Philosophers of the Renaissance

Philosophers of the Renaissance

Edited by Paul Richard Blum
Copyright Date: 2010
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  • Book Info
    Philosophers of the Renaissance
    Book Description:

    Philosophers of the Renaissance introduces readers to philosophical thinking from the end of the Middle Ages through the sixteenth century.

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1807-6
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-x)
    (pp. 1-11)
    Paul Richard Blum

    Any volume of portraits of Renaissance philosophers invites comparison with Paul Oskar Kristeller’s book Eight Philosophers of the Renaissance, which was published in 1964. The genre and the genesis of the present book are different (Kristeller’s text was originally delivered as lectures), but its intention is in fact the same: to give readers a comprehensible introduction to the philosophy of the Renaissance by presenting in chronological order a series of writers, including writers who worked outside Italy. Specialists present “their” author in the appropriate style. The present introduction seeks to weave these monographs together to illustrate the picture of Renaissance...

  4. 1 RAMON LULL (1232–1316): The Activity of God and the Hominization of the World
    (pp. 12-22)
    Charles Lohr

    In the last years of the eleventh century and the first years of the twelfth, there appeared in the western regions bordering on Islam—in Catalonia and southern France, and in the kingdoms of Toledo and Sicily—a new conception of knowledge and of reality which were the inception of a fundamentally new period in Western intellectual history. The material basis for this was provided by the trade and commercial activities that flourished in the Mediterranean area. The spirit that inspired this new conception was the rare spirit of openness and tolerance, born of the contact between the three great...

  5. 2 GEORGE GEMISTOS PLETHON (CA. 1360–1454), GEORGE OF TREBIZOND (1396–1472), AND CARDINAL BESSARION (1403–1472) The Controversy between Platonists and Aristotelians in the Fifteenth Century
    (pp. 23-32)
    Peter Schulz

    Marsilio Ficino completed his translation of Plato’s works for the Platonic Academy in Florence in 1477. This Latinization was preceded by a lengthy phase of reception of the Greek philosopher. Apart from the Latin translation of the Timaeus, which was already available in the Middle Ages, the following Platonic dialogues were known: Phaedo, Gorgias, Crito, the Symposium, and the Apology, as well as the Letters, which the poet Leonardo Bruni had translated at the beginning of the fifteenth century. However, these translations were very free and frequently distorted the meaning of the original text. Accordingly, Cardinal Bessarion could assert at...

  6. 3 LORENZO VALLA (1406/7–1457): Humanism as Philosophy
    (pp. 33-42)
    Paul Richard Blum

    Lorenzo Valla (1406/7–1457) was born in Rome and studied under humanists such as Leonardo Bruni. As a young man, he worked in northern Italy, where his principal post was as professor of rhetoric in Pavia from 1429. After trying unsuccessfully to become papal secretary or to get support of some other kind from Popes Martin V and Eugene IV, he entered the service of Alfonso of Aragon, king of Sicily and Naples, who was embroiled in a political conflict with the pope, in 1433. In 1447, Nicholas V finally summoned Valla to Rome, where he taught rhetoric from 1455....

  7. 4 NICHOLAS OF CUSA (1401–1464): Squaring the Circle: Politics, Piety, and Rationality
    (pp. 43-56)
    Detlef Thiel

    It is certainly possible to draw a distinction between what Nicholas of Cusa (Nicolaus Cusanus) was and what he is: what he was in the apparently so distant epoch of the fifteenth century in Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands, and what he means for us today and for the future. Both cases involve conjectures, more or less speculative sketches or (re-)constructions.

    It is not easy to say briefly what he was: a churchman, a curial cardinal, a politician and organizer in the service of the Roman church, a pastor and a reformer two generations before Luther—a practical man. At...

  8. 5 LEON BATTISTA ALBERTI (1404–1472): Philosophy of Private and Public Life and of Art
    (pp. 57-68)
    Michaela Boenke

    Battista Alberti, who later added “Leon” to his name, was born in Genoa on February 14, 1404, during the exile of the Alberti family, and grew up in northern Italy. After a humanistic education and the study of classics under the celebrated humanist Gasparino Barzizza in Padua (1415–1418), Alberti began the study of canon law in Bologna, where he took his doctorate in 1428; he also studied mathematics, physics, and optics. Initially, he made a name for himself as a writer. He wrote his first literary work, the Philodoxeus fabula, circa 1424 and published it as the work of...

  9. 6 GIOVANNI PICO DELLA MIRANDOLA (1463–1494): The Synthetic Reconciliation of All Philosophies
    (pp. 69-81)
    Stéphane Toussaint

    Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, prince and philosopher, was celebrated for the rare coincidence of his intellectual and physical beauty as the “Phoenix,”¹ that is, an emblematic and unique talent in the philosophical landscape of the fifteenth century. He was born on February 24, 1463, in the ancient fief of Mirandola and Concordia in northern Italy, the son of the knight Gianfrancesco I (who died soon afterward) and the learned noblewoman Giulia Boiardo, whose nephew wrote the Orlando Innamorato. According to one tradition, a sudden flash of lightning surrounded his mother during her pregnancy, presaging a great fate for the child,...

  10. 7 MARSILIO FICINO (1433–1499): The Aesthetic of the One in the Soul
    (pp. 82-91)
    Tamara Albertini

    Marsilio Ficino was born in Figline Valdarno in 1433. Through his father Diotifeci, who was the personal physician of Cosimo de’ Medici, he came as an adolescent into contact with the Medicean circle. His early years were marked by the political rivalries that dominated Florence at that period, and it is probably in this context that we should read the Italian translation of Dante’s De monarchia which he made in 1468, since the dedication to Bernardo del Nero and Antonio Manetti mentions previous discussions about similar topics. Ficino followed his father’s wish and studied medicine. At an early age, he...

  11. 8 PIETRO POMPONAZZI (1462–1525): Secular Aristotelianism in the Renaissance
    (pp. 92-115)
    Jill Kraye

    Pietro Pomponazzi was one of the most important and influential Aristotelian philosophers of the Renaissance. Working within a philosophical tradition whose central themes, methods, and terminology had been established in the thirteenth century, Pomponazzi nevertheless managed to challenge received opinion and to put forward bold and innovative ideas.

    In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, a substantial increase in the number of Aristotelian treatises available in Latin translation prepared the way for these works to become the basis of the philosophy curriculum in European universities. During the course of the thirteenth century, above all at the University of Paris, two contrasting...

  12. 9 NICCOLÒ MACCHIAVELLI (1469–1527): A Good State for Bad People
    (pp. 116-123)
    Heinrich C. Kuhn

    Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527) was for many years employed in the administration of the commonwealth of Florence and was later dismissed.¹ He was a military theoretician, the author of accounts of political travels, a dramatist, and a man of letters who even today is celebrated for the lucidity of his prose style.² His works contain so many contradictions, startling leaps of thought, inconsistencies, and obscure passages that a conclusive interpretation has proved impossible up to the present day and will most likely continue to do so in the future. He offers his readers much that is extraordinary. The secondary literature...

  13. 10 AGRIPPA VON NETTESHEIM (1486–1535): Philosophical Magic, Empiricism, and Skepticism
    (pp. 124-132)
    Wolf-Dieter Müller-Jahncke and Paul Richard Blum

    Agrippa von Nettesheim, whose real name was Heinrich Cornelius, was born in Cologne on September 14, 1486. He began his studies in Cologne in 1499 and left the university in 1502 as master of arts. Apart from a period in Paris, his whereabouts are unknown until 1507. In 1509 he lectured at the University of Dôle on Johannes Reuchlin’s De verbo mirifico, but the clergy had him expelled; Agrippa complains about this in several of his writings (Opera 2.492–501). After staying with John Colet in London, Agrippa went to Italy on military business in 1511, and was knighted there...

  14. 11 JUAN LUIS VIVES (1492/93–1540): A Pious Eclectic
    (pp. 133-147)
    D. C. Andersson

    Juan Luis Vives was born on March 6, 1492 (or 1493), in Valencia, Spain.¹ His parents were clothmakers and Jewish converts to Christianity. He left the country of his birth in 1509, partly due to the increasing vigor with which the Inquisition, who had arrived in that part of Spain only a few years earlier, pursued their anti-Semitic policies. He was never to return to Spain. Moving first to France, he attended the University of Paris, which had a high reputation for the speculative disciplines (philosophy and theology) of the late medieval curriculum. Despite this, he was later to decry...

  15. 12 PHILIPP MELANCHTHON (1497–1560): Reformer and Philosopher
    (pp. 148-162)
    Günter Frank

    Whether Philipp Melanchthon is indeed one of the Renaissance philosophers and should be acknowledged as such depends on the answer to a number of complex problems which can give rise to controversial discussions. One may legitimately ask whether this humanist and scholar of the Reformation should be classified under the philosophy of the Renaissance; but this depends decisively on whether one recognizes his thinking as “philosophical” at all. After all, Melanchthon’s thinking is concerned essentially with the truth of a Christian doctrine which consciously concentrates, in the context of the history of salvation, on the theology of the cross and...

  16. 13 PETRUS RAMUS (1515–1572): Method and Reform
    (pp. 163-167)
    Sachiko Kusukawa

    The significance of Ramus’s thought is a much debated issue, partly because of the complex and evolving nature of his thought, and more importantly because of the heterogeneity of the claims made by those who purported to follow him. It is thus important to assess Ramus’s reputation as well as his thought.¹

    Ramus was born in Cuts, Vermandois, in 1515 and entered the Collège of Navarre, University of Paris, in 1527. There he first gained public notoriety in 1536 when he defended a master’s thesis that claimed whatever Aristotle taught is wrong (“Quaecumque ab Aristotele dicta essent, commentitia esse”), but...

  17. 14 BERNARDINO TELESIO (1509–1588): New Fundamental Principles of Nature
    (pp. 168-180)
    Cees Leijenhorst

    Bernardino Telesio was born into an aristocratic family in Cosenza, in Calabria in southern Italy, in 1509.¹ In 1517, he moved to Milan, where his uncle, the humanist Antonio Telesio, was his first teacher. In 1527, he followed his uncle initially to Venice; subsequently, he studied natural philosophy, astronomy, and mathematics at the celebrated University of Padua. He did not, however, set out upon an academic career.² Clearly dissatisfied with the academic formation he had received up to that point—above all with the Aristotelian philosophy, which “contradicts the facts perceptible to the senses, its own self, and the Christian...

  18. 15 JACOPO ZABARELLA (1533–1589): The Structure and Method of Scientific Knowledge
    (pp. 181-191)
    Heikki Mikkeli

    Jacopo Zabarella, the eldest son of Count Giulio Zabarella, was born on September 5, 1533, in Padua, and died in the same city at the age of fifty-six, on October 15, 1589. He studied the humanistic disciplines, logic, natural philosophy, and mathematics at the university in his home town, and was awarded the degree of doctor in 1553. He spent his entire career at this university, and was appointed to the first chair of logic in 1564. In 1568 Zabarella was appointed to the second chair in the extraordinary Department of Natural Philosophy; in 1577 he was appointed to the...

  19. 16 MICHEL DE MONTAIGNE (1533–1592) Philosophy as the Search for Self-Identity
    (pp. 192-204)
    Reto Luzius Fetz

    Michel de Montaigne was born in 1533 in the castle of Montaigne, about sixty kilometers inland from the French port of Bordeaux.¹ He came from a bourgeois family of merchants who had entered the ranks of the aristocracy when they bought this castle. His father took part in the French campaigns in Italy and returned as an enthusiastic humanist and devotee of the Renaissance. In order that his son might learn the language of ancient Rome as his mother tongue, so to speak, he employed a German tutor who was to speak only Latin with the child. At the age...

  20. 17 FRANCESCO PATRIZI (1529–1597): New Philosophies of History Poetry, and the World
    (pp. 205-218)
    Thomas Leinkauf

    Francesco Patrizi was born in 1529 on the Dalmatian island of Cherso and died in Rome in 1597. In his youth, he traveled extensively with his uncle in the Mediterranean area. After attending school in Ingolstadt, he began his studies in 1547 in Padua, the stronghold of the humanistic interpretation of Aristotle. Initially, he studied medicine, and made the acquaintance of leading teachers of the Paduan Aristotelianism such as Bernardo Tomitano (1517–1576), the teacher of Jacopo Zabarella, and Francesco Robortello (1516–1567), a specialist in the discussion of the Poetics (LO 47). In 1551 Patrizi began studying philosophy. A...

  21. 18 GIORDANO BRUNO (1548–1600): Clarifying the Shadows of Ideas
    (pp. 219-235)
    Eugenio Canone

    Filippo Bruno (who later took the religious name Giordano) was born in January or February 1548 in San Giovanni del Cesco near Nola in the kingdom of Naples. His father, Giovanni Bruno, was a military man. Filippo probably began his studies in Naples in 1562 (Firpo 1993, cited as “Proc.”; Proc. 156). The courses he attended at the Studio publico included the lectures on logic by Giovan Vincenzo Colle, known as “Sarnese,” and the private lectures of Teofilo da Vairano, an Augustinian priest whom Bruno calls his “most important teacher in philosophy” (Spampanato, cited as “Doc”; Doc. 40). Sarnese’s Averroist,...

  22. 19 FRANCISCO SUÁREZ (1548–1617): Scholasticism after Humanism
    (pp. 236-255)
    Emmanuel J. Bauer

    Sixteenth-century Spain was a land of stark antitheses, where cosmopolitan attitudes and a sense of new beginnings, on the one hand, clashed with the state Inquisition and a rigid, narrowminded distrust of all that was new, on the other hand. After the completion of the Reconquista, a nonchalant spirit of conquest became widespread in economic and political affairs as well as in the intellectual-cultural and religious spheres. The Iberian peninsula remained largely untouched by the upheavals of the Reformation, and became the “native land” of the Catholic renewal after the Council of Trent. In keeping with the humanist maxim ad...

  23. 20 TOMMASO CAMPANELLA (1568–1639): The Revolution of Knowledge from the Prison
    (pp. 256-274)
    Germana Ernst

    Campanella’s first work, the Philosophia sensibus demonstrata, was published in Naples in 1591.¹ This large tome consists of eight disputationes in defense of the natural philosophy of Bernardino Telesio, in response to the attack by the lawyer Giacomo Antonio Marta, who had defended Aristotle. Campanella wrote this work at the age of twenty-one, in the Dominican convent in a little town in Calabria, his native region, which at that period belonged to the viceroyalty of Naples and was under Spanish rule. He was born on September 5, 1568, in the village of Stilo. His family was very poor; his father...

    (pp. 275-308)
    (pp. 309-312)
  26. INDEX
    (pp. 313-324)
  27. Back Matter
    (pp. 325-327)