The Ethics of Natural Knowledge: The European Reception of Aristotelian Meteorology, 1450-1650

With this project I aim to mine a submerged and typically de-emphasized segment of the Aristotelian corpus, which however enjoyed a robust European circulation and attention in the early modern period, as diverse scholars such as Craig Martin and Rienk Vermij demonstrated. One the one hand, I intend to look at the reasons why this branch of natural philosophy never quite broke with the academic tradition of textbooks and commentaries, nor did it precipitate into a discipline in its own rights. On the other, given the strength of the German sources that will be at my disposal during my residency, I also want to intersect this research into a science of signs with a material history of communication through genre and printed books.

In particular, within this framework, I will study one of the first works of serious meteorological import written in the wake of Melanchthon, Norica sive de ostensis libri duo (Wittenberg, 1532), a Ciceronian dialogue by Joachim Camerarius, and I will try to establish a new understanding of the didactic use of Pontano's astrology in Reformation Germany. In short, my project proposes to examine what distinctive epistemological advantage, if any, was attached to antiquarianism or else to dialogues as a form, in what ways did the Central European reception of the Meteora differ from what was produced in the Po Valley at the same time by Peripatetic institutions, and why is a consideration of this unjustly marginalized field of studies useful to appreciate the pre-modern variety of Aristotelianism.