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«Poetic Theology» and «mythological reason» in the Renaissance. The languages of philosophy in Nicholas of Cusa, Giovanni Pico and Rabelais.

Grant number: 13/21627-1
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctoral
Effective date (Start): March 01, 2014
Effective date (End): February 29, 2016
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy - History of Philosophy
Principal Investigator:Lorenzo Mammi
Grantee:Jonathan Molinari
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (FFLCH). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


Our research focuses on the problem of language and symbolic forms in the culture of modern Europe (XV-XVI century). The project analyzes the issue of the status of poetic language and the reorganization of knowledge during the Renaissance, studying the works of Cusano, Pico della Mirandola, Ficino and Poliziano, and emphasizing the role of an author as François Rabelais in France. The aim of the research is to investigate how in the Renaissance the debate about different models of rationality and about different philosophical discourses makes it possible to recognize the gnoseological function of poetry and of the artistic languages in order to rearrange many different traditions around a new anthropology and a new ideal of philosophy. The project also considers the contemporary historiographical debate on the concept of humanism, in particular referring to some texts by Eugenio Garin, Ernesto Grassi and Antonio Banfi. The judgment of historiography on humanistic philosophy in fact has developed on the basis of the need to formulate a new and different judgment on the Modernity, taking into consideration that the distance between "historic" humanism and "theoretical" humanisms could not coincide with the distinction between speculative and philological positions, but that it was on the contrary, in both cases, an elaboration of a new concept of man and history. The most recent studies - particularly those of Kurt Flash on the relationship between Pico and Cusano, of Massimo Cacciari about the idea of "theologia poetica" in Pico, and the articles of Bruno Pinchard on Rabelais - invite us to continue on this research to better recognize in the movement of ideas between the Italian and French humanism, one of the most important moments of cultural history between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In this perspective, the concepts of "theologia poetica" and "mythological reason" acquire a fundamental importance: we find them at the heart of the works of a philosopher such as Pico, who like Cusano, describes an "itinerarium mentis ad Deum" in which the function of poetic language becomes essential. But a similar thought is also being developed in the inaugural speeches of a great poet as Angelo Poliziano, then returns not only in Italy but also in French humanism in the texts of a writer like Rabelais. It is precisely this reflection on language and rational discourse that allows us to understand the progressive aspect - rather than "archaeological" and antiquarian - of the return to antiquity during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. But until that point for the humanists, could the poetic language, together this new anthropology of knowledge based on the principles of the allegorical interpretation, be useful to philosophers to understand the reality? The question was debated first in Italy and then in the "milieu" of French humanists, among the students of Jacques Lefèvre d'Etaples and Guillaume Bude, essential reference, the latest, for the studies on Rabelais. The influence of the Italian humanists - Ficino, Pico, Poliziano - the Hermetic tradition returned by Lefèvre d'Etaples together the works of Nicholas of Cusa, an antiquity that composes the world Greek, Roman and Jewish, with Budé, the symbolism of Raymond Lull and the teaching of Bernard Lavinheta: all these elements are the basis for a particular declination of humanism in which the reflection of Rabelais develops. It is precisely in Gargantua and Pantagruel that emerges a crucial issue for our project: from the "degree zero of life and reality," which finds expression in body language and adopts the symbols and masks of carnival tradition, humanism will open the way for a new philosophy able to interpret in a different way the awareness of the imperfect nature of human knowledge and of human freedom.

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