Gower and Science.

Peck, Russell A.

Gower and Science.

Peck, Russell A. "Gower and Science." In Ana Sáez-Hidalgo, Brian Gastle, and R. F. Yeager, eds. The Routledge Research Companion to John Gower (Oxford and New York: Routledge, 2017), pp. 172-96.

The Middle English word "science," used frequently by Gower, means "learning," a concept that includes "advancements in empirical thought" (172). In this expansive overview, Peck reveals the omnipresence, for Gower, of medieval cognitive theory: how the three-lobed brain records sense impressions, then interprets them through intellect and memory, and how this theory leads to an understanding of individual perspective as the gateway to science (172, 174, 178). Thus, science may be true or false, and used or abused (173-75). Recurrently, Peck explains the often-ambiguous exempla of the CA as exercises in the cognitive labor necessary to discover right choices for a confusing world (175, 178-79, 182, 186, 187). Gower's scientific thought rests on the "triangle" of Aristotelian empiricism, Islamic science of cognition, and Christian Platonic idealism (175-76). The CA follows Boethius's DCP in its process of individual therapy through confession and dialogue (176-77). In his exempla, Gower presented men and women of science mostly sympathetically (179-80), especially Daniel, whose analytical method he honored by imitation (180-82). In CA Book VII, he followed Aristotle's anatomy of the sciences, as channeled by Brunetto Latini and the "Secreta Secretorum," with an emphasis on the ethical component of each (182-84), e.g., "Armonie" in music as paradigm for the "common profit" (184). Melding all these themes together, the CA concludes with "the science of selfhood" (187) as key to healing through "memory . . . emotion . . . cognition . . . [and] confession," especially important for the man who would be king (187-88). [LBB. Copyright. The John Gower Society. eJGN 37.2.]


Gower Subjects
Background and General Criticism
Confessio Amantis
Sources, Analogues, and Literary Relations