In: Nuncius
GABRIELE BARONCINI Universit di Bologna

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title SUMMARY /title It is a commonly held belief that the classical world not only failed to develop mechanism but that it did not even possess a lexical and conceptual equivalent to the modern metaphor of the machina mundi. On the other hand the ancient world's familiarity with a wide variety of mechanisms is well known and this can be seen in Platonic and Aristotelian lexis. This present essay proposes to reformulate the judgement regarding the absence of a general notion of the machine in the classical world and its correspondent metaphorical use in the light of the specific forms of metaphorical exchange which the philosophical and scientific thought of the ancients placed between naturalia and artificialia. In this perspective the absence of the modern metaphor appears to be compensated for in a way by the contiguous of natural demiurgy (natura opifex); a diffuse presence which utilizes the subjective aspect of projecting demiurgy as an intertechnical metaphor. In the pseudo-Aristotelian De mundo the typically modern connection between artificialist and legal metaphor comes to the surface. Besides, the world machine of the modern age was to lose its traditional semantical ties with the demiurgical machinatio only in the late eighteenth century. A more objective meaning of machina made headway in Latin culture and the term was proposed as a common name for mechanical apparatus. The new theological interest in patristics then gave the demiurgical metaphor a tendency towards the radical denaturalization of worldliness, which was particularly evident in Lattanzio.

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