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Natural Philosophy in Renaissance Italy: the University of Bologna and the Beginnings of Specialization

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In the Italian universities, there was traditionally a strong alliance between natural philosophy and medicine, which however was all to the advantage of the latter; its teachers were better regarded and better paid than others in the faculty of Arts and Medicine, and this led to career paths that sought out the teaching of medicine as soon as possible. This article examines a reversal of this trend observable in sixteenth-century Bologna and some other Italian universities (Pisa and Padua), leading to careers concentrating on natural philosophy and on the interpretation of Aristotelian works. It appears that financial incentives were part of the context leading to specialization in philosophy. An appendix listing the careers of nearly 200 teachers of natural philosophy in Bologna between 1340 and 1600 illustrates the developments.

Affiliations: 1: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München


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