The Debate on the Animal Soul in Renaissance Philosophy

The Debate on the Animal Soul in Renaissance Philosophy





Reading Seminar

ong>Theong> ong>Debateong> on the Animal Soul in

Renaissance Philosophy

CAS - Center for Advanced Studies

Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München

19-20 November 2010

According to Descartes animals are automata without souls - a theory which, as several recent

studies confirm, influenced the philosophical debate in various ways right up until the present


ong>Theong> starting point for the organisation of a reading seminar on the topic of the animal soul

in Renaissance philosophy is the following question: what role did reflections on the soul of

animals play before Descartes, before the automaton-theory entered the scene, before the

paradigm of "mechanism" changed the approach to life in its various forms? This topic has yet to

be the focus of a detailed study. And yet the problem of the distinction between man and animal,

with regard to the different nature of their souls, appears to be crucial in Renaissance philosophy.

ong>Theong> aim of this reading seminar will be to rediscover the philosophical relevance of this

topic in the writings of selected Renaissance philosophers between 1400 and 1600. ong>Theong> seminar

will be devoted to the reading and discussion of texts in which the question of the soul attributed

to the beasts emerges clearly in its philosophical implications, whether from a Neoaristotelian or

a Neoplatonic point of view. Particular attention will be dedicated to the originality, the variety

and the philosophical contribution of the approaches that our reading of the texts may bring to


ong>Theong> format of the reading seminar will enable a full exchange of ideas within an

internation group of scholars. ong>Theong> seminar will be divided into nine sessions over two days:

1. session: Marsilio Ficino

2. session: Giovanni Pico della Mirandola

3. session: Girolamo Cardano

4. session: Francesco Patrizi

5. session: Pietro Pomponazzi

6. session: Agostino Nifo

7. session: Bernardino Telesio

8. session: Giordano Bruno

9. session: Tommaso Campanella

Each 75-minute session will be dedicated to the study of selected texts by the author under

consideration. ong>Theong> texts chosen for each section will be presented by a participant who will then

chair the discussion. To assist preparation for the discussion, the texts will be sent to all

participants beforehand.


Dr. Cecilia Muratori

Kathrin Schlierkamp, M.A.

Dr. Cecilia Muratori

Since October 2009 I've been working at the Seminar für Geistesgeschichte und Philosophie der

Renaissance of the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. My research project ("Psychologia

Animalis. ong>Theong> ong>Debateong> on the Animal Soul in Renaissance Philosophy") is funded by the

Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (Exzellenzinitiative). ong>Theong> reading seminar is part of a series of

events organised in connection with this research project

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