Philosophy Word of the Day – Desiderius Erasmus (1466-1536)

Desiderius Erasmus in 1523 as depicted by Hans...
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Dutch humanist. Erasmus produced editions of classical texts far superior to those of the medieval period and, in Diatribe de libero arbitrio (Discourse on Free Will) (1524) {at} defended the moral freedom of individual human beings.

The Ecomium moriae id est Laus stultitiae (Praise of Folly) (1509) {at} satirized the political and religious institutions of his time, and many of his Colloquia (1518) {at} are stinging condemnations of ecclesiastical fraud.

(Via Philosophical Dictionary)

It seems Erasmus was liberal with his criticism.  Here he takes on philosophers and theologians.

From The Praise of Folly (1509)

. . After the lawyers come the philosophers, who are reverenced for their beards and the fur on their gowns. They announce that they alone are wise and that the rest of men are only passing shadows. . . . The fact that they can never explain why they constantly disagree with each other is sufficient proof that they do not know the truth about anything. They know nothing at all, yet profess to know everything. They are ignorant even of themselves, and are often too absent-minded or near-sighted to see the ditch or stone in front of them. . . .

. . . Perhaps it would be wise to pass over the theologians in silence. That short-tempered and supercilious crew is unpleasant to deal with. . . . They will proclaim me a heretic. With this thunderbolt they terrify the people they don’t like. Their opinion of themselves is so great that they behave as if they were already in heaven; they look down pityingly on other men as so many worms. A wall of imposing definitions, conclusions, corollaries, and explicit and implicit propositions protects them. They are full of big words and newly-invented terms. . . .

(Via The History Guide)

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