Dialectics in the Conflict of Abelard and Bernard

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Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153) was the spokesman for reformed monasticism and the patristic tradition of theology as exegesis. When, at the urging of William of Saint Thierry, he read theological works purportedly by the dialectician turned monk and theologian Peter Abelard, he reacted vehemently and through a spate of letters and denunciation secured Abelard's condemnation at the Synod of Sens in June 1140. Yet a study of Bernard's own non-polemical works and of those of the lesser-known William are studied, it becomes clear that they had somewhere studied and mastered the techniques of dialectica, the discipline which transformed twelfth-century thought and on which, quite literally, Abelard had earlier written the book.


Keywords: Theological Controversy, Dialectics, Twelfth Century
Stream: History, Historiography
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr E. Rozanne Elder

Director and Professor, Institute of Cistercian Studies
Department of History, Western Michigan University

Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

A graduate of the Centre for Mediaeval Studies at the University of Toronto, Dr Elder is professor of history and Director of the Institute of Cistercian Studies at Western Michigan University. In addition to teaching and research, she has been the editor of a series of books on the early and medieval monastic traditions, Cistercian Publications. Her research specialization is the intellectual history of the high middle ages (1100-1350).

Ref: H08P0159