Conferences, Meetings, Events


It’s been such an honour to be invited to give a lecture at the Center for the History of Philosophy and Science of Radboud University in Nijmegen. A unique and splendid group of people working on so many intriguing aspects of medieval, renaissance, and early modern philosophy and science. My heartfelt gratitude to Paul Bakker for this brilliant opportunity.

Conferences, Meetings, Events

CFP: De intellectu (Porto, Feb 2020)


De intellectu: Greek, Arabic, Latin, and Hebrew Texts and Their Influence on Medieval Philosophy. A Tribute to Rafael Ramón Guerrero

University of Porto, 6th-7th February 2020

Philosophy changed radically during the Middle Ages as a result of the translation of a considerable number of texts by Aristotle and his followers from Greek into Arabic, Latin and Hebrew. As an example, epistemological and anthropological questions were rethought and substantively reshaped in the Latin world after the translations of Aristotle’s De anima by James of Venice and William of Moerbeke (from Greek), and by Michael Scot (from Arabic, together with Averroes’s long commentary on it), after it had been successively translated into Syriac and Arabic. This crucial and complex process followed an already long and parallel history of paraphrases and commentaries on this work in Greek, Syriac and Arabic.
The discussion of De anima III.4-5, on the intellect, was conditioned or driven by a large number of texts from different periods. Among those texts are the Greek commentaries or paraphrases on De anima by Alexander of Aphrodisias, Themistius, Simplicius, John Philoponus, and Averroes, alongside independent short treatises, such as Alexander of Aphrodisias’s De intellectu et intellecto, al-Kindī’s De intellectu, al-Fārābī’s De intellectu et intellecto, Averroes’ Epistula de connexione intellectus abstracti cum homine, and his son’s Epistula de intellectu. In several other works “intellect” plays a most pivotal role, such as in Plotinus’s Enneads paraphrased in the Arabic Theologia Aristotelis and in Proclus’s Elementatio Theologica epitomised in the Liber de causis. Other works added to the debate, such as Avicenna’s Liber de anima, al-Ghazālī’s Summa theoricae philosophiae, Averroes’s Long Commentary on De Anima, Maimonides’ Dux neutrorum, Isaac Israeli’s Liber de definicionibus, not to mention texts from the Christian tradition, such as Nemesius of Emesa’s De natura hominis and Sophonias’ commentary on De anima. A similarly radical change occurred in thirteenth-century Jewish philosophy through the translation into Hebrew of many of these same texts, at the same time that a very different change was taking place in Arabic philosophy.

“Nous” – rendered as ‘aqlsekhelintellectus, and their vernacular derivatives – became a key philosophical concept in late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, being intimately connected to a wide range of issues in psychology, epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics. However, because of its centrality and the manifold conflicting interpretations and solutions accompanying it, “intellect” became a highly contentious problem, one that both authors and commentators tried to disentangle within the context of overlapping Platonic, Aristotelian, Neoplatonic, and Stoic traditions. The ways intellect was conceptualized in this long period influenced and shaped the discussions of fundamental philosophical problems, such as: the body-soul relationship, intuitive and abstract knowledge, mental content, intelligible forms, immortality of the soul, happiness and the highest end of man.

Celebrating the career and the scholarly contributions of Rafael Ramón Guerrero, we welcome a discussion of current research on texts and problems concerning the intellect within the four linguistic spaces in which Aristotelian theories played a central role. We also encourage the submission of contributions centred on the circulation and diffusion of these and other texts which the historical actors in the Greek, Arabic, Latin, and Hebrew spaces used to facilitate, shape, and turn specific debates on the intellect into predominant discourses in the history of philosophy.

Rafael Ramón Guerrero (Granada, 1948), Professor of History of Medieval and Arabic Philosophy in the Facultad de Filosofía of the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, along his career he has produced an outstanding contribution to teaching and research in Medieval Philosophy. He obtained his PhD in Madrid in 1979 under the supervision of José Antonio García-Junceda with a thesis entitled Contribución al estudio de la filosofía árabe: Alma e Intelecto como problemas fundamentales de la misma, which served as the basis for his book La recepción árabe del De anima de Aristóteles: Al-Kindi y Al-Farabi (Madrid 1993). This problem remained the focus of his attention in several publications, translations of Arabic philosophers, teaching, conferences, supervision of doctoral theses, and direction of research projects. His work is internationally renowned, and his academic activity is particularly influential in Spain, Portugal, and Latin-America. With this Conference, his students, colleagues and friends wish to honour the Professor, the Academic, the Scholar.
Call for papers

Open until October 30th, 2019. Send a proposal with name, institution, title, and an abstract up to 300 words to
Presentation: 20 minutes + discussion. Languages: English, Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian, German.

Organising Committee

José Meirinhos, Celia López, José Higuera (Porto), Nicola Polloni (Berlin), Pedro Mantas España (Córdoba).

Scientific Committee

Amos Bertolacci (Pisa; Lucca), Alexander Fidora (Barcelona), Catarina Belo (Cairo), Charles Burnett (London), Cristina D’Ancona Costa (Pisa), Gregorio Piaia (Padova), Jean-Baptiste Brenet (Paris), José Luis Villacañas (Madrid), José Meirinhos (Porto), Josep Puig Montada (Madrid), Jules Janssens (Leuven), José Luis Fuertes Herreros (Salamanca), Katja Krause (Berlin), Luis Alberto De Boni (Porto Alegre), Mário Santiago de Carvalho (Coimbra), Steven Harvey (Bar Ilan), Thérèse Cory (Notre Dame).

Scientific Support

Sociedad de Filosofía Medieval (Salamanca – Córdoba) — Sociedade Portuguesa de Filosofia.
Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy TL – Instituto de Filosofia da Universidade do Porto.
Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia; Universidade do Porto

Conferences, Meetings, Events

Multi-Cultural Borderlands of Toledo

A multiplicity of perspectives on a very special subject – medieval Toledo. The former capital of the Visigoths. One of the most prominent cities in al-Andalus and one of the most relevant reinos de taifa. For centuries, the most important town in Castile.

Organised by Yasmine Beale-Rivaya (Texas State University) and María José Lop Otín (Universidad de Castilla La Mancha), the conference “The Multi-Cultural Borderlands of Medieval Toledo” has been a unique occasion to discuss many aspects related to the uniqueness of medieval Toledo and its borderlands. Borders – political, cultural, and religious borders – that are superseded and rediscovered within a town that was perilous and illuminated, shelter and prison, heavenly and infernal at the same time.

A unique conference for a unique subject, fascinating and intriguing. More info at

As always, some photos of the conference and its awesome venue.

Conferences, Meetings, Events

AAIWG in Pisa

Amazing conference in Pisa. It was the Spring conference of the AAIWG—but bigger, juicer, and more impressive, if that’s possible. For four days, we have explored the intricacies of the philosophical tradition in its intertwining of languages and problems, shifts and ideas.

So many inputs in such a short time—something unique. I have reencountered many old friends (some for the first time in person after years of emails and Skype-calls) and made many more. New ideas have arisen and I will scrupulously nurture them. And new collaborations have started or are about to start—and you will see their outcomes hopefully soon.

For now, some photos of smart people (and I) having fun in different ways.

Conferences, Meetings, Events

Early Franciscan Psychology

Last Friday, we were intensively discussing the many problems arising from the study of Early-Franciscan Psychology. Lydia Schumacher (KLC) gave a splendid talk on her research on this fascinating topic. And we all were eager in trying to understand the reasons behind a very intriguing reception of Avicenna’s theories of soul and knowledge.

Conferences, Meetings, Events

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!

Conferences, Meetings, Events

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
Activities, Conferences, Meetings, Events

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!


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.


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).


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.

Conferences, Meetings, Events, Multimedia

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.

Conferences, Meetings, Events

Back from Pamplona

I’ve just come back from a brilliant workshop in Pamplona! After months collaborating together on our project , the members of the research group ‘Hermenéutica patrística y medieval (LOGOS)’ (based at the Instituto de Estudios Medievales of the University of Navarra) finally met! What can I say? It’s been a marvellous day of study led by María Jesús Soto-Bruna: so many interesting talks, new tempting ideas, projects, collaborations… Just brilliant! So many good people there, can’t wait to the next meeting (and go back to Pamplona, hopefully!).


Activities, Conferences, Meetings, Events

Fall 2017 – Research Trip to America

Such a long trip (more than three weeks!) would require, perhaps, a long and detailed report. Luckily for you, though, I really don’t have time to do so, and I’ll limit myself to some quick notes on a superb dissemination-and-research trip.

First destination: Boston. My very good friend, Katja Krause, had organised an outstanding workshop at Harvard on a fascinating theme: science and religion. It was my first time in Massachusetts, and it has been such a splendid experience. Boston is incredibly European: so much history, everything is clean-and-polished, public transportation is perfect, no Walmart on sight (with my profound disappointment). It was like not being in America at all! The workshop went marvellously well (and how could have not been so, with such a brilliant host, Katja): different perspectives and approaches (theology, history of science, philosophy) on a delicate matter such as the relation between religion and scientific knowledge from the Late Antiquity to the Early Modernity. From Byzantine alchemy to Galileo’s astronomical observations, passing through the Arabic and Latin traditions, the workshop has been incredibly interesting, opening new lines (and collaborations) to be carefully explored.

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Workshop at Harvard



Second destination: Toronto. My first time in Canada, too, my first time participating in a HSS meeting: curiosity, eagerness, anxiety were the traits depicting my mood when the aircraft landed at Pearson. Toronto is just so different from what I was expecting: I thought I would have been landing in a kind of Switzerland of America, with Toronto as a sort of Zurich or Bern. To the contrary, Toronto is like New York, as if they were twin sisters separated at birth and raised in two different, but not far-away, villages. Beauty and contradictions, luxury and poverty, all condensed in one big and freezing city: outstanding aesthetical instantiation of human existence, with tall buildings and British shades all over the place. The History of Science Society meeting was hosted right at the centre of the city centre – nothing more central! – at the Sheraton. Hundreds of historians of science presenting their research, approach, problems, and doubts on that long history of scientific reflection which mostly corresponds to the history of human progress. A fascinating, formative, brilliant experience, which was crowned by our panel on the limits of science (Late Antiquity to Early Modernity). That was the exquisite fruit of such beautiful minds (Steven, Katja, Yehuda, and Vincenzo) filling a ‘medieval gap’ with incredibly interesting contributions. Perhaps, the best academic moment of my trip to America, a trip which was loaded of outstanding academic moments. And yes, I did find time to quickly go to Niagara Falls (there are no words to describe that!).

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At the HSS Meeting in Toronto


Toronto from the CN Tower

No time to rest, and I was on my way to the third destination of my trip: Dallas. Another first time, here: Texas, the wild land with lots of guns, and its ‘come and take it!’ echoing far away. I was totally ready to see those landscapes I imagined to be filled with oil extraction plants, people with Stetson cowboy hats, and money flowing all over the way… As often happens, though, I soon realised that my expectations were the outcome of unsound mental constructions (let’s just call them prejudices). Coming from Toronto (1 C°) to Dallas (28 C°), the first days were marked by a real and enveloping thermal shock. Moreover, Dallas is a rather peculiar city, very different from New York or Chicago, and far away from European Boston. There is no actual ‘downtown’, or better, for sure there is one, but it is not a real place to walk down (apart from Thanksgiving Square). It reminded me a lot of Indianapolis, which is not a bad place, but is ‘different’. I was very lucky, though, for in Dallas I met with two of my best adventuring companions, my very good friends Therese and David. As a consequence, Texas has been simply and utterly amazing! The ACPA meeting was superb: shifting from the history of science to philosophy (in a very strict sense) has been like coming back home (from a short trip, though), and the ACPA people are so friendly, interesting, and brilliant scholars! I was very happy to participate in the Dallas meeting, and I have to admit that I learnt many things and discovered new valuable approaches. A remarkable experience mingled with jalapeño margaritas, the best barbecue I’ve ever tasted (brisket, what a discovery! If you have the occasion to do so, go to Pecan Lodge in Dallas!), the rodeo in Fort Worth (unbelievable!), corn-and-pineapple-covered-with-paprika lollypops (yes, they exist to demonstrate that Hegel was wrong: what is irrational is real, too!), the G.W.B. Presidential Library, and many other splendid things. But time runs fast, and the final destination of my trip was looming up already. As soon as the meeting was over, Therese, David, and I rent a car to San Antonio, passing through Austin (outstanding museum of Texas there!) while listening to Johnny Cash.




Rodeo (Fort Worth)

The few days I spent in San Antonio were like a dream. I still happen to think on those days wondering whether they were real or not. San Antonio is such an oneiric, relaxing, awesome place, with its River Walk, the Alamo, the Missions, wildlife for free, and delicious restaurants. I went to Southern Texas to meet with two amazing colleagues from Texas State University, Yasmine and David. Medieval Iberia in Texas! We decided to start collaborating on new projects and, you will see, this is going to be terrific, for impressive things have been planned (no spoilers, though, although I can’t wait for them).


The Alamo


At Texas State University

Another walk through downtown San Antonio, and it was time already (?!) to go back to Europe, academically and personally enriched by this magnificent trip, with so many plans and even more things to do. And a beautiful surprise, too: I’ve been awarded a Humboldt Fellowship in Berlin, starting on September 2018!

Conferences, Meetings, Events

Roger Bacon @HSS Toronto

Roger Bacon: The Philosopher's Workshop

History of Science Society
2017 Meeting

Toronto, Canada, 9-12 November 2017

Two talks on Roger Bacon:

Elly Truitt (Bryn Mawr College), “Roger Bacon’s Speculative Technologies”. Panel: Thinking with Preindustrial Machines, 13.30, Friday, 10 November 2017.

Nicola Polloni (Durham University), “Sciences of Matter? Knowledge of the Material Substrate in the Two Bacons”. Panel: Pre-Modern Experiences and the Limits of Science, 9.00, Saturday, 11 November 2017.

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Conferences, Meetings, Events

SMRP Sponsored Session at the ACPA


SMRP sponsored session at the American Catholic Philosophical Association

Friday, November 17, 2017, 10a.m.-12 noon

The Westin Dallas Downtown

Causation and Science in Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

Organizer & Chair: Gloria Frost, University of St. Thomas, MN

Speaker 1: David Cory, The Catholic University of America; Notre Dame

“Is Digestion Fully Material? Aquinas on Matter and the Vegetal Soul”

Speaker 2: Zita Toth, Conception Seminary College, MO

“Durand of St.-Pourçain on Causal Interactions after the Day of Judgment”

Speaker 3:Nicola Polloni, Durham University

“Accordance and Strife: Encounters with Modernity at the Beginning of the Thirteenth Century”

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Conferences, Meetings, Events

Translating Experience. Medieval Encounters with Nature, Self, and God

Screen Shot 2017-05-12 at 07.57.14Just a few more days… On June 5th-6th, Katja and I will be hosting the awesome conference on ‘medieval experience’ in Durham. If you cannot come to Durham, but you really would like to participate in the conference, no worries: we have prepared a dedicated Facebook page and the entire conference will be streamed live there! New technological means for a conference that we are confident will add precious contributions to the ongoing scholarly debate on the concept of experience in the Middle Ages.

Here’s the link to the FB page

…and here’s the programme!