Eva Del Soldato, "Early Modern Aristotle: On the Making and Unmaking of Authority" (U Pennsylvania Press, 2020)


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Today we speak with Eva Del Soldato about her new book on how the authority of Aristotle was reinscribed and challenged during the early modern period. In his Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle affirms that despite his friendship with Plato, he was a better friend of the truth. With this statement, he rejected his teacher's authority, implying that the pursuit of philosophy does not entail any such obedience. Yet over the centuries Aristotle himself became the authority par excellence in the Western world, and even notorious anti-Aristotelians such as Galileo Galilei preferred to keep him as a friend rather than to contradict him openly.

In Early Modern Aristotle: On the Making and Unmaking of Authority (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2020), Eva Del Soldato contends that because the authority of Aristotle—like that of any other ancient, including Plato—was a construct, it could be tailored and customized to serve agendas that were often in direct contrast to one another, at times even in open conflict with the very tenets of Peripatetic philosophy.

Gerry Milligan is Professor of Italian at the College of Staten Island, where he serves as Director of Honors. He is Professor in Italian and Global Early Modern Studies at the CUNY Graduate Center. His NBN interview is available at here.

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