Perception and Action in Medieval Europe

September 2005
25 black and white illustrations
208 pages
23.4x15.6 cm
ISBN: 9781843831464
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Boydell Press
BIC JFC, 1D, 2AB, 3H, 4P
BISAC HIS037010, PHI012000

Perception and Action in Medieval Europe

Harald Kleinschmidt

Study of the changing nature of the perception of an action and the action itself, and how thought-processes altered radically in the middle ages.
Can dancers dance for a year and a day without drinking, eating and sleeping? Can pictures be made to speak to their viewers? Can lavender purify the soul? The modern mind regards it as impossible and simply regards reports that these things happened as typical of the `fantastic' Middle Ages. In his new book, however, Harald Kleinschmidt argues that we should not be so swift to dismiss such matters. In this thought-provoking study of the logic of perception and action behind these and other stories, and of the history of the five senses, he argues that modern Western rationalism is peculiar in seeing an opposition between perceivers and the targets of their curiosity, actors and their environments or, in general terms, subject and object. Instead, he shows that whether active or passive, people saw their deeds as correlated and mutually dependent. Using a wide range of textual and pictorial sources, he goes on to demonstrate that the assumption of an opposition between subject and object resulted from fundamental changes of standards of perception and patterns of action that took place during the Middle Ages, resulting in the emergence of a new rationalism.
HARALD KLEINSCHMIDT teaches in the College of International Studies at the University of Tsukuba, Japan.

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Will provide plenty of food for thought for historians of medieval culture. AMERICAN HISTORICAL REVIEW
Here medievalists and cultural historians find many a new insight. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BIBLICAL STUDIES

Author Bio

Professor Harald Kleinschmidt is Professor of the History of International Relations and Dean of the Doctoral Program in the International Political Economy at the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Tsukuba-shi, Japa

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