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By Iris Fry

L'origine della vita sulla terra e l'eventuale esistenza di altre forme di vita nell'universo sono enigmi che affascinano da sempre l'uomo. Ma solo di recente queste domande sono diventate oggetto di serie indagini scientifiche, grazie agli sviluppi di biologia, biochimica e astronomia e alle nuove teorie della complessità. Nella prima parte del libro Iris Fry esplora le different ipotesi avanzate nel corso della storia e, nella seconda parte, prende in esame i recenti scenari della ricerca. Iris Fry illustra e discute così le varied teorie che agitano l'attuale dibattito nella comunità scientifica, senza mai perdere di vista il loro retroterra storico e filosofico.

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I. , i. , i. 111: ‘[il] principio loro’ [their [the different natures’] principle] Why this emphasis on classical definitions of God at the beginning of Paradiso? 18 It gives a lengthy exposition of three philosophical arguments for God summed up by these definitions. 19 In Beatrice’s speech in Paradiso i (ll. 103-41), Dante translates these scholastic and technical arguments into the language of love. Change – the movement from potency to act – is understood as a form of love: everything which is subject to change, from inanimate rocks to animate plants and animals (including humans as rational animals), is in potency to some goal which, because of that being’s particular essence, it desires.

Why a pagan? Well, first of all, the choice of a pagan guide enables Dante to represent, if only at an allegorical level, human reason. Dante was convinced that man could pursue the natural good, and be directed away from evil, through the correct use of his reason. 4 By choosing a pagan as his guide through Hell, Dante makes a polemical point about reason: that reason is sufficient (without Christian revelation) to provide a theoretical basis – natural law – for the ordering of good and evil in the temporal sphere.

This aside makes little sense at this point in the text, given that we do not yet know how Dante has re-imagined the notion of Limbo to include the ‘virtuous pagans’. While the question of Virgil’s status in the afterlife will be resolved, at least partly, in Inferno iv, the confusion is itself part of the point here, and the bewildering nature of this moment in the text Reading Time, Text and the World 39 depends upon it being read as a point in a linear progression. Similarly, the pilgrim’s and Virgil’s arrival on Mount Purgatory provokes surprise and questions concerning the nature of Purgatory itself.

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