Philosophy and Science in Sixteenth-Century Universities: Some Preliminary Comments

Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 26)


In spite of the enormous amount of research which has been devoted to an understanding of the history of universities, much further work is required before we can begin to comprehend fully the place of these institutions in the Western cultural life of the past seven or eight centuries.1 Not only is much basic work left to be done in the documents themselves of even the most important and influential university centers, but we are sorely in need of synthetic and comparative studies relating several universities to one another. Nevertheless, even on the basis of the materials which have already been published, we are in a position to begin some sort of synthesis.2 Though we know a great number of individual facts from various universities concerning philosophy instruction in the sixteenth century, for example, no one has yet attempted an overall evaluation of these materials with an eye towards an eventual synthesis.3 This certainly is not the only question to be faced by historians of universities, but it is one to which little attention has previously been given, and, at the same time, one which is of potential interest to scholars in a variety of different fields.


Seventeenth Century Moral Philosophy Sixteenth Century Fifteenth Century Fourteenth Century 
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  1. 1.
    The best general survey remains S. d’Irsay, Histoire des universités françaises et étrangères des origines à nos jours (Paris, 1933-35), 2 vols. For a review of literature on the history of universities from the time of d’lrsay’s book until about 1960 see S. Stelling- Michaud, L’histoire des universités au moyen âge et à la Renaissance au cours des vingt-cinq dernières années, Xle Congrès international des sciences historiques, Rapports I (1960), 97–143.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Much valuable material is collected, however, in studies such as P. Dibon, La philosophie néerlandaise au siècle d’or, I (Paris-Amsterdam, 1954 ) and B. Nardi, Saggi sull’- aristotelismo padovano dal secolo XIV al XVI (Firenze, 1958 ).Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    For Paris see C. Thurot, De l’organisation de l’enseignement dans l’université de Paris au moyen-âge (Paris, 1880; reprint Frankfurt, 1967) and for Oxford, J. A. Weisheipl, ‘Curriculum of the Faculty of Arts at Oxford in the Early Fourteenth Century’, Mediaeval Studies 26 (1964), 143-85. Much useful information is to be found in J. Koch (ed.), Ar tes liberales: Von der antiken Bilding zur Wissenschaft des Mittelalters (Köln-Leiden, 1959) and esp. Arts libéraux et philosophie au moyen âge [Actes du qua¬trième congrès international de philosophie médiévale] (Montréal-Paris, 1969 ).Google Scholar
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  10. 40.
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  11. 41.
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  16. 55.
    E. Massa, I fondamenti metafisici della “dignitas hominis” e testi inediti di Egidio da Viterbo (Torino, 1954) and J. W. O’Malley, Giles of Viterbo on Church and Reform (Leiden, 1968), 15-16 & passim.Google Scholar
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  19. 74.
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  20. 75.
    C. E. Mallett, A History of the University of Oxford (London, 1924-27), 3 vols, is of little use, though it does present to us a number of facts and anecdotes. More valuable are W. S. Howell, Logic and Rhetoric in England 1500-1700 (Princeton, 1956); M. H. Curtis, Oxford and Cambridge in Transition 1558-1642 (Oxford, 1959); Fletcher (note 10); J. K. McConica, English Humanists and Reformation Politics (Oxford, 1965 ); and H. Kearney, Scholars and Gentlemen: Universities and Society in Pre-Industrial Britain, 1500-1700 (London, 1970). Further bibliography is to be found in the excellent volume E. H. Cordeaux & D. H. Merry, A Bibliography of Printed Works Relating to the Uni-versity of Oxford (Oxford, 1968 ). A new general history of the university is now being prepared under the direction of T. H. Aston.Google Scholar
  21. 76.
    For some information on the changing situation see Curtis (note 75), 36ff. See also A. B. Emden, An Oxford Hall in Medieval Times, 2nd. ed. (Oxford, 1968), 228-9, which discusses the reduction of the number of halls in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.Google Scholar
  22. 77.
    Clark (note 57) is still the best source of information on this.Google Scholar
  23. 78.
    Clark (note 57), 170-9, 189-94 lists the questions disputed in philosophy and medi¬cine for the years 1576-1622.Google Scholar
  24. 93.
    See Clark (note 57), 21-3; Curtis (note 75), 89. For further information on the teach¬ing system at Oxford at the time see also the works of Weisheipl (note 6) and Fletcher (note 10).Google Scholar
  25. 94.
    For details of the visits see the reports printed in C. Plummer (ed.), Elizabethan Oxford. Reprints of Rare Tracts (Oxford, 1887 ).Google Scholar
  26. 95.
    Clark (note 57), 170-9, under the year 1581. Other related questions include: An natura intendat foeminam? (1585); “An foeminarum ingenia sint acutiora quam virorum?” (1590); “An foeminae jucundius vivant quam viri” (1495); “Foeminae esse debent literatae?” (1596); “An reprehendendus sit Aristoteles quia inter bona felicis bonam uxorem non commemoravit?” (1606).Google Scholar
  27. 96.
    In the section entitled “De utriusque professoris munere et officio,” we read “Genethliacorum vero doctrinae et totius in universum divinatricis astrologiae sibi penitus noverit [scil. professor astronomiae] interdictam professionem.” S. Gibson (ed.), Statuta antiqua Universitatis Oxoniensis (Oxford, 1931), 529.Google Scholar
  28. 127.
    see esp. R. G. Villoslada, La universidad de Paris durante los estudios de Francisco de Vitoria O.P. (1507-1522) (Romae, 1938 ).Google Scholar
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    On this see esp. M. Bataillon, Erasme et VEspagne (Paris, 1937 ).Google Scholar
  30. 140.
    See V. L. Saulnier, ‘Médicins de Montpellier au temps de Rabelais’, Bibliothèque d’humanisme et Renaissance 19 (1957), 425 - 79; Matricule de l’Université de Médecine de Montpellier (1503-1599) (Genève, 1957 ).Google Scholar
  31. 154.
    Of the large literature on this see R. Kelso, The Doctrine of the English Gentleman in the Sixteenth Century (Urbana, 1929); S. R. Jayne, John Colet and Marsilio Ficino (Oxford, 1963 ); McConica (note 75): and H. C. Porter, Erasmus and Cambridge (Toronto, 1970 ).Google Scholar
  32. 157.
    H. Hermelink, ‘Die Anfänge des Humanismus in Tübingen’, Württembergische Vierteljahrschrift für Landesgeschichte, new series, 15 (1906), 319 - 36.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht-Holland 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Warburg InstituteUniversity of LondonUK

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