14-15 June: Conference “Uses of knowledge”

Next conference I will participate is at Woudschoten 5 “Uses of Knowledge”, in the Netherlands, 14-15 June 2013.

Conference subject: “‘Uses of Knowledge’. Why have individuals sought or spread knowledge of any kind, be it theoretical insights, practical skills, or a mystical understanding of nature. For whom did they do it, and to what end? How did these ends feed back into the meaning and nature of the knowledge itself? How have particular purposes affected the credibility or legitimacy of different kinds of knowledge? What kinds of discourse have producers of knowledge developed with respect to the end?”

Title and abstract of my paper at this conference:

Using diagrams to learn about cognition in Central-European universities, 15th-17th century.

Quite a large corpus of medieval diagrams feature the cognition functions in a man’s head. These diagrams were used in the study of philosophical psychology in the 15th century and from there also spreading to anatomy education in the early 16th. In this period students studied mainly by text books, rather than reading Aristotle’s De anima directly, presenting overviews, problematic points, discussions, to train and prepare them for exams.

Diagrams, texts and students/professors partake in this reflexive dimension of orality, writing and books. Students were to appropriate the readings presented in these textbooks, initially presented as formal lectures. In their appropriation of the content they create new meanings, manipulating and adapting the contents to their belief, expressed in accompanying glosses and commentaries of local professors. The diagrams likewise demonstrate this reflexivity between orality, writing and its material disposition, its meaning and appearance having changed by alternative and competitive commentaries.

In this paper I will present my file about this corpus of cognition diagrams, manipulated and appropriated by students and professors, diffused in a geo-political space of connected central-Europe universities of the 15th and 16th century. By introducing a narrative framework in which the user of knowledge is at the center, I aim in my work to knit a fabric with the materiality of the book on one pin and the immateriality of thought on the other.

Annemieke Verboon (Centre Alexandre Koyré, Paris)



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