1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Alexander of Hales

ALEXANDER OF HALES (Alexander Halensis), surnamed Doctor Irrefragabilis, Theologorum Monarcha and Fons Vitae, a celebrated English theologian of the 13th century, was born in Gloucestershire. Trained in the monastery of Hales he was early raised to an archdeaconry. He went, like most of the scholars of his day, to study at Paris, where he took the degree of doctor and became celebrated as a teacher. It is generally held that he taught Bonaventura, Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas, but a comparison of dates makes it clear that the two latter could not have been his pupils and that the statement about Bonaventura is open to doubt. In 1222 (or 1231, see Denifle, Chartul. Univers. Paris, Paris, 1889, i. 135) Alexander entered the order of Minorite Friars and thenceforward lived in strict seclusion. He refused, however, to renounce his degree of doctor, and was the first of his order who continued to bear that title after initiation. He died in 1245 and was buried in the convent of the Cordeliers at Paris. His most celebrated work was the Summa Theologiae (Nuremberg, 1452; Venice, 1576; Cologne, 1611), undertaken by the orders of Pope Innocent IV. and approved by Alexander IV., on the report of seventy learned theologians, as a system of instruction for all the schools in Christendom. The form is that of question and answer, and the method is rigidly scholastic. Of small intrinsic value, it is interesting partly as the first philosophical contribution of the Franciscans who were afterwards to take a prominent part in medieval thought (see Scholasticism), and partly as the first work based on a knowledge of the whole Aristotelian corpus and the Arabian commentators.

See Wadding, Script. ord. minor. (Rome, 1650); for his method B. Hauréau, Hist. de philos. scholast. (Paris, 1880); F. Picavet, “Abélard et A. de H.” in the Bibliothèque de l’école des hautes-études (2nd series, Paris, 1896, pp. 222-230); Schwane, Dogmengesch. (Freiburg, 1882); A. Harnack, Dogmengesch. (1890); J. Endres, “Des A. von H. Leben und psychol. Lehre” in Philos. Jahrb. (i. Fulda, 1888, pp. 24-55, 203-296); also Vacant’s Dict. de théologie catholique, vol. i.