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Margaret Mann Phillips Lecture
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When: Thursday, 22 March 2012
7:00 pm
Where: Folger Shakespeare Library Theater

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John Monfasani, State University of New York, Albany

Erasmus and the Philosophers

Erasmus was famously allergic to the philosophic theology of the medieval scholastics and what he considered their confusion of Christianity with Aristotelian philosophy. But he himself edited the opera omnia of Aristotle in Greek, just as he produced an edition of the philosophically rich opera omnia of St. Augustine. Paul Oskar Kristeller and Michael Screech have noted the Platonic influences in Erasmus’s Praise of Folly. Martin Luther accused Erasmus of following in the traces of the ancient Skeptics. Indeed, Erasmus avowed a certain tenderness towards the Academic skeptics. Nor is it difficult to find references in his writings to philosophers and the ancient schools of philosophy. So the question is: what exactly was Erasmus’s attitude toward philosophy and the philosophical tradition from antiquity to his own day? And what philosophical positions did he appropriate, dispute, or show an interest in? Could one consider Erasmus a philosopher malgré lui?

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