7 February 2012
Venue: David Sizer Lecture Theatre, Francis Bancroft Building
Earlier concepts of intention were floating around, but Abelard (together with Heloise and twelfth century contemporaries) fostered an ethical revolution by establishing intention as an inescapable evaluative norm. Decoupling sin from deeds or actions, Abelard argued that sin did not occur without inward consent, rendering selfexamination of motive an essential element of the ethical life. Examples of medieval thinking on this matter will be drawn from Procula’s intentions in dissuading her husband Pilate from condemning Christ, legal narratives taken from the Plea and Memoranda and Coram Rege Rolls, and Chaucer’s ‘Friar’s Tale’ and ‘Prologue’ to the Legend of Good Women.