ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf

426. Some Leading Humanists. -- One of the most typical of these humanist "philosophers" was the Italian, LAURENTIUS VALLA (1407-1459), whose Dialecticae Disputationes contra Aristotelicos are little better than a sustained sneer at Aristotelian logic. Valla found an imitator in RODOLPH AGRICOLA (1442-1485), whose De Inventione Dialectica is written in the same strain. Those have an equal in the Spaniard, LUDOVICUS VIVÈS (1492-1540; author of De Causis Corruptarum Artium, In Pseudodialecticos, De Initiis, Sectis et Laudibus Philosophiae). He contracted his hatred of scholasticism from the lectures of John Dullaert at Paris; propagated his humanist and anti-scholastic ideas in the Low Countries, especially at Louvain where he had relations with Erasmus; passed over to England for a time; but returned to die at Bruges in 1540.

Of more significance, though no less barren, were the views of MARIUS NIZOLIUS of Modena (1498-1575), who spent his life on the works of Cicero (Thaesaurus Ciceronianus) and attacked scholasticism in a treatise Contra Pseudophilosophos, edited by Leibnitz in 1670. Dialectic and Metaphysics are removed from the catalogue of the philosophical sciences to make room for Rhetoric. For the science of Being he substitutes the science of words, denying all reality to the universal.

The same general principles were strenuously advocated by the most influential of all those humanist-philosophers, PETER DE LA RAMÉE (Petrus Ramus, 1515-1572). When he was yet scarcely twenty-one, he maintained in a public thesis that all Aristotle had taught was a pack of lies. This was the keynote to his scholastic career. Thenceforth he dreamt of compassing a thorough regeneration of dialectic. He expounded his plans, in 1543, in the Dialecticae Institutiones and the Animadversiones in Dialecticam Aristotelis. These works provoked violent opposition. Ramus was silenced by order of Francis I. But on the latter's death, in the following year, he resumed the teaching of philosophy in the College of Presle and reedited his works. In 1562 he went over to Calvinism: this change of religion, while it won him sympathy in Germany, increased the opposition to him at Paris and obliged him to quit France. On his return there, in 1572, he perished in the massacre of St. Bartholemew.

In his Dialecticae Institutiones, Ramus distinguishes natural and artificial dialectic, annexing the rules of the latter to the spontaneous functioning of the former. Dialectic, being merely the virtus disserendi, embraces the investigation of the common sources from which reasoning springs (inventia) and the application of the general principles found there to each particular process of reasoning (judicium). Judicium teaches us how to formulate consecutively isolated propositions, to arrange them in a scientific system, and ultimately to subordinate all the sciences to God. Dialectic exercises (interpretatia, scriptia, dictia) complete our training in artificial dialectic, and their supreme object is to endow us with the art of perfect discourse. For reasoning is united with discourse as the heart is with the tongue.

The collection of elementary precepts and platitudes which constituted the dialectic of Ramus, met with great favour among the many scholars who were captivated by the spirit of humanism. They set up the Ramist dialectic in opposition to the Aristotelian; and thus there arose two distinct parties, the Ramists and the Aristotelians. JOHANNES STURM in Germany, ARMINIUS in Holland, NICHOLAS nu NANCEL at Douai and in the Low Countries, WILLIAM TEMPLE (1533-1626) at Cambridge in England, are the leading names on the long list of the partisans of Ramus. CORNELIUS MARTINI (1567-1621) at Helmstadt{1} and EVERARD DIGBY at Cambridge, were his most determined adversaries. The latter wrote, against Ramus, his treatise De Duplici Methodo.{2}

It was to the language and method of scholasticism that the humanists were primarily opposed: sections of them, however, were just as bitterly, and much more obstinately, hostile to its teachings.

{1} See our Hist. de la phil. scol. dans les Pays-Bas, etc., p. 341.

{2} On Digby and Temple, see FREUDENTHAL'S articles in the Arch. f. Gesch. d. Phil., iv., 3 and 4.

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