Italian Studies Research Seminar Series | Chinese medicine as a mirror of Neapolitan experimentalism
[SEMINAR | 2022 Italian Studies Research Seminar Series]
Italian Studies at the School of Languages and Cultures presents:
Chinese medicine as a mirror of Neapolitan experimentalism: A case study of Parere (1681) by Leonardo di Capua (1617–1695)
Leonardo di Capua (1617–1695) was one of the foremost figures in the Accademia degli Investiganti, a seventeenth-century association of Naples-based intellectuals who sought to promote the reform and advancement of science. His main claim to fame was the Parere (Opinion or judgement, 1681), which was written in response to a request by the Viceroy of Naples for the views of Naples’ leading physicians on abuses and errors in medical practice. Surprisingly, Di Capua resisted the Viceroy’s call for further regulation, instead arguing that the foundations of medical science were so uncertain that it would be impossible to stipulate with laws the essence of best medical practice. Di Capua linked his position on the uncertainty of medicine to the scepticism of Sextus Empiricus and made radical claims about the impossibility of ever resolving the disputes between medical sects. Di Capua’s professed scepticism did not convince his contemporaries, who viewed him more as a closet Cartesian. In fact, in many parts of the Parere, Di Capua makes positive claims about therapeutic methods and medical practice that would seem incompatible with formal scepticism. This paper argues on the basis of Di Capua’s treatment of Chinese medicine in the third ragionamento that his position should be understood in terms of limited scepticism, namely a methodological tendency to challenge received authority and to deconstruct systems of medical knowledge without concluding that medical knowledge is impossible to acquire.
Daniel Canaris is an intellectual historian specialising in Sino-Western cultural exchange in the early modern period, the Jesuit China mission, and the Italian Enlightenment. After finishing his PhD in Italian Studies at the University of Sydney in 2017, Daniel was awarded postdoctoral fellowships in Germany, England, United States and China, and until recently was Associate Professor at the Xue-Heng Institute for Advanced Studies (Nanjing University). In August 2022, he was appointed DECRA Research Fellow at the University of Sydney. His publications include the monograph Vico and China (Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2020), a critical edition and annotated translation of Niccolò Longobardo’s A Brief Response on the Controversies over Shangdi, Tianshen and Linghun (with Thierry Meynard, Palgrave Studies in Comparative Global History, 2021), as well as a critical edition and annotated translation of Michele Ruggieri’s The True Record of the Lord of Heaven (Studies in the History of Christianity in East Asia, 2022).
About this series
This talk is part of the 2022 Italian Studies Research Seminar Series, a recurring annual series presented by Italian Studies at the School of Languages and Cultures to showcase emerging research in Italian Studies, featuring local and international speakers.
When: Thursday, 25 August 2022, 4:30PM AEST
Where: Online via Zoom
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Enquiries: Associate Professor Antonia Rubino (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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