- Erasmus, Desiderius
- (c. 1466/9–1536)One of the earliest and greatest humanists of the Northern Renaissance. Erasmus was educated in Holland, possibly at Deventer, and entered the Augustinian priory of Steyn, near Gouda, in 1487. He was ordained in 1492. For a short while he studied theology in Paris. Travel to England in 1499 put him in touch with Thomas More and other humanists. Living the life of a travelling scholar, Erasmus published collections of classical proverbs, his In Praise of Folly in 1509, and in 1516 a new and more accurate Greek edition of the New Testament. Although his satires upon religious practice and the complexities of scholastic theology, together with his preference for the early, simpler, beliefs of the Church, made him an inspiration for the new movement of reform, Erasmus had little confidence that the unaided powers of men were capable of forging new utopias. He withdrew from the political arena, and in 1524 broke with Luther, in his work De Libero Arbitrio (‘On Free Will’). The moderation, and moderate scepticism, of Erasmus had no place in the increasingly divisive splits within the Church, but his classical learning and attitudes were widely influential in the centuries following. He died in Basel, preparing to return to the Netherlands.
Philosophy dictionary. Academic. 2011.