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RE: Let the Horse Pull the Cart...
Poster: PETERSR@spiegel.becltd.com (Peters, Rise J.)
Henry provided a very convincing description of the benefits of doing
research "from the ground up." It seems to me that one distinction between
his position and Anarra's has to do with the purpose of the research --
learning vs. doing. In Anarra's case, my impression is that she was talking
about research that was aimed at learning how to do or make concrete things.
Her reference to the possibility that medieval methods might be "dangerous"
is consistent with that; for example, learning that medieval painters used
white lead isn't "dangerous" unless you're planning to use that knowledge to
=do= something. Similarly, in glassworking, drawn beads were turned into
imitation silver beads and imitation pearls by sucking various poisonous
compounds into them by mouth. This knowledge isn't dangerous until you turn
it to action. Henry's knowledge about Galenic medicine, equally, isn't
dangerous unless he plans to take up treating plague victims without
apprising himself of modern methods first.
So, if you can hold off the hands-on attempts at your subject matter until
you check on the safety of what you're doing, or if you aren't interested in
doing the medieval thing, just learning about it (as most of us are with
many areas of medieval medicine) Henry's approach is tops, on aesthetic
grounds alone. But as someone who only manages to learn anything new by
putting my hands on it, I understand why Anarra does it that way.
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