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Agenda

Sixteenth-Century Studies Conference

  • 2015-10-22
  • 2015-10-25
  • Vancouver
“Multi pertransibunt et augebitur scientia.” The Vulgate translation of Daniel 12:4—“many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased” (KJV)—is familiar to scholars of early-modern intellectual history. Appearing on the frontispiece of Sir Francis Bacon’s Instauratio magna (1620), the line appears to endow modern natural science with a proleptic optimism. Yet Daniel’s prophecy, as we perhaps do not always recall, is apocalyptic. It is a vision of the world’s revelation at its dissolution.

To what extent was “science,” as it emerged in the early-modern period, end-times knowledge? That is to say, how important was the Biblical trope and/or expectation of apocalypse to the very idea of experimental discovery, theorized as a new and decisive standard of inquiry into the nature of things? Relevant issues include Scholastic vs. Neoplatonic conceptions of substantial form; the theological underpinnings of Baconian methodology; the idea of the magus; the ontological promise of alchemy; and the interaction between Biblical authority and natural philosophy. Relevant figures include Bacon, Dorn, Erastus, Agrippa, Cardano, Kircher, and of course Paracelsus. But these lists, to say the least, are non-exhaustive.

Paper proposals are therefore invited for a panel or panels at the 2015 Vancouver SCSC under the heading of “Apocalyptic knowledge.” 250 words+CV to jfleming@sfu.ca by March 10th. Selection of papers will be concluded, and authors notified, by March 15th. (The SCSC submission deadline is April 15th.)
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