RAMUS, Petrus (Pierre de la Ramee)

(1515-1572)
Petrus Ramus broke with the medieval philosophical dependence upon Ar­istotle, developing an inductive logical method that became common not only in philosophy and Protestant (Reformed) theology, but also in other disciplines. A French humanist from Picardy, Ramus studied at Cuts and the College of Navarre in Paris, receiving his master of arts degree in 1536. In 1543 he pub­lished Aristotelicae animadversiones (Aristotelian observations) and Dialecticae institutiones (Dialectical instructions), in which he sharply attacked the tradi­tional Aristotelian approach then dominant in the University of Paris. The debate this opinions aroused became so strong that Francois I* forbade him to teach. However, his influential patrons, the Cardinals Charles de Bourbon and Charles de Lorraine, helped remove the ban and assisted him in becoming president of the College of Presles in 1545 and in 1551, professor of rhetoric and philosophy at the College Royal. He became a Calvinist in 1561 and left for Germany, returning to Paris in 1571, only to die the following year in the St. Bartholo­mew's Day Massacre.
Ramus sought to develop a new method of logic and rhetoric that would use logic in disputation, its two parts being invention, the discovery of proofs for the thesis, and disposition, which ordered the materials gained in the first part. This was to enable the ordered, reasoned, and systematic presentation of any subject. His work in logic and method was to deeply influence English and later American Puritanism. In particular, his method of maintaining a unity between theology and ethics powerfully influenced Puritan understandings of epistemol-ogy, theological method, and conceptions of nature and literature. His method is reflected in the theology of Johannes Piscator (1546-1625), Amandus Polanus von Polansdorf (1561-1610), William Perkins (1558-1602), William Ames (1576-1623), and Richard Baxter (1615-1691). He applied his method to the­ology in his posthumous Commentariorum de religione christiana libri quatuor (Commentaries on the Christian religion, 1576). His logic was influential throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Bibliography
P. Miller, The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century, 1939.
W. J. Ong, Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue, 1958.
Iain S. Maclean

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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