During the later Middle Ages people became increasingly obsessed with vision, visual analogies and the possibility of visual error. In this book Dallas Denery addresses the question of what medieval men and women thought it meant to see themselves and others in relation to the world and to God. Exploring the writings of Roger Bacon, Duns Scotus, Peter Aureol and Nicholas of Autrecourt in light of an assortment of popular religious guides for preachers, confessors and penitents, including Peter of Limoges' Treatise on the Moral Eye, he illustrates how the question preoccupied medieval men and women on both an intellectual and practical level. This book offers a unique interdisciplinary examination of the interplay between religious life, perspectivist optics and theology. Denery presents significant new insights into the medieval psyche and conception of the self, ensuring that this book will appeal to historians of medieval science and those of medieval religious life and theology.
Introduction; 1. Ponderare statera meditationis: self as self-presentation in early Dominican religious life; 2. The devil in human form: confession, deception and self-knowledge; 3. Peter of Limoges, perspectivist optics and the displacement of vision; 4. Normalizing error: Peter Aureol on the importance of appearances; 5. Probability and perspective: Nicholas of Autrecourt and the fragmentation of vision; Conclusion: vision, promise deferral.
"Although Denery's book is not an easy read, readers who stick to it
will be rewarded with a number of creative insights that should
engender further thinking. That scholars interested in late medieval
confession, preaching, and the self are not targeted in the title is
surely a marketing error."
-Susan R. Boettcher, The Medieval Review