Pietro Pomponazzi (or Petrus Pomponatius) was alive during the Italian Renaissance and made several contributions to philosophy. He studied and later taught at the University of Padua, focusing mostly on Aristotelian philosophy but also gaining experience with medicine and metaphysics. At the time, individualism was starting to take form and conflict with existing values that focused on collectivism, which was the school of thought that said that a group—a family, class, or community—should be prioritized over the needs and desires of the individual.
Pomponazzi’s ideas and writings also conflicted with the Catholic Church. He maintained that philosophy and faith were two separate entities and that matters of science should not mix with matters of faith. One of his more radical ideas was that the soul could expire and that there was no such thing as eternal reward or punishment in the afterlife. He believed that the reward for doing good would manifest directly in one’s life—for example, someone might be rewarded for hard work by receiving money or awards—while the punishment for negative actions would be the natural consequences of those actions. He even went so far as to search for scientific explanations to Biblical miracles in his work De naturalium effectuum causis sive de incantationibus. Regardless of how radical it seemed at the time, Pomponazzi’s work has done a great deal to separate science and philosophy from the church and to shape our current scientific thinking.