Magic as a historiographic category

Dana Jalobeanu

What is Renaissance magic? What connects the seemingly very different enterprises of Marsilio Ficino (De vita libri tres), Cornelius Agrippa, Giordano Bruno (De vinculis), Giovan Battista della Porta (Magia naturalis) and Francis Bacon? In what sense their projects of a natural magic are about the same thing?

One proposal to answer this question was formulated more than 30 years ago by Ioan Petru Culianu’s book, Eros and Magic in the Renaissance. A book widely read but also very much contested by the experts. A book that still makes a very good reading today. Culianu’s proposal is to treat magic as a historiographic category. And to define it as a science of manipulating the contents of the imaginary. Or a set of sciences, since Culianu talks rather about a cluster of Renaissance sciences of the imaginary which contains not only natural (and demonic) magic, but also sciences such as the art of memory, divination, astrology etc.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of re-reading Renaissance authors with the help of this historiographic category? And in what way is Culianu’s “magic” useful to the historian of science (or the intellectual historian) today?

Join us on Friday, 31 of July, 8 pm (Bucharest time). On zoom and live on the youtube channel Cafeneaua filosofica. For the zoom link email me:

Below a trailer – as a teaser for Friday.

Tezele pentru care a fost ars pe rug Giordano Bruno

Smaranda Bratu Elian

În 1592, Giordano Bruno, aflat la Frankfurt, acceptă invitația aristocratului venețian Giovanni Mocenigo de a-i fi oaspete în Serenissima Republică și de a-l iniția în mnemotehnică. Nemulțumit, probabil, de progresele făcute, precum și de faptul că dascălul său vroia să se întoarcă în Germania, Mocenigo mai întâi îl împiedică pe Bruno să plece, închizându-l în podul palatului, iar în ziua următoare îl denunță Sfintei Inchiziții din Veneția. Înscrisul său, în baza căruia Bruno este arestat, cuprindea următoarele afirmații făcute de filozof în discuțiile purtate cu gazda sa:

Continue reading Tezele pentru care a fost ars pe rug Giordano Bruno

Marsilio Ficino’s vision of renovatio between politics and theology

Dana Jalobeanu

(Sophia Howlett, Marsilio Ficino and his world, Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)

If you are new in the field, or simply not up to date with the new trends in Ficinian studies, this is the place to begin. Sophia Howlett offers a clearly written and daring revisionist story of Renaissance; one set to deconstruct most of our cherished myths. Based on a wide survey of the recent (and less recent) scholarship, Marsilio Ficino and his world tells an alternative story to the celebrated fairy tale of the Platonic Academy of Florence and the recovery of Plato’s works in Western Europe. Continue reading Marsilio Ficino’s vision of renovatio between politics and theology