Erasmus and the Humanist Experiment

Philosophical Studies (Dublin) 10 (10):297-298 (1960)
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Abstract

In this succinct survey of a period four centuries ago, when even papal prelates welcomed the reviving classical humanism as a refreshment from the dull formulas of a hidebound scholasticism, whose best upholders were struggling to rescue its original spirit from established senescence, Father Bouyer directs his sympathy and acumen to evaluate humanist Christianity in its central and most controversial figure, Desiderius Erasmus and in particular to the striking attempt to establish a humanist theology. Unfortunately for English readers his study concentrates upon ‘the spirit and general trend’ of Erasmus, exemplified in the significant Basel years, ‘when “Erasmianism” showed itself clearly as lying between the ultra-conservative Catholicism and the Protestant innovators’, and for this purpose critically expounds the Etudes erasmiennes of the late Professor Renaudet, ‘the examination of which’ he frankly admits ‘will form the core of our work’. Thus this work is mainly a translation of Fr. Bouyer’s Autour d’Érasme which sprang from the French literary scene in 1955 with the addition of an introductory sketch of the chief Renaissance prelates, initially led by Nicholas of Cusa, Vittorino da Feltre and Pico della Mirandola and concluding with ‘its final blossoming in the group of cardinals surrounding Pope Paul III’.

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