Mattia Mantovani

Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow (Nov 2021-Dec 2021)


Mattia Mantovani studied philosophy at the Humboldt University in Berlin, obtaining his PhD in 2018 with a dissertation on Descartes’ theory of vision. He has previously worked as Doctoral and Postdoctoral researcher at the Descartes Centre in Utrecht, at the University of Pennsylvania and at the Leopoldina, Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften in Halle. Since 2019, Mattia is Postdoc Researcher at KU Leuven, with a project on the long-term history of perception theories and their broader epistemological and metaphysical implications. Mattia is currently working to turn it into a monograph, titled From Truth to Ecology. Reassessing the History of the Senses, 1250-1750. His current MPIWG project investigates the debates about animal perception in the Middle Ages and their early modern developments, within Katja Krause’s Research Group “Premodern Sciences”. Mattia published on Roger Bacon and the medieval vision theorists, on Descartes and the Cartesian tradition, up to Locke, and on scientific diagrams: his papers appeared – among other – in Early Science and Medicine, Vivarium, Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy and  Journal of Early Modern Studies. Mattia is about to publish two large collected volumes on the early modern teaching of Descartes’ philosophy and its visual legacy. In 2022, there will also appear under his direction a special issue of Notes and Records. The Royal Society Journal of the History of Science, on the topic “Picturing Life in the Early Modern Age”. Since 2020, Mattia is book review editor of Physis. Journal of the Italian Society for the History of Science.




  • “The Institution of Nature. Descartes on Human Perception”, Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy 11 (2022), forthcoming.

  • Mattia Mantovani and Davide Cellamare, eds., Descartes in the Classroom. Teaching Cartesian Philosophy in the Early Modern Age (Leiden: Brill 2022), forthcoming.

  • “The First of All Natural Sciences. Roger Bacon on Perspectiva and Human Knowledge”, Vivarium 59/3 (2021), 186-214.

  • “Descartes’ Man Under Construction. The Circulatory Statue of Salomon Reisel, 1680”, Early Science and Medicine 25/2 (2020), 101-134.

  • “Visio per sillogismum: Sensation and Cognition in 13th-Century Theories of Vision”, in Elena Băltuță, ed., Medieval Perceptual Puzzles. Theories of Sense Perception in the 13th and 14th Centuries (Leiden: Brill 2020), 111-152.


No current projects were found for this scholar.

Sensible Taxonomies: Medieval Accounts of Animal Perception


Selected Publications

Mantovani, Mattia (2021). “The First of All Natural Sciences: Roger Bacon on Perspectiva and Human Knowledge.” Vivarium 59 (3): 186–214.

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Presentations, Talks, & Teaching Activities

Master course:“The Clash of the Senses. Problems in Sense Perception from Aristotle to Berkeley”

Radboud University, Nijmegen

Scientiæ. Early Modern Knowledge, 1400-1800: “Smuggling Optics into the Catholics’ Stronghold. Louvain, 1648-1671”

University of Amsterdam

Potentia/Potestas: The History of a Concept: “On the Authorship and Dating of Descartes’ Annotationes”

University of Lecce

Wissenschaftshistorisches Seminar: “Sehen denken. Beobachtung und Theorie in der Anatomie der Frühen Neuzeit“

Leopoldina – Nationale Akademie der Wissenschaften, Halle (Saale)

Master Course, History and Philosophy of Science Program: “Determinism and the Laws of Nature. A Seventeenth-Century Story“

University of Utrecht