Dr. Matthias Roick


  • 11/2009-2011 postdoctoral fellow at the University of Göttingen’s research group on ‘Expert Cultures, 1100-1600’
  • Postgraduate studies at the European University Institute, Florence, PhD in history in October 2009. (Thesis: Mercury in Naples. The Moral and Political Thought of Giovanni Pontano)
  • 2002-2004 teaching German language at the University of Catania, working as linguistic expert (esperto linguistico)
  • 1998-1999 stay at the University of Padua
  • 1996-2001 philosophy, german literature and comparative literature at the University of Munich

  • Homepage on Faculty of Theology, University of Göttingen

Research Interests

  • Literature and philosophy of Italian Renaissance humanism, in particular of Neapolitan humanism
  • Questions of moral philosophy and the history of ethics in the later Middle Ages and the early-modern period
  • Early-modern political thought
  • Historiography of Renaissance intellectual history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries
  • Methodological questions on a historical semantics between intellectual history, conceptual history, and the history of ideas


A history of virtue, 1600-1800

    At first glance, virtue ethics and expert knowledge seem to have little in common. Whereas ‚ethical‘ knowledge claims to be a powerful guiding knowledge that reflects on the aims and ends of human action, expert knowledge is rather a kind of ‚technical‘ knowledge that often loses sight of these ends. Critics of experts often make use of this scheme when they speak of their ‘vices’. Still, ethical knowledge and expert knowledge react with each other. Expert cultures do not define themselves merely in terms of their expert knowledge, but also in terms of morality and ethical knowledge. On the other hand, ethical knowledge does not remain uninfluenced by expert knowledge. The project inquires into these mutual reactions and influences by tracing the various forms and different margins of early-modern ‘virtue’. It does so not only in a philosophical context, but also in the context of early-modern society, politics and culture.


  • ‚Der sichere Hafen und die Stürme des Lebens. Autobiographie als philosophisches Argument in Giovanni Pontanos De prudentia.‘ In Ebbersmeyer, Sabrina, Helga Pirner-Pareschi, and Thomas Ricklin (ed.), Sol et homo. Mensch und Natur in der Renaissance. Festschrift zum 70. Geburtstag für Eckhard Keßler. München: Fink, 2008. Pp. 102-123.
  • Übersetzung von Giovanni Pontano, ‚De magnificentia‘. In Ebbersmeyer, Sabrina, Eckhard Keßler and Martin Schmeisser (ed.), Ethik des Nützlichen. Texte zur Begründung der Moral im italienischen Humanismus. München: Fink, 2007. Pp. 282-338.