Creative Concepts as a Historical Force. Or: Making Technical Academies Possible
Can we discard traditional conceptual dichotomies such as the opposition of mind and body altogether?
Scholars of historical epistemology today attempt to abstain from value judgements in regards to the range of forms of knowledge. Where earlier generations distinguished between high-status theory and lowly labor, we try to simply distinguish between different practices. And yet, from the Middle Ages through the early modern period, technical knowledge contained in mechanical arts such as ship building or agriculture was not regarded as part of any scholarly discipline. Only in the 18th century did scholars, driven by the Enlightenment rhetoric of public utility, begin to explore the arts and crafts on a large scale, though mostly still in an encyclopedic way. The project explores the conceptual foundations of the social and institutional shifts which preceded and accompanied the emergence of technical academies and new understandings of scientific knowledge. In particular, it analyses the ways in which advocates of technical learning bridged the world of erudition and production with creative concepts that alluded to the mind/body distinction, yet at the same time sought to overcome it.
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