1st forum, “Italy the home of science”. In Memory of Dante Alighieri (1265–1321)
The first forum of the “Dante 700 – contemporary landscape” series of events took place on October the 23rd 2021 at Shanghai Duolun museum, organized by Duolun museum, IIC (Italian Cultural Institute), AAIIC (Association of Italian Academicians in China, WhyWhyArt, EASA (Europe Art and Science Association), and supported by the Italian Consulate in Shanghai, Medici Center Shanghai, Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art, ifa gallery, I-Gallery, Shanghai Himalaya Museum, ZAIYI, YongFoo Elite, Lyrically Unbounded China, ZTV News, and EURAXESS.
The Italian Government was represented by the Italian Consul in Shanghai Mr. Francesco D ‘Arelli, whose presence emphasizes the importance of the cultural exchange among the two countries, in particular, because of the incoming Italy-China Year of Culture and Tourism.
As emphasized by one of the organizers, art curator Zane Mellupe representing WhyWhyArt, Dante Alighieri was the precursor of European humanism and a key pillar of European cultural heritage. Dante’s Divine Comedy, a landmark in Italian literature, is among the greatest works of all medieval European literature and it has been translated into more than 130 languages. Dante’s profound vision of Heaven, Hell, and the human voyage through different circles and spheres have left an eternal mark on how we think about human life and see it projected on the eternal landscape. In that sense, Dante’s works were “contemporary” in his time, and are contemporary still nowadays. Over the centuries Dante has inspired artists, scientists, philosophers, and writers. The influence and contemporary interpretation of Dante’s Divine Comedy is one of the main focuses of the series of events and it still nowadays raises the discourse between art and science. The birth of modern scientific thought is inextricably related to the way humanism had flourished in Florence, over the XV century. Dante was at the forefront of a pre-humanistic thought, powerfully advocating access to knowledge to elevate the human condition.
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Indeed, the human mind must be at the center of the Universe, and mankind shall constitute its measure. This scientific elevation naturally accomplished a cultural Renaissance. The related scientific humanism was finally powerfully summarized by the studies carried out by another distinguished Florentine, Leonardo Da Vinci. Finally, within the reach cultural milieux of the Florence of the Renaissance time, Galileo Galilei stated the rules of the modern rational scientific method. This outstanding progression of human thought, taking place in a few decades, opened a pathway to modernity. We review this incredible historical time by focusing on the paradigmatic figures of Dante Alighieri, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Galileo Galilei. We acknowledge the political and social environment of Florence, which made possible this miracle, and further focus on the model of economical development of another important center of the Renaissance, Venice.
The recently announced Nobel prize to the Italian physics Giorgio Parisi, epigone of the celebrated Roman school of physics, once again confirms the longstanding European and the Italian tradition of excellence in the field. Giorgio Parisi not only has collaborated in China with Chinese researchers but also, promoting and revitalizing the tradition of the Roman school, has mentored researchers who have been then increasingly working internationally, including in China, from Fudan University in Shanghai to SUSTech in Shenzhen. After the introduction by Francesco D’Arelli, director of the Italian Institute of Culture, to the series of events “Dante 700 – contemporary landscape”, the forum was started by the speeches of Yifang Wang, director in IHEP, on the collaborations among China and Italy in high energy particle physics, and the commemoration by Yong-Shi Wu, Emeritus professor at Utah University, of the years of collaboration with Giorgio Parisi during the ‘80s at the Institute of Theoretical Physics in Beijing. Andrey Varlamov, a distinguished theoretical physicist active in the field of solid-state and expert of superconductivity, was providing in his lecture a historical excursus, from Rome and Athens to Florence and Krakow, hence back to Rome, emphasizing the cultural origin of the scientific thought. Davide Orazio Lombardo was giving historical insight on the renaissance cultural, economical, and political environment of Florence. Finally, Wang Jie, an expert on intellectual property rights, was talon about Venice as a model of economical development, emphasizing the first realization of intellectual property in ancient Venice.
The very complex dialogue was conducted by Antonino Marciano, president of the association of Italian scholars in China (AAIIC), professor of physics at Fudan University, and comers student in Rome of Giorgio Paris. Following the forum there was a European researchers discussion, then followed by a European and Chinese researcher night event, with special organizational thank to Halldor Berg of EURAXESS and the scientific attache’ at the EU delegation Vojko Bratina.
These events, celebrating the genius of Dante, are part of a series of Sino-Italian cooperation initiatives that will realize a cultural discussion among Eastern and Western while launching the message that art, science, and literature are borderless and help us overcome difficulties and build better bridges for us and generations to come. As the physicist Carlo Rovelli, one of the intellectuals who will take part in the forum events, said, ”Poetry and Science are both creations of the spirit that create new ways of thinking about the world, to make us understand it better. The great Science and the great Poetry are both visionary, and sometimes they can arrive at the same intuitions.”