525 Years in the Pursuit of Truth Podcast: Duncan Liddel (1561-1613): Medicine and Mathematics during Northern Europe's Age of Confessionalisation

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Abstract

The endowment of a chair in Mathematics in 1613 was one of Duncan Liddel's most important legacies for Marischal College. After a life of study in Poland and Northern Germany, and a career of over ten years at one of Germany's famous Protestant reform universities in Helmstedt, under the patronage of Julius of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, Liddel returned to Aberdeen to dedicate his last years to the support of students of Mathematics, a hitherto neglected and little renowned academic discipline. Liddel's subject expertise in Medicine and Mathematics suited the practical curriculum of Marischal College which served the sons of the burgesses and merchants of Aberdeen.

Through figures such as Liddel, Aberdeen's local focus connected with globalising interests in the continental republic of letters. They also showcase the existence of an early interdisciplinary knowledge culture at Aberdeen's two colleges and a widespread religious irenicism practiced in the North-East of Scotland. Professor Friedrich discusses Liddel's impact on the exchange of knowledge during the Northern European Renaissance and its transmission to and from Scotland, where it contributed to a 'whole system of philosophising in the foreign manner', as John Dee noted. Liddel provided not only an impetus for curriculum development at Marischal and King's Colleges, but also imported the didactic ideas of Philipp Melanchthon and his focus on a more science-oriented curriculum—the teaching of Copernicus's and Brahe's heliocentrism as well as the struggle to reconcile scholasticism and Aristotelianism—which underpinned the foundations for the development of a Scottish Enlightenment.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Aberdeen
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jan 2021

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