Philosophical Psychology in 1500: Erfurt, Padua and Bologna

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Abstract

The chapter gives a general description of philosophical psychology as it was practiced and taught in the sixteenth century at three of the most important universities of the time, the universities of Erfurt, Padua, and Bologna. Contrary to received notions of the Renaissance it argues that the sixteenth-century philosophical psychology was tightly bound to the Aristotelian tradition. At the University of Erfurt, philosophical psychology was developed with strong adherence to the basic doctrines of Buridanian via moderna, as it had been taught for over a century. The Buridanian approach dominated especially discussions on the metaphysical nature of the human soul and disputes about universal realism versus nominalism. The situation was somewhat different at the universities of Bologna and Padua. The connections between these two universities were close, and they can be seen as developing one and the same Aristotelian tradition. Although the works produced were rather eclectic in nature, they shared research topics as well as conceptual and methodological frameworks which contributed to the unity of the school. In Bologna and Padua, Averroës had a central position as an authority cited and criticized; and philosophical questions concerning the immortality of the soul and the nature of the intellectual species attracted continuous interest. The development of philosophical psychology was also influenced by the special organizational situation of these universities: theology had a relatively unimportant position, and medicine instead had continuous impact on teaching.