Ramon Llull

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Born Palma de Majorca, Kingdom of Majorca (now Spain)
Died Mediterranean Sea or Mallorca
Web Aaaaarg, Wikipedia, Academia.edu, Open Library
The four algorithms of Llull's Ars.

Ramon Llull, T.O.S.F. (1232–1316; Anglicised Raymond Lully, Raymond Lull; in Latin Raimundus or Raymundus Lullus or Lullius) was a Majorcan writer and philosopher, logician and a Franciscan tertiary.

From the 1270s onwards Llull worked on his Ars [Art]: a philosophico-theological system which takes the basic concepts of the three monotheistic religions of its time and discusses them by means of rational discourse. Revising his Ars and extending it across all fields of human knowledge, Llull attempted to create a universal science that later influenced thinkers such as Nicholas of Cusa and Leibniz. He produced some 280 works in Catalan, Latin, French, Italian, Occitan, and Castillian.

In the 1960s, Llull's employment of combinatorics and algorithms also found resonance in the poetics of literary group Oulipo (see Cramer 2005 and Cramer 2011).

Several authors have pointed out that the model for Llull's mechanisms was a divinatory device called a za'irjah (see Link 2010).


From Ramon Llull: From the Ars Magna to Artificial Intelligence, eds. Alexander Fidora and Carles Sierra, 2011, pp 139-140.

  • 1229: James I reconquers Mallorca.
  • 1232: Birth of Ramon Llull in Palma de Mallorca.
  • 1257: Llull marries Blanca Picany, and enters the services of Prince James, son of James the Conqueror.
  • 1263: Llull’s “conversion to penitence” at the age of thirty: Llull decides to write the best book in the world against the errors of the unbelivers, to found monasteries in which the different languages necessary for mission might be taught and to dedicate his life to the service of Christ.
  • 1265: After a pilgrimage to the Marian shrine at Rocamadour, in southern France, and to Santiago de Compostela, Llull meets with Ramon de Penyafort in Barcelona, who advises him to return to Majorca and there, rather than in Paris, to devote himself to study and contemplation. With a Muslim slave Llull begins nine years of linguistic and intellectual training.
  • 1271-74: At the end of his nine years of study, Llull writes his first works, the Lògica d'Algatzell — a paraphrase of al-Ghazali's Maqasid al-falasifa, and the monumental Book of Contemplation.
  • 1274: Death of the slave who had taught Llull Arabic. Illumination on Mount Randa, first version of the Art, Llull's philosophico-theological system.
  • 1276: A Papal Bull confirms the foundation of the Monastery of Miramar, on Majorca, financed by James II, in which thirteen Franciscans study oriental languages and the Art.
  • 1283: In Montpellier, Llull writes the novel Blaquerna and elaborates upon his system in the Ars demonstrativa.
  • 1287: First visit to the Papal Court.
  • 1287-89: First visit to Paris.
  • 1292: In Rome, Llull (already 60 years old) writes his first work on the crusades.
  • 1293: So-called "psychological crisis" in Genoa followed by Llull's first journey to North Africa.
  • 1297-99: Second stay in Paris.
  • 1299: James II of Aragon gives persmission to Llull to preach in all the synagogues and mosques within his domains.
  • 1301-02: Journey to Cyprus, Lesser Armenia and possibly Jerusalem.
  • 1303: Llull writes his Logica nova in Genoa.
  • 1305: Llull begins the definitive formulation of his system, the Ars generalis ultima.
  • 1307: Second trip to North Africa (Bejaia), where Llull is imprisoned for six months and, finally, expelled. Shipwrecked near Pisa.
  • 1308: In Pisa Llull writes the Ars brevis, finishes the Ars generalis ultima, and re-writes the work begun in Bejaia and lost in the shipwreck, the Disputatio Raimundi christiani et Homeri saraceni.
  • 1309-11: Fourth and final stay in Paris, where Llull writes some thirty works, most of them directed against the Latin Averroists. In 1310, forty Masters and Bachelors of the University of Paris sign a document approving the Ars brevis. From Paris he travels to Vienne, recommeding to the Council of Vienne the foundation of language schools.
  • 1313-14: Visit to Sicily.
  • 1314-15: Third mission to North Africa (Tunis), where Llull dedicates works to the Sultan. His final works date from December 1315.
  • 1316: Around or before March he dies on board the ship taking him back from Tunis to Majorca or in Majorca itself. Llull must have been 84 years old. His remains are burried in the Franciscan Monastery in Palma.


Major works[edit]

  • I.2 Llibre de contemplació en Déu [Book of Contemplation] [1273–4 (?)]. [1]
  • II.A.9 Book of the Gentile and the Three Wise Men [1274–6 (?)]. A Christian apology. [2]
  • II.A.19 Blaquerna [1276–83, Montpellier]. A romantic novel. [3]
    • II.A.19e Book of the Lover and the Beloved. A celebration of mystical love in the courtly tradition. [4]
    • II.A.19f Art of Contemplation. A short treatise concerning techniques for elevating the soul.
  • II.B.1 Ars demonstrativa (AD) [c1283, Montpellier]. [5]
  • II.B.15 Félix o El libre de meravelles [Felix, or the Book of Wonders] [1287–9, Paris]. [6]
    • II.B.15a Llibre de les bèsties [Book of the Beasts]. [7]
  • III.23 Arbor scientiae venerabilis et caelitus [Tree of Science] [1295–6, Rome]. [8]
  • III.56 Logica nova (LN) [1303, Genova]. [9]
  • III.77 Ars brevis (AB) [1308, Pisa]. The companion work (imago) to the AGU, a summary of his philosophical system. [10]
  • III.80 Ars generalis ultima (AGU) [1305–8, Lyon-Pisa]. Known as Ars magna.


Modern translations[edit]

  • Selected Works of Ramón Llull, 2 vols., ed. & trans. Anthony Bonner, Princeton University Press, 1985, xxxix+1329 pp; abridged ed. as Doctor Illuminatus: A Ramon Llull Reader, ed. & trans. Anthony and Eve Bonner, Princeton University Press, 1994, 408 pp. (English) The 1994 edition includes Book of the Gentile and the Three Wise Men, the Ars brevis, The Book of the Lover and the Beloved, Book of the Beasts; as well as Bonner's "Historical Background and Life" at 1-44, "Llull's Thought" at 45-56, "Llull's Influence: The History of Lullism" at 57-71. [11] [12] Reviews: Walter W. Artus (Renaissance Quarterly, 1986), J.M. Sobré (Hispanic Review, 1986), John Dagenais (Speculum, 1987), S.G. Fernández-Corugedo (Mystics Quarterly, 1988), F. Domínguez (Journal of the History of Philosophy, 1988, DE).
  • Ars brevis, trans., intro. & ed. Alexander Fidora, Hamburg: Felix Meiner, 1999. (Latin)/(German)
  • "Selections from the Writings of Ramon Llull", in Amador Vega, Ramon Llull and the Secret of Life, trans. James W. Heisig, New York: Herder & Herder, 2003, pp 135-258. (English)
  • Translations by Steven Abbott and Yanis Dambergs (English)



Martin Gardner, Logic Machines and Diagrams, 1958, Log, IA.
Alexander Fidora, Carles Sierra (eds.), Ramon Llull: From the Ars Magna to Artificial Intelligence, 2011, PDF.

Books, book chapters and articles[edit]


Centres, Resources[edit]