Nicolì, Laura

Core Areas

History of Philosophy, Intellectual History, Early Modern Philosophy, Enlightenment, 18th century Studies, Philosophy of Religion, Modern Reception of Pagan Religions, Scepticism, Atheism

Current research

More than any other Humean work, the Natural History of Religion (1757) has a special connection with France. On the one hand, in his dissertation Hume relies on many French sources. He also adopts a literary genre, the one known as “histoire de l’esprit humain”, which was very popular among French philosophes. On the other hand, the Natural History of Religion is soon translated into French, stimulates many reactions in France and is object of discussion in the salons during Hume’s stay in Paris. It plays a decisive role in redirecting the philosophical debate on the origin and nature of religion taking place in Enlightenment Europe and particularly in France. Here its reading implies also the re-reading of its French sources as interpreted by Hume. Laura Nicolì’s research project aims to investigate this double connection, focusing on the sources of the Natural History of Religion, as well as on its early reception.

Simultaneously, she is developing a research on the académicien Louis de La Barre (1688-1738) and on in his Mémoires on Greek religion (1736-1737).


In 2016-2017, Laura Nicolì has been postdoctoral fellow at the Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Storici of Naples. She received her international co-tutored Ph.D. in History of Philosophy and History of Ideas at “La Sapienza” of Rome and the École Pratique des Hautes Études of Paris in 2015. Her dissertation focused on the philosophical debate on polytheism in eighteenth-century France (1704-1770). Before this, she completed a Master in Philosophy at the University of Udine and obtained the diploma of the Scuola Superiore dell’Università di Udine in 2010.

Selected publications

  • Fonti sottovalutate e fonti ignorate della voce Polythéisme dellʼEncyclopédie, “Giornale critico della filosofia italiana”, 2 | 2013, pp. 371-392.
  • Lugubre et riant, doux et intolérant : le paganisme vu par les Lumières, “ThéoRèmes” [Online], 9 | 2016, monographic number Une philosophie de la religion avant les Lumières. Libertins et libres-penseurs philosophes des religions, ed. by Y. Schmitt and A. Del Prete, 2016.
  • Uomini, dèi, santi. La natura umana della divinità nellʼevemerismo settecentesco, in C. Borghero, C. Buccolini (eds.), La ragione e le sue vie, Firenze, Le Lettere 2015, pp. 303-331.
  • Linguaggio, scrittura e idolatria in Warburton e Pluche, in C. Marras, A.L. Schino (eds.), Linguaggio, filosofia, fisiologia nellʼetà moderna, “Monografie digitali”, Iliesi-CNR 2015, pp. 259-270.
  • Idolatria e politeismo da Bayle ai philosophes, in D. Balzano, D. Bigalli (eds.), La ragione curiosa. Atti del convegno in memoria di Paolo Rossi, Roma, Aracne 2015, pp. 127-158.