Newsletter #3

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Newsletter #3

Post by Josephine Livingstone on Sat Feb 06, 2016 3:01 pm

Last week, we read Aristotle turning his concept of nature into domains of knowledge which humans can study. We also read Bruno Latour's critique of the way in which domains of knowledge have been bracketed off from each other in the modern period, specifically the great binary split between "nature" and "culture."

Having received our grounding in basic Christian and Greek philosophical concepts of Nature, this week we are moving into the medieval period proper. However, we are not yet arrived at poetry! We must now look to the medievals' scientific concept of the universe, their sense of themselves within the cosmos. Our rubric for the week is 'diagramming knowledge.'

Your readings are:

   Macrobius, Commentary on the Dream of Scipio
   Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
   R. G. Collingwood, The Idea of Nature

In Macrobius, we read about the medieval approach to mapping knowledge of the cosmos. The title is a bit confusing. Macrobius writes a commentary on a dream narrated by Cicero at the end of his Republic, in which the general Scipio has a dream vision of his adopted grandfather. Don't worry about that background too much: Macrobius's text is itself a crucially important document.

In the Deleuze and Guattari, you will find much that resonates with Latour. In the Collingwood, you will find further material relating to the discussions of time and change that the Hebrew Bible's account of creation and Aristotle's Physics and Metaphysics provoke.

Some questions to consider:

- Why would Macrobius categorize types of dream in his mostly scientific treatise?

- What is the relationship between Deleuze & Guattari's concept of the arborescent and the splitting function (night from day, earth from water, etc.) that generates creation in the Book of Genesis?

- How far does A Thousand Plateaus chime with Latour's vision of modern domains of knowledge?

All the best,

Josephine Livingstone

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