Sixteenth-century Italian artists are known for great anatomical feats. Leonardo’s drawings of the interior of the body outmatched in sophistication woodcuts or engravings in treatises of anatomy, a field then just coming of age as an observational science. Michelangelo’s figures contain such precise details of surface anatomy that new terms have been invented to supplement modern medical terminology in order to account for them. Although their example made anatomical knowledge a desideratum for artistic education in the sixteenth century, it was not clear how far most artists ought to pursue such knowledge. Some said that they ought to study “just enough.” But how much knowledge was “just enough”? This talk examines the nature of this epistemic predicament, some responses to it, as well as the conditions that gave meaning and weight to those responses. At another more general level, this talk is a reflection on qualities and states of knowledge beyond certainty or the lack of it.
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Talks in this series will be followed by discussion, including a Q&A session with the audience.
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