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'LEARN VIRTUE AND TOIL'. GIOVANNI PONTANO ON PASSION, VIRTUE AND ARDUOUSNESS

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Abstract:

In discussions of early-modern notions of passion and virtue, the humanist movement has played only a minor role. However, it has its own characteristics and approaches to the problem of passion and virtue. The moral philosophy of the Neapolitan humanist Giovanni Pontano is a case in point. Pontano pronounces himself against the Stoic doctrine of the eradication of the passions. Although his moral psychology follows traditional conceptions of the passions as subjected to the rule of reason, it rather illustrates the complex structures into which reason and virtue have to be implemented. The notion of arduousness is helpful to illuminate these structures. Falling back on Aquinas' distinction between a 'concupiscible' and an 'irascible' appetite, Pontano puts a special emphasis on the latter, necessary to deal with the difficulties and hardships that are typical of any process of learning. As he argues, the way to human perfection is full of hardship, and the higher the perfection aims, the greater the hardship will be. This concept implies the need for passionate responses to overcome hardship.Moreover, it suggests the picture of a ruler unimpressed by difficulties and obstacles, vehement and forceful.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2011

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