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Siger of Brabant

c.1235-c.1282. Radical Aristotelian philosopher. A canon at St. Martin's, Liège, he later taught philosophy in Paris (c.1266-76). He expounded a heterodox Aristotelianism while professing Christianity, and was attacked by Bonaventura* and Thomas Aquinas.* Thirteen errors taken from his teaching were condemned by the bishop of Paris (1270). This was ineffective and, summoned to appear before an inquisitor in 1276, Siger fled to Italy. The so-called Great Condemnation followed, when 219 propositions were condemned by the bishop, Êtienne Tempier (1277). Siger retired to Orvieto where he was reportedly stabbed to death by an insane cleric. Siger was leader of a group inaugurating purely rational teaching, unconcerned with Christian dogma. His chief source was Aristotle*; secondary sources included Proclus,* Avicenna,* Averroes,* Albertus Magnus, and Aquinas. Typical teachings were: the First Being is the immediate cause of a single creature; all other creatures derive indirectly from God by a progressive emanation; the created world is necessary and eternal, and every species of being (e.g., man) is eternal; there is only one intellectual soul for mankind, and consequently one will; this unique soul is eternal, but human individuals are not immortal; human will is a passive potency moved by the intellect.

See Scholasticism.

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