By Lee Patterson
This quantity brings jointly Lee Patterson’s essays released in numerous venues over the last twenty-seven years. As he observes in his preface, “The one continual acceptance that emerged from writing those another way rather disparate essays is that regardless of the textual content . . . and whoever the folk . . ., the values at factor stay primary to modern life.” dialectics are at paintings during this ebook: that among the earlier and the current and that among the person and the social, and either have ethical value. the 1st chapters are methodological; the 1st is at the historic figuring out of medieval literature and the second one on tips to deal with the inseparability of truth and price within the lecture room. the following 3 chapters take in 3 “less-read” overdue medieval writers: Sir John Clanvowe, Thomas Hoccleve, and John Lydgate. every one is used to light up a social phenomenon: the character of court docket tradition, the event of the town, and Henry V’s act of self-making. the next bankruptcy explicitly hyperlinks earlier and current by means of arguing that the bearing of the English aristocrat comes from a convention starting with Beowulf and later reinvoked in keeping with nineteenth-century imperialism. the subsequent 3 chapters are the main literary, facing Chaucer and with literary conventions on the subject of a few texts. the ultimate bankruptcy is at the guy Patterson considers some of the most vital of our medieval ancestors, Francis of Assisi.
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Additional resources for Acts of Recognition: Essays on Medieval Culture
There is no “unchanging human nature,” but rather a humanness that is constituted anew by each cultural period. In contrast to modern assumptions, in the Middle Ages character was conceived not in terms of subjectivity, as a consciousness set over against that which it experiences, but rather in terms of ideology, as a structure of value. Since “psychological theories” are “features of the universe of discourse, and not of the realm of things, [they] do not exist before they are formulated” (Essays, p.
But if value-relatedness is unavoidable, it has as its counterpart Wertfreiheit: scholarship may be interdependent with its cultural moment, but it can also achieve at least some measure of independence. ” As Parsons says, a particular subvalue system must be paramount for the investigator, that in which conceptual clarity, consistency and generality on the one hand, empirical accuracy and verifiability on the other are the valued outputs of the process of investigation. ”31 In short, “value-freedom” refers to the rigorous application of empirical methods within the context of a project that is necessarily defined by the investigator’s values.
But the number of steps that a careful textual reading must take before this “last analysis” is reached undermines the force of whatever moral lesson might be taught. As Paul de Man has unpopularly but persuasively argued, “attention to the philological or rhetorical devices of language . . 36 On the contrary, the best a careful rhetorical analysis can finally provide is the “negative knowledge” that “it is not . . ” By “independence of mind” he meant the capacity to pursue an intellectual project to its conclusion, regardless of its implications, and the ability to recognize that just as life choices are distinct from (although hardly irrelevant to) intellectual endeavors, so too specialized knowledge can provide little guidance in making them.
Acts of Recognition: Essays on Medieval Culture by Lee Patterson