cod. 1010838

Academic year 2024/25
2° year of course - Second semester
Niccolo' GUASTI
Academic discipline
Storia moderna (M-STO/02)
Istituzioni di filosofia
Type of training activity
30 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
course unit

Learning objectives

Upon completion of the course, it is desirable that the students will be able to:
1) Knowledge and understanding skills:
a) know and understand the historical processes that produced Enlightenment culture;
b) know and understand the main epistemological and ideological-cultural coordinates underlying the historiography on the Enlightenment;
2) Applying knowledge and understanding:
a) know how to use the knowledge learned from the analysis of the history of the Enlightenment in order to carry out appropriate research and teaching paths in the historical-philosophical field;
b) know how to apply at the interpretive level the main theoretical-epistemological keys underlying the historiographical debates on the Enlightenment;
3) Making judgments:
a) acquire a critical awareness of the different interpretative models related to the history of the Enlightenment;
b) be able to reconstruct the main junctures of the current historiographical debates related to the Enlightenment, including in light of available sources;
4) Communication Skills:
a) possess good communication skills in written and oral form using multiple linguistic and genre registers (from summary to scientific essay, etc.) and be able to document experiences facing different interlocutors;
b) express their knowledge in a correct and logical form, recognizing the required topic and answering examination questions in a timely and comprehensive manner;
5) Learning skills:
a) deepen the concepts learned in order to pursue their university career by using the terminology, conceptual coordinates and different teaching practices related to the major historical and historiographical issues of the Enlightenment;
b) master and refine the use of various forms of expression related to the topics, problems and sources of Enlightenment history and historiography (class discussion, textbooks, monographs, journal articles, power points, etc.).


A general knowledge of European history of the modern age (15th-19th centuries), with special reference to the cultural and intellectual dimension.

Course unit content

The course will address the gradual emergence of Enlightenment culture as a subversive factor of the Old Regime. Through an analysis of the historiography that, from the late 18th century onward, has meditated on the interpretation of the concept of "Enlightenment", the main features of the Enlightenment understood as a forge of modernity will be analyzed, particularly the birth of a new political language based on the rights of Man. An in-depth study of A. Radicati di Passerano's work Dissertazione filosofica della morte will be carried out.

Full programme

I) THE ENLIGHTENMENT AND ITS HISTORY: the theoretical roots of the Enlightenment; the Enlightenment as the new Humanism and laboratory of modernity; the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution: the Encyclopédie; the Enlightenment and religion; the Enlightenment and the Rights of Man: the debates on the "good savage" and slavery; Deism and Alberto Radicati di Passerano; the Enlightenment and gender identity; utopia and reform in the Enlightenment; the Enlightenment "sociability"; the Atlantic Revolutions and the end of the Enlightenment (4 CFU); II) THE HISTORIOGRAPHIC DEBATE: the Enlightenment as a plural concept; 19th-century interpretations of the Enlightenment; 20th-century historiographic and philosophical reflection on the Enlightenment; current lines of research on Enlightenment culture (2 CFU).


V. Ferrone, Il mondo dell’Illuminismo: Storia di una rivoluzione plurale, Torino, Einaudi, 2019; M. Mori e S. Veca (a cura di), Illuminismo. Storia di un’idea plurale, Roma, Carocci, 2019; Alberto Radicati di Passerano, Dissertazione filosofica sulla morte, Milano, Il Saggiatore, 2023.

Teaching methods

Teaching will be delivered through frontal lectures that are conducted with the aid of audiovisual media (power point). In case of any educational or health needs, the lectures may be delivered partially or totally as remote lessons. Textual documents, geographical maps and an iconographic apparatus will be presented in order to make students aware of the main Enlightenment debates and historiographical theses/interpretations on the Enlightenment. The teaching is delivered in Italian.

Assessment methods and criteria

The examination will take place orally, in the form of an interview between the lecturer and the student lasting approximately fifteen minutes, during which the student will be asked two questions on the different areas of the program, namely on the main events, debates and problems in the history and historiography of the Enlightenment addressed in class and illustrated in the booktexts, in order to ensure that the students have a thorough knowledge of the qualifying aspects of Enlightenment culture from a content, historiographic and epistemological point of view. The oral examinations take place within the educational calendar, and for each call the student who intends to take it must register using the EsseTre platform. The grade is expressed in thirtieths and it is necessary, for the purpose of passing the exam, to reach the mark of 18/30 (i.e. a reasonably sufficient preparation both from the point of view of content and from the point of view of expository language used). As assessment indicators for the interview, the lecturer will take into account the student's ability to use and connect the knowledge acquired, to discuss and elaborate on the topics, as well as his or her property of language.

Other information