This event is presented in collaboration with the German University Alliance, the New York Liaison Office of Freie Universität Berlin.
Knowledge is always in motion, even – and especially – where it appears to remain stable and tradition-bound.
Premodern institutions and communities were regularly engaged in vibrant transcultural relations while their systems of knowledge were subject to constant change. Because the forms of exchange involved frequently challenge modern notions both of period boundaries and cultural spaces, they can be investigated in their full complexity only in an effort that is both collective and transdisciplinary.
The Berlin-based Collaborative Research Centre “Episteme in Motion” meets this challenge and analyses the economies of knowledge transfer in selected premodern cultures from Europe and beyond. It draws on a unique reservoir of academic disciplines, including Arabic Studies, Jewish Studies, Classics, Medieval and Early Modern Literatures. The Centre’s individual projects examine knowledge transfer in a variety of cultural contexts ranging from medicine to visual art, from philosophy to literature and from linguistics to theology.
Panelists: Gyburg Uhlmann, Anita Traninger, Lennart Lehmhaus
Chair: Monika Pietrzak-Franger
Knowledge in Motion – Introduction to perspectives and terms of the Collaborative Research Centre
Four exemplary Case Studies illuminating the increment value of the interdisciplinary research association (max. 10 min. + 20 min. discussion each)
Gyburg Uhlmann: Practices of Knowledge Transfer in the Late Antique Commentators on Aristotle
The philosophical Greek commentators on Aristotle in the 5th and 6th century AD do not appear to be a very good example for dynamics in the history of knowledge. For their exegetical instruments and basic assumptions seem to be fixed and more or less unchanging since the works of Alexander of Aphrodisias who lived around 200 AD. However, this impression is based on a narrow understanding of change and epistemic movement, which identifies change with rupture or explicit rejection of the forerunners. With reference to short text passages and their institutional contexts the paper presents analyses in the gradual and sometimes subcutaneous changes that are introduced by the commentators by contextualizing the knowledge, which is handed down to them, anew and that do not require radical opposition to former or contemporary exegetes.
Lennart Lehmhaus "Medical Episteme and Encyclopaedisms in Late Antiquity – theories and methodologies in motion"
In contrast to other transfers (e.g., from Greek to Latin, Syriac and Arabic), is the transmission of medical epistemes in and between early Byzantine Greek and Hebrew-Aramaic Talmudic texts not straightforward and may even comprise forms of a negative transfer of knowledge. The talk will address some approaches developed within our research group to cope with these challenges and to inquire into similarities and differences that range from philology and concepts to discursive strategies and questions of authentication.
11.40-12.00 Coffee break
Nora Katharina Schmid: Performing the divine alphabet: the “mysterious letters” in the Qur’an
Numerous surahs of the Qur’an are preceded by disconnected letters and combinations of letters. Scholars, puzzled by their existence, have proposed different explanations for their occurrence. The small case study will approach them as instantiations of the smallest elements of a heavenly scripture. Their oral performance in recitation serves to invest the Prophetic message with claims to validity, simultaneously disclosing knowledge formation from a heavenly source, across an ontological gap.
Anita Traninger: Against Universities: Rhetoric of Innovation and Practices of Continuity in the Early Modern Period
Many of the goundbreaking intellectual movements of the early modern period, including humanism, empiricism, and the rise of academies and learned societies, defined themselves in opposition to the university. Yet while their rhetoric framed the relationship in terms of a radical break, their story is better told as a history of entanglement, shared concerns, and mutual dependence. Two brief case studies from the Renaissance and the seventeenth century will highlight some core aspects of this relationship.
Concluding discussion (30 min.)
16.10.2017 - 17.10.2017
Deutsches Haus at NYU, 42 Washington Mews (at University Place), New York, NY 10003
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