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« Ramsay, Sir William Mitchell Ramus, Petrus Rancé, Armand Louis Le Bouthillier de »

Ramus, Petrus

RAMUS, rā-müs´, PETRUS (PIERRE DE LA RAMÉE): French humanist; b. at Cuth, near Soissons (56 m. n.e. of Paris), 1515; d. at Paris Aug. 24, 1572. He studied at Paris under Johann Sturm, who lectured from 1529 to 1536 on the principles of Agricola. In the thesis for his master's degree, written at the age of twenty-one, Quæcunque ab Aristotele dicta essent, commentitia esse, Ramus asserted the fallibility of the philosopher and aroused great excitement which was increased by the publication in 1543 of the Aristotelicæ animadversiones and the Dialecticæ institutiones, in which Ramus tried to show the inadequacy of the Aristotelian logic. Ramus' works were a protest against views like those of Peter Galland, according to which Aristotle's philosophy was in perfect accord with the Christian religion. An edict issued by Francis I. forbade Ramus to teach philosophy and consigned his books to the flames. Ramus taught rhetoric and mathematics at the college of Ave Maria until, after the death of Francis in 1545, the restraint was removed through the efforts of Charles of Lorraine, the friend and protector of Ramus. He was allowed to teach philosophy at the Collège de Presles and in 1551 was made professor at the royal college.

Ramus was converted to Protestantism in 1561 after hearing Charles attempt to answer Beza. In the summer of 1562, when the Calvinists were banished from the city, Ramus found refuge with the dowager queen at Fontainebleau until the peace of Amboise, Mar. 10, 1563, permitted him to return. He resumed his work at the college. The persecution of the Reformed on the outbreak of the second civil war compelled Ramus to flee to the Huguenot camp at St. Denis, where he joined Condé and Coligny in the war. He returned to Paris in 1568, after the peace, but the uncertainty of the situation induced him to ask leave of absence in order to visit foreign universities. He set out on his travels shortly before the outbreak of the third civil war. At Heidelberg, he occupied for a time the position of professor of ethics, but his Aristotelian opponents made his continuance in the place impossible, and in July, 1570, he returned to Paris. His former positions were occupied; he received, however, a pension from Charles IX. and Catherine de Medici, only to perish on St. Bartholomew's night.

Ramus was more humanist than philosopher. He reformed the traditional method of studying the classics, and infused life into what had been a tedious exercise, and his pedagogical method was adopted in the next century. Ramus wished also to free theology from the subtleties of scholasticism and to establish the Bible as the only standard in matters of faith. His theological views are given in his Commentariorum de religione Christiana libri quatuor, nunquam antea editi (with a biography by T. Banos, Frankfort, 1576). His influence was wide-spread until the latter half of the seventeenth century, when it was displaced by Cartesianism. Among his disciples were Caspar Olevianus and Johannes Piscator (qq.v.), the jurists Hieronymus Treutler and Johannes Althusius, the statesman Emdens, and John Milton.

(F. W. Cuno†.)

Bibliography: As sources, besides the life by Banos in Commentariorum, ut sup, consult: N. de Nascel, Vie de Ramus, Paris, 1599 (best); and J. T. Freigius, Vita P. Rami, in Ramus' Prælectiones in Ciceronis Orationes, Basil, 1574. Consult further: T. Spencer, The Art of Logick Delivered in the Precepts of Aristotle and Ramus, London, 1656; A. Richardson, The Logicians Schoolmaster; or, a Comment upon Ramus' Logick, London, 1657; C. F. Lenz, Lebensbeschreibung des Ramus, Wittenberg, 1713; P. Bayle, Dictionary Historical and Critical, pp. 834–842, London, 1737; C. Schmidt, La Vie et les travaux de Jean Sturm, Strasburg, 1855; C. Waddington, Ramus, sa vie, ses écrits et ses opinions, Paris, 1855; É. Saisset, Les Précurseurs de Descartes, Paris, 1862; C. Desmase, P. Ramus, . . . sa vie, ses écrits, sa mort, Paris, 1864; A. Stöckl, Geschichte der Philosophie des Mittelalters, iii. 296 sqq., Mainz, 1867; B. Chagnard, Ramus et ses opinions religieuses, Strasburg, 1869; P. Lobstein, Petrus Ramus als Theolog, Strasburg, 1878; J. Barni, Les Martyres de la libre pensée, pp. 107–135, Paris, 1880; KL, x. 766–767; Lichtenberger, ESR, xi. 100–105 (worth consulting for the very full list of the writings of Ramus); American Journal of Education, xxiv. 131–134, xxx. 450–464; and the works on the history of philosophy.

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