Intellectual history  

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Mundus Intellectualis illustration from Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet et minoris metaphysica, page 217 by Robert Fludd, depicting a diagram of the human mind
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Mundus Intellectualis illustration from Utriusque cosmi maioris scilicet et minoris metaphysica, page 217 by Robert Fludd, depicting a diagram of the human mind

"One belief, more than any other, is responsible for the slaughter of individuals on the altars of the great historical ideals [...]. This is the belief that somewhere, in the past or in the future [...] there is a final solution." --Two Concepts of Liberty (1958) by Isaiah Berlin


"In its treatment of the passions, as in its treatment of metaphysics, the Enlightenment was not an age of reason but a revolt against rationalism." --The Enlightenment: An Interpretation (1969) by Peter Gay


"If civilization had been left in female hands, we would still be living in grass huts."--"Sex and Violence, or Nature and Art" in Sexual Personae (1990) by Camille Paglia


“That self-knowledge is the highest aim of philosophical inquiry appears to be generally acknowledged” --Essay on Man


"The concept of history first reaches maturity in the work of Vico and Herder." --Essay on Man


"In short, I suggest that at least part of the thick description of what le Penseur is trying to do in saying things to himself is that he is trying, by success/failure tests, to find out whether or not the things that he is saying would or would not be utilisable as leads or pointers."--"What is 'Le Penseur' Doing?", 1968, Gilbert Ryle

The Bookworm (c. 1850) by Carl Spitzweg
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The Bookworm (c. 1850) by Carl Spitzweg

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Intellectual history (also the history of ideas) is the study of the history of human thought and of intellectuals, people who conceptualize, discuss, write about, and concern themselves with ideas. The investigative premise of intellectual history is that ideas do not develop in isolation from the thinkers who conceptualize and apply those ideas; thus the historian of intellect studies ideas in two contexts: (i) as abstract propositions for critical application; and (ii) in concrete terms of culture, life, and history.

As a field of intellectual enquiry, the history of ideas emerged from the European disciplines of Kulturgeschichte (Cultural History) and Geistesgeschichte (Intellectual History) from which historians might develop a global intellectual history that shows the parallels and the interrelations in the history of critical thinking in every society. Likewise, the history of reading, and the history of the book, about the material aspects of book production (design, manufacture, distribution) developed from the history of ideas.

The concerns of intellectual history are the intelligentsia and the critical study of the ideas expressed in the texts produced by intellectuals; therein the difference between intellectual history from other forms of cultural history that study visual and non-verbal forms of evidence. In the production of knowledge, the concept of the intellectual as a political citizen of public society dates from the 19th century, and identifies a man or a woman who is professionally engaged with critical thinking that is applicable to improving society. Nonetheless, anyone who explored his or her thoughts on paper can be the subject of an intellectual history such as The Cheese and the Worms (1976), Carlo Ginzburg’s study of the 16th-century Italian miller Menocchio (1532–1599) and his cosmology, which falls within the genres of cultural history, the history of mentalities, and microhistory.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Intellectual history" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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