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Thomas Bradwardine

Wikipedia Reference Information

Thomas Bradwardine (c. 1290 – August 26, 1349), often called "the Profound Doctor", was an English scholar and courtier and, very briefly, Archbishop of Canterbury. He was born either at Hartfield in Sussex or at Chichester, where his family were settled, members of the smaller gentry or burghers.

He was a precocious student, educated at Balliol College, Oxford where he was a fellow by 1321; he took the degree of doctor of divinity, and acquired the reputation of a profound scholar, a skilful mathematician and an able theologian. He was also a gifted logician whose theories on the [[insolubles]] (and in particular the liar paradox) were a great influence on the work (the more famous) Jean Buridan (and therefore, in turn of the more recent philosophers A. N. Prior and Jim Carlyle); his work on the liar paradox has been most recently unearthed by Paul Spade and Steven Read - any one interested to look out Spade's entry in the stanford encyclopedia of philosophy which gives a (somewhat brief) exposition. He subsequently moved to Merton College on a fellowship. He was afterwards raised to the high offices of chancellor of the university and professor of divinity. Bradwardine (like his contemporary William of Occam) was a culminating figure of the great intellectual movement at Oxford that had begun in the 1240s.

Bradwardine was an ordinary secular cleric, which gave him intellectual freedom but deprived him of the security and wherewithal that the Preaching Orders would have afforded; instead he turned to royal patronage. From being chancellor of the diocese of London as Dean of St Paul's, he became chaplain and confessor to Edward III, whom he attended during his wars in France at the Battle of Crécy, where he preached at the victory Mass, and at the subsequent siege of Calais. Edward repeatedly entrusted him with diplomatic missions. On his return to England, he was successively appointed prebendary of Lincoln and archdeacon (1347). In 1349 the canons of the chapter at Canterbury elected him Archbishop following the death of Archbishop John Stratford, but Edward III withheld his consent, preferring his chancellor John de Ufford, perhaps loath to lose his trusted confessor. After Ufford died of the Black Death, May 2, Bradwardine went to receive confirmation from Clement VI at Avignon, but on his return he died of the plague at Rochester on August 26, 1349, forty days after his consecration. He was buried at Canterbury.

Chaucer in The Nun's Priest's Tale (line 476) ranks Bradwardine with Augustine and Boethius. His great theological work, to modern eyes, is a treatise against the Pelagians, entitled De causa Dei contra Pelagium et de virtute causarum. Bradwardine's major treatise argued that space was an infinite void in which God could have created other worlds, which he would rule as he ruled this one. The "causes of virtue" include the influences of the planets, not as predestining a human career, but influencing a subject's essentrial nature. This astrophysical treatise was not published until it was edited by Sir Henry Savile and printed in London, 1618; its circulation in manuscript was very limited. The implications of the infinite void were revolutionary; to have pursued them would have threatened the singular relationship of man and this natural world to God (Cantor 2001); in it he treated theology mathematically. He wrote also De Geometria speculativa (printed at Paris, 1530); De Arithmetica practica (printed at Paris, 1502); De proportionibus velocitatum in motibus (1328) (printed at Paris, 1495; Venice, 1505); De Quadratura Circuli (Paris, 1495); and an Ars Memorative, Sloane manuscripts. No. 3974 in the British Museum—earning from the Pope the title of the Profound Doctor.

The complete, up-to-date and editable article about Thomas Bradwardine can be found at Wikipedia: Thomas Bradwardine
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Bradwardine




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