The sympathy of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) for nonconformists and rebels, particularly in the field of religion, identifies a well-known feature of his thinking, apparent from the very beginning of his literary and philosophical activity. From the outset, however, his aim in rehabilitating heterodox thinkers was not primarily to lend their arguments credence, but rather to advance a case for their right to make use of their own understanding and potentially question the views supported by authority. To defend others’ entitlement to free speech and thinking, he did not feel obliged to share their theories. Philosophy he conceived to be a life-long practice with dissent at its core, past episodes of which provided occasion for the exercise of independent judgement. Studying, editing and commenting on heretics’ writings was therefore anything but mere erudition: it represented the most immediate way to fulfil philosophy’s purpose, namely to help human beings become better.

Le virtù dell'eretico. Lessing e la filosofia come esercizio di dissenso

Laura Anna Macor
2021

Abstract

The sympathy of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729-1781) for nonconformists and rebels, particularly in the field of religion, identifies a well-known feature of his thinking, apparent from the very beginning of his literary and philosophical activity. From the outset, however, his aim in rehabilitating heterodox thinkers was not primarily to lend their arguments credence, but rather to advance a case for their right to make use of their own understanding and potentially question the views supported by authority. To defend others’ entitlement to free speech and thinking, he did not feel obliged to share their theories. Philosophy he conceived to be a life-long practice with dissent at its core, past episodes of which provided occasion for the exercise of independent judgement. Studying, editing and commenting on heretics’ writings was therefore anything but mere erudition: it represented the most immediate way to fulfil philosophy’s purpose, namely to help human beings become better.
Lessing, heresy, dissent, Enlightenment, spiritual exercises, Hadot, Foucault
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11562/1058895
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