<scholasticism, medioeval phylosophy, logic>, <aristotelianism, theology>, <realism, nominalism, rethoric, dialectics, ethics> french scholastic logician (1079-1142) whose sexual relationship with his teen-aged student HÈloÔse provoked the vengeful anger of her uncle, Fulbert, in 1118. Despite the many distractions of the turbulent life he described in Historia Calamitatum Mearum (The History of my Misfortunes), Abelard embarked on a monastic career of detached contemplation marked by intellectual independence from both traditional authorities and contemporaneous fashions. In commentaries on the logic of Aristotle and his own Dialectica, Abelard invented a novel solution to the problem of universals that rejected both realism and nominalism in their most extreme forms. Only individual things exist for Abelard, but general terms have universal applicability to things whose common features are known by a process of mental abstraction. Abelard also wrote on the difficulties involved in scriptural interpretation in Sic et Non (For and Against) (1122) and on the importance of human intentions for theological ethics in Scito te Ipsum (Know Thyself). Recommended Reading: Five Texts on the Mediaeval Problem of Universals, ed. by Paul Vincent Spade (Hackett, 1994); John Marenbon, The Philosophy of Peter Abelard (Cambridge, 1999); Letters of Abelard and Heloise, ed. by Betty Radice (Penguin, 1998).
[A Dictionary of Philosophical Terms and Names]
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