Philosophy of Ramon Llull

03.05.2015 |

A martyr in the order of St. Francis, Ramon Llull was a prolific 13th- and early 14th-century writer of Catalan literature. Producing over 250 works in his time, he touched on topics as varied as mathematics and illuminating manuscripts. Llull is known for his influence on logic, computation theory, and for writing the first European novel. A missionary to South Africa, he was fluent in Latin and Arabic as well as Catalan and promoted the conversion of Muslims through prayer and communication rather than through military invasions.

He integrated some of the more mystical aspects of North African religious practices, and his theories included an emphasis on personal experience. This eventually made him controversial, and certain of his works were condemned by later popes. Llull engineered a machine, Ars Generalis Ultima, with a series of levelers, cranks, and wheels that turned different shapes so that they aligned to reveal metaphysical truths. He believed deeply in converting Muslims to Christianity and used his machine as a demonstration device.

He also argued against many of his contemporaries, stating that philosophy and religion were not the same thing. He promoted that religion relied on revelation of knowledge through reason and faith, while philosophy is the revelation of knowledge through reason. He believed that there was no separation between natural and supernatural truth, and that all truths could be proven through systematized, logical steps. On the fringes of several church doctrines, his beliefs were eventually denounced as rationalistic mysticism. He has never been canonized, although Llull remains a giant in the scholastic studies of medieval Spanish literature.

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