What Can We Learn from Early Modernity about Self-Learning Experiences? Key Questions, Remarks, and Research Paths


This lecture aimed to explore the very complex and multifaceted matter of self-learning experiences in early modern Europe. Its primary focus was on the relationship between the individual, their self-learning, and the surrounding intellectual environment. 

This is a new field of inquiry that presents a chance to look at scientific cooperation from an unprecedented perspective. Alongside universities, colleges, and academies, which followed established programs consistent with political, religious, and social orders, the epoch was also marked by a flourishing of scholarly associations that had in common a non-institutionalized production of knowledge.

How did the physical spaces occupied by these individuals influence their knowledge output? What kind of philosophical standpoint did they have? How were they organized? The presentation focused on these key questions and outlined the paths that can be taken to find their answers.

Valentina Lepri is a Professor of History of Philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw. After obtaining her PhD in Florence in 2007, she held positions as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Germany and at the Villa I Tatti, Harvard University Center for Italian Renaissance Studies. In recent years, she has been awarded a Fernand Braudel Senior Research Fellowship at the European University Institute, a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellowship, and an ERC Consolidator Grant. Her monographs and articles explore the systems of knowledge production and dissemination during the Early Modern Age, especially focusing on academic teaching and on the forms of manipulation of sixteenth-century philosophical and political texts.

Misha Glenny, Rector of the IWM, introduced the speaker and moderated the subsequent disscussion.