Research, Produce, Circulate

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

Research, Produce, Circulate

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

Research, Produce, Circulate

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

Research, Produce, Circulate

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

Research, Produce, Circulate

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

Research, Produce, Circulate

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

Research, Produce, Circulate

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.

Research, Produce, Circulate

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.

Research, Produce, Circulate, Worth Mentioning This

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.

Research, Produce, Circulate

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

Research, Produce, Circulate


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).

Research, Produce, Circulate

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.

Milestones, Research, Produce, Circulate

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.

Research, Produce, Circulate

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.

Research, Produce, Circulate

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.

Mapping the Journey, Research, Produce, Circulate

Medieval Logic and Ontology

After so many socially distanced months, we all hope that 2021 will bring something different (and better) than this tormented 2020. Quite in line with the hopes of a brighter (or at least more social) future, there is some news I shall give here.

Christophe Geudens and I have started planning something new and very promising for 2021: the MeLO Seminar! The acronym stands for “Medieval Logic and Ontology” Seminar. The plan is to bring together people from all over the world to discuss papers, ideas, and new interpretations of medieval theories from these two disciplines.

Thanks to the enthusiastic replies from many friends and colleagues, the programme looks amazing (you can read it here). We are going to meet fortnightly – lots of fun ahead! If you want to participate, just drop us a line.

It is our hope that the MeLO Seminar will help to soften the loneliness of the next few months, which are going to be quite demanding, as we wait for this pandemic to end.

Research, Produce, Circulate

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.

Research, Produce, Circulate

Structuring Nature: Our Summer School in Berlin

The programme of our Summer School is ready! Readings and lecturers are also ready. And a lot of students have applied from Europe, North America, and Asia. Just a few more days and everything will start (can’t wait!).

Questions concerning the structure of nature, and the structure of our knowledge of the natural world have long occupied philosophers and scientists working in the Western tradition, up until the present day. Especially in the ancient, medieval and early modern periods, Greek, Arabic, and Latin writers have developed a variety of approaches to construct ordered, rule-based frameworks to divide and study nature in all of its complexity.

As a result of enduring interest and continual developments, in both theoretical and practical knowledge of nature, various thinkers from these traditions have introduced novel criticisms to these systems, and others have shown through experiment and observation that long-standing preconceptions about the natural world, and our knowledge of it, do not stand up to scrutiny.

Over the course of one week, this interdisciplinary summer school will provide a conspectus of some of the many historical and modern problems associated with any attempt to formalise boundaries between minerals and other inert substances, plants, animals, and humans. It will also consider how some thinkers pushed the epistemological limits of natural science, attempting to fit new abstract theories and mathematical approaches to the study of the natural world.

“Structuring Nature” brings together a wide range of experts from ancient and medieval philosophy, classical philology, and the history of science, whose research addresses these problems in a number of language traditions, across a wide historical range. These experts will introduce students to the foundational thematic and methodological reflections on the structures of nature from antiquity to early-modern philosophy and science.

By bringing together historians of the scientific and philosophical traditions that have developed on the shores of the Mediterranean Basin, the summer school will provide the students with a unique opportunity to appreciate the historical contingencies of approaches, methods, and perspectives in the human attempts at understanding the structure of nature. In the closing discussions of each day, students will have the opportunity to critically reflect on ways of combining different methods and approaches that may eventually overcome current fragmentations and departmentalisations in the academy.

As of July 28, the summer school will be hosted in Berlin, where the students will benefit from direct access to scholars at the three organising institutions, the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, the Freie Universität Berlin, and the Max-Planck-Institut für Wissenschaftsgeschichte.

The Summer School program will officially start two weeks earlier, on Monday, 15 July 2019. At this time, articles and other relevant materials will be circulated to provide the students with the background necessary to take an active part in the activities of the summer school. A final assessment of the students’ progress will be given to their presentations on Friday, 2 August 2019, as well as to their active attendance in all activities offered by the School.

Mapping the Journey, Research, Produce, Circulate

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.