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“Thinking in Images. Herder’s Adrastea from 1801-03 up to nowadays”

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - TIM-Adrastea (“Thinking in Images. Herder’s Adrastea from 1801-03 up to nowadays”)

Período documentado: 2017-03-15 hasta 2019-03-14

The research project analyses the notion of "thinking in images”, its historical roots and its relevance for actual debates. Thinking in images refers to a special way of thinking that differs from the logical and analytical thinking. To survey the notion of “thinking in images” deals with the role of mental images, symbols, visual representations, analogies in the process of knowledge and in many fields of culture. The researcher focused on Adrastea of Johann Gottfried Herder, an important work, which contains a clear definition of the notion of “thinking in images”. The examination of Herder's multidisciplinary attitude and thought adequate for an interdisciplinary study of the notion of “thinking in images”. The researcher surveys the role of images not only in respect to the theory of knowledge but also as concerns very special cases: dreams, mental health problems, memory, and childhood, all relevant topics both for Herder and in actual debates. By studying the historical roots of the "thinking in images", the researcher aims to offer a key to contribute the actual debates concerning the relationship between images/imagination and thinking/knowledge, association and analogies, which are of a great interest for the actual debates on human behaviour. Herder assigned to the "thinking in image" a pivotal role in knowledge, together with logical and conceptual reasoning. The cooperation between reason and imagination, concepts/ideas and images/analogies/symbols was clearly affirmed by Herder in his writings and especially in Adrastea and represents also today a very interesting element to understand human mind. Logical reason covers only one aspect of the huge potentialities of mind. As concerns the work Adrastea, great results are gained during this research period: this work was not a minor or less interesting writing of Herder but, on the contrary, it is useful to understand Herder's philosophical thought. Herder's Adrastea contains a huge amount of sources, that are the key to understand the real character of this work, which is not for specialists and learned people, but was conceived for all the people interested in learning several disciplines and for these reasons it is interesting also nowadays.
1) The researcher analysed Herder's Adrastea, its structure, its origins and development and tried to understand its particular meaning. The researcher focused on specific parts of the periodical in order to detect, analyse and describe the function of these sources and developed a specific methodology, that was necessary to fully understand the main feature of this original work of Herder. 2) The researcher found out and examined the relevant literature on this work, to understand the work's reception from the nineteenth century up to now, also focusing on Herder's reception in Italy from the early twentieth century up to nowadays. 3) The researcher focuses on the sixth issue of Adrastea as a "model" to understand the structure and the objectives of the whole work. This detailed investigation allows the researcher to understand Herder's methodology and use of sources. 4) The Italian translation of Herder's essays contained in Adrastea was one of the major goals of this research project, together with its comment and recognition of sources. A monograph together with an Italian translation from Herder's Adrastea are to be published very soon. 5) The researcher has deepened the topic "thinking in images" in Herder's work, focusing in particular on the role of memory in knowledge, and the role of imagination and memory; thinking in images in children; analogies and analogical thought as Herder's methodology; the relationship between science/scientific thought and poetry. Several papers have been prepared and published by the researcher to communicate the results of these aspects of the project. 6) The researcher has deepened the topic "thinking in images" in the history of thought and in the actual debates especially by means of two big international conferences, that she organised both in Germany and in Italy. As invited speakers, she selected some specialists from different fields of research, who contributed in different ways to the discussion about the role of images in human culture. The first conference has been organised in Cagliari on March 2018 and the main focus was on the relation between "thinking in images" and the different forms of knowledge; the second conference has been organised in Jena between February and March 2019 and mainly focuses on the relationship between "thinking in images" and "morphology", that is, in other words, between the concept of "image" and the concept of "forms". The results of these two conferences are to be published, respectively, in two separate volumes edited by the researcher. 7) The researcher established scientific relationships with professors and researcher at international level as well as with students, organising workshops and lectures on the topic.
Adrastea is one of Herder's major works and his intellectual testament.Its unfortunate reception was due to the negative evaluation of some contemporaries (such as Goethe or Schiller), whose authority strongly influenced later reception. Starting from the 1980s, few scholars (G. Arnold, M. Cometa, M. Maurer), tried to re-evaluate this work and to go beyond the prejudices of previous critics. The huge potentiality of this interesting work was not exhausted by these studies and still required an attentive analysis, which was one of the main goals of this research project. The researcher showed Adrastea's multidisciplinarity, complexity and its articulated structure, its large amount of sources, quotations and excerpts from other writings, as well as Herder's purpose to promote "culture" and humanity by means of an easy accessible periodical. Herder's recourse to images, figurative speech, metaphors, symbols, comparative and analogical thought represent a very peculiar aspect of Adrastea and of the author's style. The researcher's demonstrates Herder's strong interest in alternative ways of thinking, which were different from the strict conceptual and logical thinking. The role of images and imagination are the basis to understand Herder's thought, goals and writings and, for this reason, the core of a fruitful re-reading of the Adrastea. The notion of "thinking in images" is a very relevant topic in actual debates because of its meaning for the understanding of human mind and behaviour, not only in very special cases (in dreams, children's behaviour, mental health problems, artistic production) but, in fact, in all aspects of everyday life, since our thinking can not avoid the presence and the recourse of images, even though we are not aware of their importance. The work of the researcher during these two years of the research project aimed to fill this gap and to provide new research directions to enhance the knowledge and the comprehension of this topic. The researcher has been deeply involved in the reconstruction of the historical roots of the thinking in images and creation an international network for the study of the notion of "thinking in images" which is based on the contribution of international scholars from several fields of research.
Johann Gottfried Herder's latest work Adrastea (1801-1803)