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Erasmus Of Rotterdam In Praise Of Folly

1305 words - 6 pages

The works of the Dutch humanist Desiderius Erasmus, often titled the
Praise of Folly, Erasmus’s seminal pre-Reformation essay examines aspects of Church teaching as well as aspects of worship which Erasmus deems worthy of the biting satire he utilises
Erasmus was unrelenting in his criticism of pedantry, sophistry and demagoguery among both clerical and secular figures.
Rediscovery of Aristotle and the birth of humanism in the renaissance
The influence of Erasmus on humanism during this time was so great as to ensure that Northern Renaissance humanism came to be labelled Erasmian. A movement which, unlike its Italian counterpart and predecessor, would place faith and piety at the centre of theology and would place a large emphasis on ad fontes, to the sources of Christian theology and biblical and patristic sources (Parrish article)
Erasmus, while generally foccussing his critiques on the elites of European society, also speaks of the importance of education with particular regard to how education is the best way to fight the pervasiveness of public opinion, which criticises with particular venom in The Abbot and the Learned Woman.
‘for all it brilliant rhetorical fanfare, Folly’s proem is a reworking of a thoroughly medieval topos, the revival and nature of nature and man in the springtime’. (Clarence H Miller
Historian Johan Huizinga, in his Erasmus and the Age of the Reformation, recognized Erasmus's desire for simplicity:
He found society, and especially religious life, full of practices, ceremonies, traditions and conceptions, from which the Spirit seemed to have departed. He does not reject them offhand and altogether: what revolts him is that they are so often performed without understanding and right feeling. But to his mind, highly susceptible to the foolish and ridiculous things, all that sphere of ceremony and tradition displays itself as a useless, nay, a hurtful scene of human stupidity and selfishness. [2]

This essay will explore the influences at play in Erasmus’s exploration of the Catholic Church, Catholic Church and general parts of early 16th century Catholic devotion which Erasums deemed. It will describe the role of Erasmus in the reformation and Erasmus’s unease at his position straddling the ever-increasing divide in Western Christendom between the traditionalist Catholic position and that of the Reformers.
, placing Erasmus in either camp, given his reputation as simultaneously the intellectual godfather of Reformation thought and his ostensible life-long loyalty (despite his persistent criticisms) to the Roman church is innately problematic.
Erasmus’s own view of Praise of Folly is a subject of much dispute. Going by his own writings it seems unsure just how seriously he expected that particularly work to be taken. Certainly its theological merit is utterly overshadowed by much of the rest of his body of work.
• Hard to know how much import Erasmus himself attached to the work given his writings hence and it place as...

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