Article ID: CBB656064450

Common Knowledge: Bodies, Evidence, and Expertise in Early Modern Germany (2017)


Over the past twenty-five years, history of science has expanded into history of knowledge. Plurality has been the main message. Commonality, by contrast, is the main finding of the present study. It examines the knowledge practices of the full range of participants in cases of public inquiry—trials, tests, inspections—involving human bodies in contexts of criminal law, police, public health, marriage and family, claims to community aid, and regulation of trades. The cases come from the archives of three agencies of inquiry and evaluation—a government, a university faculty, and a guild—in a variety of polities in the Holy Roman Empire between about 1500 and 1650. Participants of widely differing education, occupation, and experience—learned, artisanal, and domestic, as well as specialized versions of these—are found to have shared practices of observation, description, explanation, and argument. This finding opens the prospect of a history of shared empirical rationality, in contrast to the hegemony of difference, dialogue or transfer, and “expertise,” in how we understand knowing in modern as well as premodern Europe.

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Authors & Contributors
Haas, Philip
Baldanzi, Francesco
Andermahr, Heinz
Taddei, Elena
Vito Rovigo
Wolford, Kathryn
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Atti e Memorie, Rivista di Storia della Farmacia
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Social History of Medicine
Osiris: A Research Journal Devoted to the History of Science and Its Cultural Influences
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Cierre edizioni
Verlag der Joseph Kuhl Gesellschaft
Edizioni Osiride
Claremont Graduate University
University of Chicago Press
Public health
Science and law
Science and politics
Science and economics
Science and society
Clapmarius, Arnoldus
Time Periods
17th century
16th century
Early modern
18th century
15th century
Holy Roman Empire
Venice (Italy)
Great Britain
Altdorf. Universität

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