73084 - History of Modern Philosophy (2) (LM)

Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

The course puts students in a position to interpret the significant nodes of European thought between 15th and 18th century and to identify intersections with other areas of Western culture. The acquiring of adequate textual and historiographical documentation, interpretative tools, a lexicon and rigorous philosophical writing skills will allow the student to independently interpret texts and write short essays about these issues.

Course contents

Course Title: Giordano Bruno and the lexicon of metaphysics. From De la causa to Summa terminorum metaphysiicorum

The most recent critiques acquired on Giordano Bruno, thanks also to renewed attention to the writing methods and language used by the philosopher in Italian and Latin works, has profoundly redesigned his image. Thus emerged the profile, in many ways unknown, of an author engaged in a constant effort to clarify the main concepts of his philosophy and to define a lexicon capable of expressing all of the innovation, truth and liberating force. The language and fundamental categories of Bruno’s reflection are established commencing with a constant and extremely articulated dialogue in the philosophical tradition, with the previous authors – now cited in an integral and unscrupulous manner; now filtered and discussed in harshly critical forms; more often recoded and resemantisized in a completely new theoretical context.

Starting with these observations, the course aims to point out and illustrate the central lemmas of Bruno’s metaphysical reflection via an analysis that will focus, on one hand, on De la causa, principio et uno; on the other, on the Summa terminorum metaphysicorum. The Summa is a late Latin work that is poorly attended by critics: but within it the comparison of Bruno to both Platonic and Aristotelian metaphysical tradition take on a particular importance, linking to the themes of the last phase of his reflection. In this phase, Bruno seeks to describe in new ways, using also theological and Trinitarian language, the difficult questions of the attributes of the infinite Being and the forms of its descent into the natural world. Bruno's purpose is to show how God and the world are inseparable and complementary.

The work on Bruno’s texts will be broached by 2 introductory classes on the main themes for his reflection and the characteristics of his philosophical language. In subsequent classes the teacher will guide the students on a path of reading, analysis and communal discussion of Bruno's works. Approximately 5 classes will be dedicated to De la causa; 6 classes to Summa; 2 classes to the presentation of the concepts of mens, intellectus, spiritus in some important passages of the Lampas triginta statuarum.


1. During the classes will be read the following texts (or any part):

G. Bruno, De la causa, principio et uno, in Id., Dialoghi filosofici italiani, a cura e con un saggio introduttivo di M. Ciliberto, Milano, Mondadori, 2000, pp. 161-296 and footnotes, pp. 1029-1081;

G. Bruno, Lampas triginta statuarum, in Id., Opere magiche, edizione diretta da M. Ciliberto, a cura di S. Bassi, E. Scapparone, N. Tirinnanzi, Milano, Adelphi, 2000, pp. 1009-1065and footnotes, pp. 1529-1536;

G. Bruno, Somma dei termini metafisici, in Grande antologia filosofica, diretta da M. F. Sciacca, coordinata da A.M. Moschetti e M. Schiavone, parte III, vol. VI, Milano, Marzorati, 1964, pp. 1399-1428.

2. In addition to in-depth knowledge of the texts referred to in paragraph 1, all studens must read one of the following essays:

G. Canziani, La materia evanescente. Concezioni della materia tra fonti classiche, Rinascimento e età moderna, Milano, CUEM, 2002;

S. Carannante, Unigenita natura. Dio e universo in Giordano Bruno, Roma, Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2018;

M. Ciliberto, Giordano Bruno, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2005 (prima ed. 1990);

P. Secchi, «Del mar più che del ciel amante». Bruno e Cusano, Roma, Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2006;

N. Tirinnanzi, L’antro del filosofo. Studi su Giordano Bruno, a cura di E. Scapparone, Roma, Edizioni di Storia e Letteratura, 2013.

Further recommended readings

For the purposes of examination may be useful also the following references:

Enciclopedia bruniana e campanelliana, diretta da E. Canone e G. Ernst, 3 voll., Pisa-Roma, F. Serra, 2009-2017;

Giordano Bruno, Parole, concetti, immagini, Direzione scientifica di M. Ciliberto, 3 voll., Firenze-Pisa, Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento-Edizioni della Normale, 2014.

N.B.: The course program is the same, as for attending and not attending students. Anyway, students who cannot attend classes or who don't know Italian may contact the teacher (in office hours, and not by e-mail) to decide upon any additional or alternative readings.

Teaching methods

The course consists of 15 lessons.

Since it is a course/seminar, attending students will be encouraged to conduct brief individual works of critical analysis on topics or authors relating to the course contents.

These works will have value to the examination.

The course will be held in the second semester and will start on January 28th, 2019.


- Monday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Room B, Via Centotrecento;

- Thursday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Room E, Via Zamboni 34;

- Friday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., Room E, Via Zamboni 34.

Office hours: Prof. Scapparone office hours take place on Thursday, h. 16-17 p.m. (Department of Philosophy and Communication, Via Zamboni 38, 3rd Floor, Office 3.08).

Assessment methods

Final oral examination.

Students who have attended the course will be able, if they wish, to integrate the examination with short essays or presentations on topics agreed with the teacher.

In accordance with the class, a written text on a specific part of the program could be organized. Detailed procedures about this text shall be laid down at the beginning of the course.

Assessment criteria

The goal of the exam is to measure the achievement of the following learning objectives:

- Analysis and interpretation of Bruno’s philosophical texts;

- Knowledge of secondary literature works listed in the bibliography, combined with the ability to learn how to reference them in autonomous and critical forms;

- Knowledge of the history of modern philosophy.

The student's ability to learn how to operate with confidence and autonomy within the sources and the secondary literature and the possession of a language and forms of expression appropriate to the discipline will be assessed in a particular manner.

Assessment thresholds

30 with distinction: Excellent results for the solidity of skills, wealth of critical articulation, expressive properties and maturity.

30: Excellent result: complete and well-articulated knowledge of themes addressed in lessons, with critical ideas, and illustrated with adequate expressive features.

29-27: Good result: complete knowledge and adequately contestualized, fundamentally correct presentation.

26-24: Moderate result: knowledge is present in the essential areas, though not thorough and not always articulated correctly.

23-21: Sufficient result: superficial or purely mnemonic understanding of the subject, confused articulation of the presentation, with often inappropriate expression.

20-18: Barely sufficient result: knowledge of the subject, articulation during discussions and methods of expression demonstrate considerable gaps in understanding.

< 18: Insufficient result, exam failed. The student is invited to attend a subsequent exam session where the essential skills have not been acquired, lacking the ability to orient themselves within the subjects of the course and of the same discipline and where the methods of expression demonstrate considerable gaps in understanding.

Teaching tools

Slides and photocopies (limited to hard to find texts);

Advanced seminars;

Any individualized works.

Office hours

See the website of Elisabetta Scapparone