Glory, passions and money in albertis della famiglia: A humanist reflects on the foundations of society

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The article examines Albertis dialogue Della famiglia ("On the Family") as a reflection on the foundations of ethics and politics from the perspective of humanist discourse. The polyphonic work presents and critically examines several views. The authorial voice of the text rehearses the traditional philosophical view the humanists inherited, according to which humans are sociable by nature. However, some of the interlocutors reject this convenient view, implying that it cannot be squared with the humanist critique of the premises of mainstream classical and medieval philosophy. Another line of argumentation in the dialogue attempts to harness the key humanist notion of gloria as the basis of human association, according to which humans self-interestedly seek fame and glory but to gain them they must promote the common good. But also this position is contested in the dialogue, with some arguing that the agonistic competition for glory produces envy and resentment rather than a civic spirit and as such threatens social cohesion. Finally, Della famiglia also explores the implications of the radical possibility that men and women are asocial creatures, by casting them as selfish economic actors who are only interested in making material gains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-542
Number of pages16
JournalEuropean Legacy
Issue number5
StatePublished - 4 Jul 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Philosophy


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