Senior Fellow: October 2019–February 2020
Research Project: The Debate on Scepticism in Germany between Enquiry and Doubt (1650–1720)
In 1702, the Lutheran theologian Johan Eberhard Udam discussed a thesis entitled Dissertatio de ortu et progressu Scepticismi (Dissertation on the Origin and Development of Scepticism). This work dealt with the long history of scepticism, but also testified to the interest that this philosophy had aroused in the Lutheran circles of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. It is true that the interest in scepticism that had become part of the debate in the Lutheran universities had arrived from overseas. However, the debate, which took place between 1699 and 1725, took on a completely autonomous character. During this period, several scholars (such as Johann Franz Budde, Jacob Reimmann, and Johan Christoph Wolf) published treatises on scepticism, and a new edition of the works of Sextus Empiricus was published in Leipzig in 1718. All these works testify to the interest that the Lutheran world had developed in this particular Greek philosophy. The project aims to investigate the role that scepticism, both as a philosophy (i.e., in its historical dimension) and as a method, played within the history of German culture in this period. The analysis will particularly focus on the use of scepticism within the debate between Lutheran Aristotelian orthodoxy and its opponents, which seems to take the shape of a clash between dogmatists and sceptics. This part should help us to understand the role played by the use of scepticism in the process of enquiring into a dogmatic philosophy (as Aristotelian Lutheranism was at that time) and the role of doubt within this process.
Guido Bartolucci is assistant professor of early modern history at the Department of Political and Social Sciences, Università della Calabria.