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The Epistemological Frontiers of Persian Learning

Conference 3 in the Center for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies Core Program

Friday, April 8, 2016
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
314 Royce Hall

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While Persian has been rightly admired as a language of humanism, philosophy, and science, there is little sense of its epistemological limitations. Yet the early modern period saw a rapid acceleration of intellectual and scientific exchange, in the case of Persian involving—in the case of Persian—translations from both European and Asian languages. In this age of new ideas, the third conference asks whether there were certain concepts or debates that Persian was unable to capture or communicate? Were these constraints due to external, socio-political factors, or did Persian’s linguistic profile and literary conventions impose on its users internal constraints? How constraining a factor was Persian’s reliance on manuscript transmission prior to the mid-nineteenth century (and, conversely, what was the impact on Persian of printed texts in European or vernacular languages)? What role was played by demands of creating a vocabulary for scientific discoveries and political innovations made in other cultural and linguistic contexts? In these ways, the conference charts the epistemological barriers of Persian as it responded to new political and intellectual demands.

This conference will continue on Saturday, April 9, from 10:00 am through 12:30 pm.

For more information about this program including a list of speakers, please see the listings for Day 1 and Day 2 of the conference on the Center for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies website.


Click here for more information about the Program on Central Asia 2015–16 series "Frontiers of Persian Learning," co-sponsored by the Center for Near Eastern Studies. This series is offered in conjunction with the Center for 17th- & 18th-Century Studies Core Program of 2015–16, organized by Nile Green, Director of the Program on Central Asia.

Image credit: "Portrait of the scribe Mīr ʿAbd Allāh Kātib in the company of a youth burnishing paper," from Collection of Poems (divan), written by Amir Najm al-Din Hasan Dihlavi. Walters Art Museum Ms. W.650, folio 187a.

Sponsor(s): Program on Central Asia, Center for 17th and 18th Century Studies