Research Project


Prophet, Astrologer, Philosopher in the Political Literature of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance

Dr. Bee Yun

This project aims to reconstruct various discursive frames in medieval political thought for representing the experiences of the past and present and outlining a new strategy and program for future action on this basis. It focuses upon the languages of prophecy, astrology, and scholastic philosophy and their (frequently concomitant) existence and functions in various genres of political literature of the period, such as mirror-of-princes, the advice books/manuals for rulers, the various treatises and commentaries addressing specific and general topics of political importance, and, last but not least, the chronicles and biographies of political leaders. The project seeks to reassess the place and role of the rational mode of thinking in pre-modern European culture and politics. Starting from the ubiquity of the desire to maximize the chances for success through the exercise of diagnostic and prognostic power throughout history, it will examine the various forms such attempts may take in reality by being combined with various views of the world and human existence. In doing so, the project will question a narrow concept of rationality and rationalist culture which, by implicitly and explicitly hypostatizing and privileging its modern European understanding, has been perpetuating and reinforcing Modernist and Eurocentric biases in Western academia. New insights gained from these criticisms will be tested and enriched in the context of intercultural comparative research, which will then help explore a new, balanced approach to non-modern and non-European cultures by redefining the meanings and forms of human rationality in human history.

back to "Notions of Fate and Prognostication and their Taxonomies" overview