Potestas essendi

History displays our common roots, and philosophy, our common understanding. Together, they show how the thousand years compositing the ‘Middle Ages’ were not a period of darkness and obscurantism: medieval people were not scared of lighting and they did not think that any inexplicable thing was a miracle. They were not locked up in their small cities, fearing the end of the world, nor were they in a perennial struggle against the ‘other’ – a different religion, culture, approach. To the contrary, those societies were often marked by a remarkable openness, a curiosity and a need to understand that superseded religious, cultural, and political boundaries in that struggle for knowledge that characterises human being from the very beginning of civilisation.

Scholars, too, sometimes tend to simplify. Science does not start in the seventeenth century, but its roots are grounded deep in the history of our civilisation. Philosophy must not be reduced to history, but it cannot (and shall not) be de-contextualised or de-historicised in its analysis.  Moreover, bearing in mind Francis Bacon’s famous metaphor for which time is like a river which carried down to us what is light and blown up, while it sunk and drowned what is heavy and solid, we should always consider that that river carried hundreds of authors and works of different weight, without reducing the scope of our understanding to the major author or discipline.

In my own very small way, the contents in this webpage are aimed at furnishing both specialised and popularised material for the problematisation of these features. Here also lay the reasons of such a weird title for the webpage: potestas essendi. The power of being: the ontological precariousness which is subject to the most complete and creative freedom, when potentiality (potentia) becomes possibility (possibilitas), and possibility becomes power of becoming every existing thing (potestas). I hope the seeds of thoughts and doubts disseminated in this page will become something valuable, and be helpful to the widest public of academics and non-specialised people. I look forward to hearing any remark or question you might possibly have.

Nicola Polloni