The knowing of Sir Thomas Browne (1605--1682)

Lesli Carol Rosier, Fordham University


The Knowing of Sir Thomas Browne (1605–1682) is an epistemological study of the works of the seventeenth-century medical doctor, naturalist and religious divine. Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1646), Hydriotaphia (1658), The Garden of Cyrus (1658), Christian Morals (1716), Religio Medici (1642), as well as Browne's miscellaneous writings, are explored thematically, as opposed to chronologically, in relation to the epistemological traditions expressed and espoused in them. The dissertation's organizing idea is that each individual Brunonian work exhibits an historically convergent epistemology. Each work contains style and knowledge-oriented references belonging to archaic, dying epistemological traditions centered on an authority-based way of knowing that was expected in the seventeenth century to culminate in certainty. Each work also, however, contains evidence of the influence of an emergent nascent way of knowing that was beginning to divorce itself from the certainty of the ancients and rely more on probability and opinion. Thus, the dissertation explores the dual quality of the epistemology expressed in Browne's oeuvre and each work's style and treatment of knowledge that display evidence of a combination of dying and incipient epistemological influences and leanings.

Subject Area

British and Irish literature|Philosophy

Recommended Citation

Rosier, Lesli Carol, "The knowing of Sir Thomas Browne (1605--1682)" (2000). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9955970.