My main research interest is the notion of prime matter, especially in consideration of Premodern discussions of matter-theories in philosophy and science (1200-1700). Following Aristotle, Premodern metaphysicians postulated the existence of an unqualified prime matter whose traits are non-resolvable into the qualifications of a “materiality” that natural philosophy and science usually ascribe to material things (i.e., things made of matter). The discrepancy between the concepts of matter and materiality (their theoretical surplus on metaphysical and physical considerations of substance) is a meaningful thread which led to key-adjustments and a later abandonment of matter-theories based on Aristotle in the Early-Modern Period. My hypothesis is that central epistemological reasons were behind this detachment from prime matter. Premodern thinkers adopted diverse strategies to root the conditions of knowability and intelligibility of prime matter on a solid ground. My current analysis displays the relevance these thinkers bestowed upon the task of establishing an epistemic ground for prime matter, a lack of which would have weakened the whole edifice of Aristotle’s natural philosophy—as it did eventually.
Another strand of my research is the examination of how texts, doctrines, and instruments circulated in Premodern times throughout the Mediterranean Basin and beyond the limits of socio-cultural niches. I have worked for years on the history of cultural and scientific cross-pollination in Medieval Iberia, with special attention paid to the “Toledan ontologies” related Dominicus Gundissalinus (twelfth century)—Avicenna, Ibn Gabirol, al-Ghazali, Ibn Daud. My research focuses on the effects the dissemination of these theories throughout Premodern Europe has had, particularly concerning the English tradition (Robert Grosseteste and Roger Bacon). Indeed, in my opinion the influence of Islamicate texts and practices on the Latin reshaping of Aristotelian natural philosophy is essential to understand the processes that led to the seventeenth-century “scientific revolution”.
Funded Research Projects
Knowing the Shadow: Ontology and Epistemology of Matter in the Thirteenth Century
Implementation: Humboldt Universität zu Berlin (DE), September 2018 to August 2020.
Sponsor: Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung.
The Metaphysics of Grosseteste and Bacon: Between Philosophy and Science
Implementation: Durham University (UK), July 2016 to June 2018.
Sponsor: Durham University, DIFeREns2 and European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for research, technological development and demonstration under grant agreement no 609412.
La scuola di traduttori di Toledo, Gundisalvi e l’influenza avicenniana sul pensiero latino tra XII e XIII secolo
Implementation: Università di Pavia (IT), January to June 2016.
Sponsor: Chimaera Foundation – Centro studi di Filosofia Medievale Maria Elena Reina.
Gundissalinus’ Reception of Universal Hylomorphism and Its Influence in the 13th Century
Implementation: University of Notre Dame (IN, USA), February to May 2015.
Sponsor: University of Notre Dame and SIEPM.
Organisation of Conferences and Panels
Pre-Modern Experiences and the Limits of Science
Panel at the 2017 Meeting of the History of Science Society. Toronto, ON (Canada), 9-12 November 2017.
Translating Experience: Medieval Encounters with Nature, Self, and God
(with K. Krause) International conference at Durham University, Durham (UK), 4-6 June 2017
Da Stagira a Parigi: prospettive aristoteliche tra Antichità e Medioevo
(with C. Blengini, S. Gastaldi, and C. Zizza) International conference at the Università di Pavia, Pavia (IT), 30-31 May 2016.
Idee, testi e autori arabi ed ebraici e la loro ricezione latina
International conference at the Università di Pavia, Pavia (IT), 3-4 December 2014.
Pensare a Weimar. Figure del pensiero tedesco nella Germania della crisi
(with L. De Giovanni) Conference at the Università di Pavia (IT), 10-12 December 2013.
Revista Española de Filosofía Medieval (with Alexander Fidora and Pedro Mantas España), 2018-present.
Since March 2018, I am Editor of the Revista Española de Filosofía Medieval. REFIME is an yearly scholarly publication, which is indexed and peer-reviewed, and distributed by the University of Zaragoza’s Publication Service. Revista is the official journal of SOFIME, a Society mainly gathering scholars from Spain, Portugal, and South America, but also from the rest of Europe and North America. Its official venue is the University of Zaragoza. Revista is continuously published since 1993, with scientific contributions in Spanish, English, French, German, Portuguese, and Italian. The submitted articles must be original contributions to the discussion on medieval thought and the transmission of knowledge (from the Middle Ages up to the Early-Modern Period), with a special interest on authors and texts of the Iberian Peninsula, even though also contributions related to the intellectual tradition of Late Antiquity are welcomed.
Anuario Filosófico, Mediterranea, Revista de Humanidades, Enrahonar, EUNSA.
Grants and Honours
Seal of Excellence of the European Commission
2018. Awarded for the research project ‘Knowing the Shadow: Knowledge and Experience of Matter in the Middle Ages’ (n. 793587).
Alexander von Humboldt Research Grant
2018. Awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung for the project “Knowing the Shadow.”
Implementation at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin (DE), September 2018 to August 2020.
2016. Awarded by the Chimaera Foundation – Centro studi di Filosofia Medievale Maria Elena Reina for the research project “La scuola di traduttori di Toledo.”
Implementation at the Università di Pavia (IT), January to June 2016.
SIEPM Research Grant
2015. Awarded by the University of Notre Dame and Société Internationale pour l’Étude de la Philosophie Médiévale (SIEPM) for the research project “Gundissalinus’ Reception of Universal Hylomorphism.”
Implementation at the University of Notre Dame (IN, USA), February to May 2015.
Honorary Fellow in Medieval Philosophy
Since 2014. Department of Humanities, Università di Pavia (IT).
2012-2015 . Università di Pavia (IT). Competitive grant. Admission rate (2012/13): 2,24%.
The Warburg Institute
London (UK), July-Sept 2014.
The Warburg Institute
London (UK), July-Aug 2013.
Communication and Outreach
Sociedad de Filosofía Medieval (SOFIME), 2016-present.
Medioevo Latino/MEL, Società Internazionale per lo Studio del Medioevo Latino (SISMEL). Since 2011.
Membership of Research Teams
The Ordered Universe
AHRC-funded Research Project, Durham University and University of Oxford (UK), 2016-present.
The Ordered Universe is a cutting-edge research project based in Durham, UK, and directed by Giles Gasper. Its aims are as simple as tough: joining together, on the one hand, historians, philosophers, and theologians, and, on the other hand, theoretical physicists, cosmologists, and engineers to study Robert Grosseteste’s scientific opuscula. Since years, the Ordered Universe Project has opened a new landscape for the methodology and approach to the history of medieval science, proving that a collaboration between scientists and humanists is not only possible, but also desirable.
Cordoba Near Eastern Research Unit
University of Cordoba (ES), 2018-present
Research group founded in 2012 to foster knowledge of Near and Middle Eastern societies from the ancient period to the modern times.
University of Porto (PT), 2018-present
Based at the Institute of Philosophy of the University of Porto (PT), the RG intends to do systematic research exploring four thematic fields, which were pivotal in philosophy from the 13th to 17th Century. Expected results of this research are mainly critical editions, studies and papers, translations, cataloguing and description of sources, materials and tools for research (with in situ research of manuscripts or acquisition of reproductions).
Reason, Politics and Society in Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy
University of Porto (PT), 2018-present
The investigation takes into account the great authors from the end of Classical Antiquity to the end of Second Scholasticism (Augustine, Boethius, Scotus Eriugena, Anselm, Abelard, Bernard, Albert the Great, Aquinas, Henry of Ghent, Duns Scotus, Ockham, Nicholas of Cues, Fonseca, Suárez, Poinsot). But there is a particular interest in the study of authors and texts traditionally considered minor, since there is an understanding that they are deserving of close examination, given that their study contributes to the renovation of thought and emergency of new concepts and arguments.
Unity and Plurality of the Logos in the World
University of Navarra (ES), 2016-2018
Based in Pamplona and directed by Maria Jesús Soto Bruna, the research group analyses some fundamental metaphysical and theological themes, such as the causality of the One, the concept of Logos, and the ontological difference between God and creatures, discussed through the long Middle Ages. The group counts many brilliant scholar from Europe and Latin America, and its outcomes will soon be published on a dedicated volume.
Membership of Collaborative Research Networks
Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’ International Working Group
Marquette University (WI, USA), 2016-present.
The Aquinas and the Arabs International Working Group (AAIWG) has become the worldwide reference for the study of the influence Arabic philosophy had on Thomas Aquinas’s thought and, in general, on the thirteenth-century philosophical debate. Meeting regularly twice per year in different location around the world, the group is brilliantly directed by Richard Taylor and gathers the best scholars in the field. AAIWG also organises multimedia research seminars, one of which has been dedicated to Dominicus Gundissalinus.
Roger Bacon: The Philosopher’s Workshop
Società Internazionale per lo Studio del Medioevo Latino, Florence (IT), 2016-present
Directed by Cecilia Panti, the research group Rogerius Bacon: The Philosopher’s Workshop is focused on the shared reading and discussion of Bacon’s works. Based at the SISMEL in Florence, the group organises seminars since 2009: the first one was centred on Roger Bacon’s Communia naturalium, while the current seminar is focused on his Moralis philosophia. The group also started a multimedia dissemination project aimed at sharing accurate knowledge on this pivotal medieval figure beyond the scholarly circle.
DB Roger Bacon
Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona, 2016-present
Membership of Learned Societies
Société Internationale pour l’Étude de la Philosophie Médiévale (SIEPM), since 2013.
History of Science Society (HSS), since 2017.
Sociedad de Filosofía Medieval (SOFIME), since 2012.
British Society for the Philosophy of Science (BSPS), since 2019.
Società Italiana per lo Studio del Pensiero Medievale (SISPM), since 2013.
Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy (SMRP), since 2015.
American Cusanus Society (ACS), since 2017.
International Robert Grosseteste Society, since 2012.
Membership of Scientific Committees
The Multi-ethnic Borderlands of Medieval Toledo: New Directions
International conference organised by Texas State University. Toledo (ES), June 5-7 2019.
Science, Imagination and Wonder – Robert Grosseteste and His Legacy
International conference organised by the University of Oxford and Durham University. Pembroke College, Oxford (UK), 3-6 April 2018.