Cultural and civic significance of Vallisneriâ€™s legacy
Antonio Vallisneri's relevance to the history of early modern Italian science, literature, and culture demands that his thought and works be promoted and disseminated not only among scholars, scientists, and other specialist, but also to a wider audience – students, cultural operators, the general public – whose familiarity with interdisciplinary themes would greatly benefit from the study of this author’s contribution to science. In fact, given the great variety of natural phenomena that he studied and the many different debates he engaged in, Vallisneri’s work would be a perfect subject for didactic activities performed in schools, libraries, and other learning environments, and involving collaboration and dialogue between teachers and cultural professionals from both scientific and humanistic disciplines.
Far from being a mere divertissement from more effective educational practices, a contextualized understanding of Vallisneri's eclectic research would greatly help students and the general public to avoid uncritical distinctions between humanistic and scientific studies. It would foster an awareness of the need for a unitary view of knowledge: an essential tool to challenge the stubborn preconception which nowadays still tends to pit “real” and “useful” science against “subjective” and mostly “ornamental” humanistic disciplines, and which poses the most serious threat to the advancement of interdisciplinary research – and, therefore, to the advancement of human knowledge.