Dante poeta phylosophans: The sources and limits of Dante’s knowledge

An alternative analysis of Dante's intellectual formation

  • Date: 21 SEPTEMBER 2023  from 18:00 to 19:30

  • Event location: Institute of Advanced Studies - Sala Rossa, Palazzo Marchesini, Via Marsala, 26 - Bologna - In presence and online event

  • Type: Lectures

My lecture focuses on Dante’s intellectual formation: how, where, when, and by what means Dante came to know the things that he did, and what the implications might be for his oeuvre of what was an unsystematic, eclectic, and haphazard learning process. In particular, it presents a more nuanced interpretation of the poet’s intellectual development than that which has held sway until fairly recently in Dante studies. The prevailing view was that the poet was primarily, if not overwhelmingly, influenced by rationalist, specifically Aristotelian traditions. By contrast, I argue that, throughout his career, Dante was also significantly drawn to Scripturally inflected symbolic and exegetical currents which placed considerable emphasis on faith, revelation, and divine inspiration. Rather than allow any single intellectual tendency or epistemology to control his thinking, the poet amalgamated different traditions into original syntheses, thereby evaluating their relative efficacy as forms of knowledge and enlightenment. I will touch on the nature of the poet’s education and readings; on the composition of his syncretism; on his fundamental debts to the Bible and its commentary tradition; on the theological imprint that marks his writings; on his ties to contemplative, liturgical, confessional, and affective traditions; and, therefore, on his status as a religious writer. Finally, I shall clarify the significance of the term phylosophans in relation to the better-known phylosophus.


ISA Visiting Fellow - Zygmunt Baranski

University of Cambridge, UK
Visit Prof. Baranski's web page

PhD students and researchers who are interested may request an attendance certificate. 
The delivery of the attendance certificate requires the attendance of at least 70% of the lecture.