Peter Ramus : Precursor to Descartes Against the Confessional Reformed Faith

par | Livres Anglais

The purpose of this book is to draw from the shadows a major figure in the history of the French and European Renaissance, Peter (Petrus) Ramus, who in his own time was the figurehead of a fierce resistance that would later be called the “Moderns”—innovative philosophers in line with the nominalism of the purely empirical “particulars” of William of Ockham—against the academic and cultural influence of the “Ancients,” supporters of Aristotle and the reality of the “universals” ordering both the thought of men as well as God’s creation itself.

Peter Ramus was, philosophically, the direct antagonist, though hidden and veiled, of John Calvin, who turned to the Bible as the sole standard of the Christian Faith and the framework of a true renaissance or rebirth of culture extending to all areas of human thought and life.

Ramus’ attack wasn’t against the dogmas acquired over the centuries by the Roman Church nor, even less, against the revival of biblical reformed thought, but against the—in his eyes utterly noxious—influence of the Greek Aristotle. Quite indifferent to spiritual questions, Ramus was successively Roman Catholic then Reformed, but he never adhered to a true and living Christian faith. He accidentally became a Protestant martyr by tragically dying in Paris during St. Bartholomew’s in 1572.He was first rejected by the Roman orthodoxy which still reigned uncontested at the Sorbonne; then by the Reformed orthodoxy spreading throughout Europe and which considered that a right philosophical viewpoint—the philosophy of common sense so largely set forth by Aristotle—was essential for a correct reading of the Scriptures and a knowledge of nature consistent with the visible stable order given to it by its Creator.

It goes without saying that both the Catholics of the Counter-Reformation as well as the doctors of the Protestant Reformation unanimously rejected the all too obvious errors of the Greek philosopher: his rejection of God’s creation of the universe ex nihilo, his affirmation of the eternality of matter, his belief in the annihilation of human life after death, etc.What interested our Reformed doctors was Aristotle’s humility in the face of the stable metaphysical order of creation which, for them, was the inevitable counterpart of theology’s dependence on Scripture alone, the foundational doctrine of Christianity that we have recently discovered to be that of the thought of Thomas Aquinas.

If Peter Ramus had little success with the doctors of his time, his crusade against Aristotle was rich in universal success, as evidenced by his followers among the great figures of the philosophical and scientific revolution of this turning of the ages that marked the passage from the sixteenth to the seventeenth century. Among the most famous adherents of Peter Ramus’ anti-Aristotelian crusade, we must count the great “moderns” such as Francis Bacon, René Descartes, Galileo, Isaac Newton, etc.

But what particularly interests us in this work is the impact of the simplifying, binary, and radically reductionist thought of the reality of this “single method” advocated by Peter Ramus that within the Protestant world opened wide the door leading from an inexorable cultural progress to the encyclopedia of a world perceived as immanent, as well as to this misery of the false Enlightenment of the rationalism of modernity and post-modernity.

In the second part of this work is shown that, despite the heroic resistance of the great figures of the Second Reformation—Ursinus, Bullinger, Theodore Beza, Vermigli—Protestantism, particularly that of the Anglo-Saxon world, could scarcely resist the siren song of a simplifying thought of both binary and gnostic trends that stood in such complete symbiosis with the achievements of modern science, a vision of the world without law or faith, as was said recently of Maoist and Soviet communism. This is a work truly vital for our own day!

Auteur : Jean-Marc Berthoud
Editeur  : Psalm78 Ministries
Date de publication : 27 février 2020
Longueur : 182 pages
ISBN : 9798618964005
Prix catalogue : 18,97 €