Erasmus of Rotterdam: Advocate of a New Christianity (Erasmus Studies)

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Luther, who believed in the clarity of Scripture, did not accept skepticism as a methodological approach. He saw it as waffling. He was unwilling to put up with ambivalence and demanded a clear-cut judgment. Up to this point he might be describing the position of an Academic skeptic, but he goes on to specify:.

I explicitly exclude from Scepticism whatever is set forth in Sacred Scripture or whatever has been handed down to us by the authority of the Church. CWE In other words, he substitutes for the Academic criterion of probability, the criteria of Christian tradition and consensus. His admirers, by contrast, praised his skillful use of language.

In addition to the arguments rooted in skepticism, Erasmus also brings ethical criteria to bear on the question of free will. He argued that denying the existence of free will would destroy the moral basis of human action. Affirming the power of free will was socially expedient. To convince the other party, consensus was necessary. Erasmus earned his living as a teacher for only a few years, but education remained a lifelong interest and a central theme in his writings. Erasmus expressed confidence in the potential of human beings for self-improvement, a corollary of his acceptance of free will.

He believed in the preponderance of nurture over nature, given the power of the will.

It was therefore the duty of parents and teachers to ensure that children fulfilled their potential and of adults to live up to it. Is it not to live according to reason? This is why he is called a rational being, and this is what sets him apart from animals. And what is the most harmful influence upon man? Surely it is ignorance. Citing Origen, Erasmus speaks of a tripartite human nature, made up of spirit, soul, and flesh.

Erasmus accepted the classical doctrine of the three prerequisites of excellence—natural talent, instruction, and practice CWE —but he tended to blame a poor result on neglect and wrong teaching methods rather than a lack of ability or intention on the part of student. This parallels the Catholic belief in the limited power free will. Without divine guidance human endeavours are in vain.

Erasmus - Wikipedia

Erasmus composed a number of treatises on the subject of education. In both tracts he emphasized the importance of learning the classical languages and studying the classics. In the case of secular education, he counseled early exposure of students to Greek and Latin and extensive reading in probati autores the approved canon of authors , like Homer, Terence, Plautus, Virgil, Horace, and Cicero. He recommended an all-round education but emphasized the study of history, the proverbial teacher of life.

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In contrast to the scholastics, whose core subject was dialectic, Erasmus privileged ethics over logic and the formation of character over factual knowledge. His ideas on the aims and methods of education are contained in De Pueris Instituendis On the Education of Children, and Institutio Principis Christiani On the Education of a Christian Prince, , but are expressed there in a rhetorical rather than a systematic fashion.

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The rhetorical nature of the Education of a Christian Prince is self-evident. This creates a problem of interpretation for the modern reader. Four ideas are recurring themes in his writings on education: the humanizing effect of education; the effectiveness of cooperative rather than coercive methods; the ability of both sexes to benefit from education, and the importance of internalizing the material taught. It was education that raised human being above the level of brute beasts and made them useful members of society.

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Education is an important socializing process. There are immediate practical advantages to schooling as well. Being occupied with his studies, a child will avoid the common pitfalls of youth—for learning is something that engages the entire person- and this is a blessing which should not be undervalued.

Teachers must understand that education will bear fruit only if it is a cooperative effort. Like many of his contemporaries, Erasmus grew up in the belief that women were intellectually inferior to men and therefore could not benefit from education in the same measure. He changed his mind after meeting the erudite daughters of Thomas More and hearing of learned women like Marguerite of Navarre and Caritas Pickheimer. Anticipating modern principles, Erasmus emphasized the importance of understanding and internalizing the material presented.

He emphasizes the importance of aptum et decorum in compositions, that is, the appropriateness of arguments to time, place, and audience. This cannot be achieved by a slavish imitation of classical models. Imitation does not immediately incorporate into its own speech any nice little feature it comes across, but transmits it to the mind for inward digestion, so that becoming part of our own system, it gives the impression not of something begged from someone else, but of something that springs from our own mental processes.

The formation and correct use of language was a primary concern for Erasmus. He wrote several works that would seem to provide a starting point for a philosophy of language. Indeed, he devoted a treatise to the subject of language De Lingua , The Tongue, , but no systematic thought on the nature, origin, or function of language emerges from this tractate.

Citing the ancient physician Galen, Erasmus declares that language oratio , rather than reason ratio , was the distinguishing mark of human beings CWE A promising statement in De Ratione Studii likewise remains without follow-up.


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Similarly, a statement in his annotations on the New Testament appears to be an instance of ideational epistemology. Here as elsewhere Erasmus does not elaborate on his thoughts. His statements on the nature of words and their relationship to things remain undeveloped and fall short of a philosophy of language. For his views on the legitimacy of warfare, they draw on the Querela Pacis The Complaint of Peace, and the adage Dulce Bellum Inexpertis War is sweet to those who have not experienced it.

These sources are problematic, however, because of their strong rhetorical flavor and the commonplace nature of the arguments presented there. It will serve as an additional caveat to readers that Erasmus, who is often depicted as a pacifist, also wrote a piece in praise of war—now lost, but documented in his Catalogue of Works Ep. Both recommend compromise and arbitration as alternatives to warfare. Similar ideas are voiced in Dulce Bellum. We may take this to be an authentic Erasmian point of view because it appears not only in these rhetorical compositions but also in his psalm commentary, De Concordia.

There it is presented not merely as a general proposition but given a more specific context. Erasmus suggests that the religious strife which characterized his age be settled by a general council of the church—a desire also voiced in contemporary religious colloquies and Imperial Diets and realized after long delay in the Council of Trent. Erasmus furthermore counseled the parties to find a middle ground and make concessions. He called this process synkatabasis CWE , a military term denoting a move in which two armies give up their vantage point and descend into the open plain to negotiate.

Erasmus does not entirely reject warfare, although he depicts it as a last resource. In his rhetorical tracts he waxes eloquent about the horrors of war and the destruction inflicted on the population. He calls war fundamentally unchristian and fit for beasts rather than humans. In his annotations on the New Testament Luke 36 he wrote in a more sober tone about war and the circumstances under which it was legitimate. Erasmus amended his annotation accordingly. The expanded and finely nuanced version of serves as clear testimony to his views on the subject. He begins by quoting St.

Martin and St. Jerome condemning war. He then succinctly states his own opinion:. We should not propagate the Christian religion only with arms, nor should princes undertake war when it can be avoided by using other means. They should, moreover, conduct a war they have undertaken with a minimum of bloodshed and end it as quickly as possible.

Finally, [war] is not compatible with the purity of the gospel, and we must not seek to derive the right to go to war from gospel precepts…There are many necessary evils in human affairs, which are tolerated because they prevent greater evils; yet they are not approved as gospel teaching. ASD VI. The theme is also taken up in War Against the Turks.

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He depicts the Turks as a scourge of God an idea promoted also by Luther and therefore urges his contemporaries to repent and reform to appease God and overcome the enemy. They belong to the genre of Mirror of Princes, in which the ideal of a ruler is held up as a model to be imitated. The Erasmian model prince is a father figure who has the wellbeing of his people at heart. He is the guardian of justice and provides moral leadership. Conversely, the ruler must give an account of his stewardship to God.

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It may be no more than a loose reference to the cooperation of the subjects with their ruler. The best situation is for people to obey voluntarily, Erasmus says CWE Some of the qualifications and limitations he imposes on absolute monarchy are based on the Christian ideals of charity and fellowship. Echoing Plato, Erasmus believes that the best ruler must be a philosopher, that is, a wise man,.

Being a philosopher is in practice the same as being a Christian, he notes CWE The ruler must not shirk his moral obligations. The good prince uses the public interest as a yardstick in every field, otherwise he is no prince. He has not the same rights over men as over cattle. The duties and obligations are mutual. Many of the ideas voiced in The Education of the Christian Prince also appear in the Panegyric , but are expressed there in more fulsome terms and, to the modern ear, with excessive flattery.

The message is the same, however. Describing the hierarchy preserved in the ideal state, Erasmus draws on the traditional medieval image of the three estates—clergy, nobility, and common people—arranged in three concentric circles around the central figure of Christ.

This suggests a political and moral hierarchy with specific duties assigned to each tier. Thus kings, the representatives of Christ, must be obeyed even if they are corrupt,. There are multiple roots for the idea of mutual obligations among the members of a society. It is the foundation of the Medieval feudal system and embedded in the paternalistic biblical model. Outlining his ideals, Erasmus thus makes use of concepts found in classical philosophers and Christianizes or adapts them to specific rhetorical needs. This applies more particularly to his views on pietas.

The term philosophia Christi , the philosophy of Christ, first appears in patristic writings. It is an aspect of the larger concept of pietas , the moral conscience governing the proper relationship between individual and God as well as the individual and society. This period Controversies: Hyperaspistes. Erasmus' controversies with French, Italian, Spanish, and German critics on theological, social, philological, educational, and Erasmus' controversies with French, Italian, Spanish, and German critics on theological, social, philological, educational, and other matters are contained in volumes of the Collected Works.

Controversies with Alberto Pio. A leading diplomat of the period, patron of artists and humanists, and conservative Catholic, Pio continually angered Erasmus by criticizing him for Controversies with Edward Lee.

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In , the reading public witnessed the eruption of a simmering conflict between Erasmus, the In , the reading public witnessed the eruption of a simmering conflict between Erasmus, the foremost advocate of the new biblical humanism, and Edward Lee, a younger scholar at the University of Louvain and spokesman for the traditionalists in matters Hermeneutics and Reflection: Heidegger and Husserl on the.

Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann is known as a major figure in phenomenological and hermeneutics research: he When Yugoslavia was created in , the new state was a patchwork of Serbs, Croats, When Yugoslavia was created in , the new state was a patchwork of Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, and other ethnic groups. It still was in January , when King Aleksandar suspended the Yugoslav constitution and began an ambitious program to impose Books with a similar title.

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