I’ve just moved to Edinburgh where I’m going to be doing my front line research over the next 3 years. By chance, I was delighted to turn on BBC4 this week and see Rob Bartlett, who was one of my tutors when I studied mediaeval and early modern history a long time ago. Rob was always a proponent of the idea that people are rationale within their context. Thus, for example, miracles could be seen to make sense within a Christian/Aristotelian view of the universe. He ran a course called “The Intellectual Contours of Mediaeval and Early Modern England” which, among other things, explored the philosophies and learning which were emerging largely as a result of the Crusades and the European discovery of Aristotelian texts after 1,500 years. Fascinating and dangerous stuff to view the world from what seemed like a new perspective. In Oxford, Roger Bacon undertook experiments to understand the laws of the physical world which till then had been mysterious. He championed empirical research over blind following of previous authorities and many of his findings have informed our current scientific view of the world. Among other things, he anticipated later inventions such as submarines, microscopes, telescopes, hydraulics, steam ships and flying machines. For his troubles Bacon was kept in isolated confinement in a small cell in Paris for many years, and prevented from teaching his scientific views.
Anyway, great to be in Edinburgh. Cold though.