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Republics of KnowledgeNations of the Future in Latin America$
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Nicola Miller

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691176758

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691176758.001.0001

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Touchstones of Knowledge

Touchstones of Knowledge

(p.101) 5 Touchstones of Knowledge
Republics of Knowledge

Nicola Miller

Princeton University Press

This chapter begins with the term pensador, a nineteenth-century coinage that was widely used well into the twentieth century and used to talk about knowledge in Latin America. It explains that pensadores were polymaths who ranged freely over politics, literature, art, language, ethnography, and natural science in a refusal to be constrained by the conventions of any single area of knowledge. It also highlights pensador as a term that can be only glossed in English, which is true of many other markers of how knowledge was conceived and practised in the countries of Latin America. The chapter considers the untranslateable terms in Latin America as touchstones of knowledge and barometers of the epistemic atmosphere of the societies in which their usage rose and fell. It points out how Latin American terms testify to the varying social status of different kinds of knowledge and range of people who had access to knowledge.

Keywords:   pensador, Latin America, touchstones, epistemic atmosphere, knowledge

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