Peter Abelard


Biography of Peter Abelard

Peter Abelard (1079 – 21 April 1142) was a medieval French scholastic philosopher, theologian and preeminent logician. He also was a music composer. The story of his affair with and love for Heloise has become legendary. The Chambers Biographical Dictionary describes him as "the keenest thinker and boldest theologian of the 12th Century".

Abelard, originally called "Pierre le Pallet", was born in Le Pallet, about 10 miles (16 km) east of Nantes, in Brittany, the eldest son of a minor noble Breton family. As a boy, he learned quickly. His father, a wealthy lord called Berengar, encouraged Pierre to study the liberal arts, wherein he excelled at the art of dialectic (a branch of philosophy), which, at that time, consisted chiefly of the logic of Aristotle transmitted through Latin channels. Instead of entering a military career, as his father had done, Abelard became an academic. During his early academic pursuits, Abelard wandered throughout France, debating and learning, so as (in his own words) "he became such an one as the Peripatetics." The nominalist Roscellinus of Compiègne was his teacher during this period.

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