Potestas essendi

Welcome to potestas essendi. If you wanted to know more about philosophical intricacies concerning nature and its fading hylomorphic roots as they were envisioned by medieval thinkers and practitioners, this is the right website. You will find here contents of different nature and scope, following the development of my research interests over time. Most of it is related to the tension between metaphysics and physics in the Middle Ages. This is a reflection of my research on how a structural tension between the metaphysical notion of prime matter and the physical concept of matter as materiality marked the evolution of philosophy (and indirectly science) throughout the Middle Ages and the beginning of Early Modernity.

First, let me introduce myself.


Nicola Polloni
Senior Research Fellow
at KU Leuven (BE)

Nicola Polloni

I’m Nicola Polloni, the editor of potestas essendi. Hence, you will find a lot of information about me in this website. I work on medieval philosophy and science, more specifically on the ontological constitution (why a thing is what it is) of the natural world (all sort of bodies, from squirrels to rocks, and their constituents). Even more specifically, I work on hylomorphism, a theory claiming that all bodies are made of matter and form and which was the main framework of premodern natural philosophy and science. You will find much more about this in the website.

I come originally from Siena, on the Tuscan hills. Yet I had to travel a lot. I have studied in Pavia (IT) and Barcelona (ES). Then, I have moved to Durham (UK), Berlin (DE), and now I am working at KU Leuven, in Belgium. And I am sure that, like it or not, the journey is not going to stop anytime soon.

While I work on medieval philosophy, I am delighted to say that my interests are not limited to this branch of philosophy – or to philosophy as such. They extend from communication science (how communication happens) to Chinese culture (I am currently learning this beautiful language). I am also involved in collaborations with artists and scientists (the Extensions Project). And more broadly, I am a vocal advocate for an equitable, inclusive, global society that has to be nurtured by all of us actively and relentlessly.


You will find here…

More info about my research and activities

Some sections of the website are dedicated to presenting my research at KU Leuven and my previous research at HU Berlin, Durham, and Pavia. You can also find my detailed and updated curriculum vitae with loads of links and info.

All my research outputs – starting with my publications

The results of my research are all available in a dedicated section of the website, where you can find detailed information and download most of my papers.

Loads of materials on medieval philosophy and science

Different sections of the website include materials of different sort. The prime matter library contains selected primary sources on theories of matter. The discussion session gives access to all meetings I have organised (conferences, reading groups, course, and so on) with their own materials and coordinates.

Loads of videos on premodern philosophy and science

The website gives access to a wide selection of videos about medieval science and philosophy. Some of them are recordings of conferences I have organised or seminars I have given. Other videos are expressively dedicated to topics related to medieval ontology and the natural world.

Updates, reflections, and memories

The blog section of this website provides regular updates and news on activities (mine and others), new publications, and so on. There is also a section dedicated to mapping the journey through academia (as Laozi said, “A good traveller has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving”) with less serious and more intimate updates. Another section is dedicated to my own reflections on academia and society, in a sort of reflective journal that I decided to share.