Identifying gaps in knowledge is the first duty of any historian who sets out to understand the past. It is impossible fully to understand our forebears without some idea of what they did not know: the history of ignorance is an indispensable part of history itself. Here Alain Corbin focuses on our planet, exploring its mysteries past and present, and the intensity and eventual decline of the modes of terror and wonder it aroused. For thousands of years, humans knew nearly nothing about the earth. Certain locations on the map simply read `Terra Incognita'. Corbin recounts the many errors and uncertainties that littered the paths we followed in the attempt to discover the secrets of our blue planet, with a particular focus on the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when the mysteries of volcanoes, the polar regions, glaciers, the stratosphere and the oceans began to be uncovered. While ignorance stimulated our ancestors' imagination, Corbin's history of ignorance reawakens our thirst for knowledge and changes our view of the world.
Silence is not simply the absence of noise. It is within us, in the inner citadel that great writers, thinkers, scholars and people of faith have cultivated over the centuries.
It characterizes our most intimate and sacred spaces, from private bedrooms to grand cathedrals - those vast reservoirs of silence. Philosophers and novelists have long sought solitude and inspiration in mountains and forests. Yet despite the centrality of silence to some of our most intense experiences, the transformations of the twentieth century have gradually diminished its value. Today, raucous urban spaces and a continual bombardment from different media pressure us into constant activity. We are losing a sense of our inner selves, a process that is changing the very nature of the individual.
This book rediscovers the wonder of silence and, with this, a richer experience of life. With his predilection for the elusive, Corbin calls us to listen to another history.