PWL International Seminar Session 5

PWL International Seminar Session 5


Dante and the Bolognese Averroists: On Philosophy as a Profession and a Way of Life in XIII and XIV Century Italy

September, 20 | 14h00 (UTC+1)

09h00 New York | 10h00 Brasília | 14h00 Lisbon | 15h00 Berlin | Other locations


The present inquiry aims to ascertain whether and to what extent the Bolognese magistri of the XIII-XIV centuries managed to realize the ambitious model of the speculative life (what Maria Corti famously baptized as ‘mental felicity’) that they purported to incarnate and represent, by studying the translatio to which the Florentine poet Dante Alighieri subjected such model in his vernacular work the Convivio. My claim is that the primacy that, in contrast to virtually any other Scholastic philosopher, Dante ascribes to ethics (‘Scienza Morale’) over metaphysics in the divisio philosophiae of the Second Treatise is to be read on the background of the polemics that the Sommo Poeta mounts throughout the Convivio against the litterati and professional philosophers of the time. By reclaiming the priority of the sphere of ethics and its directive function in human education, however, I’m convinced that Dante is not trying to overturn the magistri’s speculative life project but to remedy the corruption that, in his eyes, has plagued philosophy since its professionalization and to bring (First) philosophy back to its original purpose: that is, Dante wants to substitute the interest for ‘money and dignity’ (moneta e dignitate) that allegedly motivated the Bolognese Averroists in their pursuit of philosophy for what he, elaborating on Aristotle, identifies as the chief good of all of humanity – laics included –, namely, happiness (felicitate). I conclude by pointing to and discussing one of the possible targets of Dante’s polemics, namely, the Florentine doctor and Master of the Arts in Bologna Taddeo Alderotti.


Matteo Johannes Stettler is a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy at Deakin University (Australia). He collaborates with the research groups “Philosophy as a Way of Life,” of the Pontificia Università Gregoriana of Rome, and “Forms of Life and Practices of Philosophy” (particularly the “Art of Living” line of research) of the NOVA Institute of Philosophy (IFILNOVA) of Lisbon, which he visited for a few months in 2022. In co-authoring with Prof. Matthew Sharpe, Stettler has published specialistic articles for Classical Receptions and Philosophy Today; his work has also appeared on Aevum, Zeitschrift für Antikes Christentum, and Foucault Studies. His latest publication, ‘Thoreau’s Stoicism in Letters to Various Persons: The Spiritual Direction of Harrison Blake’ is forthcoming on The Journal of Speculative Philosophy. Matteo is also an Adjunct Lecturer in Philosophy at the Lorenzo de’ Medici International Institute of Florence (Italy).

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