Keller 2012

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Keller, Vera. "Accounting for Invention: Guido Pancirolli's Lost and Found Things and the Development of Desiderata." Journal of the History of Ideas 73.2 (April 2012): 223-245.

Pancirolli, Two Books of Things. Lost and Things Found (1599, 1602) -- things lost (deperdita) and newly found (nova reperta) "as a way to reckon the advantages of an age"

Followers like Bacon and Jakob Bornitz "formulated a third category of objects desired for the future" (223)

"By publishing lists of lost and desired things, Bacon and Bornitz delineated public research objectives for the collaborative accumulation of beneficial knowledge. The histories of individual desiderata, such as universal language, immortality, and longitude, have been written, yet no study has traced the development of the idea of a collaborative research agenda, or the desiderata list, itself." (223)

Pancirolli "lists of things drew from the global trade of both ancient and new worlds and suggested ways polities might profit from the recovery and discovery of knowledge. The importance of his category of lost things (deperdita) to the development of desiderata thus links the Renaissance restoration of the ancient world with the seventeenth-century advancement of learning." (224)

Pancirolli's student was Heinrich Salmuth; Salmuth translated Pancirolli's manuscript of the Italian original into Latin in 1596 adding copious commentary

"The comparison between lost and found would allow the Duke, ‘‘by Plutarch’s Example,’’ to ‘‘draw a Parallel and make a Comparison between the Latter and the Former, and consider with Yourself, whether is the greater, our Gain or our Loss; just as Merchants compute their Receipts on one Page, and their Disbursements on the other, that by balancing their Accompts, they may know their Condition whether they gain or lose.’’" (227)

"Pancirolli drew upon ancient Roman law rather than biblical sources for his list of lost objects. The Two Books owed a substantial debt to Pancirolli’s legal dictionary, printed posthumously in 1610. Pancirolli’s Thesaurus represented an attempt to take stock of the ancient world via the miscellaneous objects referred to in Roman law. It contained ‘‘a congeries of such diverse information that it seems like a junk shop.’’ 23 Those objects which could not be matched with any entity currently existing in Pancirolli’s world found a place on his list of lost things in the Two Books. Just as Giovanni Tortelli composed the ‘‘earliest catalogue of ‘modern’ inventions’’ within a discussion of neologisms in a 1450’s lexicon, Pancirolli noted lost objects within a dictionary of ancient terms." (228)

E.g. Tax law discussion produced long list of taxable objects

"Despite the potential for profit in such newly-discovered commodities, Pancirolli’s sixty-five lost things woefully outweighed his twenty-five new discoveries." (229)

Vergil, Scaliger, Cardano as sources for new things

Pancirolli'is student Lorenzo Pignoria in Padua became addicted to ancient knowlege, collected mss and papers and botanicals all of which "could all be used to illuminate Pancirolli's text" (230)

Pancirolli and Salmuth do not present their lists with certainty but "as doubtful and awaiting completion by others. What was placed on the list was not determined by system or by theory, but by its pragmatic potential to improve the felicity of the age. Drawing up such a list specified objects to be further questioned, discussed, or possibly re-discovered. Indeed, the very doubtfulness of certain objects would encourage a discussion rife with possible future benefits. Such a chaotic repository awaiting a future re-ordering had a model in the waste-books of merchants, as salmuth commented. Within waste-books, a tumult of particulars could be collected immediately, les they be forgotten. Later 'exact and permanent' tables might be drawn up out of the chaos." (232)

"As important as the works of Car-dano, Scaliger, and Saumaise were, they did not become synonymous with the inventorying and manipulation of human things over time, and Pancir-olli’s Two Books did." (233)

"Pancirolli instrumentalized chaos." (233)

Bacon, the Masculine Birth of Time (ca 1602), "recognized that ancient fragments ought to be collected, but these should be the remains ofa ncient inventions, rather than mansucripts. In order to demonstrate how the present looks both backward and forward, Bacon suggested collecting tables of both ancient and modern inventions. Unlike those who sought ancient manuscript fragments, investigating such inventions would allow a 'marriage with things themselves,' begetting a more heroic mankind." (234)

"Within a collectivity of knowledge, even projects only partially fulfilled before an individual’s death counted as an ‘‘approximation,’’ and such unfinished work could be combined with the fragments of others. Collection thus extended collaboration and longevity, and both extended possibility, argued Bacon." (243)