Peter Ramus

1515-1572. French humanist. From Picardy, he was educated at the Collège de France and led an anti-Aristotelian movement. By 1551 he had become a professor at his alma mater and in 1561 was converted to Protestantism. After spending the years 1568-71 in Germany to escape persecution, he returned to France in 1571 and was killed in the massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day.* For a time Ramus engaged in an effort to establish congregational government in the French Calvinist churches (1568-71), but it is as a reformer of Aristotelian logic that he is best known. He believed that the concepts and abstractions of the human mind draw their validity, not from temporal or expedient constructs, but from eternal truth in the mind of God. Hence man can develop a methodology for inferring such universals from his experience and then relating them to infinity. Absolute truth then becomes available through the careful analysis of human perception. In practice the Ramist felt that facts could be analyzed in a series of sucessive dichotomies. These analyses were often arranged in a diagram which became a hallmark of the Ramist method. Ramism was especially popular among the Puritans in England and New England.