“Was not their mistake once more bred of the life of slavery that they had been living?—a life which was always looking upon everything, except mankind, animate and inanimate—‘nature,’ as people used to call it—as one thing, and mankind as another, it was natural to people thinking in this way, that they should try to make ‘nature’ their slave, since they thought ‘nature’ was something outside them” — William Morris

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Jeffrey Cohen Speculates Medievally

I for one would have loved to have heard Ben Woodard's talk and Graham's talk on Aristotle, among other things, and without doubt Eileen Joy's talk. I'm hoping that they will be archived (I'm pretty sure they will). For now Jeff gives a vivid summary.

1 comment:

Bill Benzon said...

I left the following comment over at Jeff's:

I would loved to have heard what Eileen said about speculation but, by Friday, I was all OOOed out. The term came up several times in several presentations, generally framed by a bit of embarrassment. Which I find just a bit strange as speculation is a major mode of thought for me, right up there with description. Some years ago I published a book on music (Beethoven's Anvil); the preface was entitled "Speculative Engineering". Here's what I said about speculation:

I have used empirical evidence wherever I could, but we don’t have enough evidence to cover the ground. There are gaping holes which I can only fill in with speculation. . . . Thus I like to think of this book as an exercise in speculative engineering. Engineering is about design and construction: How does the nervous system design and construct music? [The book] is speculative because it must be. The purpose of speculation is to clarify thought. If the speculation itself is clear and well-founded, it will achieve its end even when it is wrong, and many of my speculations must surely be wrong. If I then ask you to consider them, not knowing how to separate the prescient speculations from the mistaken ones, it is because I am confident that we have the means to sort these matters out empirically. My aim is to produce ideas interesting, significant, and clear enough to justify the hard work of investigation, both through empirical studies and through computer simulation.