John of Salisbury

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

John of Salisbury

John of Salisbury (sôlz´bərē), c.1110–1180, English scholastic philosopher, b. Salisbury. He studied in France at Paris and Chartres under Abelard and other famous teachers. He was secretary to Theobald, archbishop of Canterbury, and friend and secretary to St. Thomas à Becket, of whom he wrote a biography. From 1176 to 1180, John was bishop of Chartres. His two main works are the Polycraticus, a treatise on the principles of government, and the Metalogicus, which presents a picture of the intellectual life and the scholastic controversies of the age. He was well acquainted with the Latin classics, and the influence of Platonism on his writing is considerable. He was one of the originators of moderate realism as a solution to the controversy with nominalism.

See two selections from the Polycraticus—The Statesman's Book of John of Salisbury (tr. by J. Dickinson, 1927, repr. 1963) and Frivolities of Courtiers (tr. by J. P. Pike, 1938, repr. 1972); M. J. Wilks, ed., The World of John of Salisbury (1985).

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