Rossi: Logic and the Art of Memory

Paolo Rossi
Logic and the Art of Memory
Area: History of Rhetoric and Memory Studies

•    Clavis universalis: method of general science to allow a man to look beyond phenomenal appearances
•    Ramus, Bacon, Leibniz: saw memory as one of the primary divisions of the new logic and tabular method
•    The present can carry the past within without anyone knowing it
•    Yates: Ancients—passing from a visual world to the verbal
o    A “faculty” lost by the modern world
o    The marginality of mnemotechnics
•    Bacon and Vico: gestural and symbolic language of 17 and 18c. are bound up with the debate on Egyptian hieroglyphs—written expressions ≠ alphabet and words
•    Foucault: “natural history” of early modern period is a “theory of words”
Chapter 1: The Power of Images and the Places of Memory
•    Hume: Memory need not be as valued
o    Artificial memory is no good without strong natural memory and employment of various/numerous images was unhelpful
•    Memory is the conservation of knowledge of others
•    The necessity of image with memory shows that there is a close link between the imagination and sensation (Aristotle)
•    “The memory seems to proceed from places”
•    Aquinas: 1) images 2) order 3) careful construction of the loci 4) repetition
•    Peter of Prague: art of memory divided between places and images
•    Details of “rules”/”qualifications” for memory places
•    Additions and “refilling” of memory became an issue
•    Ravenna: used beautiful women as memory places
Chapter 4: The Imaginative Logic of Giordano Bruno
•    Bruno: ars combinatorial and ars reminiscendi
•    Art of memory: not simply rhetorical technique, but an instrument for representing the structure of reality
•    Cicero: places (loci); images (imagines)
•    Bruno: prime subjects (subjecta); secondary or proximate subjects (adiecta)
Chapter 5: Artificial Memory and the New Scientific Method: Ramus, Bacon, Descartes
•    Ramus: remove memory from rhetoric
o    Memory was an instrument for introducing order to both understanding and discourse
•    Llull: ars combinatoria = ostentious and charlatan
o    ≠Bacon and Descartes: ars memorative
•    For Bacon, logic ruled discourse
•    Many thinkers (Ramus, Ravenna) have stressed that loci delimits and orders fields of research
Critical moments in the text
8: “The art of memory, Cicero argued, was analogous to the process of writing: the places have the same function as a wax tablet, while the images function like the letters which are written on it.  Images are used because visual memories are more persistent than other kinds of memory, and because the ‘memory-places’ themselves are necessarily visual.”
12: “For this reason, as it has been correctly suggested, one can speak of ‘scholastic rhetoric’ only if one eliminates from the term ‘scholastic’ all reference to the ‘authority’ of Aristotle.”
16: “Memory-places are quite different from images: memory-places are not corners of a room, as some believe, but fixed images on which delible images are written like letters on paper: memory-places are like matter, whereas images are like forms.  The difference between them is the same as the difference between the fixed and the non-fixed.”
84: “Bruno believed that the ‘miraculous art’ of mnemotechnics would lead to a ‘renewal’ or reform of knowledge, and bring about an infinite increase in man’s capacities, and his dominion over nature.  This was certainly the way it was perceived in the Platonic circles of Paris in which Copernicanism and Ramist reformism were circulating alongside more occult scientific interests in subjects such as the cabala and Lullism.”
95: Lull: “The rhetoric, by means of which one can discover that which is proper in oration, and which is disputable by dialectic, according to the subtlety of the Lullist art, and other more secret arts which are contained in one single lesson necessary in every art.”
108: “Embems ‘render intellectual things sensible, and since the sensible strikes the memory more forcibly, it is impressed in it with greater ‘ease.’”
118: Bacon’s four tasks: 1) The art of inquiry or invention 2) The art of examination or judgment 3) The art of custody or memory 4) The art of elocution or tradition


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