Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Tracing the Movements of Medieval Thinkers

A few months ago, I have found a webpage called The Philosophy Family Tree. Somebody thought it would not be pointless to draw a map of contemporary thinkers by tracing their "official dissertation advisors". Something similar has attempted David Chalmers for Australasian Philosophy (see here). Personaly, I didn't think that this project will prove anything as long as the influence of a thinker upon another is not easy to indentify. But I admit that it was the starting point for my current proposal: TRACING THE MOVEMENTS OF MEDIEVAL THINKERS. Today, biographies give you some idea about the places where your author travelled or worked; but what if we can place in the same monastery, scriptorium or university two other friars? Would this help at establishing the context of a certain text of your author? The same principle should apply for manuscripts: proving that a certain manuscript was written or stored in a certain place can give us have some ground in claiming that a certain author read that manuscript/version and not another. And if you combine this kind of information, I might be able to say, for example, what version of Aristotle's Ethics Aquinas read while he was at Napoli as a young student.

No comments: