The 2020 edition of VivaMente: the Garden of Ideas will be rich and intellectually stimulating. Funds have been provided to Dr Fabrizio Baldassarri (University of Bucharest) for a two-day event whose details and dates are listed below.
19-20 November 2020, Domus Comeliana – Pisa
Fabrizio Baldassarri (Bucharest) and Fabio Zampieri (Padua)
Annie Bitbol-Hespériès (Paris)
Maria Conforti (Rome)
Gideon Manning (Los Angeles)
Franco Aurelio Meschini (Lecce)
Andrea Strazzoni (Erfurt)
As uniquely shaped by Descartes, medicine assumed a new role in the development of early modern natural philosophy. That one-fifth of Descartes’ entire output is dedicated to medicine should be regarded as a testimony to the constant attention he devoted to this subject, which kept him busy throughout his life in a series of anatomical observations and vivisections, visits to anatomical theatres, as well as protracted discussions with contemporary physicians. It is significant, in this regard, that Descartes’ Discours de la Méthode (1637) originally attracted a great deal of attention from learned physicians in the Netherlands and Belgium, such as Henricus Regius (1598-1679) in Utrecht and Vopiscus Fortunatus Plempius (1601-1671) in Leuven. Not only is medicine one of the fruits of the tree of philosophy, but it may be used to illuminate Descartes’ methodology, physics, metaphysics (i.e., the mind-body dualism), moral philosophy and theory of emotions.
Medicine features prominently as a topic in Cartesian scholarship, and several contributions have been devoted to it, amongst which the classical Richard Carter, Descartes’ Medical Philosophy (1983), Annie Bitbol-Hespériès, Le principe de vie chez Descartes (1990), Franco Aurelio Meschini, Neurofisiologia cartesiana (1998), Stephen Gaukroger et al. (eds), Descartes’ Natural Philosophy (2000), Thomas Fuchs, The Mechanization of the Heart: Harvey and Descartes (2001), Dennis Des Chene, Spirits and Clocks: Machine and Organism in Descartes (2001), and Vincent Aucante, La philosophie médicale de Descartes (2006). Likewise, attention has been devoted recently to sources and reception of Descartes’ medicine, for example by Franco Aurelio Meschini, Materiali per una storia della medicina cartesiana (2013), Delphine Antoine-Mahut and Steven Gaukroger, eds., Descartes’ Treatise on Man and its Reception (2016), Gideon Manning, “Descartes and Medicine” in the Oxford Handbook on Descartes (2019), and through a conference on the brain in Descartes that took place in Paris in 2019.
Despite the vast scholarly effort, however, a coherent and systematic approach to Descartes’ medicine is still overdue.
This first edition of the Vivamente Conference in the History of Ideas aims at drawing attention to the place of medical knowledge, practice and experimentation in Descartes’ philosophy and to the various ways it developed following the efforts of its early and late proponents. It further aims at recapturing recent trends in Cartesian scholarship as well as at exploring different interpretations, and issues both in relation to Descartes’ own philosophy and with regards to the acceptance and opposition it faced in the early modern history of knowledge and science. Lights and shadows emerging from this analysis would help drawing a new intellectual portrait of the philosopher who studied the passions of the soul en physicien and equated the living body to a machine.
Notably, the conference will explore four main areas:
The best papers will be collected and proposed for publication as an edited volume for the series Palgrave Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Medicine (PSMEMM).
Proposals are invited in any of the above-mentioned areas from scholars working on any aspect of early modern medicine, philosophy, science and technology, widely construed.
Applicants should send a 300-words abstract with a short bibliography, along with a one-page CV, affiliation, and contact information to firstname.lastname@example.org, specifying the object VivaMente 2020.
*Selected proposals will be notified within 10 days from the acknowledgement of their receipt and until all available places are filled.
Type A = € 80 includes coffee breaks and lunches for two days + 1 dinner on the first day (19 November)
Type B = € 50 includes coffee breaks and lunches for two days. Dinner is not included
Payment can be made via Bank Transfer to the Institutio Santoriana – Fondazione Comel at (IBAN) IT 93 M 03268 01605 052882315420 – (BIC/SWIFT) SELBIT 2BXXX with the specification VivaMente 2020 by the registration deadline.
For further information and details on the event contact the organisers at email@example.com