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The question as an epistemic genre and its long-term transfer

Subproject by Prof. Dr. Anita Traninger

The project correlates prize questions with other historical forms of epistemic questions, suggesting that every type of question is coupled with specific implications regarding claims to validity and the scope of the answer. Building on Anita Traninger’s work on the relation of disputation and declamation, the project, through a number of case studies, seeks to delineate the question as an epistemic genre in a historical perspective. Academic prize questions, which are at the heart of Martin Urmann’s project, take up questions formerly discussed in entirely different scholarly settings such as the university, and the submitted answers also tie in with much older learned practices. In the category of éloquence, for example, contestants negotiated moral-philosophical topics which were standards of the genus demonstrativum and moved to the focus of attention both in Renaissance humanist discourse and in disputations in the arts faculties of early modern universities. Answers to moral-philosophical questions contrasted norms, values, and ideas in the mode of praise or blame, either endorsing or rejecting them. The project will explore how the same set of moral-philosophical questions that is answered by resorting to the same repertoire of exempla, sententiae, passages from the Bible and citations from authoritative texts, was subjected to different protocols and would thus yield diverging answers.