Renaissance Language and Memory Forms

  • Miranda Anderson
Part of the New Directions in Philosophy and Cognitive Science book series (NDPCS)


Neil Rhodes and Jonathan Sawday accurately depict a vision of the desk before me strewn with mounds of paper and gaping books:

The modern researcher’s desk, cluttered with leaves of paper and writing implements, overflowing with opened books piled on top of one another, had arrived. (7)

Only the vital addition of my laptop, with its wireless connection to the world, is necessary to transform the Renaissance version into my present. This chapter explores Renaissance discourses about forms of language and memory; these make evident an especially marked consciousness, concern and celebration about humans’ permeability and extendedness. Attitudes to language were based on attitudes to being human, with ambivalent views of the printed, written and spoken word reflecting ambivalent views about the nature of being human. More generally ambivalence about language is an extension of ambivalence about human subjectivity, precisely because language is such a fundamental aspect of human subjectivity. In addition, Renaissance discourses express a further ambivalence as to whether language supplemented cognitive processes through its similarity to, or its difference from, psychophysiological processes.


Memory Form Sixteenth Century Human Subjectivity Print Technology Perceptual Modality 
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Copyright information

© Miranda Anderson 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Miranda Anderson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of EdinburghUK

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