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Mellon Fellow (1 February 2006 - 30 June 2006)
In this project I try to explain how the rationalist epistemological frame of reference adopted by the Cambridge Platonists and their opposition to empiricism can be interpreted as premises for toleration. Then, I intend to establish to what extent their idea of rational religion originated in the concept of universal religion advanced by the Platonists of Florence. At the same time, I compare the views of the Cambridge Platonists with those of the Dutch Remonstrants, with whom they exchanged letters and maintained close contacts in relation to their shared notion of a more liberal morality.A detailed comparison of these two different approaches, one based on an eclectic philosophy combining rationalist, Neoplatonic and Renaissance views and the other concentrating on the theology of grace inherited from Augustine, is of great importance for a better understanding of tolerance in the seventeenth century and the arguments authors put for atheism on one side and for tolerance on the other.
The five months of research (February-June 2006) at NIAS as a Mellon fellow was of great help since I was able to work on the Cambridge Platonists and the relationship between them and the Dutch Remonstrants. I completely reorganized my material and the outline of my book. My stay at NIAS also offered me very important opportunities not only in terms of library and archive work pursued at The Royal Library in The Hague and the library of the University of Amsterdam, but also in terms of possibilities to verify my hypotheses and to obtain valuable feedback from Dutch scholars working in the field. When I left NIAS, at the end of June, I finished all my research on the work of Arminius and on the letters exchanged between More, Cudworth and van Limborch. I also managed to do substantial research on the theological work of van Limborch. Furthermore, I tried to revise my former work on some of Cudworth's and More's treatises.
In terms of concrete results, besides working on my book, I delivered a lecture in Amsterdam, at the Free University of Amsterdam, Faculty of Philosophy, in March 2006, at the invitation of Dr. Govert J. Buijs. I also prepared a paper on 'Augustine's Legacy in the Cambridge Platonists and the Dutch Arminians' for a conference organized by Prof. Karla Pollmann (University of St. Andrews) and Prof. Silke-Petra Bergjan (University of Zurich in Kappel am Albis, near Zurich) in September 2006. Furthermore, while at NIAS, I became involved in a project on the reception of Augustine throughout the ages directed by Prof. Karla Pollmann, a former NIAS fellow herself. My contribution to the encyclopedia edited by Prof. Pollmann and her collaborators on the reception of Augustine will be the lemmatta on predestination, grace, Cambridge Platonism and Arminianism which I started preparing at NIAS.
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