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Chapter Six Learned Anti-Aristotelianism Instruction in natural philosophy during the sixteenth century was overwhelmingly Aristotelian, in universities, in newly founded Jesuit colleges, and in other schools and religious institutions throughout Catholic and Protestant Europe. More commentaries on Aristotle were written between 1500 and 1650 than in the previous millennium.1 During these years, printing houses published hundreds of editions of Aristotle’s philosophical works in both Greek and Latin.2 Yet alternative versions of natural philosophy increasingly competed with the traditional. These new philosophies questioned fundamental propositions of Aristotelianism. Some reformulated matter theory. For example Bernardino Telesio and Girolamo Cardano revised the number of elements or prime qualities that explained the physical world. Others questioned the application of syllogistic logic, following Petrus Ramus; or, basing themselves on Platonic or Hermetic visions of the universe , as Francesco Patrizi did, they rejected Aristotle’s conception of the divine. These promoters of alternatives to Aristotelianism presented themselves in opposition to traditional ways of conceiving nature or of teaching philosophy. The needs of university teaching, the values of Renaissance humanism, and the ideal of prisca theologia shaped the character of their opposition. Their concerns with Aristotle’s natural philosophy went beyond disagreements about matter theory, dialectic, and philosophic authority. Religion counted among their motivations for dismissing Aristotle. To many, Pomponazzi’s and Porzio’s interpretation of Aristotle suggested the incompatibility of Christianity with Peripatetic thought. Simultaneously the promotion of ancient rhetorical traditions and the persistence of Neoplatonism offered material for devising new explanations of the universe and for attacking Aristotle’s. Lear ned Anti-Aristotelianism 103 In the years that Italian university professors and Jesuits were honing their versions of Aristotelianism, authors, who promoted the field of rhetoric and endorsed Cicero, attacked Aristotelians much as they had done in the previous centuries. Despite continuity with earlier polemics, the specifics of their critiques changed just as Aristotelianism changed. Sixteenth-century polemicists confronted Pomponazzi and others who separated Aristotle’s views from theology because of their supposed effect on the morals of students and youths, just as Jesuits had done. For example, in 1546 Paolo Giovio, who had studied with Pomponazzi at Bologna, described the attempt to prove the mortality of the soul according to Aristotle’s view as being so nefarious that “nothing more pestilential could be induced that would corrupt youth and dissolve the discipline of Christian life.”3 The vehemence of Giovio’s words is particularly striking given that they were written by a Catholic only decades after the advent of Protestantism. The danger Pomponazzi posed apparently outweighed Luther, for Giovio. Giovio pinpointed Pomponazzi as the cause of immorality, but others criticized Aristotelians more generally. Averroes and Averroists remained a target, as did the alleged indiscriminate application of logic and poor Latin prose found in the work of Aristotelians. The writers of anti-Scholastic invectives of the previous centuries provided much of the inspiration for attacks on Aristotelianism. Hellenizing and Medicine New contexts for humanistic invectives arose in the sixteenth century. As the ideals of humanism permeated universities, several scholars within universities castigated what they saw as impure or outdated versions of Aristotelianism. The Hellenizing tendency of university professors inspired critiques of curricula based on Arabic-writing authors and promoted ancient writings as the greatest source of both wisdom and technical knowledge. As a result, these scholars attacked Averroes and those influenced by him, not just on linguistic grounds but also for deviating from religious orthodoxy as well. During the sixteenth century, attitudes toward the teaching of medicine reflected growing interest in Greek texts and the privileging of the authors of antiquity . Throughout the late Middle Ages and Renaissance, Italian universities used Avicenna’s Canon as a central instructional text for medicine.4 The Canon was translated from Arabic into Latin in the twelfth century and so suffered from the perceived linguistic and conceptual flaws that some humanists also had attributed to Averroes’ work. In Ferrara, Nicolò Leoniceno (1428–1525) reacted against the traditional curricula based largely on Avicenna and contended that the Arabico-Latin tradition should be entirely replaced by Greek authorities. To 104 subv erting aristotle remedy what he considered to be the dire state of medical instruction, Leoniceno collected manuscripts and made new translations of Galen. Others at Ferrara, such as Giovanni Manardi (1462–1536), followed this tradition, advocating the use of Greek among physicians to avoid terminological confusion. Similarly, Antonio Musa Brasavola (1500–1555) embraced Galen as an authority, making an index of the Galenic corpus and promoting...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781421413174
Related ISBN
9781421413167
MARC Record
OCLC
872114661
Pages
272
Launched on MUSE
2014-04-30
Language
English
Open Access
No
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