City of Mallorca (now Palma),
Kingdom of Majorca, now Spain
Mediterranean Sea (aboard a ship bound for Majorca)
|Venerated in||Roman Catholic Church|
(Third Order of St. Francis)
|Beatified||1847 by Pope Pius IX|
|Mathematics, philosophy, theology, esotericism, Logic, Astrology.|
Ramon Llull[a] (Catalan: [r?'mo? '?u?]; c. 1232 - c. 1315/16) was a mathematician, polymath, philosopher, logician, writer and mystic from the Kingdom of Majorca. He is credited with writing the first major work of Catalan literature. Recently surfaced manuscripts show his work to have predated by several centuries prominent work on election theory. He is also considered a pioneer of computation theory, especially given his influence on Leibniz.
Since Llull's first writings, there has been confusion in the church regarding whether he was a saint or a heretic. Llull has had a canonization process open in the Catholic Church since the times of Philip II (16th century). King Philip was one of the promoters of this process. The Spanish king was extremely fond of his work and used parts of it in the creation of the monasterio del Escorial. Prior to that, Llull was considered a heretic by most of the establishment, and the debate regarding both King Philip II and him continued in Rome long afterwards. Llull's works were prohibited by the Spanish Inquisition under the same king Philip, for he considered that "non-initiates could not understand them". Copies of the works were safely stored in the Library of El Escorial and were consulted by Spanish scholars, mostly sympathetic to Llull's views.
Llull was born into a wealthy family in Palma, the capital of the newly formed Kingdom of Majorca. James I of Aragon founded Majorca to integrate the recently conquered territories of the Balearic Islands (now part of Spain) into the Crown of Aragon. Llull's parents had come from Catalonia as part of the effort to colonize the formerly Almohad-ruled island. As the island had been conquered militarily, the Muslim population who had not been able to flee the conquering Christians had been enslaved, even though they still constituted a significant portion of the island's population.
In 1257 Llull married Blanca Picany, with whom he had two children, Domènec and Magdalena. Although he formed a family, he lived what he would later call the licentious and wasteful life of a troubadour.
Ramon, while still a young man and Seneschal to the King of Majorca, was very given to composing worthless songs and poems and to doing other licentious things. One night he was sitting beside his bed, about to compose and write in his vulgar tongue a song to a lady whom he loved with a foolish love; and as he began to write this song, he looked to his right and saw our Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross, as if suspended in mid-air.
The vision came to Llull five times in all, leading him to leave his family, position, and belongings in order to pursue a life in the service of God. Specifically, he realized three intentions: to die in the service of God while converting Muslims to Christianity, to see to the founding of religious institutions that would teach foreign languages, and to write a book on how to overcome someone's objections to being converted.
Following his epiphany Llull likely became a Franciscan tertiary (a member of the Third Order of St. Francis), taking inspiration from Saint Francis of Assisi. After a short pilgrimage he returned to Majorca, where he purchased a Muslim slave from whom he wanted to learn Arabic. For the next nine years, until 1274, he engaged in study and contemplation in relative solitude. He read extensively in both Latin and Arabic, learning both Christian and Muslim theological and philosophical thought.
Between 1271 and 1274 Llull wrote his first works, a compendium of the Muslim thinker Al-Ghazali's logic and the Llibre de contemplació en Déu (Book on the Contemplation of God), a lengthy guide to finding truth through contemplation.
In 1274, while staying at a hermitage on Puig de Randa, the form of the great book Llull was to write was finally given to him through divine revelation: a complex system that he named his Art, which would become the motivation behind most of his life's efforts.
Llull urged the study of Arabic and other then-insufficiently studied languages in Europe, along with most of his works, to convert Muslims and schismatic Christians. He travelled through Europe to meet with popes, kings, and princes, trying to establish special colleges to prepare future missionaries. In 1276 a language school for Franciscan missionaries was founded at Miramar, funded by the King of Majorca.
About 1291 he went to Tunis, preached to the Saracens, disputed with them in philosophy, and after another brief sojourn in Paris, returned to the East as a missionary. Llull travelled to Tunis a second time in about 1304, and wrote numerous letters to the king of Tunis, but little else is known about this part of his life.
He returned in 1308, reporting that the conversion of Muslims should be achieved through prayer, not through military force. He finally achieved his goal of linguistic education at major universities in 1311 when the Council of Vienne ordered the creation of chairs of Hebrew, Arabic and Chaldean (Aramaic) at the universities of Bologna, Oxford, Paris, and Salamanca as well as at the Papal Court.
Following the favourable attitude of some Franciscan theologians, Llull's position on this subject was of great importance because it paved the way for the doctrine of Duns Scotus, whom he met in 1297, after which he was given the nickname Doctor Illuminatus, even if it seems that he had no direct influence on him. Llull is the first author to use the expression "Immaculate Conception" to designate the Virgin's exemption from original sin. He appears to have been the first to teach this doctrine publicly at the University of Paris.
To explain this Marian privilege, Llull resorts to three arguments:
1. The Son of God could not become incarnate in a mother who was stained by sin in any way:
God and sin cannot be united in the one and same object... Thus the Blessed Virgin Mary did not contract original sin; rather she was sanctified in the instant in which the seed from which she was formed was detached from her parents.
2. There had to be a certain likeness between the Son's generation without sin and the generation of his Mother:
The Blessed Virgin Mary should have been conceived without sin, so that her conception and that of her Son might have a like nature.
3. The second creation, that is the Redemption, which began with Christ and Mary, had to happen under the sign of the most total purity, as was the case with the first creation:
Just as Adam and Eve remained in innocence until the original sin, so at the beginning of the new creation, when the Blessed Virgin Mary and her Son came into existence, it was fitting that the man and the Woman should be found in a state of innocence simpliciter, in an absolute way, without interruption, from the beginning until the end. Should the opposite have been the case, the new creation could not have begun. It is clear, however, that it did have a beginning, and therefore the Blessed Virgin was conceived without original sin.
In a sermon entitled The Fruit of Mary's Womb, Llull states that,
The blessed fruit of our Lady's womb is Jesus Christ, who is true God and true man. He is God the Son, and he is man, the Son of our Lady. The man, her Son, is the blessed fruit because he is God the Son; for it is true that the goodness of the Son who is God and the goodness of the Son who is man are joined together and united in one person, who is Jesus Christ. And the goodness of the man, Mary's Son, is an instrument of the Son, who is God.
In 1314, at the age of 82, Llull traveled again to North Africa where he was stoned by an angry crowd of Muslims in Tunis. Genoese merchants took him back to Mallorca, where he died at home in Palma the following year. Though the traditional date of his death has been 29 June 1315, his last documents, which date from December 1315, and recent research point to the first quarter of 1316 as the most probable death date.
It can be documented that Llull was buried at the Church of Saint Francis in Mallorca.
Riber states that the circumstances of his death remain a mystery. Samuel Zwemer, a Protestant missionary and academic, accepted the story of martyrdom, as did William Turner, writing in the Catholic Encyclopedia. Bonner gives as a reason for Llull's journey to Tunis the information that its ruler was interested in Christianity--false information given to the Kings of Sicily and Aragon and relayed to Llull.
Llull was extremely prolific, writing more than 250 works in Catalan, Latin, and Arabic, and often translating from one language to the others. While almost all of his writings after the revelation on Mt. Randa connect to his Art in some way, he wrote on diverse subjects in a variety of styles and genres.
Llull's first elucidation of the Art was in Art Abreujada d'Atrobar Veritat (The Abbreviated Art of Finding Truth), in 1290.
After spending some time teaching in France and being disappointed by the poor reception of his Art among students, Llull decided to revise it. It is this revised version that he became known for. It is most clearly presented in his Ars Generalis Ultima or Ars Magna ("The Ultimate General Art" or "The Great Art", published in 1305).
The Art operated by combining religious and philosophical attributes selected from a number of lists. It is believed that Llull's inspiration for the Ars Magna came from observing Arab astrologers use a device called a zairja.
The Art was intended as a debating tool for winning Muslims to the Christian faith through logic and reason. Through his detailed analytical efforts, Llull built an in-depth theosophic reference by which a reader could enter any argument or question (necessarily reduced to Christian beliefs, which Llull identified as being held in common with other monotheistic religions). The reader then used visual aids and a book of charts to combine various ideas, generating statements which came together to form an answer.
One of the most significant changes between the original and the second version of the Art was in the visuals used. The early version used 16 figures presented as complex, complementary trees, while the system of the Ars Magna featured only four, including one which combined the other three. This figure, a "Lullian Circle," took the form of a paper machine operated by rotating concentrically arranged circles to combine his symbolic alphabet, which was repeated on each level. These combinations were said to show all possible truth about the subject of inquiry. Llull based this notion on the idea that there were a limited number of basic, undeniable truths in all fields of knowledge, and that everything about these fields of knowledge could be understood by studying combinations of these elemental truths.
The method was an early attempt to use logical means to produce knowledge. Llull hoped to show that Christian doctrines could be obtained artificially from a fixed set of preliminary ideas. For example, the most essential table listed the attributes of God: goodness, greatness, eternity, power, wisdom, will, virtue, truth and glory. Llull knew that all believers in the monotheistic religions--whether Jews, Muslims or Christians--would agree with these attributes, giving him a firm platform from which to argue.
The idea was developed further for more esoteric purposes by Giordano Bruno in the 16th century, and in the 17th century by the "Great Rationalist" Gottfried Leibniz, who wrote his dissertation about Llull's Art and integrated it into his metaphysics and philosophy of science. Leibniz gave Llull's idea[clarification needed] the name "ars combinatoria", by which it is now often known.
Llull is known to have written at least 265 works, including:
A considerable body of work on esoteric subjects was misattributed to Llull in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. The oeuvre of the pseudo-Llull (and, by extension, that of the actual Llull) was influential among Hermeticists, Gnostics, and other Esoterics. Llull himself explicitly condemned many of the subjects, such as alchemy, that he is purported to have written about.
The Roman Catholic inquisitor Nicholas Eymerich condemned 100 theories or ideas of Llull as errors in 1376. Pope Gregory XI also formally condemned 20 of his books in 1376 and the condemnation was renewed by Pope Paul IV, although Pope Martin V reversed the condemnation of Pope Gregory XI in 1416. Despite these condemnations, Llull himself remained in good standing with the Church.
Chairs for the propagation of the theories of Llull were established at the University of Barcelona and the University of Valencia. He is regarded as one of the most influential authors in Catalan; the language is sometimes referred to as la llengua de Llull, as other languages might be referred to as "Shakespeare's language" (English), la langue de Molière (French), la lengua de Cervantes (Spanish), a língua de Camões (Portuguese), or die Sprache Goethes (German).
The logo of the Spanish Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas ("Higher Council of Scientific Research") is Llull's Tree of Science. Ramon Llull University, a private university established in Barcelona in 1990, is named after the philosopher.
With the discovery in 2001 of his lost manuscripts, Ars notandi, Ars eleccionis, and Alia ars eleccionis, Llull is given credit for discovering the Borda count and Condorcet criterion, which Jean-Charles de Borda and Nicolas de Condorcet independently proposed centuries later. Llull's electoral methods are based on pairwise contests between candidates rather than the candidates' ranks used in the Borda count. Llull's 1299 method is similar to Copeland's method (which is based on the number of victories in pairwise contests and proposed 650 years later). The terms Llull winner and Llull loser are ideas in contemporary voting systems studies that are named in honor of Llull, who devised the earliest known Condorcet method in 1299. Another remarkable advances of Llull's works on elections are the matrix notation, in this context often attributed to Charles Dodgson, and the warning against so-called strategic voting, that is, declaring false preferences in order to thwart the election of competitors to favorites.
Llull's systems of organizing concepts using devices such as trees, ladders, and wheels, have been analyzed as classification systems.
The inspiration of Llull's mnemonic graphic cartwheels, reaching into contemporary art and culture, is demonstrated by Daniel Libeskind's architectural construction of the 2003 completed Studio Weil in Port d'Andratx, Majorca. "Studio Weil, a development of the virtuality of these mnemonic wheels which ever center and de-center the universal and the personal, is built to open these circular islands which float like all artwork in the oceans of memory."
Paul Auster refers to Llull (as Raymond Lull) in his memoir The Invention of Solitude in the second part, The Book of Memory. Llull, now going under the name 'Cole Hawlings' and revealed to be immortal, is a major character in The Box of Delights, a children's novel by poet John Masefield. He is also a major influence on the fictional character Zermano in Thomas Sanchez's The Day of the Bees, and his name, philosophies, and quotes from his writings appear throughout the novel. A fictionalized account of the aftermath of his stoning at Tunis, set aboard the Genoese ship that returned him to Mallorca, is portrayed in Aldous Huxely's short story "The Death of Lully." 
Llull's mission to convert the Jews of Europe was zealous; his goal was to utterly relieve Christendom of any Jews or Jewish religious influence. Some scholars regard Llull's as the first comprehensive articulation, in the Christian West, of an expulsionist policy regarding Jews who refused conversion. To acquire converts, he worked for amicable public debate to foster an intellectual appreciation of a rational Christianity among the Jews of his time. His rabbinic opponents included Rabbi Shlomo ben Aderet of Barcelona and Moshe ben Shlomo of Salerno.