Veritas filia temporis. Politics of Discovery in Renaissance Europe
Samir Boumediene is a CNRS researcher at the Institut d'histoire des représentations et des idées dans les modernités (Lyon), and has previously held postdoctoral positions at the Max Planck Institute (Berlin), and the University of Cambridge. His PhD, completed at the University of Lorraine and Casa de Velázquez (Madrid), was devoted to the history of medicinal plants in the New World and was published in 2016 under the title The Colonization of Knowledge. He has subsequently published several articles on the history of drugs, medicine and plants. His current research, begun at the Villa Medici and the Dutch Institute in Rome, focuses on the notion of discovery in the early modern period and on the history of questionnaires.
The purpose of this project is to understand the political and cultural significance of the motto veritas filia temporis. Under its various forms (“Truth is the daughter of time”, “Tempus omnia revelat”, “There is no secret that time does not discover”), this expression can be found in countless texts and images of the early modern era, especially in Italy. Why such a success? In order to provide an answer, this project relies on the constitution of an iconographic database and puts it in relation to a several-fold inquiry about the social history of arts, the history of sciences and techniques, and the history of colonialism. Through the rereading of various works (Castiglione, Bronzino, Monardes, Stradano, Louis Le Roy, Bacon, Galileo, Domenichino, Poussin, Bernini, Redi, etc.), it hypothesizes that the success of the motto reflects the political importance acquired by discovery. Whether expected or unexpected, feared or hoped for, discovery disturbed knowledge, social relations and modes of expression of reality. In both images and texts, the motto could express a vision of the progress of science, a reflection on the uncertainties of the social condition of artists, a meditation on secrecy. It shows thus how Italian culture contributed to shape a major issue of early modern Europe: to conciliate the time of knowledge with the time of action.