Premodern Experience of the Natural World in Translation

Edited By: Katja Krause, Maria Auxent, Dror Weil



This innovative collection showcases the importance of the relationship between translation and experience in premodern science, bringing together an interdisciplinary group of scholars to offer a nuanced understanding of knowledge transfer across premodern time and space.

The volume considers experience as a tool and object of science in the premodern world, using this idea as a jumping-off point from which to view translation as a process of interaction between diff erent epistemic domains. The book is structured around four dimensions of translation—between terms within and across languages; across sciences and scientific norms; between verbal and visual systems; and through the expertise of practitioners and translators—which raise key questions on what constituted experience of the natural world in the premodern area and the impact of translation processes and agents in shaping experience.

Providing a wide-ranging global account of historical studies on the travel and translation of experience in the premodern world, this book will be of interest to scholars in history, the history of translation, and the history and philosophy of science.


Making Sense of Nature in the Premodern World
Katja Krause, Maria Auxent, Dror Weil

Experience and Knowledge among the Greeks

From the Presocratics to Avicenna
Michael Chase


Experience Terms in Translation
Steven Harvey

The Epistemic Authority of Translations

Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, and John Buridan on Aristotle’s empeiria
Katja Krause

Scientific Tasting

Flavors in the Investigation of Plants and Medicines from Aristotle to Albert the Great
Marilena Panarelli

Making Sense of ingenium

Translating Thought in Twelfth-Century Latin Texts on Cognition
Jonathan Morton


Experience, Translation, and the Norms of Science
Jamie Cohen-Cole

Translating Method

Inference from Behavior to Anatomy in Avicenna’s Zoology
Tommaso Alpina

Translating from One Domain to Another

Analogical Reasoning in Premodern Islamic Theology (kalām)
Hannah C. Erlwein

The Weight of Qualities

Quantifying Temperament in Early Modern British Mathematical Medicine
Julia Reed


Translation in Practice: Visualizing Experience
Katharine Park

Translating Alchemical Practice into Symbols

Two Cases from Codex Marcianus graecus 299
Vincenzo Carlotta

Translating Medical Experience in Tables

The Case of Eleventh-Century Arabic Taqwīm Works
Dror Weil

From Textual to Visual

Translation and Enhancement of Arabic Experience in the New Book Genre Tacuina sanitatis of Giangaleazzo Visconti (c. 1390)
Dominic Olariu

The Pictorial Idioms of Nature

Image Making as Phytographic Translation in Early Modern Northern Europe
Jaya Remond


Expertise in Translation
Sven Dupré

The Translator’s Cut

Cultural Experience and Philosophical Narration in the Early Latin Translations of Avicenna
Amos Bertolacci

Table Talk

Florence Hsia

The Experience of the Translator

Richard Eden and A Treatyse of the Newe India (1553)
Maria Auxent


Windows, Mirrors, and Beads
Lorraine Daston