ABSTRACT

Gigantic, shapeless, and dimensionless though it is, a mentalité is a work of art. Thomas Kuhn’s (1922-1996) achievement was to demonstrate that mentalités, or “world-views,” were based on presuppositions and assumptions-beliefs that communities, or a majority of their members, took for granted as facts.2 That underlying, patterning framework, or paradigm, could be changed, but only at the risk, or cost, of shattering the coherence of the world as society or culture had known it, and throwing the shards of the old paradigm into the melting-pot. Kuhn’s task was to provide a way to understand that the price of abandoning an old paradigm was far too great to be borne until a new paradigm had been invented, repeatedly tested, and found far superior to the old in solving lifechallenging problems without throwing up a new set of deadly riddles. Not only did it have to be tried and proven, it also had to be widely disseminated, indeed

1 Thomas F.X. Noble has written a number of splendid publications in which he has set his mark on research concerning the Libri/Opus and its putative author, Charlemagne, both living and legendary. Weightiest of all is Thomas F.X. Noble, Images, Iconoclasm, and the Carolingians (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009), pp. 158-74, esp. pp. 162-9 (composition of the Libri/Opus), pp. 208-9 (Theodulf of Orléans’s historical sense), pp. 236-40 (first beginnings of the idealization of Charlemagne), and pp. 158-74 and 178-206 (contesting Byzantine orthodoxy). An earlier article is directly germane to the Libri/Opus nomenclature: “From the Libri Carolini to the Opus Caroli Regis,” Journal of Medieval Latin 9 (1999): 131-47. On the refabrication of Charlemagne the man into Charlemagne the legend, see Thomas F.X. Noble, “Greatness Contested and Confirmed: The Raw Materials of the Charlemagne Legend,” in Matthew Gabriele and Jace Stuckey, eds., e Legend of Charlemagne in the Middle Ages (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), pp. 3-22.