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Fire, Security, and Modernities, 1400 to 1900
Over 8,200 large city fires broke out between 1000 and 1939 CE in Central Europe. Prometheus Tamed inquires into the long-term history of that fire ecology, its local and regional frequencies, its relationship to climate history. It asks for the visual and narrative representation of that threat in every-day life. Institutional forms of fire insurance emerged in the form of private joint stock companies (the British model, starting in 1681) or in the form of cameralist fire insurances (the German model, starting in 1676). They contributed to shape and change society, transforming old communities of charitable solidarity into risk communities, finally supplemented by networks of cosmopolite aid. After 1830, insurance agencies expanded tremendously quickly all over the globe: Cultural clashes of Western and native perceptions of fire risk and of what is insurance can be studied as part of a critical archaeology of world risk society and the plurality of modernities.
Author: Jacob Boas
In Cultural Criticism in the Netherlands, 1933-40, Jacob Boas offers a broad selection of the newspaper columns of legendary Dutch cultural critic Menno ter Braak. Ter Braak’s columns are noteworthy not only for their distinctive treatment of disparate cultural components ranging from literature to the social sciences, but also for the light they throw on the extent to which politics intruded on the cultural sphere in the years prior to the outbreak of war.
Ter Braak set a standard for literary criticism of surpassing quality. Moreover, a staunch advocate of democracy, the critic joined the battle against fascism, urging fellow intellectuals to rise to the occasion. The ‘conscience of Dutch letters’ killed himself on the eve of the German occupation, May 1940.
The sixteen essays in this volume trace the development of Platonism in the history of Western thought, starting with the revival of the Platonic tradition in the early modern period that followed the rediscovery and translation of important Greek texts. Special attention is devoted to Marsilio Ficino’s translations and commentaries; to the relationship between Platonism and Christianity; to the influence of Platonic metaphysics on the mystical tradition – in particular on Jacob Böhme and Emanuel Swedenborg; to the impact of idealism on the hermeneutical criticism of traditional philosophical categories and to the ways in which the so-called ‘Critique of Modernity’ promoted a new reading of the Platonic dialogues. The emphasis throughout is on demonstrating the theoretical and historical continuity of Platonism over the centuries.

Contributors are: Laura Candiotto, Pierpaolo Ciccarelli, Anna Corrias, Francesca Maria Crasta, Eva del Soldato, Laura Follesa, Guido Giglioni, Nicholas Holland, Andrea Le Moli, Brunello Lotti, Cecilia Muratori, Arnold Oberhammer, Paula Oliveira e Silva, Valery Rees, Pasquale Terracciano, and Angelo Maria Vitale.
Constructions of a Dutch polymath
This book studies the Dutch mathematician Simon Stevin (1548-1620) as a new type of ‘man of knowing’. Traditionally, Stevin is best known for his contributions to the ‘Archimedean turn’. This innovative volume moves beyond this conventional image by bringing many other aspects of his work into view, by analysing the connections between the multiple strands of his thinking and by situating him in a broader European context. Like other multi-talents (‘polymaths’) in his time (several of whom are discussed in this volume), Stevin made an important contribution to the transformation of the ideal of knowledge in early modern Europe. This book thus provides new insights in the phenomenon of ‘polymaths’ in general and in the case of Stevin in particular.
Motifs of Modern Art and Science
Author: Lewis Pyenson
In The Shock of Recognition, Lewis Pyenson uses a method called Historical Complementarity to identify the motif of non-figurative abstraction in modern art and science. He identifies the motif in Picasso’s and Einstein’s educational environments. He shows how this motif in domestic furnishing and in urban lighting set the stage for Picasso’s and Einstein’s professional success before 1914. He applies his method to intellectual life in Argentina, using it to address that nation’s focus on an inventory of the natural world until the 1940s, its adoption of non-figurative art and nuclear physics in the middle of the twentieth century, and attention to landscape painting and the wonder of nature at the end of the century.
Author: Eyal Aviv
In Differentiating the Pearl from the Fish-Eye, Eyal Aviv offers an account of Ouyang Jingwu (1871-1943), a leading intellectual who revived the Buddhist scholastic movement during the early Republican period in China.

Ouyang believed that authentic Indian Buddhism was an alternative to the prevalent Chinese Buddhist doctrines of his time. Aviv shows how Ouyang’s rhetoric of authenticity won the movement well-known admirers but also influential critics. This debate shaped modern intellectual history in China and has lost none of its relevancy today.