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Ancient and Medieval Memories
Studies in the Reconstruction of the Past


  • Author: Janet Coleman, London School of Economics and Political Science
  • Date Published: September 2005
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521019378

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About the Authors
  • This book is an analysis of thinking, remembering and reminiscing according to ancient authors, and their medieval readers. The author argues that behind the various medieval methods in interpreting texts of the past lie two apparently incompatible theories of human knowledge and remembering, as well as two differing attitudes to matter and intellect. The book comprises a series of studies which take ancient texts as evidence of the past, and show how medieval readers and writers understood them. The studies confirm that medieval and renaissance interpretations and uses of the past differ greatly from modern interpretation and yet betray many startling continuities between modern and ancient and medieval theories.

    • A major analysis of how medieval philosophers, theologians and historians viewed the past, and how they perceived human memory
    • A work of interest in history of ideas, epistemology, psychology, classics, and theology; Janet Coleman is a well-known historian of ideas who has worked closely with Brian Redhead on the Radio 4 series on political thought
    • Has implications for the study of history in general and also for the historical psychology of human thought
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Ancient and Medieval Memories offers a vast, generously learned account of philosophies of knowledge and theories of the past. In Coleman's study, the history of memory theory is a doorway to the history of philosophy, and in this her book is surely the most comprehensive modern study of early and late medieval theories of mind, perception, cognition, temporality, and language … Ancient and Medieval Memories is a major scholarly achievement, a profound as well as humanely accessible study of how medievals conversed with their past and how we, in turn, can better converse with them.' Rita Copeland, Speculum

    'Coleman' s scholarship is stunning: her research does a great service to scholars in a variety of disciplines, for whom she opens up and makes accessible an unexpectedly large number of philosophical accounts of memory.' The Times Literary Supplement

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2005
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521019378
    • length: 668 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 153 x 40 mm
    • weight: 1.003kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. The Critical Texts of Antiquity:
    1. Plato
    2. Aristotle
    3. Cicero
    4. Pliny and Roman naturalists on memory
    Borges's Funes the Memorious
    5. Plotinus and the early neoplatonists on memory and mind
    6. Augustine
    7. Augustine, De Trinitate
    Part II. The Practice of Memory During the Period of Transition from Classical Antiquity to the Christian Monastic Centuries:
    8. The early monastic practice of memory: Gregory the Great
    Benedict and his rule
    9. Bede, monastic grammatica and reminiscence
    10. Monastic memory in service of oblivion
    11. Cistercian 'blanched' memory and St Bernard
    12. Twelfth-century Cistercians: the Boethian legacy and the physiological issues in Greco-Arabic medical writings
    Part III. The Beginnings of the Scholastic Understanding of Memory:
    13. Abelard
    14. Memory and its uses: the relationship between a theory of memory and twelfth-century historiography
    Part IV. Aristotle Neoplatonised: The Revival of Aristotle and the Development of Scholastic Theories of Memory:
    15. Arabic and Jewish translations of sources from antiquity: their use by Latin Christians
    16. John Blund, David of Dinant, the De potentiis animae et objectis
    17. John of la Rochelle
    18. Averroes
    19. Albert the Great
    20. Thomas Aquinas
    Part V. Later Medieval Theories of Memory: The Via Antiqua and the Via Moderna:
    21. John Duns Scotus
    22. William of Ockham
    23. The legacy of the via antiqua and the via moderna in the Renaissance and beyond

  • Author

    Janet Coleman, London School of Economics and Political Science

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