Buell Hall, Columbia University, 515 West 116th Street, New York
How is the ancient exhortation to “know thyself ” related to consolation, virtue, and the study of nature? How did the commitment to self-knowledge shift over the centuries in writings by Islamic, Jewish, Christian, and early modern natural philosophers? How did medieval women contribute to modern notions of self, self-knowledge, and knowledge of nature?
This conference explores the meditative “reflective methodology” from its ancient roots, through medieval Christian, Muslim, and Jewish traditions to the so-called “new” methodologies of early modern science. Points of focus will be:
The relation between the ancient imperative to “know thyself ” and early Christian concerns to reflect on one's soul as a means to find ultimate truths.
The meditative genre as it developed from Augustine’s Confessions through Latin and Arabic spiritual exercises to late medieval Christian meditations and early modern kabbalist writings.
The continuity between medieval meditations and the reflective methodology of early modern science.
The meditative genre’s afterlife in Freud, Foucault, Arendt, and contemporary science.