New issue of Revista Española de Filosofía Medieval (25/2018)

It’s out! The issue 25 of Revista Española de Filosofía Medieval (or REFIME) has just been published. This year, it is a sort of special one, as we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of one of the leading scientific journals for medieval philosophy.

You can download here the introduction to issue 25.

While you can have some great fun reading articles and reviews, translations and reports at this link

No need to say that it is completely open access, as we do believe that a not shared knowledge is a precarious knowledge.

All good things…

The reading group on Calcidius and Ibn Gabirol is coming to an end—our last meeting is going to be on Feb 15th. We had some great fun trying to understand many intricate doctrinal points on ontology and cosmology. It has been wild. But also incredibly pleasurable. My most sincere gratitude goes to all the brave participants, each one of whom has added very valuable insights and interpretative perspectives.

Here’s a photo from the last session of the reading group.

Looking forward to seeing you all next semester, with a new reading group on an equally peculiar medieval thinker: Roger Bacon.

Uncovering Matter

My friend Rosie Reed Gold visited me this weekend. It has been a special visit. Rosie is a fantastic artist based in London (you can find here some of her impressive creations and here some of the amazing photos she takes). We met in Oxford last year and since the very beginning we knew that there was something fast growing from our conversations on philosophy, art, and medieval science. A strange idea. A collaboration was looming. And it is a very special collaboration, I would say.

Different approaches to truth. There is no need to refer to Hans Georg Gadamer to see that there’s something in art which is irreducible to our standard comprehension of verbal assertions or mathematical equations. Aesthetic experiences offer a different access to something that we might call truth. A truth of the event which is in front of us. An access to a different comprehension of that event—that thing, that happening, that thought represented and therefore uncovered by the artistic creation. A non-apophantic assertion of something that is differently processed by our minds. An un-covering of a reality hidden beneath a surface of rational consideration.

There is a philosophical dimension within art that goes well beyond aesthetics. But can we talk of an artistic dimension within philosophy? Can art help us grasp something philosophically relevant from our consideration of a doctrine or maybe even in our attempts at resolving thorny interpretative problems? And what kind of knowledge would that be, if we assume that an artistic access to philosophy is indeed feasible?

Rosie and I exploring new exhibits at the Berlinische Galerie

Similar considerations, of course, can be made about contemporary science. Can science contribute to the solution of historically determined theoretical problems not directly related to practices and concrete realisations of something? Can scientific knowledge and an utterly scientific approach help us understanding doctrinal problems and aspects, for instance, of Premodern metaphysics? At a first glance, access, methods, and basic assumptions of contemporary science appear to impede similar applications. Which, in the best case, would result into an extemporaneous anachronistic interpretation of historically determined problems.

Not necessarily, though, and not always…

Let matter enter the scene, then! As I was saying, a daring project is looming, getting closer and closer. After two intense days of intriguing discussions, Rosie and I were exhausted yet replenished with new brilliant ideas and plans. It will be a matter of unhinging—figuratively, and perhaps also literally—some basic assumptions and linchpins. But it is always like this, isn’t it?

More soon…

Reading Group part 1.B

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The second part of the Winter Semester reading group has started. Here’s the calendar:

11 Jan 2019, 10am, R241POSTPONED TO JAN 18th!

18 Jan 2019, 10am, R241: [Vortrag] Nicola Polloni, Ibn Gabirol and Universal Hylomorphism. Ibn Gabirol, Fons vitae, book I, 

28 Jan 2019, 2.30pm, R228: Ibn Gabirol, Fons vitae, book I, §1-13 

1 Feb 2019, 11am, R228: Ibn Gabirol, Fons vitae, book I, §14-17

4 Feb 2019, 2.30pm, R228: Ibn Gabirol, Fons vitae, book II, §1-4

15 Feb 2019, 11am, , R228: Ibn Gabirol, Fons vitae, book II, §5-8 + Final Remarks

Looking forward to seeing you there and explore together the Font of Life!

AvH Network Meeting in Bonn

I just came back from the very first event organised by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation I participated in. Three days of meetings, discussions, brain-storming, and good time shared with so many colleagues from all over the world, all together in Bonn. That was fantastic! It just feels so good to be part of a network so huge and diverse, made of so many brilliant minds and sponsored by such a generous institution. Can’t wait to attend the next one!

With Houda and Mattia, enjoying the poster session and a “good” cup of coffee.
Quartet concert at Bonn University

Perspective in Florence

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Spectacular conference on Arabic and Latin theories of vision in Florence in September, organised by Cecilia Panti.

Arabic and Latin Science of Vision and the Theory of Perspective in Early Renaissance Florence

27-29 September 2018
SISMEL, via Montebello 7, Firenze

You can download the programme here.

Presentazione del volume ‘Vedere nell’ombra’

Il primo di giugno abbiamo presentato presso la SISMEL di Firenze il volume Vedere nell’ombra. Studi su natura, spiritualità e scienze operative offerti a Michela Pereira. Dopo mesi di pianificazione, siamo riusciti a mantenere il ‘segreto’ e fare una bella sorpresa a Michela, che non si aspettava nulla. Una festa con amici e colleghi e un gran momento per ritrovarsi insieme e festeggiare una persona che ha dato così tanto a tutti noi.

A seguire, alcuni scatti presi durante il pomeriggio fiorentino.

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Montreal, Kalamazoo, Chicago (May 2018)

One of the best things of this line of work is the oneiric dimension of travel. It is not the travel in itself to be oneiric—even though, when one travels to the US or Canada, there’s always a sleepy state that goes on for days: nothing poetic, though, just jet-lag. The oneiric dimension happens when you fly away to attend a conference or a meeting and, suddenly, you are in a completely different academic environment.  There, for just a few days, you can dream of living a different life working at a different university. From this point of view, America is unparalleled and the Ordered Universe project a sort of “Traumfabrik”! It was the OU that marked May 2018 with a long trip to Montreal and Kalamazoo, and a Chicago-ending.

It was my first time in Montreal, Quebec. Sincerely, I couldn’t imagine what I was going to experience there (terrific food, more terrific food, beautiful people, awesome architecture, decadent landscapes, and much more). As always, companionship was amazing. Ordered Universe symposia and meetings are not only brilliant moments of theoretical discussion, but also great gathering of new and old friends. We always have such a good time together, and the Montreal symposium wasn’t different. We had days of incredibly fascinating and stimulating discussions on Grosseteste’s De motu supercelestium and De motu corporali et luce, the latter being one of my favourite works authored by Grosseteste. Hosted by Faith Wallis at McGill University, the workshop was ultimately fantastic, undoubtedly a success. Not to mention the extraordinary food we had there at a series of astounding restaurants!

Quebec cuisine has quite a reputation…. and it deserves it! I also had a chance to try again the famous poutine. After my Toronto experience, I had no expectations, as that very first poutine I ate was horrible. Nonetheless, the real Quebec poutine I had in Montreal was like an inspiring and overwhelming dream made of gravy, cheese, French fries, and smoked meat. Fantastic!

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Aesthetically, Montreal is such a beautiful city. Relaxed, European, and safe. A fusion of contemporary architecture and old (at least for that continent) buildings. Walking my way down to the St Lawrence river has been quite an experience. But it wasn’t enough. Between the end of the symposium and the beginning of another brilliant meeting (the McGill-Durham graduate conference to which some of the best graduate students of both universities participated—with a lovely intruder from Oxford), I did what I usually do when I’m in those huge American conglomerates of people and buildings we call metropolises: I walked. And I went to Little Italy (sorry, “la petite Italie”), Mile End, walking my way down through the Plateau down to the river. A tremendous experience, in which I also discovered that bagels are actually made in dedicated bakeries (maybe “bageleries”?) by real people. I also tried a fresh-made one: it was superb. (As always, I have also taken a lot of pictures and I now realise that I need to enrol on some sort of photography social platform. Otherwise, no one will ever see the actual results of my long walks through Europe and America!)

The spectre of Kalamazoo was looming, though. Kalamazoo was not a problem, it was the 14-hour-long drive from Montreal! A group of seven people from Durham (well, actually six, as there still was the lovely intruder from Oxford, but it was like as she was from Durham) locked into a car, even if a good one, for such a long time and without smoking? It’s not a joke: it happened! And I can proudly say that I survived it! Maybe, for the sake of this blog, I should say that it was a great fun and we had an amazing time while we were trapped in there. It would be a lie: it was so boring, notwithstanding many attempts at having fun. We made it to Kalamazoo, though, and that’s what’s important.

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Kalamazoo. The place, the Zoo. Amazing, but too short. I wasn’t able to meet with all the people I wanted to meet. Nevertheless, new friendships have begun, old friends have been met, new collaborations have been established, no disease from the dorms has been contracted, and knowledge has been shared: that’s the spirit of Kalamazoo! The two panels on medieval science organised by OU were terrific and we got some very positive feedbacks. I have understood that blue margaritas are not my cup of tea and I had a splendid stimulating time there. I definitely look forward to going back to Kalamazoo next year.

Before flying back to Europe, I had two days in Chicago. I love that town. Architecturally speaking, no other city is like Chicago, not even New York can compete with such an outstanding aesthetic exquisiteness. I slept my nights there laying literally in front of five huge lightened letters (they were T-R-U-M-P and, believe me, it was a sort of Mordor-like experience: next time, I will think it twice before booking my hotel).

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I met with a fantastic friend who gave me a tour of the University of Chicago, I walked a lot, and I finally tried a Chicago deep-dish pizza!! Yes, I did so! It was since 2015, when I was at Notre Dame, that I wanted to try one. Problem is that I went to a restaurant (Labriola: gorgeous!) two hours before taking my taxi to the airport, and I couldn’t imagine that a Chicago deep-dish pizza was that… large! After two slices, I felt I was going to die. With six more in front of me, I decided to do what an American would do: ask for boxes. That’s how I had got a real Chicago deep-dish pizza in Europe.

Nicholas of Cusa and Gundissalinus: A Prelude on Matter

International Conference: East-Western Transmission of Knowledge. An International Colloquium on Methods of Research, International Colloquium Convened by Forschungsstelle Philosophie- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte der griechisch-arabisch-lateinischen Tradition (Universität Würzburg) and Cordoba Near Eastern Research Unit (University of Córdoba), Cordoba, 3 April 2018.