Agostino Nifo's Early Views on Immortality
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Notes and Discussions AGOSTINO NIFO'S EARLY VIEWS ON IMMORTALITY Various historians of Renaissance philosophy have taken some notice of the prolific author and important philosopher of the late 15th and early 16th centuries, Agostino Nifo (1470-1538), x but no one has yet studied his writings in a methodical and exhaustive fashion. 2 He not only published philosophical works in logic, physics, psychology and metaphysics, but he also authored treatises on humanist topics? Recent scholars have tended to concentrate their attention on his psychological doctrines, no doubt because he was one of the major opponents of Pietro Pomponazzi (1462-1525) during the immortality controversy.4 Nifo published his De Immortalitate Animae in 1518 as a reply to the De lmmortalitate Ardmae , On the year of Nifo)s birth, see Bruno Nardi, Saggi sull'aristotelismo padovano dal secolo xav al xvl ('Florence, 1958), p. 284, n. 8. There is contemporary evidence that he died on January 18, 1538. See Bartolommeo Capasso, "Le cronache de li antiqui ri del regno di Napoli di D. Gaspare Fuscolill0," Archivio storico per le province napoletane, I (1876), p. 538. The standard bio-bibliography still remains Pasquale Tuozzi, "Agostino Nifo 9 le sue opere," Atti e memorie della R. Accademia di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti in Padova, Nuova scrie, XX (Padua, 1904), pp. 63-86. But see also Giuseppr Tommasino, Tra umanisti e filosoft (Maddaloni, 1921), Porte I, pp. 123-147; and Edward P. Mahoney, "A Note on Agostino Nifo," Philological Quarterly (forthcoming). z See Franeeseo Fiorentino, Pietro Pomponazzi; Studi storici su la scuola bolognese e padovana del secolo xvI (Florence, 1868); Carlo Giacon, La seconda scolastica: 1 grandi commentatori di San Tommaso (Milan, 1944); Etienne Gilson, "L'affaire de l'immortalit6 de l'fime ~t Venise at* d6but du xvIe si~ele," in Umanesirno europeo e uraanesimo veneziano, ed. Vittore Branea (Florence, 1963), pp. 31-61; Miehele Giorgiantonio, "Un nostro filosofo dimentieato dcl '400 (Luea Prassicio e Agostino Nifo)," Sophia, XVI (1948), pp. 212-214 and 303-312; Bruno Nardi, Saggi sulraristotelismo padovano dal secolo x]v al xvI (Florence, 1958); idem, Sigieri di Brabante nel pensiero del Rinascimento Italiano (Rome, 1945); Giovanni di NapoH, L'immortalitd delranima nel Rinascimento ('Turin, 1963); John Herman Randall, Jr., The School of Padua and the Emergence of Modern Science (Padua, 1961); Wilhelm Risse, Die Logik der Neuzeit, I (Stuttgart, 1964); Eugenio Garin, La cultura [ilosofica del Rinascimento Italiano (Florence, 1961); idem, Storia della filosofia italiana, II (Turin, 1966). See Nifo's De Armorum Literarumque Comparatione Commentariolus (Naples, 1526); De Pulchro et Amore (Rome, 1531); De Re Aulica (Naples, 1534); and Prima Pars Opusculorum (Venice, 1535). The second of these works has been studied by Jules Houdoy, La beaut~ des femmes dans la litt#rature et darts rart du xII" au xvIe si~cle; Analyse du livre de A. Niphus du Beau et de l'amour (Paris, 1876). 4 For recent discussion of the immortality controversy, see Etienne Gilson, "Autour de Pomponazzi, ProbMmatique de l'immortalit~ de l'~me en Italic au d~but du xvIe si~.cle," Archives d'histoire doctrinale et litt~raire du moyen dge, Ann6e 1961, pp. 163-179; Giovanni di Napoli, op. cit., especially pp. 227-338; Paul Oskar Kristeller, Eight Philosophers of the Italian Renaissance (Stanford, 1964), pp. 72-90; Bruno Nardi, Studi su Pietro Pomponazzi (Florence, 1965); Martin Pine, "Pomponazzi and the Problem of 'Double Truth'," Journal ot the History of Ideas, XXIX (1968), pp. 163-176; Harold Shulsky, "Paduan Epistemology and the Doctrine of the One Mind," lournal of the History of Philosophy, VI (1968), pp. 341-361. [451] 452 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY (1516) of Pomponazzi, who had argued that personal immortality cannot be philosophically demonstrated, s But while these scholars correctly point out that Nifo abandoned an Averroist interpretation of Aristotle concerning the unity of the intellect and the immortality of the soul for the position which they assume to be Thomistic, they are not precise as to just when Nile made the shift.6 They have not observed that in his first two printed works, namely, the commentary on Averroes' Destructio Destructionum (1497) and the early commentary on the De Anima (1503), Nifo explicitly accepts Averroes as the...


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