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Antiquarianism and Intellectual Life in Europe and China, 1500-1800

Peter N. Miller

Publication Year: 2012

This book is a project in comparative history, but along two distinct axes, one historical and the other historiographical. Its purpose is to constructively juxtapose the early modern European and Chinese approaches to historical study that have been called "antiquarian." As an exercise in historical recovery, the essays in this volume amass new information about the range of antiquarian-type scholarship on the past, on nature, and on peoples undertaken at either end of the Eurasian landmass between 1500 and 1800. As a historiographical project, the book challenges the received---and often very much under conceptualized---use of the term "antiquarian" in both European and Chinese contexts. Readers will not only learn more about the range of European and Chinese scholarship on the past---and especially the material past---but they will also be able to integrate some of the historiographical observations and corrections into new ways of conceiving of the history of historical scholarship in Europe since the Renaissance, and to reflect on the impact of these European terms on Chinese approaches to the Chinese past. This comparison is a two-way street, with the European tradition clarified by knowledge of Chinese practices, and Chinese approaches better understood when placed alongside the European ones.

Published by: University of Michigan Press

Series: Bard Graduate Center Cultural Histor


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pp. C-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-xii


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pp. xiii-xiv

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Introduction: Antiquarianism and Intellectual Life in Europe and China

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pp. 1-24

Until very, very recently, mentioning “antiquarianism” to most historians would elicit expressions of disdain and, even more tellingly, disassociation. If the achievements of modern scholarship represented the gains of disciplinarity and “expertise,” antiquarianism represented for many its opposite: prescientific...

Part 1: Antiquarianism and the Study of the Past

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One: Writing Antiquarianism: Prolegomenon to a History - Peter N. Miller

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pp. 27-57

Fifty years ago Arnaldo Momigliano lamented, “I wish I could simply refer to a History of Antiquarian Studies. But none exists.”1 If there is still no single-volume history of antiquarianism, many, many pieces of this puzzle have been assembled. Already...

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Two: The Many Dimensions of the Antiquary’s Practice

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pp. 58-80

We are in the habit of considering the past a continent which is the privileged territory for our Western conception of history to explore. Although Arnaldo Momigliano, in a famous essay, drew our attention to “alien...

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Three: Far and Away? Japan, China, and Egypt, and the Ruins of Ancient Rome in Justus Lipsius’s Intellectual Journey

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pp. 81-102

Friday, August 8, 1591, was a noticeable and still tangible day in Lipsius’s outstanding antiquarian scholarship.1 The high standards he had already reached did not pass unremarked by then, because of his appealing detailed monographs on Roman law and...

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Four: Comparing Antiquarianisms: A View from Europe

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pp. 103-146

Comparative history is about the art of the question. Like a question, comparison directs our attention to new horizons. And, like a good question, it contains within itself the seeds of an answer. But it is not an answer—it is a suggestion of what an answer might look...

Part 2: Authenticity and Antiquities

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Five: The Credulity Problem

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pp. 149-179

Early modern European antiquarians made plenty of blunders—but they were such interesting blunders.1 In the first third of the fifteenth century, for example, Italian scholars developed a fluid and legible handwriting based on the manuscripts...

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Six: Artifacts of Authentication: People Making Texts Making Things in Ming-Qing China

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pp. 180-204

“Lost and misguided in the pursuit of things,” asked one collector in sixteenth-century China, “Who knows what is right?”1 Feng Fang 豐坊 (1493–1566) was lamenting his contemporaries’ blind rush after the antiques, books, artworks, and other artifacts that were available...

Part 3: The Discovery of the World

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Seven: Styles of Medical Antiquarianism

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pp. 207-221

Between the fifteenth and the early seventeenth century, learned physicians quite frequently turned their attention to aspects of antiquity and, in some instances, types of sources more usually thought of as the province of antiquaries: social customs, institutions, and the evidence of material as well as textual remains. While...

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Eight: Therapy and Antiquity in Late Imperial China

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pp. 222-233

By the era of humanism in Europe, the universities had made medicine a profession. When historians write about the antiquarian interests of physicians in Vienna or Venice, we know whom they mean. That leads to the most fundamental of all possible comparisons with China. When its historians write about...

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Nine: Wang Shizhen and Li Shizhen: Archaism and Early Scientific Thought in Sixteenth-Century China

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pp. 234-249

David Freedberg’s study of the early seventeenth-century Academy of Linceans and the circle of Federico Cesi, a social network of scholars who wrote to each other and exchanged visits to share the results of their studies, raises a number of points...

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Ten: The Botany of Cheng Yaotian (1725–1814): Multiple Perspectives on Plants

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pp. 250-262

Among the many Chinese scholars who wrote about plants, Cheng Yaotian 程瑤田 (1725–1814; personal name Yichou 易疇) stands out for his innovative approach.1 Although his primary interest was philological, seeking to understand references to plants in classical literature, his analyses went far beyond the...

Part 4: Antiquarianism and Ethnography

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Eleven: The Study of Islam in Early Modern Europe: Obstacles and Missed Opportunities

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pp. 265-288

In at least two major instances—the study of the classical world, and the study of Judaism—early modern scholars knew that, in order to understand a culture, it was necessary to consider how that culture understood itself, by studying its own hermeneutics...

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Twelve: Thinking About “Non-Chinese” in Ming China

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pp. 289-310

At the start of his Record of All Vassals (Xian bin lu), a text completed no later than 1591, Luo Yuejiong, a scholar from Jiangxi (in southern China) whom we otherwise know little about, seeks to explain to his readers why his historical survey of “non-Chinese” peoples...

Part 5: Antiquarianism and a “History of Religion”

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Thirteen: From Antiquarianism to Philosophical History: India, China, and the World History of Religion in European Thought (1600–1770)

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pp. 313-367

Voltaire is known as one of the first European historians who proclaimed the necessity of a worldwide perspective against the ethnocentric bias of the European tradition. He represents a late exponent of the libertine tradition, in that his challenge to ethnoc...

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Fourteen: Whose Antiquarianism? Europe versus China in the 1701 Conflict between Bishop Maigrot and Qiu Sheng

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pp. 368-380

The controversy over the Chinese rites, which unfolded over the course of the seventeenth century, was in part a struggle over how to view antiquity. On one side were a group of Chinese literati converts and most Jesuit missionaries, who claimed that the...

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Fifteen: From Antiquarian Imagination to the Reconstruction of Institutions: Antonius van Dale on Religion

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pp. 381-412

“In the field of religion, the long-standing cooperation between antiquarian and philosopher was disturbed.”1 Such is the verdict of Arnaldo Momigliano about the situation of history of religion during the eighteenth century. How did this disturbance...

List of Contributors

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pp. 413-414


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pp. 415-426

E-ISBN-13: 9780472028269
E-ISBN-10: 047202826X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472118182
Print-ISBN-10: 0472118188

Page Count: 448
Illustrations: 23 illustrations
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Bard Graduate Center Cultural Histor
See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 797328708
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Antiquarianism and Intellectual Life in Europe and China, 1500-1800

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Subject Headings

  • Europe -- Intellectual life -- 16th century.
  • China -- Intellectual life -- 16th century.
  • Europe -- Intellectual life -- 17th century.
  • China -- Intellectual life -- 17th century.
  • Europe -- Intellectual life -- 18th century.
  • China -- Intellectual life -- 18th century.
  • Antiquarians -- Europe -- History.
  • Antiquarians -- China -- History.
  • Europe -- Historiography.
  • China -- Historiography.
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