Reason, Politics & Society

RPS

The group Reason, Politics and Society in Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy is focused on central areas of Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy: Epistemology, Social and Political Philosophy, and the dissemination of philosophical thought through Literature. It also focuses on the methodology of research, which is a particularly sensitive topic in current Medieval Philosophy studies.

The core team is composed by specialists in Medieval Philosophy, Medieval Literature and Historiography, and Medieval Art.

The research takes into account the great authors from the end of Classical Antiquity to the end of Second Scholasticism (Augustine, Boethius, Scotus Eriugena, Anselm, Abelard, Bernard, Albert the Great, Aquinas, Henry of Ghent, Duns Scotus, Ockham, Nicholas of Cues, Fonseca, Suárez, Poinsot). But there is a particular interest in the study of authors and texts traditionally considered minor (feminine literature, historiography, sermons, poetry, fiction), since there is an understanding that they deserve close examination, given that their study contributes to the renovation of thought and emergency of new concepts and arguments. 

Medieval rationality & Philosophy

Reason, Politics and Society in Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy
Ref. FCT: RG-502-400242
PI: José Francisco Preto Meirinhos

 

The research group Reason, Politics and Society in Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy (RP&S) focuses on central areas of Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy: Epistemology, Social and Political Philosophy, and the dissemination of philosophical thought through Literature and Historiography. It also focuses on the methodology of research, which is a particularly sensitive topic in current Medieval Philosophy studies.

The core team is composed by specialists in Medieval Philosophy, Medieval Literature and Historiography, and Medieval Art.

The research takes into account the great authors from the end of Classical Antiquity to the end of the Second Scholasticism (Augustine, Boethius, Scotus Eriugena, Anselm, Abelard, Bernard, Albert the Great, Aquinas, Henry of Ghent, Duns Scotus, Ockham, Nicholas of Cues, Fonseca, Suárez, Poinsot). But there is also a particular interest in the study of authors and texts traditionally considered as minor (woman’s literature, historiography, sermons, poetry, fiction), since there is an understanding that they deserve close examination, given their contribution to a change within the canon and the renovation of research into the emergence of new concepts and arguments.

The RG is focused on central Medieval Philosophy problems (Metaphysics, Epistemology; Politics and Law; Liberal Arts and the emergence of Science; the rational explanation of the world and the diversity of human action), and the dissemination of philosophical thought through Literature and in non-scholastic contexts.

The RG is structured around 3 main areas of activity, which are nonetheless connected between them:

1) Augustinian Medieval Tradition (coord: P. Oliveira e Silva)

2) Seminário Medieval Literatura Pensamento e Sociedade - SMELPS / Seminar of Medieval Literature, Thought and Society (coord: M. R. Ferreira)

3) Philosophy of Nature and the emergence of the Modern Sciences (coord: J. Meirinhos)

This is a growing RG with integrated members and collaborators specialized in Medieval Philosophy, Medieval Literature, Historiography, History of Sciences, Spirituality and Mysticism. The permanent project "Seminar of Medieval Literature, Thought and Society" (coord. Miranda & Ferreira) provides a model organization, there being other internal projects on the Augustinian tradition (coord. Oliveira e Silva), the relations between the sciences and Philosophy (coord. Meirinhos), gender and power (Ferreira & Serrado). Applying synchronic or diachronic approaches, research takes into account the great authors from the end of Classical Antiquity to the end of the Second Scholasticism, but significant importance is placed on minor authors and on late medieval texts, some of them anonymous and traditionally not considered within the philosophical canon (historiographical texts, Arthurian literature, narrative texts, nun diaries and letters). The RG focuses as well on the methodology of research, which is a particularly sensitive topic in current Medieval Philosophy studies, combining a philological and philosophical approach to the texts, some of them still unedited.

The RG has a consolidated record of internationalization, participating in projects with common interests in Spain, France, Germany, Italy and Brazil. The constant participation of foreign researchers in RG's seminars and activities is paralleled by its members' participation in international meetings.

The RG has international projection, having in its team several foreign and national grantees who obtained their grants by public calls. The interconnection with the RG Reason, Politics, and Society and the new projects will enhance the capacity of attracting gifted PhD students and experienced researchers, from Portugal and abroad.

The setting of thematic study areas inside the RG is intended not only to increase the philosophical content of the RG, but also to facilitate its management, to integrate its resources, and to broaden the diffusion of the research results.

The RG concentrates the editorship of both medieval Philosophy RG: 3 collections, 3 journals, research websites and databases (Sephardim; ARM; SMELPS; Aristotelica; Arca; P. Barcelos).

 

Objectives of the Research Group

Basing its research on the core concept of «reason», the group intends to grasp the specific connections between the thematic areas it analyses, which were crucial to medieval authors. The concept of reason is at the basis of questions related to epistemological, anthropological, ethical, hermeneutical, social, political, and aesthetic issues. The research will focus on sub-themes related to the main guiding subject, examining different kinds of sources such as philosophical, theological, historiographical, literary, and even from the mechanical arts (Artes mechanicae).

In its 3 main areas the RG intends to put in contrast and make explicit the different paradigms of rationality in order to understand the medieval image of the limits and possibilities of reason. The RG will organize seminars and other national and international scientific meetings, publish books, papers, and journal issues, prepare research missions and participation in meetings.

Besides missions for the participation of members in scientific meetings (including fees), other missions shall be required for 1) bibliographic research and 2) short courses or seminars (including fees) on auxiliary fields, namely on digital humanities, to be undertaken especially by young researchers on training.

 

Main research areas

1. Reason and the Augustinian Medieval tradition

As Augustine is one of the most powerful authorities that cross medieval philosophy, the RG is also committed to the study of his philosophical works and doctrines both on theories of knowledge and will, and on political philosophy.

Main research subjects (some of them shared with the Aristotelica RG):

a) Mind/Soul, knowledge and action. It is intended to carry out the study of medieval theories of mind/soul, in the philosophical, theological and medical traditions. The main subjects will be hylomorphism and bi-substantialism. Theories of emotions, free will and decision are at stake in order to understand the different positions on the relation between knowledge and action.

b) The role of memory and imagination in medieval theories of knowledge and identity, mainly exploring the influence of Augustinian tradition on the nature of memory throughout Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy.

c) Reason, “Fall” and Politics: studying the Augustinian tradition and its influence upon the questions on the origin of dominium and proprietas, the enforcement of law and the nature of power, secular and spiritual.

 

2. SEMINÁRIO MEDIEVAL DE LITERATURA PENSAMENTO E SOCIEDADE (Seminar of Medieval Literature, Thought and Society)

SMELPS focuses on reason, law, lineage and representations of society in Medieval Portuguese historiography, Arthurian Literature, and romance languages Literature. This thematic field is closely linked to the research put forward by the Reason and Politics subject. Detailed subprograms are foreseen:

a) Assessment of the historical and literary constraints on the representation of the power of women in the Iberian Middle Ages historiography (occasionally encompassing other literary genres) and survey of the changes that representation underwent over the years, mainly from the 9th century onwards.

b) The conditions and constraints of composition, diffusion and reception of 15th century Portuguese historiography, mainly Fernão Lopes and Rui de Pina, in its historical and political peninsular context.

c) The construction of a memory of Hispania in the 14th century by Pedro de Barcelos, understood mainly though his historiographical writing in Crónica de 1344 and Livro de Linhagens: editorial and cultural perspectives.

c) The configuration of Arthurian romance in Portugal and its impact on the conformation of social pragmatics and on the diffusion of socio-symbolic codes in Portugal and in the Iberian Peninsula; and the accurate assessment of the position of the cycle of romances, translated in Portugal by the end of the 13th century, in the context of French and European romance.

d) How recurrent themes in Arthurian romance, such as love or political theology, influenced Portuguese late medieval thought.

e) Comparative studies on the production of the first two generations of Galician-Portuguese poets and the literary, artistic and philosophic modalities of representation converging in Iberia during the 12th and 13th centuries, with special regard to the Latin, Hebraic and Arabic cultural domains.

 

3. Philosophy of NATURE and the Modern Sciences

A good amount of work on philosophy and the sciences was done in previous years. In the next period an international network will be set, engaging foreign collaborators from several centres (München; Paris; Berlin; Campinas) to study the relation between sciences (physics, biology, psychology, mathematics) and the philosophical replies to natural problems (movement, changing, parts and whole). The first projects will be on: a) the 14th C. ms. Lisboa, BN, 2299, a miscellany of 44 philosophical and scientific texts from Greek, Arabic, Jewish and Latin authors, whose content was never studied as a whole; b) a volume of studies on mathematics as a tool for the study of nature, centred on Alvarus Tomas of Lisbon, De triplice motu (Paris, 1509).

 

§. IMAGO MUNDI: MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY IN TEXT AND TRANSLATION

A vast program of translation and bilingual editions of the most important medieval philosophy works. This continues the homonymous project https://ifilosofia.up.pt/proj/imago_mundi : coord. by J. Meirinhos, with the collaboration of other RG members aiming to publish bilingual books, with learned introductions.

 

Related Projects with external funding (current)

  1. Biblioteca do Convento de São Salvador de Vilar de Frades (séc. XVI-XVIII) (2018-2019) - DRCN
  2. Da memória escrita à leitura do espaço: Pedro de Barcelos e a identidade cultural do Norte de Portugal (2018-2021) - FCT
  3. From Data to Wisdom (2018-2021) - FCT
  4. Vernacular Europe (2019-2020) - FCT

Main internal projects underway (2020):
(some of these evolved from former externally funded projects)

  1. Seminário Medieval de Literatura, Pensamento e Sociedade
  2. Imago mundi
  3. Arca. Textos e autores medievais portugueses

 

Activities