Finding the Way to Truth: Sources, History, and Impact of the Meditative Tradition

February 1, 2019 – February 2, 2019 all-day
Buell Hall, Columbia U
116th St & Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

How is the ancient exhortation to “know thyself” related to consolation, virtue, and the study of nature? How did the commitment to self-knowledge shift over the centuries in writings by Islamic, Jewish, Christian, and early modern natural philosophers? How did medieval women contribute to modern notions of self, self-knowledge, and knowledge of nature? This conference explores the meditative “reflective methodology” from its ancient roots, through medieval Christian, Muslim, and Jewish traditions to the so-called “new” methodologies of early modern science. Speakers include Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Pierre Force, Clémence Boulouque, Christia Mercer, and Pamela Smith.

Points of focus will be: (1) the relation between the ancient imperative to “know thyself” and medieval concerns to reflect on one’s self as a means to find ultimate truths; (2) the meditative genre as it developed from Augustine’s Confessions through Christian and Islamic spiritual exercises to late medieval Christian meditations and early modern kabbalist writings; (3) the continuity between medieval meditations and the reflective methodology of early modern science; and (4) the meditative genre’s afterlife in Freud, Foucault, Arendt, and contemporary science.

Conference co-sponsored by the Center for New Narratives in Philosophy, the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy, the Departments of Philosophy, French, English and Comparative Literature and the Maison Française

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