The Art of Memory and the Growth of the Scientific Method

Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems 13(3), 373-396, 2015

24 Pages Posted: 12 May 2017

See all articles by Gopal Sarma

Gopal Sarma

School of Medicine, Emory University

Date Written: June 23, 2015

Abstract

I argue that European schools of thought on memory and memorization were critical in enabling growth of the scientific method. After giving a historical overview of the development of the memory arts from ancient Greece through 17th century Europe, I describe how the Baconian viewpoint on the scientific method was fundamentally part of a culture and a broader dialogue that conceived of memorization as a foundational methodology for structuring knowledge and for developing symbolic means for representing scientific concepts. The principal figures of this intense and rapidly evolving intellectual milieu included some of the leading thinkers traditionally associated with the scientific revolution; among others, Francis Bacon, Renes Descartes, and Gottfried Leibniz. I close by examining the acceleration of mathematical thought in light of the art of memory and its role in 17th century philosophy, and in particular, Leibniz’s project to develop a universal calculus.

Keywords: scientific method, scientific revolution, the Enlightenment, methodological thinking, universal calculus

JEL Classification: B19, O31

Suggested Citation

Sarma, Gopal, The Art of Memory and the Growth of the Scientific Method (June 23, 2015). Interdisciplinary Description of Complex Systems 13(3), 373-396, 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2967513

Gopal Sarma (Contact Author)

School of Medicine, Emory University ( email )

201 Dowman Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

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