Reorientations of Western Thought from Antiquity to the Renaissance: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Reorientations of Western Thought from Antiquity to the Renaissance

1st Edition

By F. Edward Cranz, Nancy Struever


400 pages

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Hardback: 9780860789833
pub: 2006-06-28
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The previous Variorum collection of studies by the late F. Edward Cranz focused specifically on Nicholas of Cusa. The present selection has an equally clear focus, but a far broader scope: it brings together materials on his major thesis, of a fundamental reorientation of the categories of thought in the Latin West, c. 1100 AD, a thesis that dominated his work from the 1960s onwards. The volume differs from the usual Variorum collection in that much of the material is hitherto unpublished, distributed only in 'samizdat' form to Cranz's friends and colleagues. Nancy Struever has collated and edited the versions of these papers, and supplied the necessary annotation for his references. It includes, too, some of the research related to his editions of the Late Antique Aristotelian commentator, Alexander Aphrodisiensis, and his early research on the reception of Classical and early Christian political thought, demonstrating the pertinence of this to the reorientation thesis. Cranz's argument, centering on Anselm's reading of Augustine, and Abelard's of Boethius, but dealing with Renaissance and Reformation figures such as Petrarch and Valla, Cusanus and Luther, Nifo and Zabarella, claims a reorientation in speculative genres of the most basic premises of the relations of mind, language, and reality. Cranz's meticulous close readings of the texts make the case that the reorientation was so deep and thorough as to problematise our modern readings of Hellenic thinkers such as Aristotle, and so radical as to be 'almost invisible' to the Medieval and post-Medieval thinkers. The definitions and distinctions of thematics in this collection are of intrinsic interest, then, to Classical and Late Antique, Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern intellectual historians. Indeed, Cranz's work vindicates serious intellectual historical inquiry as indispensable to our understanding of the basic motives and accomplishments of the culture of Pre-Modernity.


’These are profound and disturbing essays, shedding enormous light on one of the deeper elements of the 'twelfth-century renaissance'. They deserve to be widely read.’ Journal of Ecclesiastical History ’… the book gives the reader a wonderful view of the rigors and joys of intellectual history, ripe with insights into both the mind of western thinking and as well of numerous discrete thinkers.’ Sixteenth Century Journal

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction. Part I The History of Political Thought [in the Patristic Period]: De civitate Dei, XV, 2 and Augustine's idea of the Christian society; Kingdom and polity in Eusebius of Caesarea; The development of Augustine's ideas on society before the Donatist controversy. Part II The Fundamental Reorientation of Western Thought c. 1100 AD: Augustine and Anselm of Canterbury; Boethius and Abelard. Part III The Elaboration of the 1100 AD Thesis: St Paul and ancient modes of thought; Some Petrarchan paradoxes; Some historical structures of reading and allegory; The eyes of the mind: antiquity and the Renaissance; Two debates about the intellect: 1) Alexander of Aphrodisias and the Greeks; 2) Nifo and the Renaissance philosophers; The Renaissance reading of the De anima; Quintilian as ancient thinker; The studia humanitatis and litterae in Cicero and Leonardo Bruni. Index.

About the Authors

Nancy Struever is Professor Emerita, The Humanities Center, The Johns Hopkins University, USA

About the Series

Variorum Collected Studies

The first title in the Variorum Collected Studies series was published in 1970. Since then well over 1000 titles have appeared in the series, and it has established a well-earned international reputation for the publication of key research across a whole range of subjects within the fields of history.

The history of the medieval world remains central to the series, with Byzantine studies a particular speciality, but the range of titles extends from Hellenistic philosophy and the history of the Roman empire and early Christianity, through the Renaissance and Reformation, up to the 20th century. Islamic Studies forms another major strand as do the histories of science, technology and medicine.

Each title in the Variorum Collected Studies series brings together for the first time a selection of articles by a leading authority on a particular subject. These studies are reprinted from a vast range of learned journals, Festschrifts and conference proceedings. They make available research that is scattered, even inaccessible in all but the largest and most specialized libraries. With a new introduction and index, and often with new notes and previously unpublished material, they constitute an essential resource. 

For further information about contributing to the series please contact Michael Greenwood at [email protected]

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General