Roger Bacon on Translations

I have just uploaded to YouTube the first video of a new series that I have been willing to start since last year, titled “Research Highlights Made Easy”. Its first video is dedicated to a chapter on Roger Bacon’s criticism of medieval translations that I have published in a volume edited by Lydia Schumacher (exact reference is given in the video).

The series will include short videos in which I explain the main points of my recent publications and papers in a way understandable and relatable to a non-specialised audience. As you know, I believe that outreach is a fundamental part of our work although also one of the most neglected, I will do my best to make new videos for all my main papers – at least those who can speak to a different audience which happens to be the “real world” out there.

On the way to Cluj

Elena Baltuta kindly invited me to give a lecture at the Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj. It is going to be my first trip to Romania and I could not be more excited. Moreover, I am going discuss an author that is relatively new to me, Giacomo Zabarella (even though I am going to analyse an issue that I know fairly well: the conceivability problem about prime matter). Much fun ahead!

Marie Curie Fellowship in Porto!

This 2023 promises to be wild: it’s almost May already and the past months have run away like if they were weeks. The long trip to Israel in January, the brief (yet outstanding) visit to Helsinki in February, and the preparations for a crazy spring of conferences around Europe made it impossible for me to take care of Potestas Essendi and even share some good news. Indeed, I got some awesome news that definitely need to be shared (and duly celebrated, too).

On 13 February, I was informed that I had been awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship in Porto! News of this caught me by surprise (with European application you never know) and disrupted all my plans, yet in a delightful way. I will be moving to Porto in the autumn to join the splendid Institute of Philosophy at FLUP.

The project is titled Hylomorphism in a Globalising World: Scholastic Debates on the Ontology of Nature Across Europe, China, and New Spain. It also comes with a nice acronym: HYLOGLOB. Implementing it will be a lot of fun and I am so excited to finally focus all my attention (or most of it) on second scholasticism and comparative ontology. There will be many challenges, both practical and theoretical: I am very well aware of this but I do love challenges and this makes me even more excited. You can find more details about HYLOGLOB on the project webpage that I have created.

Let me express my most sincere gratitude to José Meirinhos for having supported this project, and to Jacob Schmutz and Thierry Meynard for the huge help they gave me during the elaboration project (and also for having accepted to host me during HYLOGLOB’s two secondments in Louvain-la-Neuve and Guangzhou).

Given the tight schedule of the project implementation, I have already started to plan some of the events for 2023 and 2024. More details will be available soon.

Divergent Scholasticism 6

2 December 2022

4 pm (Brussels) | noon (Santiago del Chile)

Sylvain RoudautPedro da Fonseca’s Theory of Modes: Its Sources and Influence

Mário João CorreiaPedro Luis (1538-1602): A Forgotten Advocate of scientia media

Simone GuidiThe Angelic Knowledge of the Future Singulars: Suárez and Poinsot

More info

Divergent Scholasticism 5

24 November 2022

4 pm (Brussels) | noon (Santiago del Chile)

Jacob SchmutzSeeing Clearly in a Confused Environment: Carmelite Philosophers in the Amazonian Forest

Guido AltLogical Form and Consequence: John Mair and Domingo de Soto

Miroslav HankeTermini naturales and Libelli sophistarum. British Physics Textbooks from around 1500

More info

Divergent Scholasticism 4

7 October 2022

4 pm (Brussels) | 11 am (Santiago del Chile)

Manuel Lázaro PulidoLas razones del compartir. Fundamentos teológicos y filosóficos de la transmisión de conocimiento de los franciscanos a América

Carlos Arturo AriasDictados sobre la justicia y el derecho: aulas y manuscritos neogranadinos

Milko Pretell GarcíaLogica Scholastica Barroca Peruviana: La recepción de la lógica y su desarrollo en la Academia limensis

More info

From Toledo to Gotha (CFA)

Call for Abstracts

From Toledo to Gotha: New Perspectives on the Impact of Avicenna upon Sciences and Philosophy in Europe

Louvain, 14-15 October 2022

Avicenna’s contributions have been pivotal for the development of knowledge in pre-modern Europe. Since the 12th century, his philosophical works had been made available in Latin and used to investigate metaphysical and natural problems, better understand Aristotle’s sometimes obscure doctrines, assimilate the reflections of thinkers like Alexander of Aphrodisias, but also to train generations of physicians to treat illnesses and grasp the fundamentals of embryology and the fabric of the human body. By focusing on the multilayered transfer of Avicenna’s theories to the Latin West, from the times of Domenicus Gundisalvi to the Europe of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz and of the newly founded Academies of Sciences, From Toledo to Gotha aims to gather some of the most innovative researchers working on aspects of the “Avicenna Latinus”. What is the nature and precise extent of Avicenna’s impact on European thought? Is it possible to isolate a specific Latin “brand” of Ibn Sina’s thought distinct from and defined against its original, “Arabic” contents and system? Is it accurate to consider that – as it has been commonly written – the main Islamicate authority in Europe was Averroes instead of Avicenna? How deep Renaissance Avicennism reshaped the Platonic and Aristotelian legacies? Which are the characteristic features of the material transmission, translation, circulation, and reading of Avicenna’s (and Ps-Avicenna’s) writings throughout Europe on the eve of the Scientific Revolution?

A joint collaboration among KU Leuven, UCLouvain, and SOFIME, the conference will foster a general re-setting of the debate on the “Avicenna Latinus”, shedding light on some obscure aspects of his influence on European philosophy through an organic, longue-durée and inter-linguistic approach to his philosophical production. Avicenna’s role in the constitution of European philosophy and science will be examined by discussing a series of intertwined questions touching upon a plurality of domains and aspects, from the material production and circulation of the Latin translations of Avicenna’s works to the impact of the latter on philosophical doctrines and medical practices developed in Europe.

Keynote speakers

Brian Copenhaver (UCLA), Amos Bertolacci (Scuola IMT Alti Studi Lucca), Iolanda Ventura (University of Bologna), Raphaela Veit (University of Cologne).


Cécile Bonmariage (UCLouvain), Sébastien Moureau (UCLouvain), Nicola Polloni (KU Leuven), Andrea Aldo Robiglio (KU Leuven).

Sponsoring Institutions

Sociedad de Filosofía Medieval (SOFIME), KU Leuven, UCLouvain, FWO (to be confirmed), FNRS (to be confirmed)


In order to apply, please, send your abstract (around 250 words) to the following email address: Feel free to contact the organisers for any further information. Pending funding, there may be possibilities to cover some of the participants’ expenses. More information will be provided soon.


All speakers will be asked to submit their papers to publication in a peer-reviewed volume that will be edited soon after the conference.

Download the CFP

Fragmented Nature

Fragmented Nature: Medieval Latinate Reasoning on the Natural World and Its Order. Edited by Mattia Cipriani and Nicola Polloni. London: Routledge, 2022.

The Latin Middle Ages were characterised by a vast array of different representations of nature. These conceptualisations of the natural world were developed according to the specific requirements of many different disciplines, with the consequent result of producing a fragmentation of images of nature. Despite this plurality, two main tendencies emerged. On the one hand, the natural world was seen as a reflection of God’s perfection, teleologically ordered and structurally harmonious. On the other, it was also considered as a degraded version of the spiritual realm – a world of impeccable ideas, separate substances, and celestial movers.

This book focuses on this tension between order and randomness, and idealisation and reality of nature in the Middle Ages. It provides a cutting-edge profile of the doctrinal and semantic richness of the medieval idea of nature, and also illustrates the structural interconnection among learned and scientific disciplines in the medieval period, stressing the fundamental bond linking together science and philosophy, on the one hand, and philosophy and theology, on the other.

This book will appeal to scholars and students alike interested in Medieval European History, Theology, Philosophy, and Science.

more info

GPHNP: Our new book series

It is with immense delight that I can finally share the news with you: our proposal for a new book series on global natural philosophy has been formally approved by Routledge! The project has been on the making for some time and now, well, it’s official! The series is titled Global Perspectives on the History of Natural Philosophy and the three series editors are Yael Kedar, Cecilia Panti, and myself (a very effective trio, as it has been repeatedly proved). GPHNP’s editorial committee includes some of the best scholars in the field. Together, we will boldly go where no books series has gone before: to explore the intertwining of philosophy and nature, metaphysics and physics, theories and practices with an open, global, all-encompassing, and non-Eurocentric approach. More info on the way.

Fostering a new approach to the study of the history of natural philosophy this series aims to expand the discussion on natural philosophy cross-culturally and comparatively by focusing on the philosophical reasoning about nature developed particularly, but not exclusively, in three main cultural settings: Europe, the Middle East, and China. One of the main focal points of Global Perspectives on the History of Natural Philosophy is the interplay between philosophical and scientific concepts, stances, and problems arising from the premodern consideration of nature, broadly considered. Accordingly, the series provides a cutting-edge framework in which natural philosophy can be considered from new philosophically meaningful angles. Acknowledging the historical interweaving of philosophy and science of nature, the series publishes monographs and edited volumes dealing with the history of natural philosophy from three methodological perspectives: philosophical analysis, historical reconstruction, and comparative studies. Submitted manuscripts may either examine authors and issues from a specific philosophical tradition or engage comparatively with patterns and problems shared by different cultural settings.

Publisher: Routledge

Series editors: Yael Kedar (Tel Hai College), Cecilia Panti (University of Rome “Tor Vergata”), and Nicola Polloni (KU Leuven)

Editorial committee: Veronique Decaix (University of Paris), Shixiang Jin (University of Science and Technology of Beijing), Andreas Lammer (Radboud University), Matteo Martelli (University of Bologna), Cecilia Trifogli (University of Oxford), Linwei Wang (Wuhan University).

Divergent Scholasticism 3

27 May 2022

4 pm (Brussels) | 10 am (Santiago del Chile)

Francisco Castilla UrbanoLa revisión gnoseológica del escolasticismo por el jesuita José de Acosta

Álvaro OjalvoLa circulación del cuerpo masculino hispano e indígena entre los saberes médicos, teológicos y jurídicos (España y América, siglos XVI y XVII)

Roberto MarconiLibertad académica y tradición en filosofía: Miguel de Viñas S.J., filósofo en Chile del siglo XVIII

More info

Divergent Scholasticism 2

21 April 2022

4 pm (Brussels) | 10 am (Santiago del Chile)

Virginia Aspe ArmellaLa fundación de la Real Universidad de México: su currículo y análisis de un caso

Germán Morong, Flemáticos y sanguíneos; los indios y la circulación del saber médico en la Historia del Nuevo Mundo de Bernabé Cobo (1651)

Mario Carvalho, How Divergent Was Latin-American Scholasticism? A still unanswerable question. Brazil, and Maranhão as a Methodological Case-Study

More info

TES9: Hylomorphism East and West

18 March 2022, 12 pm (noon) CET

Thierry Meynard, ‘For them, all is made of matter or Qi!’ Introducing Aristotle Against Chinese Materialistic Monism

Anna Strob, An Investigation Into the Material Composition of the World: Alfonso Vagnone’s Kongji gezhi 空際格致 (c. 1633)

Roberto Pich, On the Conditions of Possibility of World Experience: Accounts on Prime Matter, Form, and the Principles of Change by three South American masters of arts

chaired by Mário Carvalho

More info

Divergent Scholasticism 1

11 March 2022
Opening keynote session

4 pm (Brussels) | 12 noon (Santiago del Chile)

Erik ÅkerlundThe King’s Power and the Power of the People: On a Conundrum in Suarez’s Political Philosophy

Anna TropiaSeeking for Jesuit Psychology: Mapping Manuscripts and Common Places from the College de Clermont (1564-1580)

Roberto Hofmeister PichThe Teaching of Logic in Latin American Scholasticism: Jeronimo Valera O.F.M. (1568-1625) and the Logic ad mentem Scoti

More info

CFA: Iberica Philosophica Mediaevalia

~ Call for Applications ~ 

Editorial Committee | Comité editorial
Iberica Philosophica Mediaevalia

After almost five year and 56 monthly issues of Iberica Philosophica Medievalia, it is time for a change. Many colleagues have expressed their frustration concerning the lack of space for real discussion in the means of communication that we currently have. Academic journals are unable to host reflective accounts of what is going on in the field or methodological thoughts about what we are doing and how to improve it. Moreover, these troubled times have shown us the importance of finding ways to strengthen our collaborations through better practices and by nurturing of a sense of proximity among the global community of medieval philosophers.

With a growing network of hundreds of subscribers from all over the world, Iberica Philosophica Mediaevalia has the potential to address some of these perceived needs. Accordingly, we have decided to try and give Iberica Philosophica Mediaevalia a new format. You will still receive updates and news about recent publications, upcoming events, call for papers, jobs, and so on. Yet the plan is to give some space to more critical updates on new lines of research, interviews, videos, and accounts from departments, institutions, and society. It is our conviction that such a fluid format (a hybrid: half newsletter, half newspaper) will strengthen the sense of community in our field, improve international collaborations, and provide all of us with a space in which different points of view can be discussed and analysed from a multitude of perspectives.

The first step towards the foundation of an “Iberica Philosophica Medievalia 2.0” is the formation of an editorial committee, which Nicola Polloni has been requested to direct for the time being. The editorial committee shall represent different geographical areas and reflect the best policies of inclusion and diversity. Brave young researchers are especially encouraged to submit their applications. To apply, send an email with your CV to Nicola Polloni at the following email address: by 15 January 2022.

Después de casi cinco años y 56 números mensuales de Iberica Philosophica Medievalia, es el momento de introducir cambios. Muchos compañeros han expresado su frustración por la falta de espacios para una verdadera discusión en los medios de comunicación con los que contamos actualmente. Las revistas académicas no pueden albergar relatos reflexivos de lo que está sucediendo en nuestro campo de investigación, o pensamientos metodológicos sobre lo que estamos haciendo y cómo mejorarlo. Además, estos tiempos convulsos han puesto de manifiesto la importancia de encontrar formas de fortalecer nuestra colaboración a través de prácticas que fomenten un sentido de proximidad entre la comunidad global de filósofos conocedores del pensamiento medieval.

Con una red creciente de cientos de suscriptores de todo el mundo, Iberica Philosophica Mediaevalia tiene capacidad para abordar algunas de las carencias que hemos mencionado. En consecuencia, hemos decidido intentar dar un nuevo formato a Iberica Philosophica Mediaevalia. Se seguirán recibiendo actualizaciones y noticias sobre publicaciones recientes, próximos eventos, convocatorias de ponencias, etc. Sin embargo, nuestro plan consiste abrir espacio a actualizaciones más críticas sobre nuevas líneas de investigación, entrevistas, videos y relatos de departamentos, instituciones y la sociedad en su conjunto. Estamos convencidos de que un formato fluido (un híbrido boletín y periódico) fortalecerá el sentido de comunidad en nuestro campo de investigación, mejorará las colaboraciones internacionales y nos brindará a todos un espacio en el que se puedan discutir diferentes puntos de vista y analizarlos desde diferentes perspectivas.

El primer paso hacia la fundación de una “Iberica Philosophica Medievalia 2.0” es la formación de un Comité editorial, que el Dr. Nicola Polloni se encargará de dirigir por el momento. El Comité editorial representará diferentes áreas geográficas y reflejará las mejores políticas de inclusión y diversidad. Se anima especialmente a jóvenes investigadores audaces a que presenten sus solicitudes. Para postularse, envíe un correo electrónico antes del 15 de enero de 2022, incluyendo su CV, al Dr. Nicola Polloni:

CFA: Late Medieval Hylomorphism

Later medieval philosophers would claim that all bodies are compounds of matter and form. Yet, among themselves, their ways of conceiving of the two components tended to differ substantively. The conference “Late Medieval Hylomorphism” aims at disentangling the specificities of a long-lasting debate on hylomorphism, the scope and originality of which is still unknown. While hylomorphic issues in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century have received some scholarly attention, the later history of Scholastic hylomorphism is still to be explored.

What were the main disputes concerning hylomorphism in the period? What were the main positions? Who were the interesting thinkers defending unusual points of view? These questions unfold at different levels of the ontological examination of substances. For instance, the debate about the modality of existence of prime matter conceived of as either a pure potency or an entity in act had profound impact on the later tradition up to the seventeenth century. In a similar manner, the contentious thirteenth- and fourteenth-century question of whether there is a plurality of substantial forms in any compound is present into the early modern period; but were new positions, arguments, and ideas develop over the course of the centuries? Moreover, an important view in thirteenth-century hylomorphic debates was the so-called theory of “universal hylomorphism”, which seems to disappear from the later debate; but is this in fact the case? A like question can be asked about the Augustinian notion of seminal reasons (rationes seminales).

Additional central questions about the later medieval debate on hylomorphism ask about the ontological distinction between super- and sublunary matters, and the roles played by prime matter and substantial form in the process of substantial change. And underlying all these issues, thinkers had to address the lurking worry that no well-grounded reasoning on matter and form is possible when neither of the hylomorphic constituents can be known.

Our conference aims to bring together scholars working on hylomorphism especially between the early fourteenth and the early seventeenth century. We encourage submissions on any aspect of hylomorphism in the period.

TES6: Scholasticism and Matter

3 December 2021, 4.30 pm CET

Silvia Donati, 13th-Century Discussions on the Ontological Status of Matter and Accidents (Commentaries on the Physics ca. 1240-1300)

Russell Friedman, Making Sense of Aquinas: Peter Auriol on Prime Matter, Pure Potency, and Existence

Cecilia Trifogli, Thomas Wylton on Matter and Quantity

chaired by William Duba

More info

Materia, 气/Qì, and Their Epistemes

Just one month to go: on 10-11 December 2021 the first Leuven-Beijing workshop in the history of premodern philosophy of nature will take place remotely (on Zoom)! The focus will be on theories of the material substrate on both European and Chinese premodern traditions. It is going to be a memorable experience! Organising this workshop with Shixiang Jin has been a feast of intellectual pleasure and as we are getting closer to the event, I felt inspired and made a short teaser.

Anyone interested in joining the workshop should send me an email: as always, it is free and open to anyone! It is going to be quite a speculative adventure exploring daring philosophical pathways and speculative problems that marked aspects of both traditions.

TES5: Hylomorphic Turns

5 November 2021, 4.30 PM CET

Neil Lewis, Kilwardby, Rufus and Grosseteste on the Infinite Replication of Prime Matter

Jeffrey Brower, Prime Matter as Pure Potentiality in Aquinas

Nicola Polloni, Unmitigated Hylomorphism: Roger Bacon on Matters, Potencies, and Change

chaired by Rega Wood

More info

Hylomorphism into Pieces (CFA)

~ Call for Abstracts ~

Hylomorphism into Pieces:
Matter, Atoms, and Corpuscles in the Late Middle Ages

Stockholm and Leuven, 7-8 April 2022

Sylvain Roudaut and Nicola Polloni

Hylomorphism, the doctrine claiming that physical bodies are metaphysically composed of matter and form, was among the most successful, widespread, and influential theories in the later Middle Ages. Yet hylomorphism had its fair share of problems, which gradually arose during the later Middle Ages. In the 17th century, it became common to claim that the principles of matter and form are unnecessary to explain natural processes and the structure of beings. Like many conceptual shifts in the history of philosophy, detachment from the Aristotelian framework was in many respects the final result of a gradual evolution in the way in which matter and form were conceived and applied as speculative devices.

Important aspects of the strong oppositions to hylomorphism in 17th-century philosophy have been object of recent studies. Nonetheless, the story of how this doctrine and its associated concepts proper to Aristotelianism gradually declined in the late Middle Ages still has to be properly assessed, especially in consideration of the fundamental theoretical developments of the 15th and 16th centuries. Organised by Sylvain Roudaut (Stockholm) and Nicola Polloni (Leuven), the conference “Hylomorphism into Pieces: Elements, Atoms and Corpuscles in the Late Middle Ages” aims to fill this gap by studying the major steps of this story from the late 14th century to the late 16th century.

The rejection of hylomorphism as explanatory device for the constitution of natural bodies was drastically facilitated by the influence of competing justifications of the internal structure of bodies. The rediscovery of Lucretius’ De natura rerum in the early 15th century, together with new translations of other materials from Antiquity, generated new ideas about the structure of bodies and the type of explanation required for natural processes. But how were those new theories of matter received and integrated into the still dominant Aristotelian vocabulary of the time in the first place? To what extent did philosophers of the 15th and 16th centuries—including scholastic thinkers—try to reconcile hylomorphism and these new theories of matter?

Another crucial point of discussion is the theme of minima naturalia, which was originally discussed within the scholastic framework and in connection with problems proper to Aristotelian natural philosophy (such as the problems of spatial and temporal limits). But is it legitimate to regard late medieval theories of minima naturalia as corpuscularist or pre-corpuscularist conceptions of matter? To what extent did those theories pave the way for more radical corpuscularist conceptions of nature?

Finally, in Aristotelian natural philosophy, hylomorphism was accompanied by another theory of composition, taking bodies as elemental mixtures—those two types of composition being notoriously hard to reconcile. In what way did atomism affect the relation between those theories and benefitted the bottom-up approach typical of elemental composition? Similar questions can be asked about the notions of act and potency, which were increasingly detached from Aristotelian hylomorphism due to the development of corpuscularist accounts of motion.

With a hybrid format, Hylomorphism into Pieces will take place on 7-8 April 2022 in both Stockholm and Leuven, as well as in anyone’s laptop via Zoom. Interested participants should send their proposal (short abstract and title) to Sylvain Roudaut (sylvain.roudaut[at] and Nicola Polloni (nicola.polloni[at] by 30 October 2021. Acceptance of the proposals will be announced by 15 November 2021. Please, contact the organisers for any query you might have.

Noticias inesperadas y agradecimientos

En diciembre de 2012, unas semanas después de comenzar mi programa de doctorado, asistí a mi primera conferencia y di mi primera presentación académica. Fue el VI congreso de la Sociedad de Filosofía Medieval (SOFIME), la primera sociedad científica a la que me incorporé.

Durante los últimos nueve años he tratado de dar lo mejor de mí a esta comunidad única de compañeros, formada por muchas personas maravillosas de todo el mundo. Y fue una experiencia fantástica.

Por ello, me siento honrado y halagado, emocionado y asustado de haber sido nombrado vicepresidente de SOFIME por la asamblea de Oporto. Haré todo lo posible para apoyar al nuevo presidente, Pedro Mantas España, y contribuir de todas las formas posibles a promover aún más la tradición de los estudios medievales en la península y en América Latina.

8th SOFIME Congress

It starts tomorrow and is going to be big. The eighth international congress of Sociedad de Filosofía Medieval is going to take place in Porto (PT) and in everyone’s house thanks to a blended format that allows people who cannot travel to Portugal to attend and engage with a delicious menu of talks and lectures. Take a look here! SOFIME has been the first learned society that I joined, quite some years ago, when I was a graduate student with many ideas and much enthusiasm. It’s a shame that I’m not going to make it to the congress this year, at least not with my physical presence.

Too much work and too many deadlines inherited from a crazy 18-months pandemic. But I will be there remotely, like many others, trying to cope with a situation that has disrupted our lives in many ways and to reinvent what was once simple and usual (a congress, a workshop, a class) and is now less obvious and straightforward.

TES3: The High Middle Ages

10 September 2021, 4.30 pm CEST

Clelia Crialesi, Two Different Approaches to Prime Matter at Chartres: William of Conches and Thierry of Chartres

Magdalena Bieniak, Universal Hylomorphism and Material Ideas? Gilbert of Poitiers on Matter

Charles Burnett, The Theory of Elements at the Interface of Arabic and Latin in the Twelfth Century

chaired by John Marenbon

More info


With the third video of Minima Multimedialia I went back to Gundissalinus. I couldn’t resist. And I owed him.

Hope you like it. The next one will be on Roger Bacon. He deserves more than one video, I guess. But I have no idea when I will have the time to make a new one (TES is coming).

TES1: Roman Preludes

14 May 2021, 5 PM CEST

Daryn Lehoux, Lucretian Substrates

John Wynne, ‘Materia’ in Cicero’s Philosophical Writings

Peter N. Singer, Mixing it Up: Galen on Elements, Qualities, Matter and His Predecessors

chaired by Charles Brittain

More info

The Philosophy and Science of Roger Bacon

What a pleasure to finally see this book published!

Yael Kedar and I have edited it in honour of a very special person, Jeremiah Hackett, who has given so much to scholarship and to whom I owe an huge debt of personal gratitude.

I am also grateful to all the contributors that made this volume possible. And it is a very good book indeed, in honour of a fantastic scholar whose studies have marked indelibly the understanding of medieval philosophy and science.

The Elusive Substrate

It took more than a year to organise. And it will take more than one year to be completed. It starts with Julius Cesar and ends with Yongzheng, more than eight thousand kilometres away and seventeen centuries later. And it is all about matter!!

Here’s the poster of The Elusive Substrate: Prime Matter and Hylomorphism from Ancient Rome to Early Qing China. It’s going to be quite a journey, historically and philosophically.

Meetings ahead

Three very interesting series of meetings are going to take place (remotely, of course) in the near future. The IEM Seminar in Pamplona, the Ibn Daud conference in Madrid, and the Tea Time with Bacon meetings of the RBRS.

Available soon: Philosophy and Science of Roger Bacon

The Philosophy and Science of Roger Bacon: Studies in Honour of Jeremiah Hackett. Edited by Nicola Polloni and Yael Kedar (Routledge, 2021)

I am particularly fond of this volume. Firstly, it is a very interesting volume that disentangles Roger Bacon’s philosophy very nicely. Secondly, I have had a lot of fun editing it with my dear friend Yael Kedar. Thirdly, the volume is dedicated to a very special person, Jeremiah Hackett, that has given so much to so many people in terms of research and beyond.

I can’t wait to have a printed copy of it! Routledge did an amazing job: the volume is already on Amazon and in April will be available to everyone. In the Spring, we shall definitively find a moment to celebrate Jerry Hackett’s contributions and discuss this volume, too.

MeLO Seminar 2021 (Winter-Spring)

After much work, the first meeting of the MeLO Seminar is going to be tomorrow. The reason why Christophe and I decided to create this seminar was to get together and talk medieval philosophy during these trying times. We could not foresee such enthusiasm and willingness to get involved. The resulting programme is very promising. And I look forward to starting the seminar tomorrow, with Dominic Dold’s fascinating discussion of the medieval intertwining of zoology and metaphysics.

Good news!

Finally, 2020 is almost finished. It felt like a decade. Just thinking that January, when I was moving to Oxford for my research stay, was only eleven months ago, well, it just doesn’t seem right. In the months following the beginning of the pandemic many things have happened. Many more were supposed to happen (from the second Berlin workshop on matter to my trip to Asia), but they didn’t. And between the first lockdown and lockdown 2.0, I didn’t feel like it was the right time to give any updates. Needless to say, now I have to give many news at once – lots of good news, actually. I will do my best to be as concise as possible.


Sometimes, one has to take life with a bit of Aristotle and admit that “totum et completum est quod habet principium et finem”. Started two years ago, my experience as Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellow is complete and the fellowship over. In my life, I have never felt like this before. The Berlin years have given me so much in terms of research, creativity, friendship, and much more. Thinking of how my approach was when I moved there from Durham and how it is now, well, the comparison is impressive, at least to me. I will be forever grateful to Dominik Perler for his gorgeous guidance and remarkable patience during these past two years. And I will keep with me for the rest of my life a sweet and thankful memory of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

It is true what they say, that “once a Humboldtian, always a Humboldtian” – the Associazione Italiana Alexander von Humboldt will be my new home now. The spirit and example of Alexander von Humboldt will continue to inspire me and so many others in the world. Yet, something will be missed. It is the unparalleled sense of belonging to something truthfully unique and good in the widest meaning of this term. It is the memory of days spent between Bonn and Berlin with my Humboldtian friends, plans to explore Germany that never were concretised, chats with professors, researchers, and MPs while sharing some canapés in beautiful building in Mitte. Proudly and gratefully, I will keep these sweet memories with me for the rest of my life and taste them every now and then to counter the usual bitterness of academia.


A new adventure has started. I have left Berlin and moved to Leuven, where I am FWO Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy of KU Leuven. Amazing, isn’t it? And in fact I am excited, delighted, and still struggling to believe that I am really here (also because the pandemic is having me working from home). Lots of new ideas and plans are currently been shaped – you will see. New promising collaborations shall be mingled with old ones into a boiling cauldron the likes of which have never been seen since Hermann of Carinthia’s. Above all, I am thrilled at the opportunity to work with scholars like Russell Friedman, Andrea Robiglio, Pieter d’Hoine, and Jan Opsomer – the best of the best!

The new project, The Shadow Within Nature: Epistemology and Ontology of Prime Matter in the Late Middle Ages (1250-1430), follows the outcomes of my Berlin project but with a different perspective. Ontology comes back at the centre of the stage. And with it, the trickiest of all hylomorphic problems: how can hylomorphism be applied to the study of nature and explain a plurality of natural phenomena and theoretical assumptions that seem to contradict it? Moving within the coordinates set by Pasnau and Maier – but sometimes daring to break them – I will try to disentangle matter from matter and element from element of this long history of ontological controversies.


The last big piece of information of this Autumn is very good news, too. Working in academia is often weird, especially during this pandemic. You do your research, write your articles, give your talks on Zoom. But you are so very often alone – even when you are not. I guess another specificity of non-tenured scholars is to wonder whether other scholars truly appreciate your work beside the good feedbacks one receives. This is why it has been unusually delightful for me to have been habilitated for associate professorship in history of philosophy by the Italian Ministry of Education! Terrific news, I know, and it means so much to me. Most importantly, I now feel like I do belong. Many will think that such formalities are not important, that it is the work we do that define us both as people and academics. And that being habilitated doesn’t give you a tenure. Both points are true, but they do not have any impact on the unique moment of being finally habilitated. It is a matter of recognition and acknowledgement, something of which I am deeply grateful and honoured.

I said above that I had two pieces of information. And I do. I have also been certified as assistant professor of philosophy by the Spanish Ministry of Education! Such a fantastic news, I am proud and flattered. Another demonstration that sacrifice and work are never in vain. I look forward to collaborating even more with my Iberian colleagues in the near future. And duly celebrate with them this good news and the others!

There would be much more to say: more news, ideas, and updates. There will be time for that, as I will try to update this section more often.

Reshaped, cancelled, and postponed events due to COVID-19

Due to the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak, many aspects of our lives have been or are about to be affected. In this moment of grave concern, academia must do its part to contribute to the efforts put in place by governments all over the world to delay the spread of the virus. After much pondering, I have decided to do my part rescheduling, postponing, and cancelling most of the events I had planned for the forthcoming months.

Matter Reading Group
The reading group “Matter and Nature: Robert Boyle and the Criticism of Aristotle” will take place regularly from 24 April 2020, yet we will meet on Skype rather than in person. This can be a great occasion to extend the reading group to many other interested people. In case anyone wants to join the party, just drop me a line.

Prime Matter Workshop II
The second Berlin workshop on matter (“Prime Matter: The Metaphysical Foundation of Reality”) was supposed to take place at HU Berlin on 14 May 2020. Unfortunately, I had to cancel that date and I am currently looking for a suitable date in late July 2020. HU Berlin has recently cancelled all meetings and events until 20 July 2020, so it is not an easy task.
HU measures against COVID-19 can be consulted at this link.

Neil Lewis Seminar on Richard Rufus
Neil Lewis (Georgetown) was supposed to come to Berlin and give a splendid seminar on Rufus’s theory of prime matter on 26 May 2020. Considering the current situation, we are considering other options online.

Medieval Philosophical Gatherings
I had in mind a fantastic series of talks for the upcoming semester but, with almost no flights over Europe, going ahead with the organisation of the Medieval Philosophical Gathering would have been just an exercise of wishful thinking. I have therefore cancelled the series of lecture for the Summer Semester 2020. A few scholars will give lectures during the reading group (that is, via Skype).

Book Presentations
Also the book presentations that were planned for the semester – starting with Nikolaus Egel’s new edition of Bacon’s Opus tertium – are cancelled. This is a shame, also because I wanted to discuss my own new book! But there will be time in the near future, once the storm has passed.

Launch of the Roger Bacon Research Society
Much effort and weeks of planning did not save the launch of the recently founded Roger Bacon Research Society. The meeting was supposed to take place at the Warburg Institute in London on 29 May 2020, hosting the first RBRS Annual Lecture by Jeremiah Hackett. We will reschedule the meeting later in the Summer or Autumn 2020.

I know, a lot of changes: the next months are not going to be easy. Yet we must do our best to keep healthy and strong, both physically and mentally. It must not be a moment of despair. As an Italian living abroad, I am myself very concerned especially for my family and friends living under lockdown in Italy. Unfortunately, it is very likely that similar measures will be taken also in other countries in Europe and elsewhere. Considering all this, a change of plans is nothing but a trifle.

Nonetheless, this does not exempt us from trying to soften the rigidity of the situation, if we can do so. For this reason, I am thinking about possible virtual activities (i.e., on Skype or YouTube) that can help breaking the solitude and boredom of home quarantine, especially if the situation were to further deteriorate. I invite all my colleagues to do the same. Let’s find ways to stay together even if we cannot do so physically. Let’s try to convert this moment of concern and limitations into a moment of shared discussions and human closeness, as much as we can.