Filippo Bottazzi (1867–1941), university professor of physiology, director of the Neapolitan Zoological Station ‘A. Dohrn’ and commonly credited as ‘the father of Italian biochemistry’, is an interesting case study of a distinctive intellectual risk: oblivion following upon the honours of a successful career. Bottazzi’s fundamental work in physiology was distinguished by its close relationship with biological and physical chemistry. The nternational level of Bottazzi in this disciplinary field was commonly acknowledged, although he was also deeply interested in philosophy and history of life sciences. At the beginning of the twentieth century, together with many other prominent Italian intellectuals, Bottazzi mounted a long-lasting resistance against the prevailing idealistic trends in philosophy. The paper illustrates Bottazzi’s contributions to some crucial and, at the time, completely unsettled epistemological questions on biomedical science, such as mechanism versus vitalism and the relation between biological and physical explanation. Within this framework, Bottazzi’s historical studies are also considered. Finally, the paper argues for political and ideological reasons behind the silence surrounding Bottazzi after his death, pointing to his scientific commitment to the nutritional politics of the Italian Fascist regime, with its racial implications.

Developing Science at the Risk of Oblivion: The Case of FilippoBottazzi

STANZIONE, Massimo
2011

Abstract

Filippo Bottazzi (1867–1941), university professor of physiology, director of the Neapolitan Zoological Station ‘A. Dohrn’ and commonly credited as ‘the father of Italian biochemistry’, is an interesting case study of a distinctive intellectual risk: oblivion following upon the honours of a successful career. Bottazzi’s fundamental work in physiology was distinguished by its close relationship with biological and physical chemistry. The nternational level of Bottazzi in this disciplinary field was commonly acknowledged, although he was also deeply interested in philosophy and history of life sciences. At the beginning of the twentieth century, together with many other prominent Italian intellectuals, Bottazzi mounted a long-lasting resistance against the prevailing idealistic trends in philosophy. The paper illustrates Bottazzi’s contributions to some crucial and, at the time, completely unsettled epistemological questions on biomedical science, such as mechanism versus vitalism and the relation between biological and physical explanation. Within this framework, Bottazzi’s historical studies are also considered. Finally, the paper argues for political and ideological reasons behind the silence surrounding Bottazzi after his death, pointing to his scientific commitment to the nutritional politics of the Italian Fascist regime, with its racial implications.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11580/19816
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