Ignorance and the Unknowable in Early Modernity

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Ignorance and the Unknowable in Early Modernity

By Society for Renaissance Studies

Sandrine Parageau and Kevin Killeen in conversation with Katie Murphy and Line Cottegnies, hosted by Namratha Rao.

Two Recent books from Stanford University Press deal with overlapping and counter-intuitive facets of early modern culture, what might be called Negative Epistemology, how the gaps in what we know and the limits of what we could possibly know might be seen as generative, allowing access to facets of the world that were otherwise opaque. Sandrine Parageau (Sorbonne) explores the role of Ignorance, imagined variously as a mode of wisdom, a principle of knowledge and an epistemological instrument in figures such as Montaigne, Bacon, Descartes and Locke. Kevin Killeen (York) looks at the role of the Unknowable in early modern thought, and how the elusive traditions of apophatic and mystical thinking, with their rich poetics, were re-tooled in the literature and natural philosophy of the seventeenth century, in figures such as Boehme, Trapnel, Browne and Milton.

In this SRS Crowdcast book launch for the two works, Line Cottegnies and Katie Murphy will discuss their books and what they mean for early modern studies with their authors. Hosted and moderated by Namratha Rao.

Kevin Killeen, The Unknowable in Early Modern Thought: Natural Philosophy and the Poetics of the Ineffable (Stanford, 2023)

Sandrine Parageau, The Paradoxes of Ignorance in Early Modern England and France (Stanford, 2023)

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Society for Renaissance Studies

Society for Renaissance Studies


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