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89. Peter Helias

C. H. KNEEPKENS


Subject History of Philosophy » Ancient and Medieval (pre-C17th)

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631216735.2005.00100.x


Extract

Peter Helias (b. ca. 1100; d. after 1166) was born in the neighborhood of Poitiers. He became a student of Thierry of Chartres at Paris in the 1130s and a renowned teacher of grammar and rhetoric. He returned to Poitiers about 1155, where he died. Peter composed a commentary on Cicero's De inventione and a Summa super Priscianum , a widely used textbook on Priscian's Institutiones. Other works traditionally attributed to him are spurious. Most of his works relay heavily on the gloss commentary tradition, especially on William of Conches, but his Summa is the starting point of a new didactic approach in the teaching of grammar. This is a well-structured textbook, not a gloss or commentary, that offers the opportunity to discuss coherently, albeit within the framework of Priscian, the major linguistic topics, and provides readers with clear definitions of pertinent concepts. In the early twelfth century, the search for the explanatory principles, or causes of invention, of linguistic phenomena came into vogue, and found its culmination in Helias's discussion of morphology. It was believed that the answer to the question of why a certain linguistic phenomenon was invented had to supply insights into its presence and function in language. In semantics, Peter came under the influence of Thierry of Chartres in particular. For his doctrine of substance, he adopted, via Thierry, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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