Peter Abelard was a distinguished philosopher of the medieval era, he flourished around the twelfth century (1079-1142) and he was also known for his logic. He was the founder of nominalism, a theologian, an ethicist and a poet as well; known for his brilliance, innovative and controversial ideas which attracted many prominent scholars to Paris in order to learn from him. During his early life, he fell in love with the niece of an official of Notre Dame Cathedral, and got her pregnant. This act of his got this official annoyed and because of it, he was castrated. He joined the St. Dennis abbey outside of Paris and from there he wrote many works, some approved, and some criticized and condemned. Meanwhile Heloise joined a convent and became a nun until she died. Abelard developed an ethical theory on intentionalism(the importance of the intentions and the will of the agent in performing an action). This was mainly because during his time, people were judged using the external conformity of an act to the law of God, and sin was based on going against the law regardless of the knowledge of right or wrong of the individual.
HIS VIEW ON ETHICS
As an ethicist he developed a theory of moral responsibility which was based on the agent's intentions (intentionalism) this view that the agent’s intention determines the moral worth of an action. Moral goodness is defined as intending to show love of God and neighbor and being correct in that intention. Abelard lists as the components of behavior (a) mental vice, (b) will or desire, (c) pleasure, (d) voluntariness, (e) consent and intention, and (f) the action or deed itself. All these go in unison; one has a vice, desires that the vice be satisfied, voluntarily consents with the intention of satisfying this desire, and takes pleasure in the successful completion of the bad act. For Abelard however, the only morally significant component on this list is (e) consent and intention. Each of these...
Bibliography: 1. William F. Lawhead, The Voyage of discovery – a historical introduction to philosophy, 2nd edition, pg.159-160.
2. Peter King, (Abelard’s Intentionalist Ethics.pdf) The Modern Schoolman 72 (1995), 213–231.
3. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://www.iep.utm.edu/Abelard, Peter.htm.
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