Conclusiones CM publice disputandae

About Conclusiones CM

Conclusiones CM is an online project designed to grow and develop with the contribution of Pico scholars world wide. The Conclusiones were first published by Eucharius Silber in Rome on 7 December, 1486. The 24-year-old Pico planned to publicly "defend" his theses in Rome, in January 1487, before a commission of cardinals and theologians appointed by Pope Innocent VIII. However, thirteen of the 900 theses were judged heretical by Catholic theologians and the public defense was called off by the Pope and never took place.

A dynamic system for distance collaboration, Conclusiones CM mirrors Pico della Mirandola's historic use of print and verbal media. This text reflects Pico's pluralistic method of taking the best elements from other philosophies and combining them in his own thought. By synthesizing profoundly diverse traditions and ideas with his own intellectual contributions in short lexia or aphorisms, Pico's Theses exemplify a truly hypertextual system of thought, ante litteram. Just as Pico, in his printed work, tried to present diverse opinions in order to stir the philosophical and theological debate among scholars of his time, Conclusiones CM hopes to provide an electronic forum for a discussion of Pico's ideas and legacy among contemporary scholars, wherever they are located.

The project began in January 2002, thanks to a Faculty Grant awarded to Massimo Riva by the Computing and Information Services at Brown University for development by the Scholarly Technology Group of selected faculty projects. Professor Dino Buzzetti (University of Bologna) provided the guidelines, via email, for the digitization of the the editio princeps of Conclusiones CM (at the British Library). The project currently comprises the electronic version of the 900 Theses by Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and an annotation system. Readers can navigate the text using the table of contents, and may choose to see one thesis at the time, or all the theses under a particular subheading (eg. all the theses under "Conclusiones secundum Avicennam numero XII"); they can perform a search on the Latin text and can read the annotations made available by scholars participating in the project.

The text presented here is a transcription of the British Library copy of the editio princeps of Conclusiones CM (Silber, 1486). More specifically, we consider this transcription (the first to be made available online) as a first step toward a thorough reconstruction of the textual tradition, based on a recensio of all known extant witnesses, in manuscript or print, including critical references to its three modern editions (Kieszkowski, Biondi and Farmer). Our goal is to make possible a collaborative, multidisciplinary annotation of Pico's work, in order to address textual and philological issues, identify Pico's explicit or implicit sources, and discuss and propose interpretations of each thesis and the whole work. We also wish to contribute to the ongoing debate about methodological issues in digital philology.

To this end, we have introduced a numbering system, modifying one already introduced by S.A. Farmer in his 1998 edition (Tempe: Arizona, Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies). Our numbering system includes the Roman numeral I to signal the progression of theses included in part one (according to the opinion of others) and the Roman numeral II to signal the progression of theses included in part two (according to Pico's own opinion). For example: I.2.3 (our system) for 2.3 (Farmer); II.2.3 (our system) for 2>3 (Farmer). We have chosen this numbering system because in our opinion it is intuitively clear and functional, while it allows scholars who would like to compare our transcription with the text provided by Farmer to easily do so. We also decided to maintain in our transcription the original punctuation system (modernized by Farmer in his edition) to keep with the spirit of a complete recensio of the textual tradition, mentioned above.

Special thanks to Paul Caton, Carole Mah and Elli Mylonas of Brown's Scholarly Technology Group. XML encoding and testing of the annotation system was done by Alon Navot, a.b.d. student in Classics and encoder at the Women Writers Project.

Team members and collaborators:

  • Francesco Borghesi, Research Fellow, Italian Academy at Columbia University
  • Pier Cesare Bori, Professor of Moral Philosophy, University of Bologna
  • Dino Buzzetti, Associate Professor in the History of Medieval Philosophy, University of Bologna
  • Paul Caton, Research Analyst, Scholarly Technology Group, Brown University
  • Saverio Marchignoli, Researcher in Moral Philosophy, University of Bologna
  • Michael Papio, Assistant Professor of French and Italian, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
  • Massimo Riva, Professor of Italian Studies and Modern Culture and Media, Brown University

Scholars who would like to collaborate in the testing of the annotation system should contact one of the following:

Professor Massimo Riva
Dept. of Italian Studies
Box 1942, Brown University
Providence, RI 02912
phone: 001.401.863.3984/1561
fax.: 001.401.863.3304

Vika Zafrin
Project Director, Virtual Humanities Lab
Box 1942, Brown University
Providence, RI 02912
phone: +1 401.863.3984