Every generation faces the same challenge, to engage with the past and to cope with the present, while building its future. However, the questions and problems inherent in human life remain the same. It is a given that our society can only progress if we work toward handling ever newly rising demands in appropriate ways based on what we know and understand in practical and theoretical terms; but the drumming toward the future cannot be a one-way street. Instead, we have to operate with a Janus-faced strategy, with one eye kept toward tomorrow, and the other eye toward yesterday. Culture is, however we want to define it, always a composite of many different elements. Here I argue that if one takes out the past as the foundation of culture, one endangers the further development of culture at large and becomes victim of an overarching and controlling master narrative. This article does not insist on the past being the absolute conditio sine qua non in all our activities, but it suggests that the metaphorical ship of our cultural existence will not operate successfully without an anchor, the past. I will illustrate this claim with reference to some examples from medieval literature, philosophy, and religion as they potentially impact our present in multiple fashions.Keywords: medieval literature; relevance of the past for the future; Jesuits; Boethius; Hildebrandslied; Gautier de Coinci; Marie de France; Christine de Pizan; Hartmann von Aue; Meister Eckhart One of the critical questions which medievalists face above all pertains to the foundation of their own discipline and its relevance in the modern world. By the same token, of course, many other OPEN ACCESS
The tensions between the STEM fields and the Humanities are artificial and might be the result of nothing but political and financial competition. In essence, all scholars explore their topics in a critical fashion, relying on the principles of verification and falsification. Most important proves to be the notion of the laboratory, the storehouse of experiences, ideas, imagination, experiments. For that reason, here the metaphor of the Amazon rainforest is used to illustrate where the common denominators for scientists and scholars rest. Without that vast field of experiences from the past the future cannot be built. The focus here is based on the human condition and its reliance on ethical ideals as already developed by Aristotle. In fact, neither science nor humanities-based research are possible without ethics. Moreover, as illustrated by the case of one of the stories by Heinrich Kaufringer (ca. 1400), human conditions have always been precarious, contingent, puzzling, and fragile, especially if ethics do not inform the individual’s actions. Pre-modern literature is here identified as an ‘Amazon rainforest’ that only waits to be explored for future needs.
As recent cultural‐historical studies have demonstrated, a careful analysis of food preparation and consumption can reveal much about a specific culture or society. Moreover, as this paper argues, a focus on a protagonist's attitude toward and reflection of foodstuff and meals can shed important light on his/her intellectual, cultural, and spiritual development. To test this thesis, this paper investigates how Parzival in Wolfram von Eschenbach's eponymous romance operates with food, how he performs in courtly society during banquets, and how his growing education and maturation is demonstrated through his changing behavior with regard to food at large. We can draw the significant conclusion that the growth of this hero is powerfully reflected through his relationship with food.
Despite much ignorance (deliberate and accidental) and neglect, pre-modern literature, philosophy, and theology continue to matter greatly for us today. The quest for human happiness is neverending, and each generation seems to go through the same process. But instead of re-inventing the proverbial wheel, we can draw on most influential and meaningful observations made already in late antiquity and the Middle Ages regarding how to pursue a good and hence a happy life. This paper examines the relevant treatises by St. Augustine and Boethius (late antiquity), and a religious tale by Gautier de Coincy (early thirteenth century). Each one of them already discussed at great length and in most convincing manner how human beings can work their way through false concepts and illusions and reach a higher level of epistemology and spirituality, expressed through the terms "happiness" and "goodness."
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