“tan quam tabula rasa”

Solapas principales

...saber la doctrína chrístíana como papagayos sín íntelígençía alguna de loq' auían aprendído. yo quísíera, q'me díxera el qetal íntento, q'ubíera sacado, de q' a el sela ubíeran enseñado en lengua he brea, o gríega, mas q' desesperarse pa. cogerla de memoría, y despues de to - do eso, se quedara tan quam tabula rasa. sín saber lo q'se auía aprendído.

Escolios: Folio 3, side 1, line 18

“tan quam tabula rasa” is a misspelling of “tamquam tabula rasa,” “like a blank slate.” Ximénez would have encountered the tabula rasa concept in Thomist theology, which employs the definition of Avicenna (Ibn Sīnā), a 10th century Persian physician: “The human intellect at birth is rather like a tabula rasa, a pure potentiality that is actualized through education and comes to know. Knowledge is attained through empirical familiarity with objects in this world from which one abstracts universal concepts.”

Ximénez uses this concept to interrogate friars who catechize Indigenous people using catechisms in the Castilian language, making them “como papagayos” ("like parrots") who simply repeated phrases in Spanish “sín íntelígençía alguna de lo q’auían aprendído” ("without any understanding of what they had learned"). He asks what such a friar would have gotten out of it if he had himself been catechized in Hebrew or Greek, other than desperate memorization. He concludes that such a person, even after such catechesis, would still be left “like a blank slate,” not really having learned anything.

It is worth noting that Ximénez was often sardonic in his accounts of his predecessors, whom he frequently laments as having produced a mess that he is now tasked with cleaning up. Such outbursts are especially common in his dictionaries and linguistic studies.