: This article analyses some of the anatomical waxes in the Museo della Specola in Florence. Executed in at least two different periods in the history of Florentine wax modelling (in the late 17th century and between the 18th and 19th centuries), they project culturally determined images of the body which are analysed from a historico-semiotic perspective. "Rotten corpses," a "disembowelled woman" and a "flayed man" emerge as salient figures in the collection and reveal the close tie between (...) anatomical representations and aesthetics, social relations and religious scruples, in other words, the culture tout court which produced them. (shrink)
This paper investigates the reception of a set of Florentine anatomical wax models on display at the medico-surgical academy Josephinum in late-eighteenth-century Vienna. Celebrated in Florence as tools of public enlightenment, in the Habsburg capital the models were criticised by physicians, who regarded the Josephinum and its surgeons as a threat to their medical authority. The controversy surrounding these models from the empire’s periphery temporarily destabilised the relationship between surgeons and physicians in the Austrian capital. The debate on (...) the utility of the Tuscan anatomical models in Vienna highlights the fact that the centre of the Habsburg empire was by no means medically homogeneous, and that the implementation of reforms could be as difficult to achieve in the capital as in the provinces. (shrink)
The fact that a number of printed editions of Greek physicians appeared during the sixteenth century is clear evidence that publishing houses of the time believed that a substantial interest in such texts existed. What is most surprising is that, until the last decade of the fifteenth century, a prevailing shortage of Greek medical manuscripts had not at all troubled the scholarly and medical communities. This essay shows how minor a niche Galen and other Greek medical writers occupied (...) in the West for a long period of time, until some significant occurrences brought them to the forefront in the 1490s. (shrink)
Control over food supply was advanced in the kingdom of France in the Eighteenth century by Physiocrat economists under the seemingly advantageous label of 'freedom of grain trade'. In 1764 these reforms brought about a rise in grain prices and generated an artificial dearth that ruined the poor, some of whom died from malnutrition. The King halted the reform and re-established the old regime of regulated prices; in order to maintain the delicate balance between prices and wages, the monarchy (...) tried to limit speculation in subsistence goods and achieved some success in regulating the provisioning of public markets. Le Mercier de la Riviere concluded that executing these reforms required more effective political control. After 1774 the new king gave the Physiocratic reforms a second chance, reforming property rights and establishing an aristocracy of the landed rich. Again, this led to price hikes and as a result so-called 'popular emotions' erupted. Turgot ordered military intervention to dispel the protesters, marking a first rupture between the monarchy and the people over speculation on subsistence. Turgot's experiment failed and he was dismissed, but the Physiocracy had discovered that the market in subsistence offered new opportunities for economic power under the misleading legitimacy of 'economic laws'. Turgot's followers, Dupont de Nemours and Condorcet, continued to develop this 'theory' that was later translated into a 'scientific language' that ultimately asserted the autonomy of the economic sphere and its alleged independence from ethics and politics. The paper examines the continuity of events through the six great jacqueries and the French Revolution, including the all- important agrarian reform that ensued after 1792. Robespierre's concept of 'popular political economy' is analysed and compared with the notion of unfettered private property rights that lies at the heart of neoliberalism. (shrink)
"An impressively reasoned and startlingly unorthodox treatise on religion." - Belles Lettres Florence Nightingale (1820-1920) is famous as the heroine of the Crimean War and later as a campaigner for health care founded on a clean environment and good nursing. Though best known for her pioneering demonstration that disease rather than wounds killed most soldiers, she was also heavily allied to social reform movements and to feminist protest against the enforced idleness of middle-class women. This original edition provides bold (...) new insights into Nightingale's beliefs and a new picture of the relationship between feminism and religion. Suggestions for Thought to the Searchers after Truth Among the Artisans of England (1860), which contains the novel Cassandra , is a central text in 19th-century history of feminist thought and is published here for the first time. Nightingale argues that work was the means by which every individual sought self-fulfillment and served God. She wrote influentially about the group most Victorians declared to be above work: unmarried, middle-class women. (shrink)
This is a scholarly work that can be read with fluidity and lucidity. Grafton and Jardine write to the point, give invaluable quotations to prove those points and proceed in such a way that each sentence naturally leads to the next. They write about a subject which in itself at its time was boring: the teaching of grammar from the viewpoint of humanism.
The book presented here is dedicated to the scientist, anatomist, geologist, theologian and bishop, Niels Stensen. He was born in 1638 in Copenhagen into a family of Lutheran parsons and preachers. He studied first in his native town and then at the Faculty of medicine in Leiden, in the Netherlands, before embarking on several trips throughout Europe, in France and Italy in particular. On November 2, 1667, he converted to Catholicism in Florence, and from then his interests turned more (...) and more toward theology. However, he still published many scientific works before being ordained bishop in Rome in 1677. From 1678, he lived in Schwerin, the seat of his bishopric, where he died in 1686. Three centuries later, following the pressing demands of a committee of supporters led mainly by Gustav Scherz, the canonization process began, and in 1988 Stensen was finally declared Blessed of the Roman Catholic Church.The book edited by Kardel and Maquet collects for the first time the English tran .. (shrink)
This article analyses some of the anatomical waxes in the Museo della Specola in Florence. Executed in at least two different periods in the history of Florentine wax modelling , they project culturally determined images of the body which are analysed from a historico-semiotic perspective. "Rotten corpses," a "disembowelled woman" and a "flayed man" emerge as salient figures in the collection and reveal the close tie between anatomical representations and aesthetics, social relations and religious scruples, in other words, the (...) culture tout court which produced them. (shrink)
"The Prince" has long been both praised and reviled for its message of moral relativism, and political expediency. Although a large part is devoted to the mechanics of gaining and staying in power, Machiavelli's end purpose is to maintain a just and stable government. He is not ambiguous in stating his belief that committing a small cruelty to avert a larger is not only justifiable, but required of a just ruler. Machiavelli gives a vivid portrayal of his world in the (...) chaos and tumult of early 16th centuryFlorence, Italy and Europe. He uses both his contemporary political situation, and that of the classical period to illustrate his precepts of statecraft. (shrink)
In his Florentine Histories, Machiavelli offers an ambivalent portrayal of the revolt of the textile workers in late fourteenth-centuryFlorence, known as the tumult of the Ciompi. On the face of it, Machiavelli's depiction of the insurgent workers is not exactly flattering. Yet this picture is undermined by a firebrand speech, which Machiavelli invents and attributes to an unnamed leader of the plebeian revolt. I interpret this speech as a radical and egalitarian vector of thought opened up by (...) Machiavelli's text. The revolutionary address reveals an untimely and not entirely self-conscious political radicalism, a plebeian politics that repudiates the logic of oligarchic privilege and is simultaneously not available for subsumption under the mantle of civic republicanism. (shrink)
Berlin discerns three great crises in Western political thought, each challenging one of its three primary tenets. The three tenets are that questions about correct human actions are answerable, whether the answers are yet known or not; that the answers to those questions, insofar as they are true, cannot contradict each other; and that human beings have a distinctive character, which is essentially social. Each of these tenets has been attacked, the first by the German Romantics of the late eighteenth (...)century, the second by Machiavelli in sixteenth-centuryFlorence, and the third by the Epicureans and Stoics in the late fourth-century BCE. Berlin’s extended examination of this third case demonstrates both how firmly established was the idea that human beings found meaning only in relation to others in the polis and how great and sudden was the transition toward focus on the individual fostered by the Cynics, Epicureans, and Stoics. The suddenness and irruptive nature of this transition cannot be satisfactorily understood as a reflection of political changes alone, but its deeper roots are obscured by the dominance of Plato, Aristotle, and others who subscribed to the polis-centered point of view and regarded possible precursors of the transition as their philosophical opponents. (shrink)
To adopt the least contentious of several definitions, the currents of thought and motifs in the arts that we associate with the Renaissance had their beginnings in fourteenth-centuryFlorence. By the end of the fifteenth century they had spread out to other Italian cities while, during the sixteenth century, the Renaissance became a cross-European phenomenon. But was there also a “Renaissance beyond Europe”?
Alberti's Della pittura was the first, and in many ways the most important, of the Renaissance treatises on painting, elaborating as it does the theoretical backgrounds of the influential new art of 15th-centuryFlorence. This edition presents the work with distinction. The translation--the first in English since 1755--is based upon the known manuscript sources, and has been provided with a helpful introduction and notes. Diagrams serve to clarify Alberti's accounts of perspective. --V. C. C.
Is the 20th Century as obviously preferable to all other times as Rawls would have us assume? Is 20th Century Stockholm preferable to 12th CenturyFlorence in each and every way? In 12th CenturyFlorence men lived without liberty or equality. Yet Florentines were reasonably happy, accepted their place in life, and communicated directly with others. R. Dworkin, ‘The Social Contract’, The Sunday Times, 9 July 1972, p. 31. It was a society with sharply (...) marked class distinctions. In such a society the lowly can gain more self-respect through identity, excellence, and capacity within their station than in an egalitarian society. The lowly can perceive the importance of their labour, be secure that their place is assured by powerful protectors, see models of virtue to admire, and derive a sense of contributing to a meangingful social drama. They may also learn something of the difference between the noble and the ignoble. Are these not qualities Aristotle would appreciate? Medieval man was certainly not free but 'sneither was he alone and isolated ... Man was rooted in a structuralized whole, and thus life had a meaning which left no place, and no need, for doubt.Eric Fromm, Escape From Freedom (New York: Rinehart, 1941), p. 41. In a brief reference to feudalism Rawls himself seems to realise this state of affairs (74). In contrast, Stockholm is a competitive society where loneliness, anxiety, and identity crises have been endlessly documented by social scientists, all occurring despite the high material standard of living. Yet Stockholm would seem to be the model for Rawls and obviously not Florence. One wonders if this social scientific knowledge of Stockholm will be part of the knowledge available to persons in the original position.One critic lauds Rawls's grasp of the social sciences, but perhaps he is not serious, see Hugo Bedau, ‘Rawls’, Nation, 11 September 1972.Justice is not quantitative but qualitative, so Aristotle might say in a brief discussion. In a just society a person's possessions and consumptions are not on the minds of the other people with whom they meet and treat. When Odysseus came home he was delighted to climb into a peasant's cart to ride the last mile home. Contrast this king with King Arthur riding with another peasant on another road, choking with the anxiety that he may not be acting kingly by being in the cart. In Ithaca both king and commoner were sure of each other and, more importantly of themselves. (shrink)
The article analyses the chapter on dreams of the Specchio di vera penitenza by Iacopo Passavanti, a Dominican friar who lived in 14th centuryFlorence, focusing on the philosophical sources employed by the preacher. This section of the Specchio is in fact peculiar, since Iacopo discusses here the value of dreams for human knowledge by means of Aristotelian concepts and doctrines, but it does not mention them explicitly. Moreover, while discussing on dreams, Iacopo lingers on the myth of (...) the magnetic mountain following the pseudo-Aristotelian De lapidibus and the treatise On Minerals by Albert the Great. The article studies also Passavanti’s other sources concerning this passage, such as the De lapidibus by Marbodus of Rennes and the Speculum historiale by Vincent of Beauvais. (shrink)
This article revisits the question of the modernity of the Renaissance by examining the political language of Florentine civic humanism and by critically analyzing the debate over Hans Baron’s interpretation of the movement. It engages two debates that are usually conducted separately: one concerning the originality of civic humanism in comparison to medieval thought, and the other concerning the political and social function of the civic humanists’ political republicanism in fifteenth-centuryFlorence. The article’s main contention is that humanist (...) political discourse rejected the perception of social and political reality as being part of, or reflecting, a metaphysical and divine order or things, and thus undermined the traditional justifications for political hierarchies and power relations. This created the conditions of possibility for the distinctively modern aspiration for a social and political order based on liberty and equality. It also resulted in the birth of a distinctively modern form of ideology, one that legitimizes the social order by disguising its inequalities and structures of domination. Humanism, like modern political thought generally, thus simultaneously constructs and reflects the dialectic of emancipation and domination so central to modernity itself. (shrink)
This article reviews the cultural agenda of the celebrated Dominican preacher Giovanni Dominici in fifteenth-centuryFlorence. Central issues discussed include Dominici’s educational programme, his cultural propaganda, his interest in the visual arts and his opposition to the study of the classics, as expressed in his public popular preaching. The close examination of his cultural agenda discloses Dominici as the most extreme opponent of humanist studies.
This is a one-volume edition of the original two-volume work published in 1990 with a second edition in 1991. The work falls into two main parts. Volume 1 is devoted to a series of studies describing the revival and dissemination of Plato in the Italian Renaissance. There are four main parts to the first volume. The first part treats the revival of Platonic studies in early fifteenth-centuryFlorence. Here the figure of Leonardo Bruni looms large. Part 2 deals (...) with the revival of Platonic studies in Milan. The translations of the Republic by Uberto Decembrio and later by his son Pier Candido Decembrio receive most of the attention. Part 3 deals with mid fifteenth-century developments of Platonic studies in Rome. Here Hankins provides chapters on George of Trebizond, Pletho, Cardinal Bessarion, and a fascinating account of the dispute between Trebizond and Bessarion. Finally, volume 1 ends with an extensive discussion of the Platonism of Marsilio Ficino. Volume 2 consists of various appendices dealing with specific topics, texts by a variety of Renaissance authors dealing with the interpretation of Plato’s writings, and an exhaustive “Census of Manuscripts” designed “to document the diffusion and influence of Renaissance translations of Plato”. Of course, a review of this size can hardly begin to do justice to the breadth and richness of Hankins’s research. Instead, I shall try to point out the general trajectory of his account of the development of Platonism in the fifteenth century. Of course, Hankins’s project is not a philosophical one, as he admits. Indeed, his goal is to place the transmission of Plato within a well-constructed historical context. However, I shall suggest at the end of this review some ways in which Hankins’s study should provoke philosophers to a more careful consideration of the arguments of Renaissance Platonists. (shrink)