Abstracts 2011 LI

Sommario  scarica pdf
Saggi e testimonianze

Brian P. Copenhaver, Lorenzo Valla, Scourge of Scholasticism: Nature, Power and Modality in the Dialectical Disputations

Abstract . – For all users of language, including philosophers, ‘power’ and ‘nature’ are important words. A general principle of customary usage governs all language and guides all its users. But these arrangements are usually loose enough to permit specialists like philosophers to construct their own usage in narrower ways, often for smaller audiences in special circumstances. Rejecting that looseness as laxity, Lorenzo Valla wants to enforce the general rule rigorously, especially against scholastic philosophers: that is the point of his Dialectical Disputations. His sole criterion of correct speech and writing is classical Latinity. The effects of Valla’s strict standard on his own use of two key words ‘power’ and ‘nature’ are the topic of this essay, which shows how much the philosophical lexicon was changing during the Renaissance.


Michael J. B. Allen, Prometheus among the Florentines: Marsilio Ficino on the Myth of Triadic Power

Abstract. – This paper explores Marsilio Ficino’s several attempts over his scholarly career to engage the ancient myth of the Titan Prometheus as it appears in Plato’s works, and most notably in the Protagoras and the Philebus. Its collateral aim is to explore the notion of Neoplatonic commentary and its transformative philosophical and theological agenda, given that myth, theology, and philosophy inhabit for a Neoplatonist the same intellectual system. From being a supernumerary, a lesser Mercury or a mercurial daemon, Prometheus eventually became for the Renaissance Florentine the divine dialectician. It was his dialectical fire and his foreknowledge that enabled him to see the providential plan that a benevolent Olympian Jupiter had always had in mind for us and for the world, and to serve indeed as Jupiter’s beneficent messenger and intermediary rather than as a thief of heavenly fire. This Ficinian Titan reminds us of the peaks of contemplation that are ours to attain, if we avail ourselves of the supreme Platonic art or discipline that can initiate us into the nature of the Good itself. As such, he continued to play a role in Ficino’s evolving understanding of Neoplatonic method, and specifically of the centrality of its exfoliating metaphysical triads.


Nicola Panichi, «Fortis imaginatio generat casum». Montaigne e la ‘puissance de l’imagination’

Abstract. – A careful hermeneutics of the Essays allows us to comprehend the delicate balance and the subtle space between the boundaries of the puissance and impuissance of raison/imagination. If, on one hand, reason is weak, a «spoilsport », illusory, deceptive, which can know «rien du tout», on the other hand reason is the faculty that allows us to measure the tour de l’humaine capacité, to distinguish between the possible and the unusual, to open towards the future and alterity – while it continues to ignore how far possibility can go. The power of imagination is also the power of metamorphosis; it is the son of a nature which opens up to a thousand contrary forms of life, in its infinite production of multiplicity and vicissitude that only the religio dissimilitudinis allows. Along this path, pleasure and all other passions will also be able to emerge in their radical dimension, as intellectually sensitive and sensitively intellectual.


Emanuela Scribano, «Quod nescis quomodo fiat, id non facis». Occasionalism against Descartes?

Abstract. – Post-Cartesian Occasionalism argues that the power of causing an effect depends on knowledge of the means by which the effect is produced. The argument is used to deny finite beings the power to act. Arnold Geulincx expresses this thesis in the principle Quod nescis quomodo fiat id non facis. Here, my purpose is to show that:

1. The philosophical problem that is at the origin of the principle Quod nescis quomodo fiat id non facis originates in Galen’s De foetuum formatione, a work translated into Latin only in 1535.

 2. Important works of early modern philosophy, such as Campanella’s Del senso delle cose e della magia, discuss Galen’s text.

 3. Due to their rejection of teleology, Descartes’ physics and biology are completely foreign to the Quod nescis principle. Comparing the Cartesian theory of animal-machines with the theory of animal behavior of Pierre Chanet, a philosopher who adopts the principle, confirms this claim.

Testi e commenti

Anna Zago, Alcune glosse grammaticali nel Baldus dell’edizione Paganini

Abstract . – The first edition of Folengo’s Baldus (the so-called Paganini printed in 1517) presents a copious series of glosses, presumably composed by the author himself. The aim of this work is to collect and study the glosses dealing with grammatical subjects (e. g. lexicon, rhetorical figures, citations of classical texts) in order to reconstruct the most important elements of Folengo’s grammatical background. The glosses are divided into four groups: 1. ‘Vergilian’ glosses, 2. citations from ancient and modern auctoritates, 3. rhetorical glosses, 4. metrical glosses. A brief analysis of each group tries to identify the sources and solve exegetical problems, sometimes making comparisons with the glosses of the following edition of the poem (the so-called Toscolanense printed in 1521).

Note e varietà

Annalisa Ceron, Chi sono gli amici del principe? l’amicizia in quattro specula principum del xv secolo

Abstract . – By claiming that a good prince must not rely on friendship, Machiavelli marked a breaking point within the humanistic tradition of specula principum. This essay takes into account four handbook for prince written in XV century: De institutione regiminis dignitatum by Giovanni Tinto Vicini from Fabriano, De principe by Giovanni Pontano, De Principe by Bartolomeo Platina, and De regno by Francesco Patrizi from Siena. This humanists showed why a good prince needs friends. As Petrarch in De republica adminsitranda, they used the Aristotelian and Ciceronian language of friendship in order to describe who can help a good ruler to get in and exert power: the friends of the prince are his advisers, secretaries, supporters, and followers. In humanistic specula principum the choice of government élite went under the name of friendship. Since men devoted to studia humanitatis were the best friends of the best prince, the personal dimension of power came to light along with the idea that power is justified when combined with knowledge.


James G. Snyder, The Pregnancy of Matter: Marsilio Ficino on Natural Change «From Within» Matter

Abstract. – This article examines the theory of natural change found in Marsilio Ficino’s Platonic Theology. It argues that Ficino holds a distinctive theory of natural change as originating «from within» matter and body. He describes matter as a bosom or womb that is pregnant with form, and in this way he assigns a prominent position to matter in the coming to be of material things. Ficino’s view is contrasted with what is called the «standard Scholastic account» of change according to which natural changes are impressed upon an otherwise passive material substrate. Finally, this article considers the ways in which Ficino’s theory of natural change is consistent with some of his other commitments concerning the metaphysics of matter.


Amos Edelheit, On Evil, God, and Human Freedom. A Scholastic Portrait of Florence, June 1489

Abstract. – This article is focused on the two written accounts of a public dispute on the problem of evil which took place in Florence in June 1489. After considering the intellectual context of this dispute, I shall present a detailed analysis of some of the arguments in this dispute, showing its importance as a combination between a formal academic quaestio disputata in a religious ceremony and a non-formal convivium in a Renaissance city-state. We shall see how, in the heat of the dispute, the disputants sometimes tend to take more extreme positions, and consider the implications of such positions to moral theology, moral psychology, and ethics between the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period.


Stefano Prandi, Tradizione umanistica e dissidenza religiosa nella prima metà del Cinquecento: il dialogo ciceroniano e lucianeo

Abstract. – This study aims to explore by which ways and forms the XVth century Literary Dialogue contributed to spread subjects related to religious dissent; in particular, the study considers the two most victorious typologies of the Dialogue, the Ciceronian one and the Lucianean one. The Ciceronian typology bequeaths above all the diatribic form, in acknowledgement of the antidogmatic disposition Humanistic culture is biased towards and many heterodoxes, mostly Italian, conform to. The Lucianean typology, though strongly widespread, presents a many-sided situation, since it ramifies in several thematic guiding lines such as the dialogi mortuorum, the satiric funeral, the ecstatic vision: all themes Erasmus of Rotterdam will deal with. In particular, all these traditions will be encompassed by Celio Secondo Curione, who will regain the «pasquinata» as an instrument of religious disputation: in particular, the study explores the admirable publishing enterprise represented by the Pasquillorum tomi duo (1544), which epitomizes the humanistic and transalpine anticurial tradition, in verse and in prose, and ends with the very successfull Pasquillus ecstacticus.


Théa Stella Picquet, Le texte entre chronique et Histoire: Benedetto Varchi, Storia fiorentina, Livre XV, 1-6

Abstract. – In this article we are going to show how Benedetto Varchi, in the 15th book of his History of Florence, moves from History to chronicle. In this purpose, after defining both terms and introducing the author and his work, we shall focus on the historical figures and events, particularly on the murder of Lorenzino de Medici, de Musset’s Lorenzaccio. Finally, we shall try to set Varchi’s work between chronicle and History.


Alfonso Musci, Giorgio Vasari: «cerca trova». La storia dietro il dipinto

Abstract. – The most fascinating clue about the existence of Leonardo’s lost work, the Battaglia di Anghiari in the ‘Salone dei Cinquecento’ in Florence, is a small green flag with the inscription «Cerca trova» («Seek and you shall find») painted by Giorgio Vasari in his Battaglia di Marciano, in the right panel of the east wall in the ‘Salone’. According to some researchers, the inscription is an evidence that Vasari would have sealed Leonardo’s work under the wall. On the contrary the present study, conducted using iconological method, demonstrates that the flag and the inscription are only a reference to the Firenze’s war against Siena. The historical evidence collected shed new light on the relationship between the republican banker and maecenas Bindo Altoviti and Giorgio Vasari and the ancient iconographic tradition of florentina libertas.


Ilario Manfredini, La rappresentazione del potere a Torino e Firenze nella seconda metà del Cinquecento

Abstract. – In the second half of the sixteenth century, Italian courts demonstrated their power through literature and frescos. The Medici and Savoy families planned a politic of prestige marked by reconstruction of the origin of the family, with particular attention at the antiquity and the invention of tradition. Emanuele Filiberto exaggerated the origin of his family through the ties with Beroldo of Saxony, grandson of the emperor Otto II, while Cosimo I appears like a new Augustus, able to build the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. The Savoys presented themselves as princes of the Empire at the service of the Catholic religion, especially in the literary works of Filiberto Pingone and Giovanni Botero. The Medicis utilized the ability of Vincenzio Borghini and Giorgio Vasari to celebrate their past and the qualities of Cosimo I, visible in figurative cycles in the Palazzo Vecchio. The Medicis and the Savoys were protagonists in the struggle for precedence in relation to the empire that over the years had interesting solutions which went on to have a profound effect on the ceremonial and historic representation of the respective families providing a new possibility to investigate the power of painting seen as propaganda in the hands of Italian and European dynasties.


Henning Hufnagel, Verità ed evidenza. Forme e funzioni del dialogo nelle opere italiane di Giordano Bruno

Abstract. – Bruno’s six Italian dialogues stand out as eccentric in the tradition of the Renaissance dialogue. They mark one of its closing points, as they seem to realise and at the same time transcend all the possibilities of the genre. In the following essay, I describe and define the forms and modes of structural complexity that characterize Bruno’s texts. In a second part, I argue that Bruno’s experiments with the genre serve an argumentative purpose. I show how Bruno, by hybridising genres and discourses, ‘performatizes’ his argumentation: He develops strategies to confer scenic evidence to claims in order to make the truth of a philosophical position immediately clear. In my third part, I correlate this way of argumentation with the epistemological revolution which begins around 1600 and finally leads to the advent of a modern concept of science. I demonstrate how Bruno transforms the genre of the dialogue – the paradigmatic vehicle of the relativistic and probabilistic epistemology of Humanism – in order to adapt it to his claims of absolute truth. So the end of the tradition of the Renaissance dialogue, as manifest in Bruno’s texts, also seems to indicate the end of an epistemological configuration.

Laura Fedi, Nota su Bouwsma e Garin

Abstract. – From a collection of papers and books once owned by Eugenio Garin, now held in the Library of the Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento, emerge two notes written in the autumn 1959 by the 35 year-old William James Bouwsma to the Italian scholar, and two brief works by the American historian: a pamphlet, also dated 1959, in which he presents to the American audience Hans Baron and Garin’s ‘Civic Humanism’ as an advanced position in Renaissance studies; and an extract of Bouwsma speech as president of the American Historical Association for its 1978 annual meeting. These papers deal with an encounter that perhaps never took place – between Bouwsma and Garin – when an idea of the Renaissance and the modern epoch began circulating among the American historians, an idea which will reach its critical point twenty years later.

Indice dei manoscritti 331
Indice dei nomi 333