Tag Archives: curiosity
Fourteen hundred ninety-two has gone down in history as Spain’s annus mirabilis—and the year the modern world began. The year commenced, appropriately enough, with great fanfare in a field outside the fabled city of Granada. Its main characters were King Ferdinand of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile, who by marriage had united Spain’s two […]
“From the highest to the lowest, the people seem fond of sights and monsters.”— Oliver Goldsmith, 1762. In March, 1512, two decades after Christopher Columbus set sail on the momentous voyage that would open up the New World to the European consciousness and seven years before Martin Luther pinned his ninety-five theses to Wittenberg’s cathedral […]
The Renaissance has long been regarded as the great age of scientific discovery, the beginning of the Scientific Revolution. The repudiation of the received wisdom of the ancients, the rejection of book learning in favor of observation and experiment, and the receptivity to novelty: These were the hallmarks of the origins of modern science. All […]
How do charlatans operate? What is the source of their fascination—and their power? Charisma, of course. But what is the source of that charisma? I think that two things are important: First, the claim to possess “secret knowledge”; and second, the claim to have discovered the single cause (or causes) of all diseases. Two examples […]
Continuing the theme of curiosity in the Renaissance that I began a couple of weeks ago with my post, “The Disease of Curiosity,” it makes sense to ask: What did it mean to be a curious person in the Renaissance? Which brings us to a quintessential but perhaps little known Renaissance figure: The Renaissance ‘curioso’.
One of my previous posts, “The Disease of Curiosity,” generated a lot of comment in the blogosphere [Daily Dig; Morbid Anatomy]; so I’ve decided to follow that post with a piece about what was surely one of the strangest curiosities of the Renaissance: The appearance in the town square of the snake handler.
Nowadays we think of curiosity as an emotion necessary for the advancement of knowledge, indeed as the well-spring of scientific discovery. It was not always so. Saint Augustine, in the fourth century, stated the traditional medieval view of curiosity, and it wasn’t favorable. In the Confessions, the Bishop of Hippo made inquisitiveness in general the […]