~ 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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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: email@example.com.
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.
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.
~ 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]hotmail.com) and Nicola Polloni (nicola.polloni[at]kuleuven.be) 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.
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.
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.
The next session of “The Elusive Substrate” is getting closer. This time we will delve into 12th-century theories of matter!
After a long year of semi-lockdown in Leuven, I have made it back to Berlin. Mattia and I had to work on the final manuscript of our volume, which Routledge is dearly expecting. A few days of intense work with remarkable results: the volume is going to be amazing!
I have had some time to meet with friends, too. And appreciate how Berlin has changed during this past year, yet it has not changed at all. Something has surely changed: the Humboldt Forum is now open, new U-Bahn stations are open as well (noticeably, “Unter den Linden”), the new airport is open, and a Bud Spencer Museum has appeared in Unter den Linden.
Yet beyond the surface, Berlin is still the one I left last year. Its relaxed avenues, its daringly open-minded approach, the constant renovations of streets and buildings (not Invalidenstrasse 110: not yet) are all still here, untouched, Berlin’s spirit being affected but not spoiled by the pandemic. And living in Leuven, that’s what I miss of this unique city – yet only sometimes (and definitely not the constant renovations!).
The second meeting of The Elusive Substrate is in one week.
This time we shall engage with the delicacies offered by late antique hylomorphism and its challenging theories of matter.
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).
One week to go! The first session of The Elusive Substrate is almost here.
Just remember that if you want to attend, you have to register (just send me an email).
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.
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.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been reading some recently published papers marked by some harsh rhetoric bordering on personal offence to other colleagues in the field. Something similar is happening with peer-review reports from referees with whom we are collaborating – a situation that some colleagues at other journals have told me they have experienced as well. It might be just an outcome of the pandemic, which is affecting so much our daily lives in ways that are not fully realised or processed. Yet, it made me think of a notion that I consider central to my activity as scholar, although it is mostly nurtured in the private sector: the notion of psychological safety.
Elaborated and discussed by Amy Edmondson (2018), psychological safety is the basis of an inclusive, creative, and caring work environment. Broadly speaking, it corresponds to the mindset by which every member of a working team feels free to speak their mind freely, without having to fear any consequences at either personal or professional levels. This – of course – does not imply that there are neither wrong or right answers nor bad or good decision. It just makes clear that the way by which feedbacks are given is directly related to the construction of any work environment. In turn, a positive work environment is crucial because the output of a collaborator is profoundly affected by it in terms of motivation, attachment to and caring for the business, and creativity. The latter in particular is central to academia. If any advancement of knowledge is to be found in the elaboration of different points of view and the divergent interpretations that change the way by which we look at something, then, it is evident how important a creative approach is. Yet to properly been nurtured, creativity requires a constructive, positive, and open environment – it needs psychological safety. Only in this way scholars – especially young scholars – can feel free to propose something new without fearing ostracising consequences.
In my opinion (and it is a very humble opinion, since I am not a psychologist nor a pedagogist), the construction of a psychologically safe environment in academia implies the adoption of two simple and correlated “practices” that are very well known by academics – or at least, they should be. Firstly, (1.) any feedback should always be a constructive feedback since it has to correct a weakness by instructing (i.e., making them understand, not just execute) a different point of view. This is a basic approach of teaching and, accordingly, one should expect academics to apply it constantly, with both students and colleagues. Sadly, this does not appear to be the case, at least not very often. I believe that one of the causes of this attitude is the lack of proper training of the teaching staff (and, therefore, it affects students before fellow scholars, which is even worse), but I will leave this point to another time. Secondly, (2.) when giving a feedback our mindset should be grounded on another notion, that of divergent thinking (first proposed by Guilford 1956). We should be open to consider another point of view, even the opposite stance, with an open mind. In most cases, there is no need to even mention this fundamental aspect. I know many colleagues that have humbly changed their positions after having considered things from a different point of view and I have myself done the same. However, this scientific humility is something that has to be nurtured by each one of us. The reason is simple and connected to the interpretative stratification of our work.
Let’s suppose that A elaborates an interpretation of x during their early career. A receives good feedbacks and uses the A-interpretation to read also y and z. Throughout many years, A has written very much about x, y, and z using the A-interpretation. This allows A to use it in further cases and that piece of knowledge (the A-interpretation) becomes a given of A’s reading of the tradition, as a first layer of a stratified interpretative knowledge that A uses while teaching and doing research. Now, let’s think that B proposed a radically different interpretation of z. The B-interpretation impacts not only on A’s interpretation of z, but also on the A-interpretation of y and x, changing the way in which z, y, and x are considered. Finally, let’s suppose that the B-interpretation is more valid than the A-interpretation, for it is based on more data and is more philosophically sound. And imagine what would happen if A is the referee of B’s article, the reviewer of B’s book, the respondent of B’s talk, or a member of the hiring committee of a post for which B is competing. Deontologically, we should assume that A, appreciating the work made by B, positively (i.e., without biases, whatever A’s final decision is) evaluates B’s interpretation. However, why should A do so, considering that B’s interpretation corresponds to the weakening of the work that A has done during the past decades? We tend to trust personal ethics in this, and we should. To that end, however, it is necessary for A – for all As – to preliminarily understand the transitional status of any interpretation and that interpretations and theories are not absolutely right only because they have been accepted now or in the past. This corresponds to practicing divergent thinking, to open our perspective to alternative readings without any unjustified pretension to hold preliminarily the truth about that.
I truly believe that a conjunction of these two basic practices – giving constructive feedbacks and nurturing divergent thinking – can help us constructing a better academia marked by openness, inclusivity, and, crucially, focused on the advancement of knowledge. It allows to correct mistakes and misinterpretations in a positive way, fostering a constant-learning attitude in everyone, from PhD students to full professors. It leads to sounder, steadier theories and interpretations, whose evaluation is grounded on a consideration of opposed readings and points of view. It requires us to become reflective practitioners in our work as researchers and teachers. And it creates a global work environment in which everyone feels safe to speculate and interpret, create and recreate, without biases.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I couldn’t resist. After all, it was my first time ever. And it is so close to here. Notwithstanding the bad weather and the pandemic, guided by two brave historians of philosophy (Jenny Pelletier and Nicolas Zeks), I have finally (yet shortly) visited Brussels! Further explorations are needed in the (hopefully near) future.
During this horrible pandemic, getting onto a train for a 29km ride to Brussels seemed like a real trip! Especially thinking that this year, for the first time in 36 years, I won’t be able to spend Christmas with my family in Tuscany.
At least, 2020 will be over in a few weeks.
This makes me think back to last December, when Alexander, Pedro, and I were writing the introduction to the new issue of Revista Española de Filosofía Medieval. And I – foreseeing a bright and sweet new year – suggested to joyfully wish “a special 2020 to everyone!”
As I have recently said to Alexander and Pedro, this year I won’t write a single word of the introduction to the December 2020 issue of Revista Española de Filosofía Medieval!!
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.
ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT
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.
Finally, the first copy of my book has arrived!
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).
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.
Here’s the video of the fantastic keynote lecture by Cecilia Trifogli at the workshop “Prime Matter: The Ontological Stakes of Physical Endurance” (HU Berlin, 28 Feb 2020).
It has been exhausting, but so rewarding! The first Prime Matter Workshop has been an incredible success. Splendid talks, awesome speakers, brilliant discussions, and a lot of people attending.
Below, some photos taken throughout the day.
Can’t wait for the second Prime Matter Workshop, on 14 May 2020!
Rosie, Tom, and I had a splendid research meeting today in Oxford. A great deal of new ideas and planning for the next months. I don’t want to spoil the surprise, you will see…
Just some short photographic update from Oxford.
Everything is fine here.
Everything is going very well in Oxford. Lot of work to do, lots of things to see (mostly manuscripts and people), lot of ancient dust, and many diverse perceptual experiences (not necessarily pleasant). With some aesthetic addition, sometimes…
I will be based in Oxford for some time, visiting the Faculty of Philosophy and working with Cecilia Trifogli on theories of matter in the thirteenth century. This is going to be such a great time!!
Organised by Vincenzo Carlotta and Katja Krause, an intriguing workshop on “Alchemy between Practices and Theories” is about to take place at the MPIWG – Berlin. Lots of fun ahead!
The Winter Semester 2019 has just started. And with it, a fresh new reading group, this time dedicated to exploring Nicholas of Autrecourt’s Universal Treatise (more here). Also the Medieval Gatherings have started again with Elena Baltuta’s talk on Kilwardby’s intentionality of pain (you can watch the video here). The semester couldn’t have started in a better way!
Terrific artistic time with Rosie Reed Gold at Tate Modern! Olafur Eliasson’s exhibition has been the most beautiful, captivating, metaphysical exhibit I have ever seen in my life. It is just unique!
My immense gratitude to Rosie for this splendid experience and her unparalleled artistic guidance! A lot of inspiration for new explorations of precarious ontologies with Rosie and the Extensions Project Group (https://extensionsofreality.com/) – more soon!
40 degrees, no air conditioning. In Utrecht. It has been a “different” HSS congress this year. Still an amazing one. Here are some shots I have taken during these hot Dutch days.
Here’s the programme of “Matters Entangled”, the symposium Elena Baltuta and I have organised at HU Berlin. All are welcome to attend! This is going to be memorable…
Shots from the enlightening talk given by Mattia Cipriani on Thomas of Cantimpré’s Liber de Natura Rerum. Almost two hours discussing source and aims, manuscripts and circulation, intricacies and implications of a fascinating author that contributed so much to the history of medieval science. Video available very soon!
A couple of photos from the superb talk given by Giouli Korobili on Aristotle and Roger Bacon. Sorry for the lack of video—my fault!Continue reading
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 https://www.worldlang.txstate.edu/toledo/
As always, some photos of the conference and its awesome venue.
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.
At Lincoln Cathedral, with light and colour (and lines, angles, shapes…) and a special presence. What a spectacular and unique place!
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.