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41
ABELIN

cited Bede to prove that Dionysius the Areopagite had been bishop of Corinth, while they relied upon the statement of the abbot Hilduin that he had been bishop of Athens. When this historical heresy led to the inevitable persecution, Abelard wrote a letter to the abbot Adam in which he preferred to the authority of Bede that of Eusebius' Historia Ecclesiastica and St Jerome, according to whom Dionysius, bishop of Corinth, was distinct from Dionysius the Areopagite, bishop of Athens and founder of the abbey, though, in deference to Bede, he suggested that the Areopagite might also have been bishop of Corinth. Life in the monastery was intolerable for such a troublesome spirit, and Abelard, who had once attempted to escape the persecution he had called forth by flight to a monastery at Provins, was finally allowed to withdraw. In a desert place near Nogent-sur-Seine, he built himself a cabin of stubble and reeds, and turned hermit. But there fortune came back to him with a new surprise. His retreat becoming known, students flocked from Paris, and covered the wilderness around him with their tents and huts. When he began to teach again he found consolation, and in gratitude he consecrated the new oratory they built for him by the name of the Paraclete.

Upon the return of new dangers, or at least of fears, Abelard left the Paraclete to make trial of another refuge, accepting an invitation to preside over the abbey of St Gildas-de-Rhuys, on the far-off shore of Lower Brittany. It proved a wretched exchange. The region was inhospitable, the domain a prey to lawless exaction, the house itself savage and disorderly. Yet for nearly ten years he continued to struggle with fate before he fled from his charge, yielding in the end only under peril of violent death. The misery of those years was not, however, unrelieved; for he had been able, on the breaking up of Heloise's convent at Argenteuil, to establish her as head of a new religious house at the deserted Paraclete, and in the capacity of spiritual director he often was called to revisit the spot thus made doubly dear to him. All this time Heloise had lived amid universal esteem for her knowledge and character, uttering no word under the doom that had fallen upon her youth; but now, at last, the occasion came for expressing all the pent-up emotions of her soul. Living on for some time apart (we do not know exactly where), after his flight from St Gildas, Abelard wrote, among other things, his famous Historia Calamitatum, and thus moved her to pen her first Letter, which remains an unsurpassed utterance of human passion and womanly devotion; the first being followed by the two other Letters, in which she finally accepted the part of resignation which, now as a brother to a sister, Abelard commended to her. He not long after was seen once more upon the field of his early triumphs lecturing on Mount St Geneviève in 1136 (when he was heard by John of Salisbury), but it was only for a brief space: no new triumph, but a last great trial, awaited him in the few years to come of his chequered life. As far back as the Paraclete days, he had counted as chief among his foes Bernard of Clairvaux, in whom was incarnated the principle of fervent and unhesitating faith, from which rational inquiry like his was sheer revolt, and now this uncompromising spirit was moving, at the instance of others, to crush the growing evil in the person of the boldest offender. After preliminary negotiations, in which Bernard was roused by Abelard's steadfastness to put forth all his strength, a council met at Sens (1141), before which Abelard, formally arraigned upon a number of heretical charges, was prepared to plead his cause. When, however, Bernard, not without foregone terror in the prospect of meeting the redoubtable dialectician, had opened the case, suddenly Abelard appealed to Rome. The stroke availed him nothing; for Bernard, who had power, notwithstanding, to get a condemnation passed at the council, did not rest a moment till a second condemnation was procured at Rome in the following year. Meanwhile, on his way thither to urge his plea in person, Abelard had broken down at the abbey of Cluny, and there, an utterly fallen man, with spirit of the humblest, and only not bereft of his intellectual force, he lingered but a few months before the approach of death. Removed by friendly hands, for the relief of his sufferings, to the priory of St Marcel, near Chalon-sur-Saone, he died on the 21st of April 1142. First buried at St Marcel, his remains soon after were carried off in secrecy to the Paraclete, and given over to the loving care of Heloise, who in time came herself to rest beside them (1164). The bones of the pair were shifted more than once afterwards, but they were marvellously preserved even through the vicissitudes of the French Revolution, and now they lie united in the well-known tomb in the cemetery of Père-la-Chaise at Paris.

Great as was the influence exerted by Abelard on the minds of his contemporaries and the course of medieval thought, he has been little known in modern times but for his connexion with Heloise. Indeed, it was not till the 19th century, when Cousin in 1836 issued the collection entitled Ouvrages inédits d'Abélard, that his philosophical performance could be judged at first hand; of his strictly philosophical works only one, the ethical treatise Scito te ipsum, having been published earlier, namely, in 1721. Cousin's collection, besides giving extracts from the theological work Sic et Non (an assemblage of opposite opinions on doctrinal points, culled from the Fathers as a basis for discussion, the main interest in which lies in the fact that there is no attempt to reconcile the different opinions), includes the Dialectica, commentaries on logical works of Aristotle, Porphyry and Boëthius, and a fragment, De Generibus et Speciebus. The last-named work, and also the psychological treatise De Intellectibus, published apart by Cousin (in Fragmens Philosophiques, vol. ii.), are now considered upon internal evidence not to be by Abelard himself, but only to have sprung out of his school. A genuine work, the Glossulae super Porphyrium, from which Charles de Rémusat, in his classical monograph Abélard (1845), has given extracts, remains in manuscript.

The general importance of Abelard lies in his having fixed more decisively than any one before him the scholastic manner of philosophizing, with its object of giving a formally rational expression to the received ecclesiastical doctrine. However his own particular interpretations may have been condemned, they were conceived in essentially the same spirit as the general scheme of thought afterwards elaborated in the 13th century with approval from the heads of the church. Through him was prepared in the Middle Age the ascendancy of the philosophical authority of Aristotle, which became firmly established in the half-century after his death, when first the completed Organon, and gradually all the other works of the Greek thinker, came to be known in the schools: before his time it was rather upon the authority of Plato that the prevailing Realism sought to lean. As regards his so-called Conceptualism and his attitude to the question of Universals, see Scholasticism. Outside of his dialectic, it was in ethics that Abelard showed greatest activity of philosophical thought; laying very particular stress upon the subjective intention as determining, if not the moral character, at least the moral value, of human action. His thought in this direction, wherein he anticipated something of modern speculation, is the more remarkable because his scholastic successors accomplished least in the field of morals, hardly venturing to bring the principles and rules of conduct under pure philosophical discussion, even after the great ethical inquiries of Aristotle became fully known to them.

Bibliography.—Abelard's own works remain the best sources for his life, especially his Historia Calamitatum, an autobiography, and the correspondence with Heloise. The literature on Abelard is extensive, but consists principally of monographs on different aspects of his philosophy. Charles de Rémusat's Abélard (2 vols., 1845) remains an authority; it must be distinguished from his drama Abélard (1877), which is an attempt to give a picture of medieval life. McCabe's life of Abelard is written closely from the sources. See also the valuable analysis by Nitsch in the article "Abälard" in Hauck's Realencyklopädie f. prot. Theol. u. Kirche, 3rd ed., 1896. There is a comprehensive bibliography in U. Chevalier, Répertoire des sources hist. du moyen âge, s. "Abailard."

ABELIN, JOHANN PHILIPP, an early 16th-century German chronicler, was born, probably, at Strasburg, and died there between the years 1634 and 1637. He wrote numerous histories over the pseudonyms of Philipp Arlanibäus, Abeleus and Johann Ludwig Gottfried or Gotofredus, his earliest works of importance