Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Peter Abelard, Latin: Petrus Abaelardus or Abailard; French: Pierre Abélard

French Scholastic Philosopher, Theologian and Preeminent Logician

"By doubting, we come to examine, and by examining, so we perceive the truth."

"The first key to wisdom is this – constant and frequent questioning… for by doubting we are led to question and by questioning we arrive at the truth."

"Whosoever grows wrathful for any reason against his sufferings has therein departed from the way of the just, because he may not doubt that these things have happened to him by divine dispensation."

"For as a picture is often more beautiful and worthy of commendation if some colors in themselves are included in it, than it would be if it were uniform and of a single color, so from an admixture of evil the universe is rendered more beautiful and worthy of commendation."

"God considers not the action, but the spirit of the action. It is the intention, not the deed wherein the merit or praise of the doer consists."

"Those even who persecuted Christ or His followers, whom they considered it their duty to persecute, are said to have sinned in action; but they would have committed a graver fault if, contrary to their conscience, they had spared them."

"In fact we say that an intention is good, that is, right in itself, but that an action does not bear any good in itself but proceeds from a good intention. Whence when the same thing is done by the same man at different times, by the diversity of his intention, however, his action is now said to be good, now bad."

"The purpose and cause of the incarnation was that He might illuminate the world by His wisdom and excite it to the love of Himself."

"We call the intention good which is right in itself, but the action is good, not because it contains within it some good, but because it issues from a good intention. The same act may be done by the same man at different times. According to the diversity of his intention, however, this act may be at one time good, at another bad."

"The relation of knowledge to power is one not only of servility but of truth. Much knowledge, if out of proportion to the disposition of forces, is invalid, however formally correct it may be."

"Among today?s adept practitioners, the lie has long since lost its honest function of misrepresenting reality. Nobody believes anybody, everyone is in the know. Lies are told only to convey to someone that one has no need either of him or his good opinion. the lie, once a liberal means of communication, has today become one of the techniques of insolence enabling each individual to spread around him the glacial atmosphere whose shelter he can thrive."

"Against the disease of writing one must take special precautions, since it is a dangerous and contagious disease."

"How mighty are the Sabbaths, how mighty and how deep, that the high courts of heaven to everlasting keep."

"I preferred the weapons of dialectic to all the other teachings of philosophy, and armed with these, I chose the conflicts of disputation rather than the trophies of war."

"Are you not moved to tears and bitter compassion, when you behold the only Son of God seized by the most impious, dragged away, mocked, scourged, buffeted, spit upon, crowned with thorns, hung upon the infamous cross between two thieves, finally in such a horrible and execrable manner suffering death, for your salvation and that of the world?"

"Constant and frequent questioning is the first key to wisdom ? For through doubting we are led to inquire, and by inquiry we perceive the truth."

"It is by doubting that we come to investigate, and by investigating that we recognize the truth."

"O what their joy and glory must be, Those endless Sabbaths the bless‚d ones see!"

"Logic has made me hated in the world."

"Our redemption through the suffering of Christ is that deeper love within us which not only frees us from slavery to sin, but also secures for us the true liberty of the children of God, in order that we might do all things out of love rather than out of fear - love for him that has shown us such grace that no greater can be found."

"Often the hearts of men and women are stirred, as likewise they are soothed in their sorrows, more by example than by words. And therefore, because I too have known some consolation from speech had with one who was a witness thereof, am I now minded to write of the sufferings which have sprung out of my misfortunes, for the eyes of one who, though absent, is of himself ever a consoler. This I do so that, in comparing your sorrows with mine, you may discover that yours are in truth nought, or at the most but of small account, and so shall you come to bear them more easily."

"The Son of God took our nature, and in it took upon himself to teach us by both word and example even to the point of death, thus binding us to himself through love."

"The assumption that though profits from decay of the emotions, or even that it remains unaffected, is itself an expression of the process of stupefaction."

"Under the pretext of study we spent our hours in the happiness of love, and learning held out to us the secret opportunities that our passion craved. Our speech was more of love than of the books which lay open before us; our kisses far outnumbered our reasoned words."

"The first key to wisdom is defined, of course, as assiduous and frequent questioning."

"The men who abandon themselves to the passions of this miserable life, are compared in Scripture to beasts."