Articles, Essays, Talks

Articles, Essays, Talks

Articles and Essays

How Evil Happens

Piece written for Aeon on the Syndrome E hypothesis: "Is Neuroscience Getting Closer to Explaining Evil Behavior?"

Thoughts Made Visible

Written for issue on "States of Mind" of Lapham’s Quarterly

A Chateau in the Loire Valley

About the restoration and redesign of a house in the Loire valley, for Architectural Digest.

Response to the 2016 Edge Question: What do you consider the most interesting scientific news? What makes it important?

Body and Soul

Written for Lapham´s Quarterly issue on "Flesh".

Paris, Searching for Peace

Written for New York Daily News after the Paris attacks of November 13th, 2015.

The Passage from Normal to Dark

A testimonial written for Politico on the day after the Paris attacks of November 13th.


Response to the 2015 Edge Foundation Annual Question: What do you think about machines that think?

The Rights of Spring

An essay on nostalgia, for Indian Quarterly (issue 3:2, January-March 2015).

Indian Summer

A review of John Adams´s opera A Flowering Tree, in Indian Quarterly, Vol 2, Issue 4.

As A Lute Out Of Tune: Robert Burton’s Melancholy

Piece written for The Public Domain Review

The Curry Soup

Written for the "roundtable" blog of Lapham´s Quarterly.]

Clothes are Transparent

Written for issue n. 1 of Garage.

The Internet and Slowness

Response to the 2010 Edge Question: "How is the Internet changing the way you think?" Anthologized in the resulting book, and selected as one of 8 of the 100 responses in Der Spiegel

Bach’s Art of Fugue

Written for issue 55 of Nexus on "Hope and Consolation".

Great Expectations

Piece on the history of doctors and patients, written for Lapham´s Quarterly, "Medicine" issue (Fall 2009).


Up Close and Personal

Piece on the history of personals for Lapham´s Quarterly, "Eros" issue (Winter 2009).

Wine, Body and Soul

Given at a conference on the Philosophy of Wine at Pollenzo (Piemonte), in May 2008.

Wine Psychology

Written for the first issue of a new journal on the philosophy of wine, Tacuinum Vitineum.

Speech After Long Silence: Of Poetry and Consciousness

Delivered as invited speaker to the 2005 Campbell Corner Poetry Prize Reading, Poets´ House, New York City.

Brain Scans Lie, Not You

A response to some reactions to Passions and Tempers, written in July 2007.

Melancholy and Humoural Passions in Early Modernity

Published in a French translation as "La Mélancolie et les passions humorales au début de la modernité", in the catalogue of the exhibition on melancholy shown in Paris and Berlin in 2005-06.

Alternatives in Medicine

Response to an online debate on Spiked: "Complementary and alternative medicine: Why is conventional medicine not enough?"

About "Moral Values"

This was written shortly after the 2004 US elections.

Text-e: Le texte a l’heure de l’internet

From the online symposium text-e. Edited by Gloria Origgi and Noga Arikha. With contributions by Stefana Broadbent, Francesco Cara, Roberto Casati, Roger Chartier, Umberto Eco, Jason Epstein, Stevan Harnad, Bruno Patino, Dan Sperber, Theodore Zeldin.

On "Intelligent Design"

Written in October 2005.

Computers, Speed and Us

Piece about the Internet, written for Prospect Magazine, as a counterpart to the online symposium on the impact of the internet on texts, text-e.

Book review: Undermining Man

Review of Kenan MalikMan, Beast and Zombie: What Science Can and Cannot Tell us About Human Nature(London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 2000), published in the TLS (9 February 2001).

Book review: on Thomas Willis

Review (unpublished) of Carl ZimmerSoul Made Flesh: The Discovery of the Brain - and How It Changed the World (New York: Free Press, 2004), 366pp. Originally written for the NYRB.

Book review: Metaphors of Memory

Review of Douwe Draaisma, Metaphors of Memory: A History of Ideas About the Mind (Cambridge University Press, 2000). Published in the Economist, in the issue dated June 28th, 2001.

On Pellegrino Artusi, Italy’s Victorian chef

Essay (unpublished) about the Italian cookery classic, Pellegrino Artusi´s La scienza in cucina e l´arte di mangiar bene.


Lectures and Academic

Materialism: A Historico-Philosophical Introduction

Review of book by Charles Wolfe, for HOPOS.

A New Republic of Letters?

Talk given at conference on Global Humanities, Italian Cultural Institute, New York.

Humoural Bodies and Balanced Minds

Keynote talk at conference "Situating Mental Illness: Between Scientific Certainty and Personal Narrative", ICI, Berlin, April 29th, 2011

La quete de l’equilibre: ame, vertus, humeurs

Piece on the humours published in the French journal Corps (March 2010).

"Just Life in a Nutshell": Humours as Common Sense

Paper given at a one-day symposium on "Folk Epistemologies", at the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies, Columbia University, NY, on October 26th, 2007. Published in The Philosophical Forum (Fall 2008: 39-3).


Opaque Humors, Enlightened Emotions, and the Transparent mind

Published in the journal Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics (Harvard University Press), issue 51, spring 2007.

Humoural Passions and Seasoned Cares

Lecture given in 2004 at a conference at Barnard, "Medicine Across Cultures: Medicine and the Mind, 600-1000 AD".

Reason and Emotion in the Early Enlightenment

Presented in 2003, first at the Italian Academy, Columbia University, then as a University Professors Occasional Lecture at Boston University.


Of Reasons, Humours and Passions: Explanatory Structure and the Mind-Body Problem

The "philosophical manifesto" underlying Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours, presented in 2002 as a luncheon-seminar at the Italian Academy, Columbia University, while at work on the humours project as a Fellow there.


Form and Function in the Early Enlightenment

An article about the relation between anatomical form and physiological function, derived from the doctoral thesis and published in Perspectives on Science, 14:2 (2006), pp. 153-189.


Deafness, Ideas and the Language of Thought in the Late 1600s

Published in the British Journal for the History of Philosophy, 13: 2 (2005), pp. 233-262; based on a chapter from the doctoral thesis.


Adam’s Spectacles: Nature, Mind and Body in the Age of Mechanism

Full text of the (unpublished) doctoral thesis.



Powered by Squarespace