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editing, intellectual history, European history


The twelfth century in the intellectual history of western Europe was a time of great creativity and freedom and a time during which the rate of acquisition of exotic material was at a maximum. In spite of this, however, the sources of much twelfth-century scientific writing and the use of twelfth-century authors by later writers is little known. Although the editor of a twelfth-century text can sometimes point to the specific source of his author, more often he must simply indicate similar passages in other works or indicate the ultimate source (e.g., Aristotle or Plotinus), which could not possibly have been accessible to the man whose works he is editing. Earlier generations of editors dealt with the problem by keeping silent on the matter of sources, but such a policy, although often tempting, is no longer excusable. In this context, every certain bit of direct use of one twelfth-century author by another or by a later writer is important in trying to piece together the intellectual history of Europe during one of its most exciting periods.