Peter Abelard (1079 in Pale, near Nantes – April 21, 1142, Chalon) – philosopher, theologian, poet; the founder of conceptualism. Abelard was called the “troubadour of philosophy,” “knight of dialectics.” Born in Brittany in a knightly family. Refused the right of a major, became a cleric schoolboy. Until 1098 he attended the school in Vence, Roscielin, whose nominalist doctrine was later regarded as “insane.” He studied mathematics with Theodoric (Thierry) Chartres. In Paris, he studied dialectics and rhetoric from Guillaume of Champo. He kept schools in Melena, Corbeil, Paris, where he was mainly engaged in dialectics.
After 1113 he studied at the Lanskoy School at Anselm Lansky, where he began teaching theology on rational grounds and without a church permission, which caused protest from Anselm and his associates. In 1113 he wrote “Introduction to Theology”, in 1114 – “Logic for Beginners”. After Lana, he taught theology in Paris, where he took the master’s place at the cathedral school; received the title of canon. By 1118-19 his novel was related to Eloise, the niece of the canon of Fulbert. At that time lyric poems were created, and later remarkable correspondence, autobiographical prose “History of my disasters” and “Problemata” (answers to Eloise’s questions about contradictions in the Bible, etc.). Having married Eloise already after the birth of Astrolabe’s son, Abelard preferred not to inform widely about marriage, so as not to damage the master’s career. Fulbert opposed this. Then Peter transported Eloise to the monastery, having arranged a fictitious tonsure. Fulbert, deciding that Abelard got rid of his niece, hired a servant who had been abused by Abelard. After this, both Abelard and Eloise closed themselves in the monastery.
By 1119, the treatises On the Unity and Trinity of God (De unitate et trinitate Dei), The Introduction to Theology, Theology of the Higher Good (Tlieologia Summi boni) were written. In 1121, a local council was held in Soissons, where Abelard was accused of violating a monastic vow, expressed in the fact that he conducted classes in a secular school and taught theology without a church license. However, in fact, the subject of the trial was the treatise “On the Unity and the Trinity of God”, directed against the nominalism of Rosselin and the realism of Guillaume de Champeaux. Ironically, Abelard was accused precisely for nominalism: the treatise supposedly upheld the idea of tritheism, in which Abelard accused Rosselin; The treatise was burned by Abelard himself. After the condemnation of the Soissons cathedral, he was forced several times to change monasteries, and in 1136 reopened the school on the hill of St. Genevieve. During this time, he wrote several versions of Theologia Christiana, Sic et non, Dialectica, commentary on Romans, Ethics, or Know Yourself (Ethica, seu Scito te ipsum), etc. Convoked by Bernard of Clairvaux in 1141 the cathedral in Sansa accused Abaelaardos of the Arian, Pelagian and Nestorian heresies. He went to Rome with an appeal, fell ill along the way and spent the last months in the Cluny monastery, where he wrote: “Dialogue between Philosopher, Jew and Christian” (Dialogus inter Philosophum, Iudaeum et Christianum), which remained unfinished. Pope Innocent III approved the verdict of the council, condemning Abelard to eternal silence; his treatises were burned in the Cathedral of St. Peter in Rome. Abelard was interceded by the abbot of Peter the Venerable, the Honorable. Abelard died in the monastery of St. Marcellus near Chalon.
The name Abelard is associated with the design of the scholastic, antithetic method based on the idea of equivocation (Boethius introduces the term), or ambiguity. The idea of equivocation, clearly presented in the “Yes and No”, where the contradictory statements of the Church Fathers about the same problem were collected through the method of citation comparison, is expressed in three aspects:
- the same term, located on opposite sides of the contradiction, conveys different meanings;
- different meanings of the same term is a consequence of figurative language and
- the effect of the transfer (translation) of the term from one kind of knowledge to another (the expression “a man is”, which is valid for natural knowledge, is unfair for a theological knowledge, where the verb “is” can only be applied to Him as the fullness of being).
The affirmation and the negation are in one case (in theology) contradictions, in the other (in natural science) form different forms of the connection between words and things. The same word can express not only different things having different definitions, as it was in Aristotle, but in the same time different definitions can be presupposed because of its simultaneous sacred-profane existence. In the Theology of the Higher Good on the basis of the idea of equivocation, Abelard identifies four meanings of the term “person”: theological (the being of God in three Persons), the rhetorical (juridical person), the poetic (dramatic character, “conveying events and speeches”) and grammatical ( three faces of speech).
Abelard marked the beginning of the discipline of knowledge, identifying for each discipline different methods of verification and establishing the basic criteria that from now on, instead of ars-art, scientia will begin to be called and in the future will develop into the concept of science. The main theses of theology as a discipline (in this capacity this term begins to come into use from Abelard, having replaced the term “sacred doctrine”) is first of all an intransigence to contradictions and a belief in the solvability of the problem (associated, for example, with obscure places of dogmatics) with using the term transfer. Ethics are presented by Abelard a discipline, the subject of which involves an assessment of the activities of both humanity in general and a particular generation of people. With the appearance in the 11th century. secular intellectual inquiry about moral orientation in the world, one of the central points of Abelard’s moral philosophy was the definition of ethical concepts (primarily concepts of sin) in their relation to law. This gave rise to the problem of correlation of the two forms of law: natural and positive. Natural law defined the concepts of sin and virtue in relation to the Higher good (God), positive – to the common law, the human, the principles of which were developed in ancient philosophy; The problem of how it is possible to achieve the good by one’s effort or the predestination of the law made one turn to the Jewish religion.
In the treatise “Ethics, or Know Yourself”, Abelard introduces the concept of intention-conscious intent of the act; not counting the will of the initiator of the act (the will curbed by virtue of abstinence ceases to be the basis for sin), he shifts attention from the act to an assessment of the state of the soul, which makes it possible to identify, with outwardly identical actions, various intentions (“two hang a criminal, one moves jealousy towards justice, and the other – with an old enemy hatred, and although they commit the same act … because of the difference in intent, the same thing is done differently: one – with evil, the other with goodness “(Theo-logical treatises. ., 1995, page 261). In the si also, that the sin defined by intention, is compensated through conscious repentance, which involves questioning the inner soul, then it turns out that:
- the sinner does not need an intermediary (the priest) in communion with God;
- sinners are not people who sinned by ignorance or by the rejection of the gospel preaching (e.g., the executioner of Christ);
- the person inherits not original sin, but the punishment for this sin.
If ethics, according to Abelard, are the way of comprehending God, then logic is a rational way of contemplating God. Ethics and logic are presented as moments of a single theological system. By combining in one concept two differently directed meanings (secular and sacral), such philosophizing can be called a meditative dialectic. Since the universally necessary knowledge belongs only to God, before his Face any definition takes on a modal character. An attempt to identify a thing with the help of a variety of specifying characters reveals its indeterminacy. The definition is replaced by a description, which is the allegory of a thing (metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, irony, etc.), i.e. trope. The path turns out to be a matrix of thinking.
Paths, concept, transfer (broadcast), intention, subject-substance are the basic concepts of Abelard’s philosophy, which determined his approach to the problem of universals. His logic is a theory of speech, because in its justification lies the idea of an utterance, conceptualized as a concept. Concept – the connection between a thing and speech about a thing – is, according to Abelard, universal, because it is speech “grasps” (concludes) all possible senses, selecting the things necessary for a concrete representation. The concept is inextricably linked with communication. It:
- is formed by speech,
- consecrated, according to medieval notions, the Holy Spirit and
- therefore realized “beyond the grammar or language” – in the space of the soul with its rhythms, energy, intonation;
- it expresses the subject as much as possible.
- by changing the soul of the reflecting individual, he, when forming the utterance, assumes another subject, listener or reader, and
- in the answers to their questions actualizes certain meanings;
- memory and imagination are inherent properties of the concept,
- aimed at understanding here and now, but at the same time,
- it synthesizes in itself the three capacities of the soul and as an act of memory is oriented to the past, as an act of imagination – to the future, but as an act judgments – in the present.
The concept of the concept is related to the features of Abelard’s logic:
- purification of the intellect from grammatical structures;
- the inclusion in the intellect of the act of conciliation, which connects it with the different abilities of the soul;
- this allowed us to introduce into the logic of time structures. Conceptual vision is a special kind of “grasping” of the universal: the universal is not a man, not an animal or the name “man” or “animal,” but a universal connection between a thing and a name, expressed in sound.
Abelards’ philosophy publications:
- MPL., T. 178; Philosophische Schriften, hrsg. von V. Geyer. Münster, 1919;
- Theologia “Summi boni”, ed. H. Ostlender. Münster, 1939;
- Oeuvres choisies d’Abélard, ed. V. Gandillac. P., 1945;
- Dialectics, ed. L. M. de Rijk. Assen, 1956;
- Opera theologica, I. Corpus Christianorum. Continuatio medievalis, XI, ed. E.M.Buytaert. Turnhout, 1969;
- Dialogus inter Philosophum, ludaeum et Christianum, ed. R. Thomas. Stuttg.-Bad Cannstatt, 1970;
- Du bien suprême, éd. J.Jolivet. Montreal-P., 1978;
- Peter Abaelard’s Ethica, ed. D.E. Luscombe. Oxf., 1971.