Vol. 8 (2023)

On cultural transmission. A case study: Condillac and Italy

Andrea Gatti
University of Ferrara

Published 2022-10-28


  • history of ideas,
  • enlightenment,
  • Étienne Bonnot de Condillac,
  • modern philosophy,
  • agriculture

How to Cite

Gatti, A. (2022). On cultural transmission. A case study: Condillac and Italy. Diciottesimo Secolo, 8, 79–90. https://doi.org/10.36253/ds-14166


Étienne Bonnot de Condillac (1715-80) lived in Parma for nine years (1758-67) at the court of Philip and Louise Elizabeth (1758-67), as tutor to their son Ferdinand. His long stay in Italy provides an interesting model for investigating on what specific assumptions the concept of “cultural migrations”, or intellectual transmission, between different philosophical cultures should be considered. In fact, the philosophical innovations that the French philosopher introduced and that met with favor in the rest of Europe were sometimes rejected or neglected in the Duchy of Parma and throughout Italy. The difficulties for the historian of ideas in formulating hypotheses about the relevance and modalities of cultural transmission emerge precisely in a case such as Condillac’s, whose actual presence in Parma and Italy seems to raise some doubts as to whether or not the migration of authors also entailed the migration of their ideas. This essay aims to reconsider the basic assumptions of the method that usually guides research in the particular field of cultural exchanges.


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