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1 Introduction I n 1619 Martin Meurisse (1584–­ 1644), a Franciscan professor of philosophy at the Grand Couvent des Cordeliers in Paris, became embroiled in a debate with the Protestant pastor François Oyseau (1545–­ 1625) about the significance of the rituals of the mass.1 In the course of this dialogue, Oyseau repeatedly criticized Meurisse’s use of engraved allegories for the teaching of philosophy. When Meurisse attacked Oyseau as a poor logician, Oyseau replied that the friar was not competent to judge his knowledge of logic because he was “a logician only in picturing and copperplate engraving.”2 Oyseau then asked, “Are these [faulty conclusions] the consequences of the logic of copperplate engraving?”3 He was alluding to a series of illustrated thesis prints, or pedagogical broadsides incorporating both texts and images, that Meurisse had designed for his philosophy students to use at oral examinations called disputations.4 He condemned Meurisse’s use of “frivolous allegories” (ses Allegories frivolles) in philosophical explications, stating that “arguments founded on allegories are not demonstrations from which one can draw consequences and necessary conclusions.”5 In disparaging these broadsides, Oyseau reached beyond the topic of religious ritual, seemingly aiming to demean the friar by suggesting that his experience of engaging in academic logic was inadequate because it relied on visual materials. Oyseau’s derogatory remarks draw our attention to the vital and controversial role of “visual thinking” in the early modern era.6 Through the study of late sixteenth-­to early eighteenth-­ century visual representations of philosophy, this book shows that not only were philosophical definitions understood as contained “in” images, but, more important, their creation and reworking enabled teachers and their students to think through spatial constructs and visual commentaries as a way of articulating ideas. With the increased production of paper across Europe and with the refinement of printing technologies,7 it became increasingly common for philosophers and pedagogues to create, to study, and to disseminate drawings and prints, in order to grasp ideas and to transmit them to colleagues and students. Artists, in turn, drew inspiration from the writings and methods of philosophers in their works and collaborated with scholars or worked independently to detail of figure 10 2 introduction represent theoretical subjects. I am particularly interested in the interpretive role visual representation played in both conveying and challenging the ideas of Aristotle and his scholastic commentators. I focus on shifts in early modern accounts of perception, cognition , and the soul’s relationship to the body. I also devote attention to the enduring influence of Aristotle’s logic throughout this period. The central thesis of this study is that in early modern Europe the viewing and creation of imagery functioned as important instruments of philosophical thought and teaching. Visual representations acted as essential tools for the generation of knowledge. Philosophers understood the viewing and making of visual representations as cognitive processes, and images often articulated ideas that could not quite be communicated in verbal language. Vision developed into the model of intelligibility, while drawings, prints, and the processes of looking at and designing visual representations became dominant metaphors for understanding human perception and characterizing the manner in which an observer gains and retains knowledge about the world. At the same time, the intense engagement with visual representations was accompanied by lingering doubts about their role in the creation and transmission of philosophical theories; the nature of these doubts, too, is my subject. In recent years, the disciplines of art history and visual studies have grown increasingly preoccupied with the question of how artists utilize the mechanisms of image making and the pictorial space to think.8 Studies of the role of the image in early modern thought have often focused on theological and spiritual questions.9 Work on the “cerebral picturing” of Leonardo da Vinci (1492–­ 1519) has been crucial for its delineation of the interconnections among the acts of drawing, thinking, and knowing in secular contexts.10 Scholars writing on Nicolas Poussin (1594–­ 1665) have also studied the repeated references to the thoughts of his images.11 This book aims to broaden our understanding of visual thought in the early modern era by discussing its operation in previously unexplored , philosophical arenas. The issue of the relationship between image making and thinking has remained a matter of acute importance through the twentieth century and to the present day.12 Here I am thinking in particular of the debate on visual thinking in contemporary philosophy and the related developments in...


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