Biography as a Battlefield: the ‘Lives’ of the Philosophers of Early Modernity. The paper deals with ‘historical’ biographies of Early-Modern philosophers, that have long been used to frame images of ‘good’, or ‘bad’ philosopher, around which fiery cultural battles could be fought. Writing biographies was a source of prestige, conveyed a programme, had a laudative purpose. These intents are transferred to the ‘lives’ of modern philosophers, who often arise as a commemoration. Battling on biographies begins in the confessional field, but around Petrus Ramus we see the first important biographical ‘campaign’ around an Early-Modern professional philosopher. A second, more ambitious one concerns Descartes, who becomes a sort of model-philosopher, whereas the opposite happens with Pascal. That the life and death of philosophers become a battleground is apparent in the cases of Spinoza and Hume. In 18th-century Germany, instead, we find not only the most violent biographical wars but a progressive loosening of the moral connection between biography and doctrine as well, that testifies to a change in the philosophers’ social and cultural condition.

La biografia come campo di battaglia: le ‘vite’ dei filosofi della prima modernità

Enrico Pasini
2019

Abstract

Biography as a Battlefield: the ‘Lives’ of the Philosophers of Early Modernity. The paper deals with ‘historical’ biographies of Early-Modern philosophers, that have long been used to frame images of ‘good’, or ‘bad’ philosopher, around which fiery cultural battles could be fought. Writing biographies was a source of prestige, conveyed a programme, had a laudative purpose. These intents are transferred to the ‘lives’ of modern philosophers, who often arise as a commemoration. Battling on biographies begins in the confessional field, but around Petrus Ramus we see the first important biographical ‘campaign’ around an Early-Modern professional philosopher. A second, more ambitious one concerns Descartes, who becomes a sort of model-philosopher, whereas the opposite happens with Pascal. That the life and death of philosophers become a battleground is apparent in the cases of Spinoza and Hume. In 18th-century Germany, instead, we find not only the most violent biographical wars but a progressive loosening of the moral connection between biography and doctrine as well, that testifies to a change in the philosophers’ social and cultural condition.
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Life narratives, Philosophical biography, Early modern philosophy, Ramus, Descartes, Spinoza, Post-Cartesian philosophers
Enrico Pasini
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/1723893
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