This paper is based on a lecture given at the University of Haifa on 22 March 1982, and at the Institute for Advanced Studies of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem on 28 March 1982. An Italian version of the lecture was published in memory of Giorgio Radetti by the Circolo della Cultura e delle Arti, Trieste in 1981.
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:History of Philosophy and History of Ideas PAUL OSKAR KRISTELLER THE TF.~MS "history of philosophy" and "history of ideas" are frequently associated in current public and professional discussions, and many statements seem to suggest that the two terms are more or less synonymous, or that the former term, being old-fashioned, might well be replaced with the latter which for many ears appears to have a more fashionable and glamorous (...) ring. Hence there arises the question what each of these terms really means, or what it should mean, and whether and to what extent it is justifiable to identify them with each other, to reduce the history of philosophy to the history of ideas, or to treat the former as a part or subdivision of the latter. I am not convinced that these questions can be answered through an appeal to ordinary usage since this usage is fluid and reflects at best the intellectual formulations and decisions of a remote or recent past. We may have reason to question the very validity of these decisions, and perhaps to suggest or make different decisions, and in case we are successful and obtain a reasonable amount of approval, these different decisions will be reflected in the ordinary usage of tomorrow, though not yet in that of today. The attempt to discuss the meaning and relationship of the history of philosophy and the history of ideas is obviously difficult and hazardous. It involves not only the discussion of such complicated notions as history and philosophy (and idea), but also the shifting balance of the intellectual globe that includes the continents or territories denoted by those terms, and even of the academic globe that purports to be, with varying success, its faithful image. In a short paper, I cannot hope to present an original or adequate discussion of these difficult problems, but merely try to raise a few questions which to my knowledge have not received sufficient attention and may be of interest to philosophers and historians. The history of philosophy has been of recurrent interest to philosophers and other scholars, especially in classical antiquity and again in the Renaissance period. It came to occupy a central place in European thought during the last century, especially in the wake of German idealism. Hegel recognized "history" as a major area of reality and of philosophical concern, as Vico and Herder had done before him, and thus left a living heritage not only to his followers down to Croce and Gentile, but also to Marx and his  2 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY disciples, and to many other thinkers who cannot be called Hegelians. Hegel also did not conceive political history in isolation, but in his phenomenology and philosophy of the spirit came close to a concept of culture or civilization in which political and social institutions, religion and the arts, the sciences and philosophy are interrelated as manifestations of the same spirit and subject to the same "dialectical" laws of historical development. The vast progress which the historical disciplines made during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, not only in the field of political and economic history but in the history of languages and literatures, of the arts and religions, and of civilization in general was not influenced by Hegel's theories, but rather opposed to them. Yet this vast body of knowledge and of learning imposed itself as an epistemological problem to such thinkers as Dilthey, Rickert, and Cassirer. Finally, Hegel considered philosophical thought itself as dialectical, that is, in a certain sense as historical, and thus foreshadowed not only Mannheim's sociology of knowledge, or Croce's claim that philosophy and history are identical, but also Heidegger's conception of historicity as a basic aspect or dimension of human thought and being. Within such a framework, the history of philosophy occupies a significant and even a central position for the philosopher since it elucidates the basic stages through which philosophical thinking passed before it reached its present situation. Any attempt to grasp or answer our present philosophical prob- ]ems thus presupposes at least a general understanding of the historical developments which have prepared or produced these problems. In the English-speaking world, both... (shrink)
Paul Oskar Kristeller, Frederick Woodbridge professor emeritus of philosophy at Columbia University, was a major scholar of Renaissance philosophy and Renaissance humanism. He was born Paul Oskar Gräfenberg in Berlin but took the name of his stepfather at age 14. His father died shortly after Paul Oskar's birth. He attended school at Mommsen Gymnasium in Berlin. In 1923 Kristeller started college, studying philosophy, medieval history, and mathematics at Heidelberg, Freiburg, and Marburg between the years 1923-1928. He earned a Ph.D. in (...) 1928 at the University of Heidelberg, with a thesis on Plotinus. With the rise of the National Socialist government in Germany and its racist and anti-Semitic policies, he went to Italy in 1933, remaining there until 1938 when the Mussolini regime gained more power. He obtained a position at Yale University, then a permanent faculty position at Columbia University in 1939, where he spent the rest of his career. His talk, Renaissance Philosophy and the Mediaeval Tradition, was given as part of the Wimmer Memorial Lecture Series at Saint Vincent in 1961, and was published two years later. The widely-published and internationally-recognized scholar died in 1999 at the age of 94. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:The Myth of Renaissance Atheism and the French Tradition of Free Thought PAUL OSKAR KRISTELLER WITHIN THE VAST AND COMPLEX area of Renaissance philosophy, the thought of Pietro Pomponazzi and of the entire Italian school of Aristotelianism of which he is the best known representative has not yet been studied in all its aspects? Apart from a number of recent studies, mostly Italian or American, there is an important (...) body of French studies on the subject that are distinguished by their ample documentation and by a general and consistent tendency of interpretation and that have exercised a predominant influence in this field of research. The fountainhead of this French scholarship on Renaissance Aristotelianism is E. Renan's book on Averroes and Averroism, a remarkable achievement for its time, and a classical study still worth reading after more than a hundred years have passed since it was first published. 2 It is generally recognized that Renan's conclusions about Averroes himself and about the Latin Averroism of the thirteenth century have been superseded by the later studies of P. Mandonnet and others? It is less well known that, for the This paper was read many years ago at the New England Conference on the Renaissance at Brown University, and at the Universit~ de Fribourg. It was published as "El Mito del Ateismo Renacentista y la Tradici6n Francesa del Librepensamiento" in Notas y Estudios de Filoso]la, ed. Prof. Juan Adolfo Vazquez, IV, 13 (Tucums Argentina, 1953), pp. 1-14. The present version has been only slightly revised, and I hope to return to the subject on a later occasion. Among recent studies, I should like to mention G. Spini, Ricerca dei l.,ibertini (Rome, 1950) and D. C. Allen Doubt's Boundless Sea (Baltimore, 1964), who follow on the whole the view criticized in this paper, and L. Febvre, Le problhme del lincroyance au XVI ~ si~cle (Paris, 1947) and R. H. Popkin, "Skepticism and the Counter-Reformation in France," Archiv ]iir Re]ormationsgeschichte LI (1960), 58-88, who seem to concur with my view. See also a paper by Popkin~"Skepticism, Theology and the Scientific Method in the 17th century," in Problem8 in the Phdosophy o] Science, ed. I. Lakatos and A. Musgrave (Amsterdam: North Holland Publishing Co., 1968). 1See now B. Nardi, Saggi sull'Aristotelismo Padovano dal secolo XIV al XVI (Florence, 1958) and Studi su Pietro Pomponazzi (Florence, 1965); J. H. Randall, The School o] Padua and the Emergence o] Modern Science (Padua, 1961); P. Pomponazzi, De ]ato, de libero arbitrio et de praedestinatione, ed. R. Lemay (Lugano, 1957); Tractatus de immortalitate animae, ed. G. Morra (Bologna, 1954); Corsi inediLi dell'insegnamento padovano I, Super libello de substantia orbis et quaestiones quattuor, ed. A. Poppi (Padua, 1966); P. O. Kristeller, "A New Manuscript Source for Pomponazzi's Theory of the Soul from his Paduan Period," Revue Internationale de Philosophie, V: 2 (16, 1951), 144-157,and "Two Unpublished Questions on the Soul by Pietro Pomponazzi," Medievalia et Humanistica, IX (1955), 76-101,and X (1956), 151. See also: G. Di Napoli, L'immortalit~ dell'anima nel Rinascimento (Turin, 1963); E. GiN ~L,, 3 son, Autour de Pomponazzi, Archives d histoire doctrinale et litt~raire du Moyen Age, c,,,, LXIII (1961, pub. 1962), 163-279and Laffaire de limmortalit~ de ls ~ Venise au debut 9,, du XVI si~cle, in Umanesimo europeo e umanesimo veneziano, ed. V. Branca (Florence, 1963), 31-61. Relevant are also the unpublished Columbia dissertations by William F. Edwards (on Zabarella), Martin Pine (on Pomponazzi and his critics) and Edward Mahoney (on Agostino Nifo). Averro$s et l Averro~me (Paris, 1852). 8Siger de Brabant et l'averroisme latin au XIII ~ si$cle (2nd ed.; Paris, 1908-11); F. Van  234 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY history of Italian Aristotelianism after the thirteenth century, this book by Renan has never been completely superseded, but still constitutes the general basis for a large part of the later literature on the subject. Recent studies have added numerous details, but have failed to correct numerous errors and misconceptions. The main thesis of Renan's book on which we shall focus our attention in this paper is the following: Paduan Averroism... (shrink)
Die Geschichte dieses Buches spiegelt eindrucksvoll den Lebensweg eines heute beruhmten Emigranten der dreissiger Jahre, des Renaissance-Forscher und Philosophen Paul Oskar Kristeller. Unter dem Einfluss Martin Heideggers 1931 in Freiburg i.Br. begonnen und nach der Auswanderung nach Italien dort 1937 beendet, wurde von dem deutschen Manuskript 1938 eine italienische Fassung hergestellt. In den USA, wohin Kristeller 1939 emigrierte, wurde das Manuskript ins Englische ubersetzt und 1943 von der Columbia University Press in New York gedruckt - Ernst Cassirer wies damals in (...) einer ausfuhrlichen Besprechung auf die Bedeutung des Buches hin. Die italienische Fassung erschien erst nach dem Krieg 1953 in Florenz, und wiederum erst fast zwanzig Jahre spater konnte die ursprungliche deutsche Fassung des Buches bei Vittorio Klostermann erscheinen. Das Buch gilt heute als die klassische Darstellung der Philosophie des Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), der zusammen mit Cusanus, Pico und anderen den Platonismus der Renaissance begrundete. Diesen Rang behalt das Buch unbestritten auch unter der in der Zwischenzeit erschienenen neueren Literatur uber Ficino. (shrink)
The scholar and his public in the late Middle Ages and the Renaissance.--Thomism and the Italian thought of the Renaissance.--The contribution of religious orders to Renaissance thought and learning.--Bibliography (p. -120).