The Italian Mind

Vernacular Logic in Renaissance Italy (1540-1551)


From the twelfth to the seventeenth century, Aristotle’s writings lay at the foundation of Western culture, providing a body of knowledge and a set of analytical tools applicable to all areas of human investigation. Scholars of the Renaissance have emphasized the remarkable longevity and versatility of Aristotelianism, but they have mainly focused on the Latin tradition. Scarce, if any, attention has gone to vernacular works. Nonetheless, several important Renaissance figures wished to make Aristotle’s works accessible and available outside the narrow circle of professional philosophers and university professors to a broad set of readers. The thesis underpinning this book is that Italian vernacular Aristotelianism, especially in the field of logic, made fundamental contributions to the thought of the period, anticipating many of the features of early modern philosophy and contributing to a new conception of knowledge.
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Biographical Note

Marco Sgarbi is the Principal Investigator of the ERC Starting Grant 2013 "Aristotle in the Italian Vernacular: Rethinking Renaissance and Early-Modern Intellectual History (c. 1400-c. 1650)". He has published monographs on the impact of Aristotelianism on the making of Renaissance and early-modern philosophy, focusing on British Empiricism and Kantian Philosophy. He edited for Brill Translatio Studiorum. Ancient, Medieval, and Modern Bearers of Intellectual History (2012).

Table of contents

Acknowledgements ..... vii
Sources and Abbreviations ... ix

1. Introduction .... 1
Logic in Context ... 1
Vernacular in Context ..... 10
Prospectus ... 19

2. Language, Vernacular and Philosophy .... 23
Res vs. Verba .... 23
The Shadow of Pomponazzi ..... 31
The Accademia degli Infiammati ..... 41

3. Sperone Speroni between Language and Logic ..... 45
Wisdom and Eloquence .... 45
Speroni’s Pomponazzi ..... 58
Speroni’s Most Loyal Disciple: Bernardino Tomitano ... 65

4. Benedetto Varchi and the Idea of a Vernacular Logic (1540) .... 71
Aristotelian Anthropology ... 71
Varchi’s Logical Library ..... 79
Varchi’s Logic at the Accademia degli Infiammati ... 81
The Universals .... 106
Method and Order ..... 111
An Anonymous Dialogue ..... 120

5. Antonio Tridapale and the First Vernacular Logic (1547) .... 127
Antonio Tridapale and Knowledge as Power .... 127
The Elements of Logic .... 133
The Operations of Logic .... 142

6. Nicolo Massa’s Logic for Natural Philosophy (1549) ... 154
Nicolo Massa between Philosophy and Medicine .... 154
The Elements of Argumentation ... 158
Scientific Demonstration ..... 158

7. Alessandro Piccolomini’s Instrument of Philosophy (1551) ..... 175
Piccolomini in Padua ... 175
A New Instrument ... 186
The Structure of Logic .... 195
Logic for Natural Philosophy .... 205

8. Conclusion .... 213
Vernacular and Logic ... 213
The Logician in the Printing Presses ..... 219

Bibliography ... 229
Index ..... 241


All interested in the history of Renaissance philosophy, literature, and science and anyone concerned with the problem of the rise of vernacular languages and the popularization of knowledge.