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  2. Aug 2021
    1. After a long and influential career, commonplace books lost their influence in the late seventeenth century. Classical passages were relegated to the anti- quarian scholar; they no longer molded discourse and life. Men who sought confirmation in empirical evidence and scientific measurement had little use for commonplace books.

      I believe that Earle Havens disputes the idea of the waning of the commonplace book after this.

      I would draw issue with it as well. Perhaps it lost some ground in the classrooms of the youth, but Harvard was teaching the idea during Ralph Waldo Emerson's time during the 1800s. Then there's the rise of the Zettelkasten in Germany in the 1700s (and later officially in the 1900s).

      Lichtenberg specifically mentions using his commonplace as a scientific tool for sharpening his ideas.

      Can we find references to other commonplacers like Francis Bacon mentioning the use of them for science?

  3. Jul 2021
    1. Your post says nothing at all to suggest Luhman didn’t “invent” “Zettelkasten” (no one says he was only one writing on scraps of paper), you list two names and no links

      My post was more in reaction to the overly common suggestions and statements that Luhmann did invent it and the fact that he's almost always the only quoted user. The link was meant to give some additional context, not proof.

      There are a number of direct predecessors including Hans Blumenberg and Georg Christoph Lichtenberg. For quick/easy reference here try:

      If you want some serious innovation, why not try famous biologist Carl Linnaeus for the invention of the index card? See: http://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/history/research/centres/medicalhistory/past/writing/

      (Though even in this space, I suspect that others were already doing similar things.)

  4. May 2021
    1. Blair’s previous work demonstrated that the practices of literary reading and writing were central to the rise of scientific method. Focusing on the lawyer and scientist Jean Bodin in the sixteenth century, she meticulously examined how Bodin collected commonplace reading notes and then stored and analyzed them as scientific evidence.

      I really do need to create a historical timeline for commonplace books already.

      Georg Christoph Lichtenberg also did this in the late 1700's and became famous for it after his death and the publication of his Waste Books. Worth looking into who his influences may have been?

    1. Cringing at your own memories does no one any good. On the other hand, systematically reviewing your older work to find the patterns in where you got it wrong (and right!) is hugely beneficial — it’s a useful process of introspection that makes it easier to spot and avoid your own pitfalls.

      This idea is far from new and is roughly what Georg Christoph Lichtenberg was doing with the science portions of his Waste Books in the late 1700's where he was running experiments, noting wins, losses, and making progress using the scientific method.

    1. “He who hasn’t lost anything in his head can’t find anything in there either,” Lichtenberg joyfully declared (a few days after praising the word ‘nonsense’ over weightier notions such as ‘chaos’ or ‘eternity’).
    2. “penny’s worth of thought” as Lichtenberg had called his entries

      a good name for entries in a commonplace