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Alexander of Hales

c.1170-1245. Theologian and philosopher. Born at Hales in Gloucestershire, he probably studied first at Oxford and then at Paris where he took his master's degree in arts and theology. In 1220 he became a teacher in Paris and soon was one of the most widely celebrated theologians of the university. He created a sensation in the scholastic world when about 1236 he joined the Franciscans.* This in itself marked a highly important landmark in the involvement of the Minors with the university and hence with academic theology. He at once made a mark. He helped to instigate opposition to the very unsatisfactory Franciscan minister-general Elias. He became regent master of the Franciscan convent in Paris and soon had a famous school with students of the calibre of John de la Rochelle, William of Melitonia, and Bonaventura. Alexander and his school are important because they attempted to understand the rediscovered Aristotelian* philosophy and its implications for theology. Alexander himself wrote a commentary on the Sentences and his name is associated with the Summa Theologica-but this was a composite work finished by his followers. It is therefore difficult to identify with certainty his own work, but the evidence is that he did not assimilate Aristotle and remained faithful to his Augustinian theological roots. At the same time he indicated the problems posed by the new learning and also paved the way for the more satisfactory solutions of his followers.

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