In this article, Julius Caesar Scaliger’s Poetices libri septem and Johannes Wower’s De polymathia tractatio are analyzed and contrasted with each other, and a number of hitherto unnoticed similarities between the two works are brought to the fore. It is argued that these similarities are rooted in a shared understanding of the notions of grammatice and of critice, which, in turn, is traced back to a number of passages in Sextus Empiricus’s Adversus grammaticos. It is further argued that Sextus Empiricus was initially not read as a Pyrrhonian sceptic in the fifteenth century, but that at least some of his arguments were used in order to structure the encyclopedia of grammatical knowledge, understood in the widest possible meaning of this word. It is finally argued that Poliziano was the driving force behind this initial understanding; that poetics and polymathy were almost indistinguishable intellectual pursuits in the context of early modern erudition; and that their eventual drifting apart was mainly due to the key notion of critice being invested with different, irreconcilable meanings in the course the seventeenth century.
The purpose of this article is to give an account of Franceso Patrizi da Cherso's (1529-1597) criticism and eventual refutation of the Aristotelian principles of form, privation, and matter, as it can be found in his voluminous anti-Aristotelian treatise, the Discussziones Peripateticae (1581). His refutation of these three concepts is informed by two convictions: (i) that Aristotle's theory is inconsistent, and can therefore not be taken seriously as a relevant contribution to philosophical discussion; (ii) that Aristotle's theory, whether consistent or not, is either unoriginal or unintelligible, and must therefore be rejected by philosophers worthy of this name anyway. Patrizi's argumentation is conducted with great philological care and philosophical acumen. He tries to prove that there is no need for principles to be finite; that they cannot be everlasting; that they cannot be generated from one another; and that there is no need for them to be contraries. He further tries to show that neither privation nor form can be principles, the rejection of form including the notions of form as universal, as particular, as individual, and as generic, as well as those of form as nature and of form as cause. Patrizi concludes that forms must be accidents. Although prime matter is retained as a principle, it is severely qualified; this is here interpreted with reference to Patrizi's own theory of principles in the Nova de universis philosophia. The article concludes with a brief outlook on the influence (or rather, lack of influence) of Patrizi's discussion and suggests one possible explanation for it.
Francesco Patrizi da Cherso's Discussiones peripateticae (1581) are one of the most comprehensive analyses of the whole of Aristotelian philosophy to be published before Werner Jaeger's Aristoteles. The main thrust of the argument in the Discussiones is that whatever Aristotle had said that was true was not new, and that whatever he had said that was new was not true. The article shows how Patrizi proves this with respect to the Organon, and deals with the implications for the history af ancient philosophy in general implied by his stance.