39th Kölner Mediaevistentagung: Disciples and Masters
* Call for Papers *
“All teaching and all intellectual learning come about from already exisiting knowledge” – this famous introductory sentence of Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics does not only apply to sciences specifically, but also to any activity based on experience and expertise, which is not the result of nature, but of “techne”, i.e., human craftsmanship in the broadest sense. Any proficiency, whether it results in an object, a created artifact, or consists in a certain practical or theoretical ability itself, has to be learned. This is a fact which is independent from age and life experience. In this respect, being a disciple is essential to being human. A master, on the other hand, is someone who does not only have experience, expertise and knowledge, but is also able to convey it to others. He is not only acquainted with the facts and circumstances in question, but also has the methodological knowledge that is required to impart one’s own expertise to others. Hence, the disciple- master relation is a fundamental part of any higher culture and a key to understanding all culturally transmitted skills and encoded knowledge. However, the basis of this central relation of cultural conveyance of competences and knowledge is the individual experience of the involved carriers: primarily of the disciple and the master themselves, then as well of the particular institutions. To study the manifestation of this experience in its various facets within Latin and Greek Byzantine, within Arabic and Hebrew tradition, in the worlds of laity and scholars, but also within everyday culture, the focus lies on a subject which has often been dealt with only incidentally and instrumentally, for instance in the context of biographical or doctrinal questions, or the history of institutions of education.
Thus, the point of departure of the 39th Kölner Mediaevistentagung will be the disciple- master relation. Beyond language and cultural spheres the discursive practices and epistemological implications will be discussed, as well as the institutional requirements and the social understanding of these roles. Where can we find continuity, where common points of reference – perhaps in starting with models and traditions of late antiquity? Where do they sustain, where do new forms and new kinds of understanding of the relation of disciple and master emerge as a result of the clash of ancient traditions with the thenceforth culturally dominating religions based on revelation, namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam?