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CODE 80490
SEMESTER 2° Semester


The course of History of Science and Technology in the Age of Enlightenment provides students with an adequate and exhaustive general preparation, regarding the historical phase of growth and maturation of scientific culture and technical knowledge in Italy and Europe, between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, reconstructing and describing contexts and lines of development, in a critical way – teaching to use of primary sources, outlining an era and its protagonists starting from them, analyzingthe historical processes, also rereading important pages of historiography –, studying the main phases of scientific-technical evolution from the death of Galileo until the crisis and the sunset of the Italian and European Enlightenment, using the most up-to-date tools of the Anglo-Saxon cultural history. The contents concern the cultural and political-social history of the eighteenth century, the Enlightenment codification of the scientific revolution and the developments of sciences.



The contents of the course concern the cultural and socio-political history of the 18th century from the crisis of European conscience at the beginning of the century to the French Revolution, the Enlightenment codification of the scientific revolution and the developments of 18th-century sciences and techniques. Aim of the course is providing adequate preparation on the history of the Enlightenment, using the growth of technical-scientific knowledge as a privileged observatory for analysis.


Specifically, it aims to provide students with a network of basic knowledge about: tradition of Tuscan Galileanism and its contributions to the rise of the eighteenth-century Italian Enlightenment (in practice the origins and seventeenth-century roots of the Enlightenment in the spaces of the ancient Italian states of ancient regime), French and continental Cartesianism, the Baconian heritage and its recovery,  the new Newtonian synthesis and the developments of it, throughout the eighteenth century Anglo-European encyclopedism. The aim is twofold: on the one hand, to highlight, adequately, the intellectual growth of scientific knowledge, keeping, in the background, the necessary political, social and religious contexts (in the wake – here – of the teachings of Richard Samuel Westfall); on the other, to highlight selected and salient aspects of eighteenth-century life, grasping the contribution of science to the birth of Enlightenment philosophy and using, jointly, the latter two, as a sort of privileged lens, in order to study moments and important characters of Western history, illuminating it and avoiding at the same time the supine and preconceived acceptance of epistemological ruptures at all costs, in favor of a representation of the Enlightenment scientific culture that privileges, with due and right attention to the facts, the indelible lines of continuity and transformation of knowledge (like Bernard Cohen). The aim of the course is to introduce relevant cultural and scientific issues (from a humanistic point of view), so that the course participants acquire the necessary knowledge. At the end of the course, the student will be able to master and understand closely knowledge, otherwise complex, which will be the task of the teacher to have made clear and accessible to all during the teaching activity. The hope is that the student acquires the fundamental knowledge (and ability to deal with them) regarding the topics of the course. Students are expected to have adequate basic knowledge at a good level. The evaluation will take into account the level of learning and the ability to rework achieved, by virtue of a didactic load made up of lectures (with discussions) and the reading of the books. The course exists to illustrate the scientific and cultural history, both European and Italian, from the crisis of the late-Baroque consciousness to the Napoleonic age. The lessons, which will follow a useful chronological trend, will be structured by the teacher also by themes, therefore in a monographic key. Much space will be given to any questions from the students, which can also serve as a stimulus and cue, to carry out specific insights, and hold ad hoc lessons. More specifically, students – provided by the teacher with the appropriate and indispensable tools – will be asked the following:

- understanding of the meaning of the discipline, which in the present case constitutes the bridgehead and the term of connection between the humanistic world and scientific reality;

- knowledge of the historical contexts of reference (the background, therefore);

- knowledge of the main authors (the historical-social actors, therefore), of their itinerary and of their major works;

- knowledge of the network in which the new technical-scientific knowledge of the modern age circulated;

- knowledge and understanding of the close mutual (two-way) interrelationship between science and technology;

- ability to evaluate, objectively and without prejudice (without judging a posteriori, therefore), the historical transformations that took place in the universe of European science, between the second half of seventeenth century and late eighteenth century, as well as their causes, their methods and their factual consequences;

- knowledge and understanding of the major historical connections and intersections;

- acquire a greater ability to manage their social interactions with a collaborative attitude, constructive communication and dialogical skills.


A good basic knowledge of modern history and of the history of modern philosophy.


The lessons will be frontal, using the most up-to-date tools of the Anglo-Saxon cultural history. The lessons, which will follow a useful chronological trend, will be structured by the teacher also by themes, therefore in a monographic key. Much space will be given to any questions from the students, which can also serve as a stimulus and inspiration, to carry out specific insights, and hold ad hoc lessons, also rereading important pages of historiography.

The last two lessons of the course provide for the optional presentation by individual students of a case study. Students will be able to choose a case study and analyze it by applying the methods previously described by the teacher in class. At the end of the course, each student will then present their own case analysis project if they wish and will listen to any suggestions for improvement from the teacher and colleagues.


Outlines of the history of scientific and technical knowledge. The new science of the Seventeenth Century. The birth of modern technology in late 18th century Britain. The Republic of Letters in the modern age and the social circulation of culture. Forms of travel: scientific and exploratory travel at the time of the Grand Tour. Land travel and sea travel. Travels in the spaces of the cosmos: a history of the universe, from astrophysics to astronautics, between the conquest of the skies and literature of the imaginary.


Bibliography (6 CFU)

Reading, compulsory for everyone, of the following text: 
  • D. Arecco, Virtute e canoscenza. Una storia della scienza e della tecnica moderne, Padova, edizioni, 2017.
In addition, read a text chosen from the following: 
  • D. Arecco, Genova, Firenze, Londra. Viaggiatori italiani in Inghilterra tra Seicento e Settecento, Genova, Città del silenzio, 2023.
  • D. Arecco, Navigatori, scienziati e viaggiatori. Scoprire e disegnare il globo da Cristoforo Colombo al capitano Cook, Castel Negrino, VirtuosaMente, 2016. 
  • S. Rotta, Geminiano Montanari e altri studi di storia della scienza nella prima età moderna, Milano-Udine, Mimesis, 2020.
  • D. Arecco, Nova scientia. Italia, Francia e stati tedeschi dal Barocco ai Lumi, Castel Negrino, VirtuosaMente, 2019.
  • AA.VV., Scienza, tecnica e società, Genova, Città del silenzio, 2022.
  • F. Klemm, Storia della tecnica, Bologna, Odoya, 2014.
  • A. Calemme, Alle origini della tecnologia scientifica. Ricezione e sviluppo del pensiero galileiano nell’opera di Isaac Newton, Milano, Mimesis, 2020.
  • B. Lotti, L’iperbole del debbio. Lo scetticismo cartesiano nella filosofia inglese tra Sei e Settecento, Firenze, Le Lettere, 2010.
  • D. Arecco, La corona e il cannocchiale. La scienza inglese e scozzese nel secolo degli Stuart, Novi Ligure, Città del Silenzio, 2019.
  • D. Arecco, Comete, stelle e pianeti. Storia dell'astronomia nell’età di Newton, Novi Ligure, Città del Silenzio, 2018.
  • D. Arecco, Brook Taylor e l’analisi matematica tra XVII e XVIII secolo, Genova, Città del Silenzio, 2021.
  • D. Gullotto, La Repubblica dei Matematici. Storia dell’analisi matematica nell’età di Euler e Leibniz, Genova, Città del silenzio, 2023.
  • S. Maffei, Della formazione de’ fulmini, Novi Ligure, Città del Silenzio, 2018.
  • P.-L. Moreau de Maupertuis, La Venere fisica, Novi Ligure, Città del Silenzio, 2017.
  • D. Arecco, Teorie dello spazio da Newton alla fantascienza, Torino, Scudo, 2023.
  • M. Fiaschi, Obiettivo Plutone, Lecce, Youcanprint, 2021.
  • G. Schilling, Caccia al Pianeta X. Nuovi mondi e il destino di Plutone, Berlin, Springer Verlag, 2010.


Exam Board







February 21, 2024.


Class schedule

The timetable for this course is available here: Portale EasyAcademy





Students are expected to be attracted to the exam interview with adequate basic knowledge, at a good level. The assessment will take into account the level of learning and the ability to rework achieved.

Exam schedule

Data Ora Luogo Degree type Note
22/12/2023 15:00 GENOVA Orale
26/01/2024 15:00 GENOVA Orale
16/02/2024 15:00 GENOVA Orale
08/05/2024 15:00 GENOVA Orale
29/05/2024 15:00 GENOVA Orale
12/06/2024 15:00 GENOVA Orale
05/07/2024 15:00 GENOVA Orale
06/09/2024 15:00 GENOVA Orale


The exam is, always and only, oral. The exam brings two texts, according to the reading program indicated. The books published by Città del silenzio Edizioni can be ordered, directly, to the publisher, with an email to:, or buy at the Bozzi Library in Genoa, or even online (on ibs, unilibro, webster, bol, etc.). It can also be very useful, if the idea is shared by everyone, to create a What's App Group of the Course. Some lessons of the course will have a seminar character: some teachers and experts in the field will be hosted, in the presence of the owner, who will make their skills available to students.

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals

Agenda 2030 - Sustainable Development Goals
Quality education
Quality education


 PRO3 - Soft skills - Sociale base 1 - A
PRO3 - Soft skills - Sociale base 1 - A