He studied at Pavia, under Paolo da Pergola in Venice, and with Gaetano da Thiene in Padua, graduating with a doctorate in 1458. His first work was on the unitas intellectus, the theory of Averroes on the unity of the soul and intellect.
In natural philosophy he posed the question of the scope of the subject. Following Averroes, he took “mobile being” as the topic, against the scholastic views of Antonius Andreas and John Canonicus. Pietro Barozzi, Bishop of Padua, in 1489 issued a decree limiting academic discussion, and Vernia had to withdraw from his position. He wrote against Averroes, in Contra perversam Averrois opinionem, attacking his views on the immortality of the soul and the unity of the intellect.
His students included Agostino Nifo and Pietro Pomponazzi. Both Vernia and Nifo changed allegiance from Averroes to the interpretations of Aristotle in certain Greek commentators, one of whom, Themistius, was being translated by Ermolao Barbaro, a colleague at Padua. As time went on, the commentary On the Soul by Alexander of Aphrodisias was translated into Latin, by Girolamo Donato, and a translation of the commentary attributed to Simplicius was also circulated. Vernia's views of the correct interpretation of Aristotle modified in the light of access to these fresh opinions.
- James Hankins (2007). The Cambridge companion to Renaissance philosophy. p. 358.
- Schmitt and Skinner, p. 839.
- Edward Craig, ed., Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1998), p. 407.
- Deno John Geanakoplos, Constantinople and the West: Essays on the Late Byzantine (Palaeologan) and Italian Renaissances and the Byzantine and Roman Churches (1989), p. 119.
- Anthony Grafton and Nancy Siraisi (editors), Introduction p. 9, in Natural Particulars: Nature and the Disciplines in Renaissance Europe (1999).
- Edward Craig, Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1998), p. 409.
- Charles B. Schmitt, Quentin Skinner (editors), The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy (1990)
- Nicoletto Vernia at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
- Edward P. Mahoney, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola and Elia del Medigo, Nicoletto Vernia and Agostino Nifo, p. 132 in G.C. Garfagnini,. (editor) Giovanni Pico della Mirandola: Convegno internazionale di studi nel cinqueccentesimo anniversario della morte (1494-1994), (1997) 2 vols.
- Edward P. Mahoney (2000), Two Aristotelians of the Italian Renaissance: Nicoletto Vernia and Agostino Nifo, Aldershot: Ashgate, 2000.
- D. N. Hasse, The attraction of Averroism in the Renaissance: Vernia, Achillini, Prassico, pp. 131-147 in P. Adamson, H. Balthussen, & M. Stone (editors), Philosophy, science, and exegesis in Greek, Arabic, and Latin commentaries, (2004) London: Institute of Classical Studies.