Joel Kaye

jeudi, 6 juin 2019 
16.00 à 17.00 heures


From Marketplace to Cosmos: The Emergence of a New Model of Balance and its Impact on Thought, 1250-1375

My presentation centers on the changing ways that balance has been modeled over historical time and the profound impact these changing models exercise in the realm of ideas.  In the period of European history on which I focus, and for the most part still today, the sense of balance’s presence or absence underlies the most crucial of human judgments: the assessment of what is ordered or disordered, beautiful or ugly, productive or destructive, healthy or sick.  While we can all recognize the breadth of meaning attached to the ideal of balance, we rarely imagine that this ideal -- or the un-worded interior sense that underlies it -- is susceptible to major changes within specific historical contexts.  In contrast, I hope to provide evidence for a series of claims:  1) balance has a history;  2) between approximately 1250 and 1350  a manifestly new sense of balance and its potentialities emerged and evolved within the upper levels of university speculation; 3) this complex new sense found organization and form in a new model of balance, which represented a decisive break with the intellectual past;  4) at the model’s root lay momentous developments in medieval economic life and thought, including a transformation in scholastic attitudes toward profit and the accumulation of commercial wealth;  and finally, 5) due to the utter centrality of balance as an ideal in sphere after sphere of scholastic speculation, profound changes in its modeling over this period had the effect of opening up striking new vistas of speculative possibility, making possible a profound reconceptualization of the world and its workings.      


Sur Joel Kaye

Joel Kaye est Professeur Ann Whitney Olin of History au Barnard College de la Columbia University. Ses intérêts scientifiques portent sur l’histoire intellectuelle du Moyen Âge avec un accent particulier mis sur l’histoire économique et sur l’histoire de la pensée économique et politique. Son dernier livre, A History of Balance, c. 1250-1375: The Emergence of a New Model of Equilibrium and Its Impact on Thought, Cambrigde 2014, montre l’extension de la notion d’état d’équilibre qui a conduit à de nouvelles façons de penser en médecine, en économie, en jurisprudence et en théologie.