358. Of Two Minds: Pomponazzi and Nifo on the Intellect

Posted on 25 October 2020

Pietro Pomponazzi and Agostino Nifo debate the immortality of the soul and the cogency of Averroes’ theory of intellect.

Further Reading

• W.H. Hay and J.H. Randall (trans.), Pietro Pomponazzi: On the Immortality of the Soul, in E. Cassirer et al. (eds), The Renaissance Philosophy of Man (Chicago: 1956).


• A. Akasoy and G. Giglioni (eds), Renaissance Averroism and its Aftermath: Arabic Philosophy in Early Modern Europe (Dordrecht: 2010).

• P.J.J.M. Bakker and J.M.M.H. Thijssen, Mind, Cognition, and Representation: the Tradition of Commentaries on Aristotle’s De Anima (London: 2007) [the papers by Casini and Bakker]

• J. Biard and T. Gontier (eds), Pietro Pomponazzi entre traditions et innovations (Amsterdam: 2009).

• E.P. Mahoney, Two Aristotelians of the Italian Renaissance: Nicoletto Vernia and Agostino Nifo (Aldershot: 2000).

• C. Martin, “Rethinking Renaissance Averroism,” Intellectual History Review 17 (2007), 3-28.

• B. Nardi, Studi su Pietro Pomponazzi (Florence: 1965).

• M.L. Pine, Pietro Pomponazzi: Radical Philosopher of the Renaissance (Padua: 1986).

• J. Sellars, “Pomponazzi Contra Averroes on the Intellect,” British Journal for the History of Philosophy 24 (2016), 45-66.

• M. Sgarbi (ed.), Pietro Pomponazzi: Tradizione e dissenso (Florence: 2010).

• L. Spruit, “The Pomponazzi Affair: the Controversy over the Immortality of the Soul,” in H. Lagerlund and B. Hill, (ed.), Routledge Companion to Sixteenth-Century Philosophy (New York: 2017), 225-46.

Stanford Encyclopedia: Pietro Pomponazzi


James South 25 October 2020

Thanks for reminding me of all the conversations I had with the late, great Ed Mahoney about this topic. 

Peter Adamson 26 October 2020

In reply to by James South

Oh I am jealous, I never met him. Obviously I drew a lot on his work for writing this episode!

Otterlex 27 October 2020

I noticed at around 11:00, you talked about the necessity of of preserving representations of sensory data in the memory, such as look/sound/smell.  For people with aphantasia, however, we can't visually recall visual sensory data, or other sensory data (which types varies from person to person, i know at least one person who has no recall of any sense).  I doubt we have had any impact on historical models of epistemology, but has there been any recent research on the challenge we pose to traditional or standard models of epistemology?

Peter Adamson 27 October 2020

In reply to by Otterlex

Hm, interesting. I am sure there has been, but I couldn't tell you about it off the top of my head. Barry Smith (active on Twitter under @smithbarryc) is a specialist in the phenomenology of smell, and I bet he could give you some tips on this.

Karl Young 29 October 2020

Hi Peter,

After hearing about your families’ culinary habits I’m very worried that if I keep listening to the podcasts I will be slowly and subtly pulled away from my own culinary habits, shared with Hiawatha, that I was counting on for the salvation of my non universal soul. I may have to change my name to Peter and stop listening.

Yes indeed, he will be covered in the next series on Philosophy in the Reformation which will look at developments in the 15-16th centuries around Europe, outside Italy. I actually already recorded an interview about Ramus as well as planning a normal scripted episode.

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