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Medieval Aspects of Renaissance Learning:…
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Medieval Aspects of Renaissance Learning: Three Essays

by Paul Oskar Kristeller

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If we want to understand the learned literature of the declining Middle Ages and the Renaissance in its content and significance, we must especially keep in mind a fundamental fact: from the twelfth century, and above all from the rise of the universities, scholarly teaching was no longer encyclopedic as in the preceding centuries, but was divided into a number of clearly distinct subjects. There were still of course encyclopedic reference books, just as there are today. There were also individual scholars, especially during the Renaissance, who aimed at a universal knowledge, and a great many who had a mastery of several scholarly disciplines at the same time or who combined all sorts of scholarly interests in unexpected ways. Finally, there were more or less original thinkers and authors, whose works cannot be reduced to established disciplines but in the truest sense of the word do not fit into a framework. But there is a frame here and it must serve at least as a kind of system of coordinates in which most of the learned writers of the time take their clearly determined places.… (more)

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