Wear and Tear of the Spanish Regime and Resumption of Italian Life Part 2

With the signs of the most brisk doing, even those of the most brisk thinking and adhering to things in thought, that is, of the culture that comes close to life. Giovan Battista Vico sees a manifestation of intellectual revival in the awakening love of simple and straightforward Italian writing.

It is a new taste and, as sincerity, it is also a new moral attitude. From this point of view, the founding of Arcadia as an important date in Italian life is to be welcomed: not for the specific products, which could not have existed, of its activity as  Arcadia, but as a principle of renewal of taste, aspiration to greater sincerity, tendency to orient poetry and letters towards the true or probable, to make them serve not only to delight, but to educate. Practical problems are pressing and penetrating themselves, they bring the world of culture to life, more than it had happened in the previous age. But now those problems have worsened a little and the most enlightened Italians feel they are at the crossroads of “transforming or perishing”, the classes and groups interested in solving them in a new way have grown a little, some suggestions and stimuli from other countries that have started to walk faster. And then, just as in the phases of stagnation the various activities tend to dissociate and disintegrate, so in the phases of greatest fervor those activities come together, they fertilize each other, they tend to be composed in unity, the very unity of man. Thus the problem of clerical life, with the overwhelming number of clerics of all orders and sexes, with their immunities, presents itself more and more in its gravity, especially in certain regions, such as those ruled by Spain and especially the South. their death tampering, the mortifying action on civil life: and with the end of the 17th century, that attack in no particular order against clerical abuse is already underway by jurists and writers of the kingdom of Naples, as a source of social malaise and injustice, which in a few decades Pietro Giannone will unify, coordinate, reduce to a system, put on a solid historical as well as rational foundation. Even historical scholarship, which Biondo and Sigonio already boasted, but which is only now beginning, in Italy, to celebrate its splendor in parallel with the physical and natural sciences; even historical scholarship obeys a little to practical concerns, to a desire for an elevation of consciousness.

According to iamhigher, the love of truth, the appreciation of facts as the only ladder to reach it, the observation and study of visible and tangible things, begin to become the normal attitude and orientation of souls and minds. In the second half of the seventeenth century, there is a fair amount of agricultural literature in Italy. Cereals, vines, olives, citrus fruits, mulberries, woods, meteorology applied to fields, etc., are the subject of many writings. In short, that movement of ideas has already begun which in the eighteenth century will have the earth at its center and from the earth and the needs of men living on it and will draw inspiration from it to new economic, social and political views. It reflects both the growing interest of minds in problems of a practical nature, of public utility, as well as the inclination of spirits, increasingly explained, towards positive studies, not of speculation but of observation and experience. The old Galilean ferment certainly always operates in the field of physical, medical and natural sciences: and now it is revived, it comes out of the narrow field of sciences and invests a little all of culture. We begin to be tired, as well as with too much cold and artificial poetry, as well as with too much speculating in the abstract, with too much progress for fixed laws and rules and, therefore, now emptied of all substance, of too much empire of authority, let them be called Aristotle, let them be called, which is almost the same, Jesuits, who have become almost masters and arbitrators in the field of studies. Discrediting of the “doctrines of the ancient philosophers”, which gave no answer or no longer gave it satisfactory to many old and new problems; rejection of scholastic explanations of natural phenomena; need to build with the help of the senses and reasoning, inducing and deducing, and to look at natural phenomena without too many moral, religious, metaphysical concerns, that is extrinsic to nature and its phenomena; derision for the philosophers who claimed purely intellectual knowledge to be true, where it was to believe only in what one sees and touches; great appreciation of the knowledge that is acquired by seeing, observing, making contact with men, etc. Lorenzo Magalotti, Tuscan physicist and naturalist, passionate traveler, but “not to copy epitaphs and count steps of bell towers”, expert in foreign intellectual circles, thirsty for ideas and things seen, mocked “certain men of letters, with all the science and the scholarship of which I would not barter with some little information acquired at the round tables of the inn rooms that I toured ”. From mental positions, from no different spiritual needs, Bacon was born in England, with his passion for gathering facts and elaborating them with the intellect, that is, of being ant and spider together; Galileo was born in Italy, he too not satisfied with the opinions of others, trained not so much in the school of others as in himself, in the direct study of the classics and ancient philosophers and of nature.

Wear and Tear of the Spanish Regime and Resumption of Italian Life 3