Myth and Science in the Twelfth Century: A Study of Bernard Silvester

Princeton University Press
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The Cosmographia of Bernard Silvester was the most important literary myth written between Lucretius and Dante. One of the most widely read books of its time, it was known to authors whose interests were as diverse as those of Vincent of Beauvais, Dante, and Chaucer. Bernard offers one of the most profound versions of a familiar theme in medieval literature, that of man as a microcosm of the universe, with nature as the mediating element between God and the world. Brian Stock's exposition includes many passages from the Cosmographia translated for the first time into English. Arising from the central analysis are several more general themes: among them the recreation by twelfth-century humanists of the languages of myth and science as handed down in the classical tradition; the creation of the world and of man, the chief mythical and cosmographical problem of the period; the development of naturalistic allegory; and Bernard's relation to the "new science" introduced from Greek and Arabic sources.

Originally published in 1972.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

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Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Mar 8, 2015
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Pages
356
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ISBN
9781400872367
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Best For
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / History & Surveys / Medieval
Philosophy / Movements / Humanism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Well before his entry into the religious life in the spring of 386 C.E., Augustine had embarked on a lengthy comparison between teachings on the self in the philosophical traditions of Platonism and Neoplatonism and the treatment of the topic in the Psalms, the letters of St. Paul, and other books of the Bible. Brian Stock argues that Augustine, over the course of these reflections, gradually abandoned a dualistic view of the self, in which the mind and the body play different roles, and developed the notion of an integrated self, in which the mind and body function interdependently.

Stock identifies two intellectual techniques through which Augustine effected this change in his thought. One, lectio divina, was an early Christian approach to reading that engaged both mind and body. The other was a method of self-examination that consisted of framing an interior Socratic dialogue between Reason and the individual self. Stock investigates practices of writing, reading, and thinking across a range of premodern texts to demonstrate how Augustine builds upon the rhetorical traditions of Cicero and the inner dialogue of Plutarch to create an introspective and autobiographical version of self-study that had little to no precedent.

The Integrated Self situates these texts in a broad historical framework while being carefully attuned to what they can tell us about the intersections of mind, body, and medicine in contemporary thought and practice. It is a book in which Stock continues his project of reading Augustine, and one in which he moves forward in new and perhaps unexpected directions.

Augustine of Hippo was the most prolific and influential writer on reading between antiquity and the Renaissance, though he left no systematic treatise on the subject. His reluctance to synthesize his views on other important themes such as the sacraments suggests that he would have been skeptical of any attempt to bring his statements on reading into a formal theory. Yet Augustine has remained the point of reference to which all later writers invariably return in their search for the roots of problems concerning reading and interpretation in the West.

Using Augustine as the touchstone, Brian Stock considers the evolution of the meditative reader within Western reading practices from classical times to the Renaissance. He looks to the problem of self-knowledge in the reading culture of late antiquity; engages the related question of ethical values and literary experience in the same period; and reconsiders Erich Auerbach's interpretation of ancient literary realism.

In subsequent chapters, Stock moves forward to the Middle Ages to explore the attitude of medieval Latin authors toward the genre of autobiography as a model for self-representation and takes up the problem of reading, writing, and the self in Petrarch. He compares the role of the reader in Augustine's City of God and Thomas More's Utopia, and, in a final important move, reframes the problem of European cultural identity by shifting attention from the continuity and change in spoken language to significant shifts in the practice of spiritual, silent reading in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. A richly rewarding reflection on the history and nature of reading, After Augustine promises to be a centerpiece of discussions about the discovery of the self through literature.

Well before his entry into the religious life in the spring of 386 C.E., Augustine had embarked on a lengthy comparison between teachings on the self in the philosophical traditions of Platonism and Neoplatonism and the treatment of the topic in the Psalms, the letters of St. Paul, and other books of the Bible. Brian Stock argues that Augustine, over the course of these reflections, gradually abandoned a dualistic view of the self, in which the mind and the body play different roles, and developed the notion of an integrated self, in which the mind and body function interdependently.

Stock identifies two intellectual techniques through which Augustine effected this change in his thought. One, lectio divina, was an early Christian approach to reading that engaged both mind and body. The other was a method of self-examination that consisted of framing an interior Socratic dialogue between Reason and the individual self. Stock investigates practices of writing, reading, and thinking across a range of premodern texts to demonstrate how Augustine builds upon the rhetorical traditions of Cicero and the inner dialogue of Plutarch to create an introspective and autobiographical version of self-study that had little to no precedent.

The Integrated Self situates these texts in a broad historical framework while being carefully attuned to what they can tell us about the intersections of mind, body, and medicine in contemporary thought and practice. It is a book in which Stock continues his project of reading Augustine, and one in which he moves forward in new and perhaps unexpected directions.

Augustine of Hippo was the most prolific and influential writer on reading between antiquity and the Renaissance, though he left no systematic treatise on the subject. His reluctance to synthesize his views on other important themes such as the sacraments suggests that he would have been skeptical of any attempt to bring his statements on reading into a formal theory. Yet Augustine has remained the point of reference to which all later writers invariably return in their search for the roots of problems concerning reading and interpretation in the West.

Using Augustine as the touchstone, Brian Stock considers the evolution of the meditative reader within Western reading practices from classical times to the Renaissance. He looks to the problem of self-knowledge in the reading culture of late antiquity; engages the related question of ethical values and literary experience in the same period; and reconsiders Erich Auerbach's interpretation of ancient literary realism.

In subsequent chapters, Stock moves forward to the Middle Ages to explore the attitude of medieval Latin authors toward the genre of autobiography as a model for self-representation and takes up the problem of reading, writing, and the self in Petrarch. He compares the role of the reader in Augustine's City of God and Thomas More's Utopia, and, in a final important move, reframes the problem of European cultural identity by shifting attention from the continuity and change in spoken language to significant shifts in the practice of spiritual, silent reading in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. A richly rewarding reflection on the history and nature of reading, After Augustine promises to be a centerpiece of discussions about the discovery of the self through literature.

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