Encyclopedia of Renaissance Philosophy

Living Edition
| Editors: Marco Sgarbi


Living reference work entry

Later version available View entry history

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-02848-4_1055-1


Following the medieval tradition, Renaissance philosophy approaches the intellect against the background of a twofold perspective, viz., an ontological and an epistemological perspective. The very problems, therefore, formulated during the Renaissance are to a great extent “medieval.” The ontological perspective focuses on the intellect’s state of being, e.g., what is the intellect and what is its relation to the human soul? The epistemological perspective concentrates on the intellect’s function or operation, e.g., how does the intellect work in order to render understanding possible? Both of these approaches are inextricably interwoven with one another. The solutions offered to these problems make use of familiar medieval currents, such as Aristotelianism, Averroism, (Neo-)platonism, Thomism, Scotism, etc. – without being, however, exclusively bound to one of them. Renaissance philosophy, moreover, considers all of these currents in order to offer a coherent picture of the intellect. Some of the main problems discussed include, among others, whether the intellect belongs to the individual soul or whether it is supra-individual; whether the soul perishes with the body or is immortal; whether intelligible species are required for understanding. Regardless of the so-called “eclectic” approaches in Renaissance philosophy, the discussions are notably shaped by the Averroist interpretation of Aristotle’s psychology.


Human Soul Substantial Form Epistemological Perspective Human Intellect Ontological Perspective 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Thomas-InstitutUniversität zu KölnKölnGermany

Section editors and affiliations

  • Marco Sgarbi
    • 1
  • Peter Mack
    • 2
  1. 1.University Ca' Foscari VeniceVeniceItaly
  2. 2.The Warburg Institute, School of Advanced StudyUniversity of LondonLondonUnited Kingdom