Even if the arts and letters do not belong per se to the field of scholasticism, a set of questions actively debated in the theoretical writings on these subjects produced in 16th and 17th century France and Italy seem to resonate directly with questions debated at the same period by the scholastic philosophers and theologians. We have identified three clusters of questions which seem to be relevant for our project:
- the relation between art and nature, between genesis (natural generation) and poesis (creation of artefacts) ;
- the divine creation and the image of God ;
- the cognitive processes which enable the human mind to generate concepts and images
Taking into account the scholastic approach to those questions should allow us to shed new light on the early modern theories of arts and letters, which are usually studied on the basis of other paradigms (classical and biblical traditions, with often a focus on rhetorical theory and Neoplatonism). Our goal is not to invalidate the existing models, but rather to add a piece (and maybe a major one) to the puzzle of a fundamentally syncretic culture.
More broadly, we hope to build methodological tools and concepts for the study of those doubly interdisciplinary interactions (formerly and today, but not with the same boundaries). A second corollary objective will be to think anew the historiographical narrative regarding the continuities and discontinuities between the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Time. The nature of the project should indeed lead us to broach epistemological issues related to the periodization of the modernities, issues situated at the intersection of historiographical and historical or cultural questions.