Title Background

The Evolving Epistemology of <i>Piers Plowman</i>

The Evolving Epistemology of Piers Plowman

Though L’s vocabulary for faculties of mind (“kynde wit,” “kynde-knowing,” “inwit”) is inherited from scholastic discourse, he writes at a time when the older disctinctions between good and bad, right and wrong, are in the process of merging into a symbolic interface between the self and its experience of the world. Accordingly, these faculties are better understood as motions of internal self-consciousness than as discrete structures. The figure of Meed in particular resists definition in standard scholastic terms, as L cannot reconcile the paradox between the Meed “God of his grace gives” – measureless Meed – and “measurable hire.” Meed ultimately represents the very force of waking consiousness, integrating both the morality of grace and the amorality of survival.