Renaissance

Renaissance Aristotelianism has finally at least become a subject of specialized scholarship. Decades ago, John Herman Randall Jr. put forth the thesis that modern science actually originated from Italian Renaissance secular Aristotelianism, especially in the University of Padua. Consensus seems to be that Randall overstated his case, but he put it in very strong terms. A weaker version of that seems a lot more plausible to me than what are still more common attempts to associate modern science with Renaissance Platonism. Renaissance Platonism was interesting, but not remotely scientific or mathematical. People like Ficino and Pico and Bruno were actually more interested in magic.

Even theological Aristotelianisms always preserved a fair amount of naturalistic content. Unlike most medieval and Renaissance universities, the Italian ones were dominated by the faculties of medicine and law rather than the faculty of theology. Italian scholasticism therefore developed in a more secular context. Secular masters of arts played an important role across Europe, and theologians too addressed many philosophical concerns in a sophisticated way, so the distinction is relative. But especially strong currents of largely naturalistic scholasticism developed in Italy.

It is also a little known fact that more commentaries on Aristotle were produced in the 16th century than in all previous history. (See also Languages, Books, Curricula.)

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