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Working paper

Idle and usefull curiosity from Peter Damiani to Dante

The twelfth century is a period of intense search in all fields of culture and religion, a period of great curiosity. But the curiosity, an ambiguous term and psychological attitude, was for centuries, since Augustin, banished as a dangerous sin. This ascetic perception of goals and methods of human knowledge, not a mere agnosticism, came to compete with a new mundana sapientia, an appeal to philosophical inquiry, to reception of scientific texts from Arabs and Ancients, represented by some «innovators» (Abaelard, Hermann of Carinthia, Thierry of Chartres etc.). In this article, ideas promoted by them are sequentially compared to the voices of some «retrogrades», like Peter Damiani or Bernard of Clairvaux. This comparison leads us to a better understanding of the age of «sic et non», an epoch of constant dialogue and dispute.