20.151 cloister to street

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2006 06:29:40 +0100

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 20, No. 151.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2006 13:03:01 +0100
         From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
         Subject: from cloister to street

In The Mechanization of the World Picture
(Oxford, 1961), E J Dijksterhuis reflects on the
increasing pressure from the artists and
technicans of the Renaissance -- the likes of
Brunelleschi, Alberti et al as well as the
instrument-makers -- to the exclusive use of
Latin in scientific writings. Their motives,
Dijksterhuis, were obvious: as a rule they had to
address those who had no Latin, and the rate at
which new words were required for new ideas made
coinage in the vernacular much easier than
straining the classical language. He goes on to note, however, that

>In the course of the fifteenth and sixteenth
>centuries... this movement received a much wider
>and deeper foundation than was provided by the
>more practical necessity from which it had
>arisen. In wide circles of the well-to-do middle
>classes the question was asked more and more
>urgently why the learned professions -- no
>matter whether they were scholastic philosophers
>or humanists -- should be entitled to withhold
>their treasures from all those who did not know
>Latin. This question was all the more cogent
>because there was also a growing doubt whether
>official science had sufficient contact with
>real life, whether the services it rendered to
>society were sufficient, and whether it profited
>enough by the experience gained in the sphere of
>real life. The opposition to Latin as the
>exclusive language of the republic of scholars
>thus coincided with the struggle against the
>seclusion in which these scholars had felt so comfortable. (p. 245)

What might we learn from the situation Dijksterhuis describes?



Dr Willard McCarty | Reader in Humanities
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Received on Mon Aug 14 2006 - 02:05:14 EDT

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