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Juan Luís Vives

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Title: Juan Luís Vives  
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Juan Luís Vives

Juan Luis Vives
National Library of Spain
Born (1493-03-06)6 March 1493
Valencia, Crown of Aragon
Died 6 May 1540(1540-05-06) (aged 47)
Bruges, Flanders
Era Renaissance philosophy
Region Western Philosophy
School Renaissance humanism
Main interests psychology, education
Notable ideas Study of the psyche

Juan Luis Vives (Ioannes Lodovicus Vives in Latin), also Joan Lluís Vives i March (Valencian pronunciation: [ʒuˈaɲ ʎuˈiz ˈvivez i ˈmaɾk]) or Jan Ludovicus Vives (Dutch pronunciation: [jɑn lydoːvikys vivɛs]) (6 March 1493[1] – 6 May 1540), was a Valencian scholar and humanist who spent nearly his entire adult life in the Southern Netherlands.His beliefs on the soul, insight to early medicine practice, and perspective on emotions, memory, and learning earns him the title of the ‘father’ of modern psychology in the eyes of many.

Early life

Vives was born in Valencia. As a child, he saw his father, grandmother and great-grandfather, as well as members of their wider family, executed as Judaizers at the behest of the Spanish Inquisition; his mother was acquitted but died of the plague when he was 15 years old. Shortly thereafter, he left Spain never to return.

Whilst still in Spain he attended the Valencia Academy, where he was taught by Jerome Amiguetus and Daniel Siso. The school was dominated by scholasticism, with the dialectic and disputation playing a central role in the delivery of education.

"Even the youngest scholars are accustomed never to keep silence; they are always asserting vigorously whatever comes uppermost to their minds, less they should seem to be giving up the dispute. Nor does one disputation, or even two a day prove sufficient, as for instance at dinner. They wrangle at breakfast; they wrangle after breakfast; they wrangle before supper and they wrangle after supper. At home they dispute, out of doors they dispute. They wrangle over their food, in the bath, in the sweating room, in the church, in the town, in the country, in public, in private. At all times they are wrangling."[2]

Academic career

He studied at the University of Paris from 1509 to 1512, and in 1519 was appointed professor of humanities at the University of Leuven. At the insistence of his friend Erasmus, he prepared an elaborate commentary on Augustine's De Civitate Dei, which was published in 1522 with a dedication to Henry VIII of England. Soon afterwards, he was invited to England, and acted as tutor to the Princess Mary, for whose use he wrote De ratione studii puerilis epistolae duae (1523) and, ostensibly, De Institutione Feminae Christianae, on the education of girls (a book he dedicated to the English queen, Catherine of Aragon).[3]

While in England, he resided at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, where he was made doctor of laws and lectured on philosophy. Having declared himself against the annulment of the marriage of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon, he lost royal favour and was confined to his house for six weeks. On his release, he withdrew to Bruges, where he devoted the rest of his life to the composition of numerous works, chiefly directed against the scholastic philosophy and the preponderant unquestioning authority of Aristotle. The most important of his treatises is the De Causis Corruptarum Artium, which has been ranked with Bacon's Organon.

His most important pedagogic work are Introductio ad sapientiam (1524), De disciplinis, which stressed the urgent importance of more rational programs of studying; De prima philosophia; and the Exercitatio linguae latinae, which is a Latin textbook consisting of a series of brilliant dialogues. His philosophical works include De anima et vita (1538), De veritate fidei Christianae and "De Subventione Pauperum Sive de Humanis Necessitatibus" (On Assistance To The Poor) (1526); the first tract of its kind in the Western world to treat the problem of urban poverty and propose concrete suggestions for a policy of social legislation. Vives detected through philological analysis[4] that the supposed author of the so-called Letter of Aristeas, purporting to describe the Biblical translation of the Septuagint, could not have been a Greek but must have been a Jew who lived after the events he described had transpired.

He died in Bruges in 1540 at the age of 47.

Contemporary relevance

Vives imagined and described a comprehensive theory of education; he may have directly influenced the essays of Michel Eyquem de Montaigne.[5] He was admired by Thomas More and Erasmus, who wrote that Vives "will overshadow the name of Erasmus."[6]

Vives is considered the first scholar to analyze the psyche directly.[7] He did extensive interviews with people, and noted the relation between their exhibition of affect, and the particular words and issues they were discussing. While it is unknown if Freud was familiar with Vives's work, historian of psychiatry Gregory Zilboorg considered Vives a godfather of psychoanalysis. (A History of Medical Psychology, 1941) and the father of modern psychology by Foster Watson (1915.)

Vives taught monarchs. His idea of a diverse and concrete children's education long preceded Jean Jacques Rousseau, and may have indirectly influenced Rousseau through Montaigne. Vives altered classical rhetoric to express his own sort of pro-virginity half-feminism - which remains of interest to historians of gender.[8][9] Among 16th century Spain's numerous "treatises for and against women," Vives "steers a middle path" (p. xxiv-xxv), neither misogynist nor sanctifying.[10]

However influential he may have been in the 16th century, Vives now attracts minimal interest beyond specialized academic fields. The values of Vives inspired two Belgian Schools for higher education (KATHO and Katholieke Hogeschool Brugge-Oostende) to choose the name ‘Vives’ as the name for their cooperation/merger starting from September 2013. Also the regional link of Vives with the province of West Flanders (Bruges is the capital of this province) played a role.

Major works

  • Opuscula varia (1519), collection of small works include Vives' first philosophical works, De initiis, sectis et laudibus philosophiae.
  • Adversus pseudodialecticos (1520)
  • De subventione pauperum. Sive de humanis necessitatibus libri II (1525), dealing with the problem of poverty.
  • De Europae dissidis et Republica (1526).
  • De concordia et discordia in humano genere (1529).
  • De pacificatione (1529).
  • Quam misera esset vita chistianorum sub Turca (1529).
  • De disciplinis libri XX (1531). An encyclopedical work, divided into three parts: De causis corruptarum artium, De tradendis disciplinis and De artibus
  • De conscribendis epistolis (1534), a treatise on letter writing.
  • De anima et vita (1538)
  • De Europeae statu ac tumultibus, a mediation addressing to the Pope to ask peace between the Christian princes.
  • Introductio ad sapientiam (1524), the most important of his pedagogical works.
  • De institutione feminae christianae, was dedicated to Catherine of Aragon.[10]

See also



  • Carlos G. Noreňa, Jean Louis Vives, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1970.
  • Charles Fantazzi (ed.), A Companion to Juan Luis Vives, Leiden: Brill, 2008 (Brill's Companions to the Christian Tradition, 12).


  • Template:1911

External links

  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


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