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Image and truth: art, history and scientific approach of historical knowledge in German Late Enlightenment

Grant number: 11/51486-5
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): January 01, 2012
Effective date (End): July 31, 2012
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History - Theory and Philosophy of History
Principal Investigator:Jorge Luís da Silva Grespan
Grantee:André Gustavo de Melo Araújo
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


The historical discourse of the eighteenth-century presents itself both as a rhetorical operation and as empirical research. This Postdoctoral Research project aims to pursue the analysis of the eighteenth-century historical output by proposing to see it as the locus of a fundamental interrelation of representation and method. More specifically, the research will investigate the uses and functions of images, understood in both the verbal and pictorial senses, i.e. as a component of the art of rhetoric and as the graphic representation of the empirical - and systematic - observation of the world. This conjunction was particularly developed in the German universities of the Late Enlightenment (c. 1760-1810). What was the influence of verbal and pictorial images on the modes of representation of the past and on the creation of a principle of truth that was acknowledged as valid for historical knowledge? The project will build from the central hypothesis that the use of verbal and pictorial images might indicate that eighteenth-century historical thought distinguished itself for bringing together the form of narrative representation and a problem of empirical method. The major sources that will be explored are the works of three highly influential authors of the period: Johann Christoph Gatterer (1727-1799), August Ludwig Schlözer (1735-1809) and Christoph Meiners (1747-1810). The proposed research will additionally seek to explore the extent to which the epistemology of German Late Enlightenment historiography still presents a challenge to the statute of historical knowledge in the twenty-first century, when new modes of perception, associated with novel visual experiences, have come to be seen as an interpretive problem that needs to reach beyond the analytical categories of the text paradigm. (AU)

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