Happiness, Contemplative Life, and the tria genera hominum in Twelfth-Century Philosophy: Peter Abelard and John of Salisbury

Quaestio 15:73-98 (2015)
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As Christians, all twelfth-century Latin thinkers identified true happiness with the happiness God promises in the afterlife. This happiness was believed to be entirely spiritual, consisting in the endless vision of God. Nevertheless, along with this beatitudo in patria we also find in some twelfth-century authors the idea of a beatitudo in via as the philosophical life. This life can be characterized either as completely contemplative and solitary, or as one that remains partially attached to material circumstances and action in society. Within this broad framework, this paper emphasizes three points:a. the ascetic and almost purely contemplative character of the ideal of the philosophical life as we find it in twelfth-century authors like Peter Abelard and John of Salisbury;b. the role played by philosophers in some twelfth-century triads of human types;c. the fact that, in spite of the monastic touch which often color them, many theses held by twelfth-century defenders of the philosophical...



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Luisa Valente
Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza

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