The Story of My Misfortunes Translated by Henry Adams Bellows Copyright [Reissued by in New York by Macmillan, , with no notification of copyright renewal] Peter Abelard was one of the great intellectuals of the 12th century, with especial importance in the field of logic. His tendency to disputation is perhaps best demonstrated by his book Sic et Non, a list of philosophical and theological questions about which there were divided opinions. For a long period all his works were included in the later Iindex of Forbidden Books. Heloise was one of the most literate women of her time, and an able administrator: as a result her monastic career was notably successful. Abelard, a intellectual jouster throughout his life was notably less happy as a monk.

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Augustine it is an authentic revelation of personality and, like the latter, it seems to show how unchangeable is man, how consistent unto himself whether he is of the sixth century or the twelfth--or indeed of the twentieth century. They are large assumptions, for this is not a period in world history when the informing energy of life expresses itself through such qualities, whereas the twelfth century was of precisely this nature.

The antecedent hundred years had seen the recovery from the barbarism that engulfed Western Europe after the fall of Rome, and the generation of those vital forces that for two centuries were to infuse society with a vigour almost unexampled in its potency and in the things it brought to pass. Bernard, rode high on the mounting force in its swift and almost violent ascent.

It was the time of the Crusades, of the founding and development of schools and universities, of the invention or recovery of great arts, of the growth of music, poetry and romance.

It was the age of great kings and knights and leaders of all kinds, but above all it was the epoch of a new philosophy, refounded on the newly revealed corner stones of Plato and Aristotle, but with a new content, a new impulse and a new method inspired by Christianity.

All these things, philosophy, art, personality, character, were the product of the time, which, in its definiteness and consistency, stands apart from all other epochs in history. The social system was that of feudalism, a scheme of reciprocal duties, privileges and obligations as between man and man that has never been excelled by any other system that society has developed as its own method of operation.

As Dr. Catholicism was universally and implicitly accepted. Monasticism had redeemed Europe from barbarism and Cluny had freed the Church from the yoke of German imperialism. This unity and immanence of religion gave a consistency to society otherwise unobtainable, and poured its vitality into every form of human thought and action. It was Catholicism and the spirit of feudalism that preserved men from the dangers inherent in the immense individualism of the time.

These things happened in the end in the case of Mediaevalism when the power and the influence of religion once began to weaken, and the Renaissance and Reformation dissolved the fabric of a unified society. Thereafter it became necessary to bring some order out of the spiritual, intellectual and physical chaos through the application of arbitrary force, and so came absolutism in government, the tyranny of the new intellectualism, the Catholic Inquisition and the Puritan Theocracy.

The mystical school of the Abbey of St. Victor in Paris follows one line perhaps the most nearly right of all though it was submerged by the intellectual force and vivacity of the Scholastics with Hugh of St. Victor as its greatest exponent.

The Franciscans and Dominicans each possessed great schools of philosophy and dogmatic theology, and in addition there were a dozen individual line of speculation, each vitalized by some one personality, daring, original, enthusiastic.

This prodigious mental and spiritual activity was largely fostered by the schools, colleges and universities that had suddenly appeared all over Europe. Never was such activity along educational lines. Almost every cathedral had its school, and many of the abbeys as well, as for example, in France alone, Cluny, Citeaux and Bec, St.

To these schools students poured in from all over the world in numbers mounting to many thousands for such as Paris for example, and the mutual rivalries were intense and sometimes disorderly. Groups of students would choose their own masters and follow them from place to place, even subjecting them to discipline if in their opinion they did not live up to the intellectual mark they had set as their standard.

As there was not only one religion and one social system, but one universal language as well, this gathering from all the four quarters of Europe was perfectly possible, and had much to do with the maintenance of that unity which marked society for three centuries.

Victor or Ste. Earlier in the Middle Ages the identity of theology and philosophy had been proclaimed, following the Neo-Platonic and Augustinian theory, and the latter cf.

Peter Damien and Duns Scotus Eriugena was even reduced to a position that made it no more than the obedient handmaid of theology. In the eleventh century however, St. Anselm had drawn a clear distinction between faith and reason, and thereafter theology and philosophy were generally accepted as individual but allied sciences, both serving as lines of approach to truth but differing in their method. Truth was one and therefore there could be no conflict between the conclusions reached after different fashions.

He was an intellectual force of the first magnitude and a master of dialectic; he was also an egotist through and through, and a man of strong passions. He would and did use his logical faculty and his mastery of dialectic to justify his own desires, whether these were for carnal satisfaction or the maintenance of an original intellectual concept. It was precisely this danger that aroused the fears of the "rigourists" and in the light of succeeding events in the domain of intellectualism it is impossible to deny that there was some justification for their gloomy apprehensions.

In St. Thomas Aquinas this intellectualizing process marked its highest point and beyond there was no margin of safety. He himself did not overstep the verge of danger, but after him this limit was overpassed.

The perfect balance between mind and spirit was achieved by Hugh of St. Victor, but afterwards the severance began and on the one side was the unwholesome hyper-spiritualization of the Rhenish mystics, on the other the false intellectualism of Descartes, Kant and the entire modern school of materialistic philosophy. It was the clear prevision of this inevitable issue that made of St. For a time he was victorious. Thomas Aquinas. Bernard, St.

Francis of Assisi, the Victorines, maintained that after all, as Henri Bergson was to say, seven hundred years later, "the mind of man by its very nature is incapable of apprehending reality," and that therefore faith is better than reason. Lord Bacon came to the same conclusion when he wrote "Let men please themselves as they will in admiring and almost adoring the human kind, this is certain; that, as an uneven mirrour distorts the rays of objects according to its own figure and section, so the mind The world found it and began to be puffed up, thinking itself great in this.

Confiding in its wisdom it became presumptuous and boasted it would attain the highest wisdom. And it made itself a ladder of the face of creation. Then those things which were seen were known and there were other things which were not known; and through those which were manifest they expected to reach those that were hidden.

And they stumbled and fell into the falsehoods of their own imagining So God made foolish the wisdom of this world, and He pointed out another wisdom, which seemed foolishness and was not. For it preached Christ crucified, in order that truth might be sought in humility. But the world despised it, wishing to contemplate the works of God, which He had made a source of wonder, and it did not wish to venerate what He had set for imitation, neither did it look to its own disease, seeking medicine in piety; but presuming on a false health, it gave itself over with vain curiosity to the study of alien things.

He was conscious of a mind of singular acuteness and a tongue of parts, both of which would do whatever he willed. Beneath all the tumultuous talk of Paris, when he first arrived there, lay the great and unsolved problem of Universals and this he promptly made his own, rushing in where others feared to tread.

What is a species: what is a genus or a family or an order? More or less convenient terms of classification, about which the twelfth century cared very little, while it cared deeply about the essence of classes! Science has become too complex to affirm the existence of universal truths, but it strives for nothing else, and disputes the problem, within its own limits, almost as earnestly as in the twelfth century, when the whole field of human and superhuman activity was shut between these barriers of substance, universals, and particulars.

Little has changed except the vocabulary and the method. The schools knew that their society hung for life on the demonstration that God, the ultimate universal, was a reality, out of which all other universal truths or realities sprang. Truth was a real thing, outside of human experience. The schools of Paris talked and thought of nothing else.

It is the madness of Rufus about Naevia; "He thinks of nothing else; talks of nothing else, and if Naevia did not exist, Rufus would be dumb. The first champion--William in this instance-- assumed that the universal was a real thing; and for that reason he was called a realist. Truth, virtue, humanity, exist as units and realities, said William. The ideal bed is a form, made by God, said Plato. The ideal bed is a name, imagined by ourselves, said Aristotle. Probably Plato and Aristotle had received the question and answer from philosophers ten thousand years older than themselves.

Certainly the whole of philosophy has always been involved in this dispute. Says Henry Adams again "In every age man has been apt to dream uneasily, rolling from side to side, beating against imaginary bars, unless, tired out, he has sunk into indifference or scepticism. Religious minds prefer scepticism. The true saint is a profound sceptic; a total disbeliever in human reason, who has more than once joined hands on this ground with some who were at best sinners.

Bernard was a total disbeliever in Scholasticism; so was Voltaire. Bernard brought the society of his time to share his scepticism, but could give the society no other intellectual amusement to relieve its restlessness. His crusade failed; his ascetic enthusiasm faded; God came no nearer. The first class was represented by the School of St. Victor; the second by John of Salisbury himself; the third, by a class of schoolmen whom he called Cornificii, as though they made a practice of inventing horns of dilemma on which to fix their opponents; as, for example, they asked whether a pig which was led to market was led by the man or the cord.

One asks instantly: What cord? Even the early, superficial debates of the schools, in , had so exhausted the subject that the most intelligent men saw how little was to be gained by pursuing further those lines of thought. Augustine to the twelfth century, and as little conclusive as any other assumption of the Ego or the Non-Ego. The schools argued, according to their tastes, from unity to multiplicity, or from multiplicity to unity; but what they wanted was to connect the two.

They tried realism and found that it led to pantheism. They tried nominalism and found that it ended in materialism. They attempted a compromise in conceptualism which begged the whole question. Then they lay down, exhausted. In the seventeenth century--the same violent struggle broke out again, and wrung from Pascal the famous outcry of despair in which the French language rose, perhaps for the last time, to the grand style of the twelfth century.

To the twelfth century it belongs; to the century of faith and simplicity; not to the mathematical certainties of Descartes and Leibnitz and Newton, or to the mathematical abstractions of Spinoza. It is almost impossible for us of modern times to understand the violence of partisanship aroused by his actions and published words that centre apparently around the placing of the hermitage he had made for himself under the patronage of the third Person of the Trinity, the Paraclete, the Spirit of love and compassion and consolation, and the consequent arguments by which he justified himself.

To us it seems that he was only trying to exalt the power of the Holy Spirit, a pious action at the least but to the episcopal and monastic conservators of the faith he seems to have been guilty of trying to rationalize an unsolvable mystery, to find an intellectual solution forbidden to man. In some obscure way the question seems to be involved in that other of the function of the Blessed Virgin as the fount of mercy and compassion, and at this time when the cult of the Mother of God had reached its highest point of potency and poignancy anything of the sort seemed intolerable.

He was made an abbot and his influence spread in every direction. In the King died and conditions at Rome changed so that St. Bernard became almost Pope and King in his own person. As a matter of fact it was fatal to him. He started forthwith for Rome but stopped at the Abbey of Cluny in the company of its Abbot, Peter the Venerable, "the most amiable figure of the twelfth century," and no very devoted admirer of St.

Bernard, to whom, as a matter of fact, he had once written, "You perform all the difficult religious duties; you fast, you watch, you suffer; but you will not endure the easy ones-you do not love. So far as he is concerned it is not a very savoury matter. He deliberately seduced a pupil, a beautiful girl entrusted to him by her uncle, a simpleminded old canon of the Cathedral of Paris, under whose roof he ensconced himself by false pretences and with the full intention of gaining the niece for himself.

He tells the story with perfect frankness and with hardly more than formal expressions of compunction, and thereafter follows the narrative of their separation, he to a monastery, she to a convent, and of his care for her during her conventual life, or at least for that part of it that had passed before the "History" was written.


Historia Calamitatum

Augustine it is an authentic revelation of personality and, like the latter, it seems to show how unchangeable is man, how consistent unto himself whether he is of the sixth century or the twelfth--or indeed of the twentieth century. They are large assumptions, for this is not a period in world history when the informing energy of life expresses itself through such qualities, whereas the twelfth century was of precisely this nature. The antecedent hundred years had seen the recovery from the barbarism that engulfed Western Europe after the fall of Rome, and the generation of those vital forces that for two centuries were to infuse society with a vigour almost unexampled in its potency and in the things it brought to pass. Bernard, rode high on the mounting force in its swift and almost violent ascent.



Arashiramar But in order that the monastery might not be shorn of any of the glory which it had enjoyed by reason of my sojourn there, they granted me permission to betake myself to any solitary place I might choose, provided only I did not put myself under the rule of any other abbey. Therein above all should I perceive how it was the hand of God that had touched me, when I should devote my life to the histodia of letters in freedom from the snares of the flesh and withdrawn from the tumultuous life of this world. Set up a giveaway. The argument they used was that it sufficed for the aclamitatum of my book that I had presumed to read it in public without the approval either of the Roman pontiff or of the Church, and that, furthermore, I had given it to many to be transcribed. The truth was often enough hinted to him, and by many persons, but he could not believe it, partly, as I have said, by reason of his boundless love for his niece, and partly because of the well-known continence of my previous life. He had a miraculous flock of words, but they were contemptible in meaning and quite void of reason.



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