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Ramus and Aristotle - Impressions and Expressions of Ijon
November 1st, 2003
08:36 pm


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Ramus and Aristotle
I've read very little Aristotle so far. The more of his texts I'm exposed to, the more I admire his intellect and the power of his mind. This is not to say I'm oblivious to his (many) shortcomings, nor to the great problematic heirloom he left the Western tradition (categories, to name one big elk), but I am simply amazed at his clarity, his penetration.

This reminds me of something: Years ago, the sagacious ygurvitz told me of Petrus Ramus, a fresh (pun intended) graduate at the University of Paris in 1536, who actually picked for his thesis the title: Quæcumque ab Aristotele dicta sunt, commentitia sunt, i.e. "Everything Aristotle composed/said is false". How's that for nerve?

It must have seemed a good (if dangerous) idea at the time, as the total hegemony of Aristotle's notions at that time suffocated innovation and free thought, and the nonsense Aristotle wrote about physics and zoology, for instance, certainly needed refutation, but of course it is a gross exaggeration to dismiss all of Aristotle's thought as useless.

Ramus's peers must have been flabbergasted, and he must have been a brilliant rhetor and very well prepared, because he succeeded in defending his thesis, and was granted his degree. However, the books he published his ("dangerous") ideas in were later condemned by that same University of Paris, and he later lost a public disputation, and was condemned as rash and impudent.

Both Aristotle and Ramus won their place in my private intellectual hall of fame; both deserve it for intellectual courage.

Current Mood: impressed
Current Music: Yes -- Tales of Topographic Oceans

(5 comments | Leave a comment)

[User Picture]
Date:November 1st, 2003 11:04 am (UTC)
Which begs, of course, the question: what's the rest of that hall of fame?
[User Picture]
Date:November 1st, 2003 12:33 pm (UTC)

For some more nerve,


:תקרא כבר את

ספר לבן

בענינו של

אדם יוראצ'ק, פרופסור לציור ולחינוך גופני
'במכון הפדגוגי בק


סר איזק ניוטון, פרופסור לפיסיקה
'באוניברסיטת קמברידג

שיחזר לפי מסמכים בני הזמן
והשלים בתעודות מעניינות מאין כמוהן

פאול קוהוט

[User Picture]
Date:November 1st, 2003 12:41 pm (UTC)

Re: For some more nerve,

Hey, this is intriguing already!

Alas, I don't see how I'd have time to read anything extracurricular other than newspapers before the semester break. Such is my predicamoose.

But I shall read that book, certainly!
[User Picture]
Date:November 1st, 2003 01:02 pm (UTC)

Petrus Remus

He was later murdered during the St. Bartholomew Massacre (he was a protestant, an Huguenot to be precise). His actions cetainly took courage; I fail to see how that applies to Aristotle, who certainly avoided angering the authorities and was in fact the tutor of Alexander of Macedonia (granted, that was not without its own risks).
[User Picture]
Date:November 1st, 2003 01:13 pm (UTC)

Re: Petrus Ramus

Aristotle was fortunate enough to live in a place and a time when his views did not risk his very life, so the risk he took was certainly not equal to Ramus's (why Remus?), but he nevertheless had the courage to dispute both his unnervingly cunning master and great thinkers of the past, and to present his views nevertheless. He did this not only in his own Lyceon, but also when still a student at Plato's Academy.

He ventured to make bold distinctions such as the problem of the physical object, questioning a rather basic fact of intuition. This facet of his intellectual boldness is shadowed, in my mind, only by Parmenides's convictions.
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