Season 2 – Episode 1

Erasmus’s Folly: Humanism, the Praise of Folly, and the Reformation

Brae Aiello and Dr. Kyle Robinson

The episode discusses Desiderius Erasmus of Rotterdam and his work, Praise of Folly. It covers Erasmus’ background, including his parentage, his education by the Brethren of the Common Life and at the University of Paris, and some of the key people who influenced his Renaissance Humanism. The episode then discusses aspects of Praise of Folly that point to some of Erasmus’ views on religion and society in the 16th century. Finally, in light of Erasmus’ background and his stances in Praise of Folly, the episode discusses the significance of Erasmus’ influence on the subsequent reformations.


Primary Sources 

Augustijn, Cornelis. Erasmus: His Life, Works, and Influence. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1990. Accessed April 23, 2023. ProQuest Ebook Central.

Dolan, John Patrick, and Desiderius Erasmus. The Essential Erasmus. New York, NY: Meridian Book, 1993.

Published by Hear the Voice and Prayer

How can we study belief? What are the longer term implications of religious change in society? These connected questions form the core of our course and our investigation of Early Modern Europe (c. 1450-1789). Indeed, the meaning of belief was the central issue of contention in Europe from the dawn of the Renaissance until the twilight of the eighteenth century and its Revolutions. The shattering of the Christian consensus and the rise of the empirical frame was a pathway cleared with the twin swords of Humanism’s cry of ad fontes and Luther’s injunction of sola fide. The route uncovered was a journey to the “Modern” in all its beauty and ugliness. Yet, stones lay upon this trail, rocky reminders whose pain and obstacle convey the irony that Europe’s greatest religious revolution resulted in the ultimate secularization of the continent and of the West in general. Still, secularization, caught as it is in a dialectic with Christianity, is a form of belief, and belief remains central. The effort to experience, define, and understand both acceptable and unacceptable beliefs will be our compass to map Europe’s Early Modern world, the world of unfolding Reformations. This course will consist of primary and secondary readings, lecture, classroom discussion, as well as multiple student writing assignments culminating in a final research based student podcast.

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