With less than a week to go before the next Ordered Universe symposium we have been making all of our preparations, including the full programme above. The four treatises for discussion are all in good shape, and we’re looking forward, as always, to the intensive reading process. To accompany our deliberations we have some shorter talks, by Professor Brian Tanner on the physics of light (just a small area of science!), and talks by Dr Cate Watkinson, Rosie Reed-Gold and Alexandra Carr, on their artistic engagement with the project. Our public lecture takes place on Tuesday 18th. The texts all concern light and motion, in their various ways, and reveal the amazing capacity of Grosseteste’s mind. We’ll keep you updated on our progress!
Saturday 14th saw the first two of four events organised at Durham as part of the Being Human, National Festival of Humanities 2015. Now in its second year, the Festival takes place up and down the country with a cornucopia of events for the public. Big questions, big debates and opportunities to engage with academic research of all sorts and interests. Continue reading
One of the unifying themes across Grosseteste’s ‘scientific’ treatises is that he carefully observed the natural world around him and furthermore assumed that there should be a set of fundamental, universally applicable principles explaining the ordered complexity with which he was confronted. For Grosseteste creation was an act of divine generosity, an overflowing of God’s joy and goodness, and, as a product of the fount and origin of reason (as well as love, justice, joy and so forth), was itself inherently rational. Nature forms a source of knowledge about God alongside the revelation of Scripture. Continue reading
To me, one of the most fascinating aspects of studying Grosseteste is that he wrote about both theology and science (in the medieval sense). The first-time, non-medieval reader is quick to ask herself whether Grosseteste had some split-brain features; after all religion and science often take opposing stances in contemporary debates. As Giles Gasper mentioned in his conference presentation at Porto, Grosseteste didn’t comment explicitly on how he saw the relationship between these two areas of interests. However, the scholars explained that in medieval times there was not yet the conceptual divide between religion and science. Instead, the elucidation of natural phenomena was thought of as giving depth to the wonders of God’s creation. Nonetheless, it is striking that Grosseteste, who was to become bishop of Lincoln later on, didn’t explicitly frame his scientific treatises in theological terms. Nonetheless, under closer inspection of the De luce, there are some references and fundamental assumptions that seem to hint at his theological commitments. Continue reading
It took me some time to realise how rare truly interdisciplinary work is at the research level. For me as an undergraduate student, cross-subject talk within friendship groups is something that I have always taken for granted. Since I have been introduced to the Ordered Universe Project I have learned firstly that only few scholars and scientists collaborate with each other, and secondly that such collaboration bears the potential for a uniquely broad and deep perspective. To see how researchers from humanities and sciences work together in an open-minded, patient and accommodating fashion has been very impressive, as this research methodology allows for an elucidation of Grosseteste’s writings at multiple different levels. Continue reading
Wednesday 26th June provided another intense day for discussion and reading. The morning session of the conference featured papers by Cecilia Panti, Neil Lewis and Brian Tanner, chaired by Pietro Rossi. Cecilia presented a detailed exposition of Grosseteste’s use of mathematical sequences within the De luce, especially in its first half. The infinite multiplication of form (light) within matter is a key concern here, and Grosseteste may have been responding to an articulation by Averroes of the difficulties inherent in expressing infinite multiplication. Continue reading
Greti Dinkova-Bruun, one of the core team members for the Ordered Universe/Grosseteste Science project gave a paper in early June to the 2013 Congress of of the Humanities and Social Sciences/Canadian Society of Medievalists June 1-8, at the University of Victoria in Canada. The session was a roundtable on Grosseteste’s letter collection, and also to honour the translation made by Joe Goering and Frank Mantello (which won the Canadian Society of Medievalists Margaret Wade Labarge Prize. Greti spoke on ‘The Franciscans and Light in the Letters of Robert Grosseteste’ in a session which included Irven Resnick and Marc Cels.
So, our next engagement as a team will be the FIDEM congress in Porto. The congress gathers around 400-500 medievalists of various sorts and meets every 5 years. FIDEM itself is a network of institutes for medieval studies, with individual as well as institutional membership, and has been running since 1987. Greti sits on the executive board. Jose Mereinhos very kindy and enthusiastically accepted our suggestion that we might present the project in Porto. Continue reading
The Ordered Universe/Durham Grosseteste project work on the treatise on light is this month featured in the BBC Magazine, Sky at Night, dedicated to all things astronomical, in an article written by Paul Cockburn. Gasper, Panti, McLeish and Bower were all interviewed and feature in the discussion of Grosseteste’s expanding universe in his radical, anomalous, revolutionary?, exposition of Aristotle and the question of the extension of body. Get your copy now! We are featured on pages 69-73, including a lovely commentary on the project by Richard Bower, on the beauty of the treatise and the alternative rationality of this medieval view of the universe.
The Medieval Big Bang will feature at the FIDEM congress in Porto, and will be the main focus of the project’s publication programme this calendar year.
Here we are then, the three presenters…
A wonderful occasion, and a really good set of questions: was Grosseteste a loner or a collaborator, how do the scientific and theological texts work together, how were the key terms in the De colore translated, what are the attractions of the deeper past to modern scientists. Science, as Tom said, is something deeply old, and deeply human.