From Ingenium to Virtus: The Cultivation of Talent in Seventeenth Century Dissertations from Uppsala University
This article explores the problem of innate, natural talent vs acquired skill, knowledge, and virtue in dissertations from Uppsala University around 1680. These texts have never before been studied. It discusses questions such as: how did Swedish academics of the period conceive the relationship between ingenium (innate potential) and (acquired) virtue or knowledge? Which teaching methods did they advocate? How do the texts relate to developments in seventeenth century society? The study uses a combination of contextual analysis and a ‘history of concepts’ approach to answer these questions. The analysis reveals that the Swedish dissertations respond to contemporary debates (involving well-known authorities such as Vives, Huarte, Erasmus, and Comenius) and that they were affected by the immediate context: the growth of the early modern state and the social mobility which accompanied that growth. Education is described in Renaissance humanist terms, with a clear affinity to moral philosophical concepts such as virtue and habituation. The learning process described is analogous to the acquisition of moral virtue and education itself is to a large extent legitimated with reference to moral socialization. The educational ideas put forward balance discipline and playfulness, and represent a relatively democratic view of the distribution of human capabilities, showing a great trust in the potential of education. However, there is also a distinct stress on medical explanations of differences in individual talent.
Copyright (c) 2019 Andreas Hellerstedt
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
This is an open access journal, which means that all content is freely available without charge to the user or his/her institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles featured in the journal without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author. This is in accordance with definition of open access as formulated by the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI). All authors who publish in this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the NJEdH the right of first publication. The work is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which allows others to share and distribute the work as long as it is attributed to the author and its initial publication in the NJEDH is acknowledged.
- Authors are encouraged to distribute the work themselves with information on its initial publication in the NJEdH, e.g. upload it to open repositories linked to their personal website or institutional affiliation, or publish it in a book.
The NJEdH is permitted non-exclusive distribution of the work, with attribution to the author, e.g. in a print book themed anthology.