Renaissance Philosophy

By Charles B. Schmitt; Brian P. Copenhaver | Go to book overview

6
Renaissance Philosophy and Modern Memory

In 1499 an Italian humanist named Polidoro Vergilio -- better known as Polydore Vergil because he lived most of his life in England -- published a reference book titled De inventoribus rerum on the topic of discoveries or inventions in the arts and sciences and various areas of human and material culture. Later expansions of De inventoribus added material on church institutions, and the work became enormously successful. Thirty Latin editions had appeared by the time Polydore died in 1555, and by the early eighteenth century more than a hundred versions had accumulated in eight languages, including Russian. The sixteenth chapter of the first book is "'On the Origin of Philosophy and Its Two Beginnings; Who First Invented Ethics and Dialectic and Introduced Dialogues'". Fifteen previous chapters cover religion, cosmogony, language, marriage, literature, grammar, poetry, drama, history, rhetoric, music, and other subjects before taking up philosophy. Because it requires only a few paragraphs and because no contemporary English version exists, I have given the whole chapter on philosophy below, as an example of a humanist's conception of the origins of the discipline, composed at the close of the fifteenth century but still influential in Leibniz's lifetime.1

Cicero On Duties calls philosophy 'devotion to wisdom' and 'expeller of vices and explorer of virtue' in the Tusculans. Philosophy is generally thought to have come to the Greeks from the barbarians. For they say that the Magi were the first famous wise men among the Persians; among the Babylonians and Assyrians it was the Chaldaeans; among the Indians the Gymnosophists, the founder of whose school was named Buddha, according to Jerome Against Jovinian; among

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1
Vergilio ( 1554: 58-60), emended in a few places; Copenhaver ( 1978b).

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Renaissance Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Opus General Editors ii
  • Title Page iii
  • P. O. Kristeller v
  • Foreword vii
  • Preface ix
  • Contents xiii
  • 1 - The Historical Context of Renaissance Philosophy 1
  • 2 - Aristotelianism 60
  • 3 - Platonism 127
  • 4 - Stoics, Sceptics, Epicureans, and Other Innovators 196
  • 5 - Nature against Authority: Breaking Away from the Classics 285
  • 6 - Renaissance Philosophy and Modern Memory 329
  • Bibliography 358
  • Index 433
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