Arts of Perception offers a new account of a key period in Spanish history and culture and a fundamental reassessment of its major writers and intellectuals, including Gracián, Quevedo, Calderón, Saavedra Fajardo, López de Vega, and Sor Juana.
Reading these figures in the context of European thought and the new science, and philosophy, the study considers how they developed various ‘arts of perception’ - complex perceptual strategies designed to overcome and exploit epistemic problems to enable an individual to act effectively in the moral, political, social or religious sphere. The study takes as its subject the distinctive epistemological mentality behind such ‘arts of perception’. This mentality was fostered by the creative interaction of scepticism and Stoicism, and found expression in the key concepts ser/parecer and engaño/desengaño. The work traces the emergence, development, and impact of these concepts on Spanish thought and culture.
As well as offering new interpretations of specific major figures, Arts of Perception offers an interpretation of the mentality of an entire culture as it made the fraught transition to intellectual modernity. As such it ranges over numerous discourses and formative contexts and provides a wealth of new material which will be of use to all those seeking to understand and interpret the literature, culture and thought of Golden Age Spain.
This book was previously published as a special issue of The Bulletin of Spanish Studies.
Introduction: The Arts of Perception 1. The Rediscovery of Pyrrhonism 2. Neostoicism, Value Judgement and Moral Perception 3. Politics, Knowledge, and Perception 4. Prudence and the Compass of Deceit 5. The Exploitation of Ignorance 6. Knowledge, Self and Honour 7. The Acclimatization of Scepticism: Scepticism and Stoicism in Antonio López de Vega 8. Baltasar Gracián’s El Criticón and the Arts of Perception 9. From Baroque to Pre-Enlightenment: Resolving the Epistemological Crisis. Conclusion