The 20th century saw intense change in theories of knowledge. How can we integrate such developments with our approach to knowledge (as represented in texts) in Late Antiquity? What happens if we apply the notion of knowledge as a product of specific acts and institutions with specific purposes and functions to late ancient texts which concern themselves with the production, collection or display of different grades of knowledge? How would such an approach change the way we frame research on theological, philosophical, and pedagogical texts? In this essay I argue that we should abandon debates about whether to categorize specific texts as esoteric, theological/Christian or philosophical/pagan, and turn our attention to culturally and historically particular features of the terrain of the late ancient episteme. I describe six features of knowledge production through textual practices and articulate the imagined epistemic world in which reading practices took place and which defined the conditions of the value or legitimacy of those practices. This essay is offered as a framework for the interpretation of texts concerned with the production of knowledge, whether on the quotidian level of grammatical education or in its more rarefied forms. This framework allows texts to be read together according to function rather than formal genre or the the religious identity of their authors, so that new conversations around late ancient knowledge production can emerge and models of influence or borrowing can be left behind. The six features I have identified are patrimony, curatorship, mimesis, oikonomia, cosmos, and the product of all of these, the object-subject.
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Research Article| September 01 2018
Knowledge in Late Antiquity: What is it Made of and What Does it Make?
Studies in Late Antiquity (2018) 2 (3): 266–293.
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Blossom Stefaniw; Knowledge in Late Antiquity: What is it Made of and What Does it Make?. Studies in Late Antiquity 1 September 2018; 2 (3): 266–293. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/sla.2018.2.3.266
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