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The Ecole

The Ecole Glossary

Hugh of St.-Victor

Hugh of St.-Victor, the founder of the Victorine school of theology/spirituality, was born c. 1096, possibly in Saxony, since he was educated at Halberstadt. He and his uncle Reinhardt entered St.-Victor in 1115, and in 1133, Hugh became its abbot. He wrote on a number of topics, including grammar, philosophy, history, and geometry. He commented on the writings of Dionysius, and in his exegesis of Scripture, he examined the history and the literal meaning to draw out the theological meaning. In his Didascalion (Spiritual Instructions), he identifies four types of knowledge: theoretical, practical, discursive, and mechanical. Logic unifies the different species of knowledge, and experience is an important source of knowledge, especially the knowledge of God. Hugh wrote De sacramentis christianae fidei, a treatise on the sacraments that is considered the first major summa of the Middle Ages, a forerunner of Aquinas in thought and in form. Hugh hoped, through his writings, to explain mysticism rationally and to organize Biblical and patristic thought into a complete, systematic doctrinal body. He hoped also that philosophy (for him, the pursuit of divine wisdom) would overcome the effects of the Fall. Hugh, who died in 1141, is sometimes called a second Augustine.

Karen Rae Keck

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