Petrus Ramus, 1515 - 1572

Petrus Ramus was a French humanist and philosopher who attempted to break through the Aristotelian and scholastic traditions of the middle ages.  After receiving his degree Ramus taught logic at two schools in Paris.  His attempts to reform the science of logic excited much hostility among the exponents of Aristotelianism: when his polemical treatise Animadversiones in Dialecticam Aristotelis (Criticisms of the Aristotelian Dialectic) appeared in 1543, it was violently assailed by faculty members of the Sorbonne in Paris.  Although his liberal ideas threatened his teaching position, in 1551 (with the help of Cardinal de Lorraine) he was appointed to a chair of rhetoric and philosophy at the Collège de France.  In the religious wars of the period Ramus sympathized with the reformers and was forced to flee to Germany in 1568.  Ramist logic, although faulted by modern thinkers, was exceedingly influential in its time, and it markedly affected Francis Bacon, John Milton, and others.  With its emphasis on clarity, precision, and establishing definite boundaries between subjects, Ramist logic encouraged the emergence of the scientific spirit.