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With The Lucretian Renaissance, Gerard Passannante provides a radical rethinking of a well known narrative: the rise of materialism in early fashionable Europe. Passannante begins by taking up the historic philosophical notion that the world consists of two elementary opposites: atoms, as the thinker Epicurus theorized, intrinsically unchangeable and shifting about the void; and the void itself, or nothingness. Passannante considers the undeniable fact that this strain of historic Greek philosophy survived and was transmitted to the Renaissance primarily by means of a poem that had seemingly been misplaced—a poem insisting that the letters of the alphabet are like the atoms that make up the universe.
By tracing this elemental analogy by means of the fortunes of Lucretius’s On the Nature of Points, Passannante argues that, long sooner than it took on its acquainted type all through the Scientific Revolution, the philosophy of atoms and the void reemerged in the Renaissance as a story about learning and letters—a story that materialized in texts, of their bodily recomposition, and of their scattering.
From the works of Virgil and Macrobius to those of Petrarch, Poliziano, Lambin, Montaigne, Bacon, Spenser, Gassendi, Henry Additional, and Newton, The Lucretian Renaissance recovers a forgotten historic previous of materialism in humanist thought and scholarly apply and asks us to rethink one of the most enduring questions of the interval: what does it suggest for a textual content material, a poem, and philosophy to be “reborn”?
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