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IMC 2023: Sessions

Session 1116: Intellectual Networks in China, the Islamic World, and the Renaissance

Wednesday 5 July 2023, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Niels H. Gaul, Department of Medieval Studies, Central European University, Budapest
Paper 1116-aQingtan in the Wei-Jin Period: A Mixed Political Network of Knowledge
(Language: English)
Run Gu, Philosophische Fakultät, Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen
Index terms: Literacy and Orality, Philosophy, Political Thought, Religious Life
Paper 1116-bUtopian Thought in the Islamicate West
(Language: English)
Ruben Schenzle, Seminar für Semitistik und Arabistik, Freie Universität Berlin
Index terms: Islamic and Arabic Studies, Language and Literature - Semitic, Philosophy
Paper 1116-cBessarion's Platonist Network: Disseminating Radical Platonism in 15th-Century Italy
(Language: English)
Scott Kennedy, Faculty of Humanities & Letters, Bilkent University, Ankara
Index terms: Byzantine Studies, Language and Literature - Latin, Learning (The Classical Inheritance), Philosophy

Paper -a:
Qingtan 清談 was a unique entangled network in the Wei-Jin Period, medieval China. On the one hand, it served as an intellectual network, providing a platform for exchanging and developing philosophical and religious ideas. Scholars from various backgrounds used beautiful language and rhetorical skills to debate and socialise. On the other hand, Qingtan was considered a tool for gaining social prestige and high positions in the imperial court, and most participants had the implicit aim of obtaining fame and improving their family status. Criticising talents was also an important theme in Qingtan, covering many aspects such as appearance, virtue, talent, manners, and elegance, and could even manipulate public opinion and replace the function of governmental official assessment. At the end of the Eastern Jin dynasty, Qingtan became the most essential way to gain an economic base, establish political success, and secure marriages between aristocratic families. This article will trace back the progress of Qingtan and examine how the aristocratic families in the Wei-Jin Period used Qingtan to gain political capital and evolve it into a necessity for high social-political status. Moreover, as an intellectual network that entangled religious, philosophical, and social aspects, Qingtan had a consistent logic of cultural rights that transcended the private sphere to engage in an exchange of public values.

Paper -b:
Studies of Utopian thought often tend to a Western paradigm - taking Tomas More's Utopia as prime example or leaning to hypotheses such as Krishan Kumar: 'nothing like the western utopia and utopian traditions exist in any non-western or non-Christian culture' (1987, p. 424). This perspective is increasingly contested (cf. Dutton Sargent 2013; Dutton 2010). The aim of my paper is to show by means of philological examination examples of Utopian thought, wishful thinking, educating desire, in philosophical and literary treatises of the Islamicate West, that is al-Andalus in the 11th to 12th century. From the relevant texts and topics I am going to take a closer look at Ibn Shuhayd, Ibn Tufayl, and presumably Ibn Bajja (Avempace).

Paper -c:
In his seminal In Calumniatorem Platonis (ICP), the cardinal Bessarion made Plato 'sexy' and Christian-friendly for the West. Recent scholarship has demonstrated the entanglement of its production among Bessarion's network. This talk examines how Bessarion used this network to test potentially unorthodox ideas on Westerners. For example, his familiar Fernando of Córdoba lauded Plato's holiness for his parthenogenesis, like Christ. However, Bessarion originated the idea in his earliest draft of the ICP, where Plato is conceived through 'a divine epiphany', which he quietly dropped after Córdoba was accused of heresy. Through his network, Bessarion thus transformed his Platonism into Christian piety.