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Venice 2010-04: RSA 56 (Read 5520 times)

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Venice 2010-04: RSA 56
30.03.2010 at 15:58:23
The programme of The Fifty-Sixth Annual Meeting of the Renaissance Society of America (RSA) / Venice, Italy
8-10 April 2010
can now be accessed via http://www.rsa.org/meetings/annualmeeting.php (or directly) at http://www.rsa.org/pdfs/2010/032610_ALLDAYS.pdf (PDF-file, 689 pages).

Some GGREN extracts:
The Tractate De diis gentium by Paulinus Venetus
In her article “Un nuovo codice delle Genealogie Deorum di Paolo da Perugia” (Studi sul
Boccaccio 18 [1989]), Teresa Hankey reveals some great similarities between the tractate De diis
gentium by Paulinus Venetus (1270/74–1344) and the Collectiones (unpreserved, but
reconstructable along general lines from other works) by Paulus Perusinus (1300–75). Hankey
assumes that Paulinus and Paulus are attributable to a common source which might be identified
with the ominous “Theodontius” in the Genealogie deorum gentilium by Boccaccio (1313–75).
In my paper, I wish to examine the sources Paulinus Venetus draws on for his mythological
knowledge. My investigation will be based on a comparison of the authors mentioned above and
some other mainly anonymous mythographical texts from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries.
Besides, I will verify Paulinus Venetus’s lifelong humanist interest in mythology by studying the
autobiographical notes to be found in Biblioteca Marciana’s codex Zanetti Lat. 399 of the

Philosophical Approaches to the Emotions in Latin and the Vernacular
The complex discussions of emotions within scholastic and mystical traditions, which the
Renaissance inherited from the Middle Ages, were enriched in the fifteenth century by the
increasing reception of the Epicurean concept of lust (hedone, voluptas) and, later, by the
Platonic concept of love (eros, amor). In addition, the philosophical discourses about emotions
initiated by humanist authors took place outside the universities and outside the convents. But
still, these discourses were in Latin. Only since the beginning of the sixteenth century, authors
decided more and more to write in the vernacular about these topics. Beside these theoretical
analyses, emotions play an important role in non-scientific works — especially literary works,
which were frequently written in the vernacular.The questions I wish to discuss are: Did the shift
in language within the theoretical discourse produce a shift in content? Did daily life
experiences, as expressed in literary texts, find their way into the more theoretical and
philosophical works — and if so, to what extent?


The Venetian Trade to Germany in the Fifteenth Century
The paper analyzes evidence for the long-distance trade with Venetian incunabula in the fifteenth
and early sixteenth centuries. The material basis will be drawn from the collection of incunabula
of the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek München, the largest collection of incunabula (in terms of
copies) worldwide: it contains about 3,500 copies of 1,840 editions printed in Venice. Many of
these copies contain information about their provenance, including purchase inscriptions.
Together with surviving external sources (fifteenth-century monastic account books and library
catalogues), this information can be used in order to gain a clearer picture of the predominant
centers and forms of books distribution which developed in the century after Gutenberg’s
invention. On this basis, more general conclusions might be drawn about the speed with which
information, texts, and possibly ideas were spread in the period and which audiences they
reached, focusing especially on the reception of Italian humanist literature north of the Alps.

Lodovico Zuccolo’s Della Republica d’Evandria and the Symbiosis of Utopian and Republican
Discourse in the Age of Reason of State
The objective of the paper is to introduce and analyze Il Porto o vero della Republica d’Evandria
of Lodovico Zuccolo. Zuccolo was read widely and achieved some fame in early modern Europe
through his Aristotelian treatise on reason of state. The interpretation of Zuccolo as the author of
a couple of utopian writings is of particular interest for the study of the relationship with the
mainstream discourse of reason of state. In Evandria Zuccolo combines the use of stylistic and
structural elements of the utopian genre with the development of a republican theory based on
civic virtue and public education. Hidden intertextual references to the republican thought of
Machiavelli are used in this context as cipher. Comparing Zuccolo with the use of textuality and
political content in Plato, More, Harrington, and the political satirist Traiano Boccaliniis further
useful for the clarification of this symbiosis of utopian and republican discourse and their relationship to reason of state. But Zuccolo’s Evandria and his criticism against reason of state is
questioned by its own content as it develops — a common feature of early modern utopian
writing — a “totalitarian” state concerned with surveillance and control.

Travel in Utopia
The Land of Utopia can not easily be reached, whether by land or by sea. This paper explores the
interface between the Mundus Idem and the Mundus Alter, from the point of view of travel
studies and theory.

The Role of Renaissance Humanism in the Origins of Philosophical Anthropology
This paper tries to show the connection between Renaissance humanism and the beginnings of
philosophical anthropology as a discipline, whose foundational moment we place in the project
for Francis Bacon’s treatise De Homine (1623). Starting from a philological-historical
interpretation of Renaissance humanism, which is based greatly on Paul Oskar Kristeller’s thesis,
it is maintained that the idea of man by Renaissance humanism would be in the origins of the
anthropological idea. But said connection is interpreted not as just a mere continuity of
Renaissance conceptions, but as a result of a crisis in Renaissance conceptions of man.

Verius ratio quam intellectus: Pietro Pomponazzi on Mind and Knowledge
Medieval Peripatetic philosophers like Averroes or Thomas Aquinas argued for the mind’s
immateriality on the ground of its cognitive function: only an incorporeal intellect, they claimed,
is able to grasp the essential features of material objects by means of formal assimilation, as
suggested by Aristotle. In his Tractatus de immortalitate animae (1516), however, the
Aristotelian Pietro Pomponazzi denies the immateriality of the human intellect by stressing its
functional dependence on imagination. Consequently, he can no longer hold the traditional
Peripatetic conception of intellectual cognition as assimilation of essential forms. In my paper I
intend to portray Pomponazzi’s novel account of knowledge and mental representation. In particular, I will focus on his views about the role of abstraction and imagination for concept
formation. For this purpose, I will examine Pomponazzi’s statements about the process of
knowledge-acquisition in his late works and his lectures on Aristotelian natural philosophy.
Renaissance Platonism, Eurydice, and Orphic song
The paper discusses the Renaissance revival of interest in Pythagorean music, with its
cosmological and mystical assumptions. In particular it addresses Ficino’s attempt to sing hymns
in a Pythagorean manner and his shifting responses to the authority of Orpheus both as an
ancient theologian and as a mystical-magical bard who had descended into Hades. Finally it
turns to the Platonists’ fascinating interpretation of Eurydice, along with their rejection, in part at
least, of Orpheus.

Giambattista Della Porta’s Histrionic Science
One of the lifelong concerns of Giambattista Della Porta (1535–1615) was the description and
the production of seemingly extraordinary and hence inexplicable experiments that would testify to his amazing abilities as a natural magician. But not only was this Neapolitan nobleman one of
the most renowned “professors of secrets” in his time; he also authored highly influential books
on physiognomy and exercised his literary gifts in more than a dozen of successful works for the
theater. This paper will look into several instances where Della Porta managed to stage his
natural philosophy, thus pointing to specific examples where both realms — theater and early
modern science — are interacting on a literary as well as on a conceptual level. The paper will
relate the contemporary political and religious situation in which Della Porta was writing to his
ideal of a silent audience that watched mirabilia in amazement and delight.

Philosophy for Princes: Aristotle’s Politics during the French Wars of Religion
It is well known that the particular circumstances of the French Wars of Religion (1562–98)
directed the philosophical interests of the French intelligentsia — the surge of neo-Stoicism,
through the study of Seneca, is a case in point. However, Aristotle’s Politics equally enjoyed a
renewed interest: it was this text which Guy Du Faur de Pibrac read and commented on as he
accompanied Henri de Valois (the future Henri III) on the prince’s journey to take up the Polish
crown (1573). The proposed paper will reexamine the reception of Aristotle’s Politics in mid- to
late sixteenth-century France, and particularly the way in which French humanists such as Loys
Le Roy, who famously translated the work into French in 1568, sought to bear out the Politics’
relevance for the contemporary French context of turmoil and dissent.

Crivellati and a Forgotten Vernacularization of Aristotelian Natural Philosophy
Cesare Crivellati, a physician working at Viterbo between the end of the sixteenth and the first
decades of the seventeenth century, is at times mentioned in works dealing with the history of
medicine, music, and printing, but has been totally neglected by scholars working on the history
of philosophy. Although a minor and late figure, Crivellati is also an interesting representative of
the transmission and discussion of Aristotle’s thought in the vernacular, since he authored
“volgarizzamenti” of the first two books of the Physics (1615, 1617), and later of the De
generatione (1626). Besides giving a paraphrase of Aristotle’s text, Crivellati adds his own
commentary, trying to provide his reader with an “orthodox” interpretation of Aristotle’s thought
and often criticizing him for his “mistakes” — notably the eternity of the world. In doing so, he
takes position against John of Jandun, the medieval Averroist who was extremely influential in
Renaissance Italy. Particularly remarkable is the commentary appended to the translation of the
second book of the Physics, which is conceived as a dialogue between Plato and Aristotle about
the origin of the world.

Physics and Metaphysics in George of Trebizond’s Comparatio Philosophorum Platonis et
This paper seeks to explore George of Trebizond’s theory on physics and metaphysics. In his
Comparatio Philosophorum Platonis et Aristotelis George of Trebizond attempted to defend
Aristotle from the attacks of the proponents of Plato and also to prove the superiority of
Aristotelian philosophy. In the first book of his lengthy work George of Trebizond examined
subjects of physics, such as matter, form, cause, movement, infinity, time, space, and void.
Furthermore, he stretched his interest on metaphysics, especially first cause, being, forms, soul,
and creation. George of Trebizond did not confine himself merely to the exposition of the
Platonic and Aristotelian physics and metaphysics, but he also studied his material critically and
comparatively, a method that gave him the opportunity to produce new arguments and ideas. On
the basis of the work of George of Trebizond, this paper will attempt to show George’s
contribution in early modern philosophy and science.

Mirum silentium: Francesco Patrizi on How (Not) to Study Aristotle
The paper will analyze why Francesco Patrizi da Cherso (1529–97), one of the most rabid anti-
Aristotelians on record, thought that the works of Aristotle had never been studied adequately —
and what remedy he suggested in order to help this dismal state of affairs.
One More Voice on Harmony between Aristotle and Plato: The De ideis by Mattia Aquario
Mattia Aquario (d. 1591) was a leading figure of sixteenth-century Scholasticism. A Dominican
born in Naples, he also lived in Venice, Turin, and Rome and he maintained relations with
Francesco Vimercato, Giordano Bruno, and Tommaso Campanella. In 1576 he composed some
questiones on Aristotle’s De anima, to which he added a short disputation De ideis in qua
ostenditur Aristoteles non adversari divini Platoni. Enriched by a close dialogue with a wide
range of sources — both ancient and modern — the treatise is an important attestation of a
persistent interest in the debate over the relationship between platonic and aristotelian
philosophies, begun in the West a century before by Greek émigrés like Bessarion, and moreover
it represents evidence of appreciation of Plato, even in a context traditionally associated with
Aristotelianism, such as the Dominican one.

Filosofia politica e cultura cittadina a Firenze tra XIV e XV secolo: i volgarizzamenti del
Defensor pacis e della Monarchia
Nel 1467/68 Marsilio Ficino portò a termine il volgarizzamento della Monarchia di Dante,
includendolo nel suo programma di traduzioni e volgarizzamenti per favorirne la divulgazione. Il
medesimo intento sta alla base della traduzione in volgare fiorentino del Defensor pacis di
Marsilio da Padova, completata nel 1363: una versione che lascia trasparire il pieno accordo
dell’anonimo volgarizzatore con le principali tesi marsiliane, ed anche con l’ispirazione
fondamentale del testo a quelle condizioni di pace e tranquillità soltanto auspicabili per la realtà
italiana trecentesca. Meno immediata è la collocazione del volgarizzamento della Monarchia
all’interno del progetto religioso e culturale di Ficino, ma di sicuro interesse è la maniera in cui
egli tratta il testo dantesco, scoprendo in esso sententie Platoniche: Monarchia e Commedia sono
per Ficino due momenti dello stesso progetto filosofico di Dante che, come Platone, descrive
nelle sue opere il mondo dei viventi e quello dei “passati.”
Reading Dante as an Aristotelian in Sixteenth-Century Italy
This paper examines the ways in which sixteenth-century commentators (Trifon Gabriele,
Alessandro Vellutello, Bernardino Daniello) as well as public readers (Giovan Battista Gelli,
Benedetto Varchi) interpret Dante’s Comedy by reference to Aristotle. The paper first provides
background on the earlier tradition of Dante commentary and criticism (and on the question of
Dante’s own Aristotelianism). It then traces the major patterns and forms of Aristotelian
quotation and other forms of reference in exegesis upon the the poem during the Cinquecento.
The paper also attempts to identify and explore the complex ways in which contemporary
Aristotelianism informs the commentary tradition, how this interest interacts with readings of
Dante in a Platonizing key, and to assess the nature and implications of attempts to construct
Dante as an Aristotelian.

Political Issues in the Works of Marsilio Ficino: Translation of Dante, the Letters to Pope Sixtus
IV, his Commentary to Plato’s Republic
Political philosophy may seem a marginal element in the works of Marsilio Ficino, but some
texts show this is not the case. Firstly, three letters to Pope Sixtus IV document the complex
political and religious situation during the second half of the fifteenth century. Concepts
expressed there include the expectation of a new and peaceful era, accusations that papal politics
are creating conflicts and divisions, and support for the separation of temporal and spiritual
power urged in Dante Alighieri’s De Monarchia. But it is Ficino’s commentary on Plato’s
Republic — interpreting the author’s thought through the Neoplatonic and Christian traditions —
that provokes interest in the following years. Ciro Spontoni, at the end of the sixteenth century,
translates into Italian Ficino’s commentaries on the Republic in his work La corona del principe,
introducing the theories of the philosopher of Careggi to the political debate of this period.

Ficino and Natural Philosophy as Purification
This paper examines the function that natural philosophy performed in the thought of Marsilio
Ficino. Traditionally Ficino has not been perceived as interested in natural philosophy. Moreover
his overall metaphysical commitments are even thought to exclude any abiding discussion of
natural philosophical questions. On the contrary, I argue that natural philosophy performs a vital
function in Ficino’s broader philosophical system. Natural philosophy aims to purify and purge
the mind of certain basic misconceptions that concern what is most real and good. These errors
are endemic to the embodied human condition, and they are the result, in Ficino’s estimation, of
the mind’s “habitual intercourse with the body.” It is through defining and defending a certain
view of matter, body, and change that Ficino hopes to purify the mind of its pre-philosophical
attachment to the material world, as well as the more sophisticated arguments of materialists.

Science Fiction in the Seventeenth Century: Latin and the Vernacular
The first modern science fiction story was written in Latin. And so was the second. Early in the
seventeenth century, the celebrated astronomer Johannes Kepler and the Louvain professor of
philosophy Libert Froidmont both composed somnia that featured a voyage into the cosmos. But
these two works, just like the two major Neo-Latin works that followed them, Athanasius
Kircher’s Itinerarium exstaticum (1656) and Christiaan Huygens’s Cosmotheoros (1698), were
more a matter of science than of fiction, and the infant genre of science fiction would quickly
cross over into the vernacular, where it would develop at a rapid pace, at the pens of such authors
as Francis Godwin, Cyrano de Bergerac, and Gabriel Daniel. My paper will discuss the elements
that the Neo-Latin works have in common with the vernacular, hypothesizing that the insertion
of folklore into the former and the introduction of utopian elements into the latter bind the two

Metabolisms of the Soul: Bernadino Telesio’s De rerum natura iuxta propria principia (edn.
1570) and Oliva Sabuco de Nantes y Barrera’s Nueva filosofía de la naturaleza del hombre
At the end of the sixteenth century one can trace a radical materialistic tendency in natural
philosophy. The thinkers under consideration share an emphasis on a permeable organization of
the body with one vital sap responsible for such different activities as sight, emotional response,
and cognition. Their combination of innovative methods and speculations resulted in a focus on
what one probably would call today “transmitter substances,” in the jargon of natural philosophy
spiritus and species. Interestingly, perception acts as metaphorical explanation for intellectual
operations, as well. By hypothesizing one spirit or soul-liquid instead of three, they were thus
eroding the dichotomy between matter and mind strongly in favor of the former. My paper will
also point to significant differences between Telesio and Sabuco. Whereas the former assumed
the utmost subtle quality for his spiritus vitalis, Sabuco refers to the crudest metabolic substance,
the chylos as “ur-liquid of life.”


Bessarion’s Political Philosophy: The Encomium to Trebizond
Bessarion’s political ideal and philosophy emerge from his encomium to Trebizond edited by
Lambros in 1916. It is a text in stark contrast with those expressed by Heorge Gemistos Plethon
at the same time and reveals that Byzantine political ideology was different in the Morea and
Trebizond. Such a debate is important since the text was written before Bessarion went to Italy
and in his own hand as well as being brought by him to Venice. Thus it reveals some underlying
but continuing ideas that remained with him before, during, and after the Council of Florence of
1438–39. Such consistency also reveals the importance of the cultural concepts used by the
Greeks which they transposed into an Italian context.

Cardinal Bessarion on the Soul
Special attention will be paid to Bessarion’s discussion of scholastic attitude towards the theory
of the soul. Although Cardinal Bessarion was not a scholastic philosopher, he greatly appreciated
scholastic thought. Bessarion possessed many manuscripts by scholastic authors and his library
confirms this abiding interest in scholastic thought. In this paper I will focus on Bessarion’s
usage of medieval authors to support his own arguments on the soul, especially in his In
calumniatorem Platonis (Averroes, Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus). Major
attention will be paid to Bessarion’s attitude towards the theory of the soul (mostly the
immortality of the soul). A subsequent focus will be turned towards Bessarion’s arguments on
the nature of the intellect with the help of medieval authors. In this way we can see in what way
Bessarion read and used scholastic philosophy.

Humanistica et Scholastica Latina in Biblioteca Bessarionis
This paper is essentially an abstract of my forthcoming book on Bessarion’s Latin collection. I
give a statistical analysis of the different categories of books in the collection, draw conclusions
from this analysis, and discuss in detail his interest in particular authors and texts.

Rewriting Moral Philosophy: The Intellectual Outlook and Philosophical Style of Giovanni
Giovanni Pontano (1429–1503) was one of the most important figures of Neapolitan humanism
under the Aragonese. A diplomat, politician, philosopher, and poet, he has often been admired
for his versatility. The paper I propose turns to Pontano’s role as a philosopher. On the one hand,
Pontano inherited authoritative and conservative modes of discussion from Panhormita and Facio
while firmly rejecting the iconoclastic tendencies humanist moral and political thought had
developed in the works of Lorenzo Valla. On the other hand, he followed the Petrarchan tradition
of an eloquent philosophy which could bring about moral reform, yet emphasizing the role of
Aristotle, whose moral and political thought had been forcefully reintroduced by Bruni. As will
be argued, this philosophical style reflects a change in the intellectual climate typical for the
second half of the fifteenth century. Pontano’s works eschew the more ambiguous and radical
tendencies of humanist thought in order to create a new educational and philosophical
mainstream, less aggressive in tone and more compliant with state and religion.

Francesco Patrizi and the Musical Origin of Language
In his writings on music, Francesco Patrizi (1529–97) was oriented toward language, poetics, and
rhetoric, while also dealing with its acoustic aspects in his philosophy of nature. This split in the
nature of music was a side effect of the sixteenth-century naturalization of music. This process
brought about a reformulation of the relationship between music and language, until then
understood as two manifestations of one archetypal harmonic language of creation. Music then,
traditionally seen as one of the mathematical disciplines, became a rhetorical art in Patrizi’s
philosophy. I will argue that this transformation in musical thought brought about a loss of
explanatory power for the doctrine of music as key to the universe, while resulting in new
theoretical possibilities to study the musical origins of language. I will explore how Patrizi
updated classical


O.k.: I guess this is a long enough post. Feel free to comment (and/or to add information on the papers you would/will be most interested in listening to).
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for contact information etc. concerning hck (Heinrich C. Kuhn): see http://www.phil-hum-ren.uni-muenchen.de/php/Kuhn/
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Posts: 16
Re: Venice 2010-04: RSA 56
Reply #1 - 04.04.2010 at 22:01:20
Summaries and, in some cases, texts of papers (as well as some data visualisations) for the RSA 2010 panel "Humanism on the Eastern Adriatic Coast" are available on the panel's web page: http://www.ffzg.hr/klafil/dokuwiki/doku.php/z:humanism-eastern-adriatic .
Neven Jovanovic
Zagreb, Hrvatska / Croatia
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