The ideal of balance and its association with what is ordered, just, and healthful remained unchanged throughout the medieval period. The central place allotted to balance in the workings of nature and society also remained unchanged. What changed within the culture of scholasticism, between approximately 1280 and 1360, was the emergence of a greatly expanded sense of what balance is and can be. In this groundbreaking history of balance, Joel Kaye reveals that this new sense of balance and its potentialities became the basis of a new model of equilibrium, shaped and shared by the most acute and innovative thinkers of the period. Through a focus on four disciplines - scholastic economic thought, political thought, medical thought, and natural philosophy - Kaye's book reveals that this new model of equilibrium opened up striking new vistas of imaginative and speculative possibility, making possible a profound re-thinking of the world and its workings.
Joel Kaye is a Professor in the Department of History at Barnard College, Columbia University. His previous publications include Economy and Nature in the Fourteenth Century: Money, Market Exchange, and the Emergence of Scientific Thought (Cambridge, 1998).
Introduction; 1. Equality and equalization in the economic sphere, part I: the scholastic discourse on usury to 1300; 2. Equality and equalization in the economic sphere, part II: the scholastic discourse on price and value to 1300; 3. Balance in medieval medical theory, part I: the legacy of Galen; 4. Balance in medieval medical theory, part II: the scholastic reception and refinement of Galenic balance to c.1315; 5. Evolving models of equalization in medieval political thought, c.1250-1325; 6. The new model of equilibrium in medieval political thought, part I: the Defensor Pacis of Marsilius of Padua; 7. The new model of equilibrium in medieval political thought, part II: the writings of Nicole Oresme; 8. The new model of equilibrium in scholastic natural philosophy, c.1325-75; Conclusion; Bibliography.