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Alessandro Achillini (1463-1512) and 'Ockhamism' at Bologna (1490-1500)* HERBERT MATSEN THE THESIS OF THIS PAPER is that Alessandro Achillini (1463-1512), Professor of Philosophy and/or Medicine at the University of Bologna, was instrumental in bringing about a brief revival at Bologna in interest in the writings and some doctrines of the fourteenth -century English Franciscan philosopher and theologian William of Ockham. The order of topics is as follows: first, I shall allude very briefly to the state of Ockhamistic research as it applies to Bologna at the time of Achillini's activity, as far as I understand it. Second, I shall sketch briefly Achillini's life and career. Third and finally, I shall illustrate his importance in an Ockhamistic revival by studying certain logical and metaphysical topics treated in Achillini's writings and by comparing and contrasting his opinions on these issues with those of Ockham. A reader of this paper has kindly suggested that one should introduce this subject by sketching the influence of Ockham in Italy. As valuable as this suggestion is, I for one am not qualified to do so. To the best of my knowledge, many of the critical editions and monographic works on which such a study should be made are still important desiderata. In spite of recent work, much remains to be done about the influence of Ockham in Italy from 1350 to 1500. To make unsupported generalizations about this or that presumed influence of Ockham at Bologna does not seem to me to be sound. What I can assure the reader is that I have traced certain topics Achillini treated; some important doctrines seem to reflect Ockham's views and others do not. More important, for the former, I could seldom find immediate predecessors to whom Achiilini might have been indebted,x There is a different sort of evidence to support AchiUini's alleged 'Ockhamism' and his efforts in introducing some 'Ockhamistic' doctrines at .Bologna, namely, the fact that Marcus de Benevento dedicates one of Ockham's works to Achillini and in his letter of dedication he seems to thank Achillini for his efforts in introducing him to Ockhamistic ideas.2 It is also of importance that Marcus edited two other works of Ockham or three in all and published them at Bologna between the years 1494 and 1498, during Achillini 's academic career at Bologna. * The essence of this paper was read at the Eighth Conference on Medieval Studies held at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan in May, 1973. The paper was read also to the RenaissanceSeminar at Columbia University on April 2, 1974,and presented at a philosophy Colloquium at the University of South Carolina on April 23, 1975. 1 Once and for all I should like to refer the reader to my study, Al:ssandro Achi!lini (14631512 ) and his Doctrine of 'Universals' and 'Transcendentals': A Study in Renaissance "Ockhamism' (Lewisburg,Penn.: Bucknell University Press, 1974);hereafter Achillini. In that work the points made in this paper are fully documented. 2 This point willbe supported below; see notes 34--35 and the Conclusion of this article. [437] 438 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY The second topic is to sketch Achillini's life and career. He was born in Bologna on October 29, 1463, earned degrees in arts (philosophy) and medicine on the 7th of September 1484, and taught at that same institution from 1484 until early in 1512, except for two academic years, 1506-1508, when he served at the University of Padua as Professor of Philosophy and 'concorrente' of the Mantuan who later became famous, Pietro Pomponazzi.3 According to a fanciful account, Achillini and Pomponazzi actually held a disputation in Padua in 1488, 4 but this does not seem likely because Achillini did not go to Padua to teach at the University until the fall of 1506. As for his personality, Luca Gaurico, a contemporary, says that he was graceful, tall in stature but well-proportioned, cheerful, pleasant, smiling and approachable.5 Paolo Giovio, a one-time pupil of Pomponazzi, is not quite so complimentary. He says, in effect, that although Achillini was well-read and formidable in debate, he was somewhat rigid and stiff in his...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 437-451
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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