University of Sussex
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Disciplining the School of Athens: censorship, politics and philosophy, Italy 1450-1600

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posted on 2023-06-07, 15:20 authored by Neil James Tarrant
This thesis examines the censorship of philosophy in Italy in the period 1450-1600, seeking to establish how the scrutiny of ideas was affected by the religious crisis of the sixteenth century. One of the primary aims of this thesis is to revise older accounts of censorship, dominant in the literature of both the history of science and Italian intellectual history traditions. These historiographies suggest that the Counter- Reformation triggered the emergence of a new and repressive attitude towards the censorship of philosophy, which grievously affected Italian intellectual and scientific culture in the seventeenth century. My thesis challenges this received view by drawing upon the insights produced by historians working in other disciplines, especially institutional historians of the Inquisition and the Index of Forbidden Books, and historians of the Church who have challenged the older monolithic view of the „Counter-Reformation Church?. It seeks to show that while there were indeed significant changes to the apparatus of censorship during the sixteenth century, notably the re-organisation of the Inquisition and creation of the Index, they did not signal an entirely new approach towards the censorship of philosophy, nor did it have the cataclysmic impact suggested by earlier historians. I argue that the attitudes towards philosophy maintained within these institutions represent a specific formulation of the relationship between philosophy and revealed faith, which was in fact consistent with ideas elaborated within the mendicant orders during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. I argue that the implementation of these ideas as the basis for censorship can only be understood by understanding complex power struggles within the Church.


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