Philosophy professor receives national humanities grant

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August 19, 2022

University of Detroit Mercy Professor Juan Carlos Flores is the recipient of a $295,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to create the first critical edition of writings by 13th Century philosopher Henry of Ghent.

Juan-Carlos-Flores.jpgFlores will be the project director and will work with Gordon Wilson, emeritus professor at University of North Carolina Asheville, on the three-year project.

“Henry of Ghent was the most important thinker in Europe during the last quarter of the 13th Century and as influential as his near-contemporary Thomas Aquinas,” said Flores, who teaches philosophy and is co-director of the University Honors Program.

A “critical edition” of classical or medieval writings uses all known versions of a work — including drafts, notes, manuscripts, editions, and copies — to establish a definitive text for future scholars to study and translate.

The project will focus on the monumental Summa of Henry of Ghent, specifically Articles 73-75 which contain his philosophy of language. The editors will be working with manuscripts written in Latin shorthand, which requires expertise in paleography and knowledge of classical and medieval sources.

“This will be the first critical edition of these articles,” Flores said. “The texts that are now available cannot be completely trusted. Only a critical edition can establish what is original and what is derivative. Punctuation or a change of word or phrase can change the meaning completely.” Critical editions annotate variant readings and supply references, providing context for readers.

After establishing the Latin text through this edition, Flores plans to translate it into English so Henry of Ghent’s philosophy of language becomes available to a wider audience of scholars and students. He has already published an English translation of Henry of Ghent’s writings on human knowledge.

NEH grants are highly sought-after and underwrite projects that will “foster the exchange of ideas and increase access to humanities knowledge, resources and experiences,” said NEH Chair Shelly C. Lowe in a news release. More than $31.5 million in this round of grants will underwrite 226 humanities projects across the country.

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