Finding the Way to Truth: Sources, History, and Impact of The Meditative Tradition


Past Event

Finding the Way to Truth: Sources, History, and Impact of The Meditative Tradition

February 1, 2019 - February 2, 2019
9:00 AM - 9:00 PM
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How is the ancient exhortation to "know thyself" related to consolation, virtue, and the study of nature? How did the commitment to self-knowledge shift over the centuries in writings by Islamic, Jewish, Christian, and early modern natural philosophers? How did medieval women contribute to modern notions of self, self-knowledge, and knowledge of nature?

This conference explores the meditative "reflective methodology" from its ancient roots, through medieval Christian, Muslim, and Jewish traditions to the so-called "new" methodologies of early modern science. Points of focus will be: (1) the relation between ancient imperative to "know thyself" and medieval concerns to reflect on one's soul as means to ultimate truths, (s) the meditative genre as it developed from Augustine's Confessions through Christian and Islamic spiritual exercised to late medieval Christian meditations and early modern kabbalist writings, (3) the continuity between medieval meditations and the reflective methodology or early modern science, and (4) the meditative genre's afterlife in Frued, Foucault, Arendt, and contemporary science. 


This conference brings together 26 experts from Columbia, Brooklyn College, University of California – Berkeley, University of Toronto, NYU Abu Dhabi, Calvin College, Rutgers, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, Queen’s University, Rice University, Furman University, and Harvard. Speakers come from a wide range of disciplines, including Philosophy, French, English and Comparative Literature, History, Religion, Mediaeval Studies, Classics, Center for Science and Society, African Studies, Jewish and Israel Studies, Biological Sciences, and Engineering and Applied Sciences. Columbia graduate students participate as Chair-Discussants.