The Ramchal and Pierre de la Ramée

In his works written in Amsterdam, the Ramchal followed the ramist method.

This is obvious to anyone who knows the ramism and this has been proved by irrefutable argument.

The Ramchal himself says in the introduction to his Sefer hahigayone he used a book written in another language. This book has been identified by Professor Charles Manekin. This is a treatise on logic written in Latin according to ramist principles.

Pierre de la Ramée lived in Paris in the sixteenth century. He was a logician and a teacher. Protestant, he was killed in the Saint Barthelemy. He reformed the pedagogy of his time.

His method is simple. He organizes the topics in a tree, a data structure that is now familiar.


In this way, the klalim (general principles) are always presented before pratim (derived principles).

This allows the Ramchal to realize his grand vision : to make judaism a deductive science.

What says the halacha ?

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 224: 6-7) reports two blessings :

  • To the sages of Israel : “Blessed are You … who shared his wisdom with those who fear You”
  • To the sages of the nations : “Blessed are You … who has given of His wisdom to humans”

According to the Mishnah Berura, the blessing on the sages of the nations is about the seven chochmos. But the Chafetz Chaim does not give the list of the seven chochmos. A long tradition started in Provence states that those seven pillars of wisdom are the seven liberal arts (the school curriculum in the antiquity and in the Middle Ages) :

  • The Trivium : grammar, logic, rhetoric
  • The Quadrivium : algebra, geometry, astronomy, music

The kasherisation the trivium had already a long history before the Ramchal. The Vilna Gaone and the Hasam Sofer worked for the kasherisation of the quadrivium.

The writings of the Italian period do not carry the ramist fingerprint because Pierre de la Ramée was a protestant : in catholic countries, his teachings were not broadcast whereas, in protestant countries, Ramism supplanted scholasticism.

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