A Europeanist's Perspective
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CitationBlair, Ann. "A Europeanist's Perspective." In Organizing Knowledge: Encyclopædic Activities in the Pre-Eighteenth Century Islamic World, edited by Gerhard Endress, 201-15. Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill, 2006.
AbstractEncyclopedia" is a term coined in Latin and shortly thereafter in various European vernaculars by humanist writers ca. 1470-1530, on the model of what they thought was a Greek term, Enkuklopaideia, for "circle of learning." The term and its supposed etymology have been rich in history, inspiring authors over many centuries to expatiate on the metaphor of the "circle of learning" in any number of organizational schemes. Even as recently as its latest print edition (the 15th), the Encyclopaedia Britannica for example described its purview as the circle of learning, which was presented in the Propaedia in a circular table with 10 subdivisions. Philological work of the last half century has established, however, that the etymology from enkuklopaideia is false, based on a corruption of the Greek expression enkuklios paideia, which designated common education or general culture. My point is not to invalidate analyses of the metaphors based on the "circle of learning" which are clearly of great historical significance, but to remind us that even in the European context the term "encyclopedia" is a relatively recent linguistic construct.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:29674915
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