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IMC 2023: Sessions

Session 1331: Philosophical Entanglements and Connected Concepts in Medieval Western Europe

Wednesday 5 July 2023, 16.30-18.00

Moderator/Chair:M. Jane Toswell, Department of English, University of Western Ontario
Paper 1331-aA Survey of Neural Networks in the Early Medieval Period via Augustine's Philosophy of Mind
(Language: English)
Buki Fatona, Faculty of Theology & Religion, University of Oxford
Index terms: Philosophy, Science
Paper 1331-bThe Philosophical Entanglements of Boethius and Beowulf: Understanding Fortune's True Self
(Language: English)
Kristen York, Department of English, Texas A&M University
Index terms: Language and Literature - Old English, Mentalities

Paper -a:
In this paper, I survey and analyse St Augustine's understanding of neuroanatomical networks via the lens of contemporary cognitive neuroscience and philosophy of mind. First, I translate and map-out Augustine's sketch of neuroanatomy as described in his Genesi ad Litteram in which he traces the acquirement of stimuli by nerve endings to the cognitive processes he attributes to the different regions of the brain. Second, I analyse Augustine's account of sense perception in relation to his understanding of neuroanatomy. Via this survey I offer an analysis of how the understanding of neuroanatomy in early medieval period shaped its contemporaneous philosophy of mind.

Paper -b:
Temporary fame and wealth in Beowulf hearken to lessons in Boethius' The Consolation of Philosophy. Although no evidence exists that shows that Boethius' work directly influenced Beowulf, the heart of both works engage with life’s transitoriness, which begs an analysis of how Boethius' renowned ideas could have influenced Beowulf. Boethius' Lady Philosophy argues for the necessity to remember Fortune’s true self and not rely on Fortune’s temporary gifts. Through a Boethian reading of Beowulf and examination of monsters as antitheses to philosophy, I claim that Beowulf emphasises the importance of understanding the 'true self' of Fortune and acknowledging that fortune is inconstant.