strong astrological interests, devoting much energy to the account of the influence of the heavens on the human sphere. In his account, he drew significantly from Aristotelian cosmology and scientific methodology, as well as from Ptolemaic astronomy. His general worldview was also inspired by a great variety of traditions and sources — for example, Syrian, Indian, and Iranian. In the Latin West, Albumasar was influential in the development of science, particularly astronomy. Treated as an authority in this science, along with Aristotle, his views were appropriated and developed by thinkers such as Roger Bacon and Albert the Great. His major work, Kitab al-mudhal al-kabir [The Book of the Great Introduction to Astronomy], was first introduced into the Latin world in abbreviated form through Adelard of Bath's Ysagoge minor (first decades of the 12th century). Then, John of Seville (in 1133) and Herman of Carinthia (in 1140) provided full translations. His Kitab alquiranat [The Book of Conjunctions], relating astrology to history, was also influential among medieval thinkers. Albumasar died in al-Wasit (in Iraq).

ACCIDENT. An accident, in philosophical language, is the general classification used by Aristotle to speak about all forms of reality that are not substances. Substances are things that can stand on their own: a man, a mountain, the sun, and so forth. However, a man may be short and fat, mountains may be high and bare, the sun is hidden at night. These many descriptions of a man, a certain mountain, and the sun are accidental, describing something that does not have to belong to the substances that now have these accidents, which do not stand on their own like substances. Literally, a substance means "something that stands under." Substances stand under the accidents that belong to them. Different medieval philosophers and theologians explain the character of certain accidents in different ways. For example, if someone is described as tall, this for a certain philosopher would not be a description of a characteristic that really belongs to the so-called tall person. If this tall person moved into a room with giant-sized basketball players, he would not be tall in this new context. Tallness is a relative term that is used to describe the height of someone in relation to others in the room or context. When this person moves into a room with basketball players, he does not lose a real quality of tallness. Nothing in him has changed. Therefore, tallness is a relative term, not a term that expresses an absolute characteristic that is in the person described as tall. These discussions or debates are carried on particularly between philosophers who are called nominalists and realists. See also ANALOGY.

ADAM MARSH (ca. 1210-1259). Born near Bath, Adam took his arts degree under Robert Grosseteste and also studied theology under him until Grosseteste became Bishop of Lincoln in 1235. Adam joined the Franciscans at Worcester circa 1233 and became the first Franciscan regent master at Oxford. He lectured on theology to the friars from 1247-1253. He continued his close relationship with Grosseteste and was an adviser to him at the First Council of Lyons, 1245. He collaborated with Robert on a concordance of sacred Scripture and the Fathers of the Church, wrote a commentary on the Six Days of Creation [Hexaemeron], and probably authored the Question Concerning the Ebb and Flow of the Tide that was formerly attributed to Grosseteste. Fittingly, he is buried next to Grosseteste at Lincoln Cathedral.

ADAM OF BUCKFIELD (ca. 1220-ca. 1285). Adam became a master of arts at Oxford in 1243. It is presumed that he never became a master of theology, since all the works ascribed to him are called "notes" or "glosses" on Aristotle's books on natural philosophy. Adam Marsh, his teacher in ancient and Arabian natural philosophy, recommended him highly to Robert Grosseteste in 1249 for a rectorship at Iver, in Buckingshire. Fifteen years later (1264), he was a canon at Lincoln Cathedral, seemingly no longer associated with the University of Oxford. Although he cites Avicenna and Ghazali, he follows Averroes's manner of providing literal expositions of each paragraph of Aristotle's texts. In his commentary on Book I of Aristotle's De anima, he adds to the literal exposition a quaestio. This procedure anticipates the method found in many commentaries later in the 13 th and succeeding centuries: a literal explanation followed by questions related to the deeper meanings found in the text. Despite his close dependence on Averroes for his method of explaining philosophical texts, however, Adam still holds to the more Platonist tradition of a plurality of forms in material substances.

ADAM OF SAINT-VICTOR (ca. 1110-ca. 1180). Born in Brittany, Adam was a liturgical poet and canon regular at the Abbey of Saint-Victor at Paris (founded in 1110). He entered the Abbey circa 1130, around the same time as his contemporary Andrew of Saint-Victor. Adam was a student of Hugh of Saint-Victor, the mystical theologian. More than for his theology, however, Adam is best known for his composition of approximately 45 Sequences, rhythmic pieces that follow the Alleluia in the Mass. Adam perfected Sequence poetry and is reputedly the master of its final form. This genre was developed in the late 11th or early 12th century and was practiced at Saint-Victor even before Adam's time. To some extent, in both form and content, Adam's poetry reflects his theological attitudes. Like his teacher Hugh and other Victorines, such as Richard of Saint-Victor, Adam's theological ideas are quite Augustinian, as shown by his poem on mankind, Haeres peccati [Heir of Sin (PL, 196: 1422)]. His emphasis on alliteration and his plays on words reflect the use of allegory in biblical exegesis, when the visible is understood as both revealing and concealing the invisible.

ADAM WODEHAM (ca. 1298-1358). Author of the prologue to William of Ockham's Summa logicae, Wodeham was a careful and respected text scholar and an acknowledged interpreter of the philosophy and theology of John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham, In effect, he helped establish their reputations through his masterful representation of their positions. A commentator on Peter Lombard's Sentences three times —at London, Norwich, and Oxford—Wodeham was also respected in his own right. He influenced the Augus-tinian theologian Gregory of Rimini more than either Duns Scotus or Ockham. He also was a major authority for the Cistercian John of Mirecourt and the Augustinian Alphonsus Vargas. Even later, in the 1380s, he was still cited by Pierre d'Ailly and Peter of Candia. In 1512, John Major, the famous Scottish theologian and historian, provided the first edition of Wodeham's Oxford Commentary on the Sentences in an abbreviated version made in the late 13th century by Henry Totting of Oyta.

ADELARD OF BATH (ca. 1070-ca. 1146). A Benedictine, Adelard was educated at Tours, taught at Laon, and then traveled in the Arabian cultural worlds of Sicily and Spain. His Natural Questions were his most influential work, giving focus on natural philosophy and mathematics to medieval learning in England, especially through Alexander Nequam. His earlier letter to his nephew, entitled De eodem et diverso [On the Same and the Different] is most renowned for its treatment of universals. He was the first (ca. 1120) to translate Euclid's Elements, using an Arabic text. He also translated a number of works of Greco-Arabic science, including An Introduction to Astronomy and An Introduction to the Quadrivium. As an author, he produced On Birds, On Falconry, Rules for the Abacus, and Function of the Astrolabe.


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