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Learning and the Market Place

Essays in the History of the Early Modern Book

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Ian Maclean

This collection of essays examines the operation of the market for learned books in Early Modern Europe through a series of case studies. After an overview of general market conditions, issues raised by the transmission of knowledge and the economics of the book trade are addressed. These include the selection of copy, the role of legal and religious controls in the production and diffusion of texts, the paths open to authors to achieve publication, the finances and interaction of publishing houses, the margins of the European book trade in England and Portugal, and the development of bibliographical tools to assist purchasers in their pursuit of scholarly works.
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Ian Maclean

Abstract

This paper examines the theories of the soul proposed by Girolamo Cardano in his De immortalitate animorum (1545) and his De subtilitate (1550-4), Julius Caesar Scaliger's comprehensive critique of these views in the Exercitationes exotericae de subtilitate of 1557, and Cardano's reply to this critique in his Actio in calumniatorem of 1559. Cardano argues that the passive intellect is individuated and mortal, and that the agent intellect is immortal but subject to constant reincarnation in different human beings. His theory of cognition leads him to claim that at its highest level, the intellect is converted into the object of its perception. In his refutation of the various elements of Cardano's theories, Scaliger uses his knowledge of the Greek text of Aristotle to stress the reflexive faculty of the soul, its ability to conceive of objects greater than itself, and its status as the individuating principle of the hylemorphic human being. In spite of Cardano's pretention to novelty and Scaliger's humanist credentials, both thinkers are shown to conduct their discussions in an inherited scholastic matrix of thought.

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Ian Maclean

Abstract

This paper reassesses the role of sceptical thinking in the emergence of the new science of the seventeenth century, in the context of the seminal but contestable History of Scepticism by Richard Popkin. It investigates the anti-sceptical essay by Galen De optimo modo docendi (on the best method of teaching), which was retranslated in the sixteenth century by Erasmus and later published as an adjunct to the works of Sextus Empiricus, in order to highlight the currency of ideas about hyperbolic doubt, and links this to the long tradition of free enquiry (libertas philosophandi) in which doubting authority is seen as a profitable exercise closely associated with the independence of philosophy from theological domination; and it argues that this long tradition (along with a number of other factors) played an important role in the emergence of the new science.

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Ian Maclean

Abstract

This article sets out to investigate aspects of the uptake of Renaissance law and medicine from some of the logical and natural-philosophical components of the university arts course. Medicine is shown to have a much laxer operative logic than law, reflecting its commitment to the theory of idiosyncrasy as opposed to the demands made upon the law by the need for a uniform application of justice. Symptomatic of the different uptake arc the contrasting meanings of "regulariter" and "generaliter" in the two disciplines. Whereas the law treats the rule as inviolable and the exception as only valid if made explicit in due legal form, medicine is able to conceive of a nature as a field of knowledge broader than that encompassed by its rules of art. Both law and medicine approach evidence

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Ian Maclean

Abstract

This article studies the advances made in the logic of Renaissance physiognomy from the state of the subject in antiquity and the Middle Ages. The properties and accidents of the human body are investigated in the context of the signs selected by physiognomers, whether univocal or in syndromes, strong or weak in character, negative or positive, consistent with each other or contradictory. When these signs are translated into propositions, the construction of argument which flows from them is shown to ut plurimum reasoning, in which an element of quasi-mathematical proto-probability and hermeneutical thinking (in the treatment of ambiguity and obscurity) may be detected. These allow the question "is x more likely to be the case than y or z?" to be answered through a variety of procedures. Renaissance physiognomy is shown to be a discipline in which a novel combination of rational procedures come together, and a site of conceptual change in respect of property and accidence.

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Ian MacLean

Edited by Heinz Jatho