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Western Civilization 10, Lesson 165 – Erasmus: “The Praise of Folly”

Desiderius Erasmus was a Dutch philosopher and theologian who lived during the 15th century.  He wrote many notable works during his time, the most remembered being The Praise of Folly.  In this essay, I am going to describe some of the points he brought up in The Praise of Folly.

I have only read an excerpt of the actual work, but only from that I managed to deduce some of the points Erasmus was trying to convey in his essay.

He claimed that merchants were corrupt and people knew it.  However, if people knew that the merchants they gave their money to were corrupt, why did they still buy from them?  The answer: merchants had a lot of money and that earned them respect by the common people.  He also accused the friars of being part of the scheme to get profits from the merchants.

Erasmus also warned that the words of people who were considered to be pious and knowledgeable should not be used as a gospel and should only be taken with a grain of salt.  He noted how many men who may seem religious and wise were preaching about staying holy and devoted to God, yet they indulged in wine and women on the side.  He was warning people to be skeptical and to think on their own instead of following the words of these high ranking men blindly.

As you can see, Erasmus was trying to warn the common people of the corrupt people hiding amongst them.  He was trying to show people how the friars, lawyers, and philosophers they idolized were not the perfect men they painted themselves to be.  It was clear to see that Erasmus was a highly skeptical man.  Perhaps that was what made him such a great theologian.

Thanks for reading!

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Author: sophiaelahirpc

10th Grade student in the Ron Paul Curriculum. Full-time teen writer living in Singapore.

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