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The Reformation of Common Learning. Post-Ramist Method and the Reception of the New Philosophy, 1618 - 1670

Howard Hotson
Oxford-Warburg Studies


Oxford-Warburg Studies, published 2020

Purchase online from OUP

Ramism was the most innovative and disruptive educational reform movement to sweep through the international Protestant world in the latter sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. During the 1620s, the Thirty Years' War destroyed the network of central European academies and universities which had generated most of this innovation. Students and teachers, fleeing the conflict in all directions, transplanted that tradition into many different geographical and cultural contexts in which it bore are wide variety of interrelated fruit.

Within the Dutch Republic, post-Ramist method played a crucial role in the rapid assimilation of Cartesianism into a network of thriving young academies and universities. From England to east-central Europe, the tradition was no less important in accelerating the reception of Baconianism. In the easternmost outpost of the Reformed world in Transylvania, the displaced tradition generated a final flourishing of philosophical innovation which exercised a formative influence on the young Leibniz.

The failure of all of these efforts to assemble the fruits of this tradition into an encyclopaedic synthesis marks a major watershed in Western intellectual history. The Reformation of Common Learning brings together all of these aspects of the tradition in a manner which roots them in deeper historical developments and relates a series of far-flung and poorly understood developments together in new ways.

Table of contents

1:Status quo ante bellum: Reformed Germany as Protestant Europe's Pedagogical Laboratory

Part I: The Thirty Years War and the Dutch Golden Age: Post-Ramist method and early 'Cartesianism', 1620-1670
2:Preamble: Philosophy during Leiden's first golden age, 1575-1618
3:Transformation: Ramism, artisanal learning, and the mechanical philosophy, 1618-1639
4:Transplantation: a transfer of pedagogical leadership, 1618-1660
5:Reception and Dissemination: German Reformed roots of 'Dutch Cartesianism', 1640-1670

Part II: The Reformed diaspora and the Hartlib circle: Post-Ramist method and mid-century 'Baconianism', 1630-1670
6:Dissemination: The Reformed diaspora and the Hartlib circle
7:Form and Function: Post-Ramist Roots of Comenian Pansophia
8:Sources and Methods: Post-Ramist Pedagogy and Baconian Natural Philosophy

Part III: Post-Ramist encyclopaedism in post-war Europe: Leibniz and the end of an era, 1630-1716
9:Reception: the fortuna of the Encyclopaedia
10:Emendation: the pursuit of a new encyclopaedia, 1630-1716
11:Failure and transformation: the encyclopaedia turned inside out
12:Summary, conclusions, and prospects