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    Abelardianism refers to the philosophical and theological thought of Peter Abelard, a medieval French philosopher and theologian who lived from 1079-1142 CE. Abelardianism emphasizes the use of reason and logical analysis to understand theological and philosophical questions. Abelard argued that reason and faith were not in conflict, and that reason could be used to illuminate and understand religious doctrines.

    Beliefs[edit | edit source]

    Rationalism[edit | edit source]

    Abelardianism emphasizes the use of reason and logical analysis to understand complex philosophical and theological questions. Abelard argued that reason and faith were not in conflict, and that reason could be used to illuminate and understand religious doctrines.

    Individual Inquiry[edit | edit source]

    Abelard emphasized the importance of individual inquiry and thought in understanding the nature of the world and our place in it. He believed that individuals should not simply accept dogmatic beliefs or authority, but should use their own reasoning to arrive at their own conclusions.

    Nominalism[edit | edit source]

    Abelard's work contributed to the development of Nominalism, a philosophical school of thought that emphasizes the particular over the general, and the individual over the universal. This view held that general concepts or universals were simply names or labels we apply to particular objects or experiences, rather than existing as independent entities in themselves.

    Moral Responsibility[edit | edit source]

    Abelard emphasized the importance of moral responsibility, arguing that individuals were responsible for their actions and their consequences. He believed that moral principles could be derived through reason and applied in everyday life.

    Theology[edit | edit source]

    Abelard argued that God and the universe can and should be known via logic as well as via the emotions. He should not be read as a heretic, as his charges of heresy were dropped and rescinded by the Church after his death, but rather as a cutting-edge philosopher who pushed theology and philosophy to their limits. He was the first to use 'theology' in its modern sense, he championed "reason in matters of faith", and "seemed larger than life to his contemporaries: his quick wit, sharp tongue, perfect memory, and boundless arrogance made him unbeatable in debate"

    Regarding the unbaptized who die in infancy, Abelard — in Commentaria in Epistolam Pauli ad Romanos — emphasized the goodness of God and interpreted Augustine's "mildest punishment" as the pain of loss at being denied the beatific vision (carentia visionis Dei), without hope of obtaining it, but with no additional punishments.

    Psychology[edit | edit source]

    Abelard was concerned with the concept of intent and inner life, developing an elementary theory of cognition in his Tractabus De Intellectibus, and later developing the concept that human beings "speak to God with their thoughts". He was one of the developers of the insanity defense, writing in Scito te ipsum, "Of this [sin], small children and of course insane people are untouched...lack[ing] reason....nothing is counted as sin for them". He spearheaded the idea that mental illness was a natural condition and "debunked the idea that the devil caused insanity", a point of view which Thomas F. Graham argues Abelard was unable to separate himself from objectively to argue more subtly "because of his own mental health."

    Law[edit | edit source]

    Abelard stressed that subjective intention determines the moral value of human action and therefore that the legal consequence of an action is related to the person that commits it and not merely to the action. With this doctrine, Abelard created in the Middle Ages the idea of the individual subject central to modern law.

    Poetry and Music[edit | edit source]

    Abelard was also long known as an important poet and composer. He composed some celebrated love songs for Héloïse that are now lost, and which have not been identified in the anonymous repertoire. (One known romantic poem / possible lyric remains, "Dull is the Star".) Héloïse praised these songs in a letter: "The great charm and sweetness in language and music, and a soft attractiveness of the melody obliged even the unlettered". His education in music was based in his childhood learning of the traditional quadrivium studied at the time by almost all aspiring medieval scholars.

    Melodies that have survived have been praised as "flexible, expressive melodies [that] show an elegance and technical adroitness that are very similar to the qualities that have been long admired in Abelard's poetry."

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