- Ramus, Petrus
- (Pierre de la Ramée, 1515-1572)French philosopher, humanist, teacher, and Protestant martyr, known in his own time mainly as a critic of traditional Aristotelian logic and the whole Aristotelian philosophical tradition. He also criticized the hu-manistic rhetorical tradition based on the works of Cicero and Quin-tilian and put forward a new dialectic which he viewed not only as a replacement for Aristotle but also as the foundation for a new direc-tion in education and scholarship. In his early career at the Univer-sity of Paris, his Dialecticae institutiones/Introduction to Dialectic and Aristotelicae animadversiones / Observations on Aristotle, both published in 1543, denied the value and even the authenticity of the philosophical writings attributed to Aristotle and stirred up such bit-ter conflict that after a formal disputation before a royal commission, the king forbade Ramus to teach at all.This prohibition was lifted under the next king, Henry II, and in 1551 Henry apointed Ramus to be one of the Royal Readers. His lec-tures in that position attacked educational tradition, and in 1562 he put forth proposals for drastic reform of the university, such as mak-ing physics a required subject in the faculty of arts, adding clinical experience to the requirements for medical degrees, and adding study of the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament to the degree requirements in theology. His proposals recommended the fir-ing of some professors and the addition of new chairs of mathemat-ics, anatomy, botany, and pharmacy. His conversion to Calvinist reli-gion in 1561 explains some of this radicalism. Ramus' work on dialectic was influenced by the humanist Rudolf Agrícola and by the educational reforms of the Protestant schoolmaster Johann Sturm at Strasbourg.Although Ramus' attack on the Aristotelian tradition reflects con-cerns about prevailing philosophy that were shared by others, his own elaborate efforts to provide an alternative logic were not suc-cessful. His effort in many of his works to organize all learning in ac-cord with his conception of proper method is a significant example of use of the printed book to express relationships in visual form. Ra-mus was a teacher first of all, and his initial dissatisfaction with tra-ditional university logic was the result of his conclusion that it was unteachable. Some of his more than 50 publications were written (or at least published) in collaboration with Omer Talon (ca. 1510-1562). Ramus had great influence in the late 16th and much of the 17th century, especially in England and other Protestant coun-tries, where his reputation was enhanced by his role as one of the Protestants martyred at Paris during the infamous Massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day in 1572.
Historical Dictionary of Renaissance. Charles G. Nauert. 2004.