Medieval Robots

Author: E. R. Truitt
Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press
ISBN: 0812291409
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A thousand years before Isaac Asimov set down his Three Laws of Robotics, real and imagined automata appeared in European courts, liturgies, and literary texts. Medieval robots took such forms as talking statues, mechanical animals, and silent metal guardians; some served to entertain or instruct while others performed disciplinary or surveillance functions. Variously ascribed to artisanal genius, inexplicable cosmic forces, or demonic powers, these marvelous fabrications raised fundamental questions about knowledge, nature, and divine purpose in the Middle Ages. Medieval Robots recovers the forgotten history of fantastical, aspirational, and terrifying machines that captivated Europe in imagination and reality between the ninth and fourteenth centuries. E. R. Truitt traces the different forms of self-moving or self-sustaining manufactured objects from their earliest appearances in the Latin West through centuries of mechanical and literary invention. Chronicled in romances and song as well as histories and encyclopedias, medieval automata were powerful cultural objects that probed the limits of natural philosophy, illuminated and challenged definitions of life and death, and epitomized the transformative and threatening potential of foreign knowledge and culture. This original and wide-ranging study reveals the convergence of science, technology, and imagination in medieval culture and demonstrates the striking similarities between medieval and modern robotic and cybernetic visions.

Prophecy Alchemy and the End of Time

Author: Leah DeVun
Publisher: Columbia University Press
ISBN: 0231519346
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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In the middle of the fourteenth century, the Franciscan friar John of Rupescissa sent a dramatic warning to his followers: the last days were coming; the apocalypse was near. Deemed insane by the Christian church, Rupescissa had spent more than a decade confined to prisons?in one case wrapped in chains and locked under a staircase?yet ill treatment could not silence the friar's apocalyptic message. Religious figures who preached the end times were hardly rare in the late Middle Ages, but Rupescissa's teachings were unique. He claimed that knowledge of the natural world, and alchemy in particular, could act as a defense against the plagues and wars of the last days. His melding of apocalyptic prophecy and quasi-scientific inquiry gave rise to a new genre of alchemical writing and a novel cosmology of heaven and earth. Most important, the friar's research represented a remarkable convergence between science and religion. In order to understand scientific knowledge today, Leah DeVun asks that we revisit Rupescissa's life and the critical events of his age?the Black Death, the Hundred Years' War, the Avignon Papacy?through his eyes. Rupescissa treated alchemy as medicine (his work was the conceptual forerunner of pharmacology) and represented the emerging technologies and views that sought to combat famine, plague, religious persecution, and war. The advances he pioneered, along with the exciting strides made by his contemporaries, shed critical light on later developments in medicine, pharmacology, and chemistry.

Sublime Dreams of Living Machines

Author: Minsoo Kang
Publisher: Harvard University Press
ISBN: 0674059417
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Kang’s central contention is that the automaton, a machine that can move by itself (better known today as the robot), is one of the essential ideas with which people in the West have pondered the very nature of humanity itself. In Kang’s telling, automata are mirrors of the ideas, fears, and anxieties of a given era, in that attitudes towards the machines have always been indicative of a moment’s zeitgeist. The book is historically sweeping, but not comprehensive; the focus is on what Kang takes to be key changes in the representations of and responses to automata. His main interest is on how Europeans in different periods of the past thought about the very notion of a self-moving machine that acted as if it were alive and how they used it for various symbolic and intellectual purposes.

Magic and Magicians in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Time

Author: Albrecht Classen
Publisher: Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co KG
ISBN: 311055772X
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There are no clear demarcation lines between magic, astrology, necromancy, medicine, and even sciences in the pre-modern world. Under the umbrella term 'magic,' the contributors to this volume examine a wide range of texts, both literary and religious, both medical and philosophical, in which the topic is discussed from many different perspectives. The fundamental concerns address issue such as how people perceived magic, whether they accepted it and utilized it for their own purposes, and what impact magic might have had on the mental structures of that time. While some papers examine the specific appearance of magicians in literary texts, others analyze the practical application of magic in medical contexts. In addition, this volume includes studies that deal with the rise of the witch craze in the late fifteenth century and then also investigate whether the Weberian notion of disenchantment pertaining to the modern world can be maintained. Magic is, oddly but significantly, still around us and exerts its influence. Focusing on magic in the medieval world thus helps us to shed light on human culture at large.

Memoirs of a Courtesan in Nineteenth century Paris

Author: comtesse Cäleste Vänard de Chabrillan
Publisher: U of Nebraska Press
ISBN: 9780803232082
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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When Cäleste Mogador's memoirs were first published in 1854 and again in 1858, they were immediately seized and condemned as immoral and unsuitable for public consumption. For a reader in our more forgiving times, this extraordinary document offers not only a portrait of the early life of an intelligent, courageous, and infinitely intriguing Frenchwoman but also an exceedingly rare inside look at the world of the courtesans and prostitutes of nineteenth-century France. ø Writing to conciliate judges and creditors, Mogador (born Cäleste Venard in 1824) explains how with tenacity, wit, and audacity, she managed to escape a difficult childhood and subsequent life of prostitution to become, successively, a darling of the dance halls, a circus rider, and an actress, all the while attracting wealthy young men who vied for her favor. Although her account gives readers a peek into the rakish demimonde made famous by Verdi's opera La Traviata, its greatest value lies in its candid picture of a spunky, self-educated woman who doggedly transformed herself into an esteemed and prolific novelist and playwright, who fell in love with a count and married him, and who made her name synonymous with the bohemian life of the 1840s and 1850s in Paris.

Edison s Eve

Author: Gaby Wood
Publisher: Knopf
ISBN:
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Describes the human fascination with creating life as it traces the scientific research, theories, hoaxes, and inventions that presaged the evolution of contemporary robotics and experiments with artificial intelligence. 20,000 first printing.

The Restless Clock

Author: Jessica Riskin
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
ISBN: 022630292X
Format: PDF, ePub
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A core principle of modern science holds that a scientific explanation must not attribute will or agency to natural phenomena.The Restless Clock examines the origins and history of this, in particular as it applies to the science of living things. This is also the story of a tradition of radicals—dissenters who embraced the opposite view, that agency is an essential and ineradicable part of nature. Beginning with the church and courtly automata of early modern Europe, Jessica Riskin guides us through our thinking about the extent to which animals might be understood as mere machines. We encounter fantastic robots and cyborgs as well as a cast of scientific and philosophical luminaries, including Descartes and Leibnitz, Lamarck and Darwin, whose ideas gain new relevance in Riskin's hands. The book ends with a riveting discussion of how the dialectic continues in genetics, epigenetics, and evolutionary biology, where work continues to naturalize different forms of agency.The Restless Clock reveals the deeply buried roots of current debates in artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and evolutionary biology.

Reuse Value

Author: Richard Brilliant
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1317063791
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This book offers a range of views on spolia and appropriation in art and architecture from fourth-century Rome to the late twentieth century. Using case studies from different historical moments and cultures, contributors test the limits of spolia as a critical category and seek to define its specific character in relation to other forms of artistic appropriation. Several authors explore the ethical issues raised by spoliation and their implications for the evaluation and interpretation of new work made with spolia. The contemporary fascination with spolia is part of a larger cultural preoccupation with reuse, recycling, appropriation and re-presentation in the Western world. All of these practices speak to a desire to make use of pre-existing artifacts (objects, images, expressions) for contemporary purposes. Several essays in this volume focus on the distinction between spolia and other forms of reused objects. While some authors prefer to elide such distinctions, others insist that spolia entail some form of taking, often violent, and a diminution of the source from which they are removed. The book opens with an essay by the scholar most responsible for the popularity of spolia studies in the later twentieth century, Arnold Esch, whose seminal article 'Spolien' was published in 1969. Subsequent essays treat late Roman antiquity, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Middle Ages, medieval and modern attitudes to spolia in Southern Asia, the Italian Renaissance, the European Enlightenment, modern America, and contemporary architecture and visual culture.

The Bronze Object in the Middle Ages

Author: Ittai Weinryb
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISBN: 1316539024
Format: PDF, Mobi
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This book presents the first full length study in English of monumental bronzes in the Middle Ages. Taking as its point of departure the common medieval reception of bronze sculpture as living or animated, the study closely analyzes the practice of lost wax casting (cire perdue) in western Europe and explores the cultural responses to large scale bronzes in the Middle Ages. Starting with mining, smelting, and the production of alloys, and ending with automata, water clocks and fountains, the book uncovers networks of meaning around which bronze sculptures were produced and consumed. The book is a path-breaking contribution to the study of metalwork in the Middle Ages and to the re-evaluation of medieval art more broadly, presenting an understudied body of work to reconsider what the materials and techniques embodied in public monuments meant to the medieval spectator.

Wonder and Skepticism in the Middle Ages

Author: Keagan Brewer
Publisher: Routledge
ISBN: 1317430352
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Wonder and Skepticism in the Middle Ages explores the response by medieval society to tales of marvels and the supernatural, which ranged from firm belief to outright rejection, and asks why the believers believed, and why the skeptical disbelieved. Despite living in a world whose structures more often than not supported belief, there were still a great many who disbelieved, most notably scholastic philosophers who began a polemical programme against belief in marvels. Keagan Brewer reevaluates the Middle Ages’ reputation as an era of credulity by considering the evidence for incidences of marvels, miracles and the supernatural and demonstrating the reasons people did and did not believe in such things. Using an array of contemporary sources, he shows that medieval responders sought evidence in the commonality of a report, similarity of one event to another, theological explanations and from people with status to show that those who believed in marvels and miracles did so only because the wonders had passed evidentiary testing. In particular, he examines both emotional and rational reactions to wondrous phenomena, and why some were readily accepted and others rejected. This book is an important contribution to the history of emotions and belief in the Middle Ages.