Exploring the Legacy of Italian Philosophy: A Journey through Brian and Rebecca Copenhaver’s Book

ISI Florence hosted an insightful book presentation by authors Brian and Rebecca Copenhaver as they delved into the world of Italian philosophy. The event took place on Tuesday, July 11, 2023, at ISI’s headquarters in Palazzo Rucellai. The book, titled “Filosofia in Italia (1800-1950). Uno sguardo dall’esterno” and published by Le Lettere a few months ago, was introduced by Davide Bondì (Università di Verona), Sophia Catalano (Università di Trento) and Fabrizio Meroi (Università di Trento/Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento).

Attendees had the opportunity to discover the lesser-known philosophers who shaped Italy’s intellectual landscape during this transformative period.


Brian and Rebecca Copenhaver’s volume represents an important testimony to the reception of a fundamental portion of Italian philosophy – that which spans from the 19th century to the first half of the 20th century – outside of national borders. This work is recognized as one of the first and most important steps in the “northwest passage” of themes and motifs from Italian philosophy. The two authors deserve credit for presenting and making accessible to an international audience the work of philosophers who are often little known beyond the borders of the Italian Peninsula. However, their work has also contributed to enriching a debate that continues to interest and divide Italian scholars and beyond: the possibility of defining the specificity of the Italian philosophical tradition. By offering the reader their perspective as foreign authors who work and have been educated abroad, Brian and Rebecca Copenhaver highlight what, in their opinion, has contributed to making “the history of modern philosophy in Italy different from anything that could be observed about professionals in this discipline in England or the United States,” thereby revealing the characteristic features that are inseparable from the specific historical events in which it has developed.


Brian Copenhaver is a professor emeritus of Philosophy and History in the Department of Philosophy at the University of California, Los Angeles, where he served as dean and provost until 2003. From 2004 to 2011, he was the director of the Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at the same university.

Rebecca Copenhaver is a professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis. Her main area of interest is philosophy of mind, with a particular focus on the theories of modern authors such as Locke, Berkeley, and Reid.

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