Il filosofo del nord, ovvero Corso di morale filosofia.

‘Londra’ [i.e. Venice, Zatta], 1788.

8vo, pp. [2], 375, [1 (blank)]; paperflaw to outer margin of T1, not affecting text, title slightly soiled, otherwise a very good copy, clean and crisp throughout, bound in contemporary patterned boards, manuscript label on spine; extremities slightly worn, headcap chipped.


US $886€822

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Il filosofo del nord, ovvero Corso di morale filosofia.

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First edition under this title of this course of moral philosophy, broadly construed, where the author attempts to invoke the authority of the “philosophers of the North” (inter alia Hobbes, Bacon, Clark, and Addison on one side of the English Channel, Bayle, Pascal, La Mettrie, Grotius, and Formey on the other) to give weight to his prescriptions to an Italian public.

The work, in three parts, is divided into twenty-six lessons. Among the topics are the superiority of contemporary moral philosophy over that of the ancients, the difference between moral philosophy and religion, the ways of judging virtue, the importance of exercise and bodily health, the duty to live sociably, the government (and acknowledgement) of the passions and the appetites, the duty to educate children, especially the very young, the obligations imposed by marriage. Of particular interest is what the author recommends we read: apologetics by Samuel Clarke, Houtteville, and Galateri, but also Rollin on Roman history, the Scienza della legislazione of Filangieri, and Derham’s Astrotheology. The reader should also keep abreast of periodicals, Il Caffè for one; and read Thompson’s Seasons, and Richardson’s Clarissa and History of Charles Grandisson (‘ma come? Della cattedra filosofica si propongono da studiare romanzi! Si! Quando sono opere d’un Richardson io riguardo il raccomandarli un dovere’).

The text of this work had in fact appeared, unsuccessfully, in 1785, under the less alluring title Lezioni di Filosofia Pratica Recate da Straniero Idioma ai Giovani Italiani Bramosi della Propria Felicità. Zatta clearly felt that a snappier title, and a fake London imprint, would do its chances no harm, and this issue in fact reuses the sheets of the earlier one, but without the introduction; the scarcity of both issues suggests that Zatta’s optimism may have been misplaced.

Not in Melzi. Not in ESTC. Library Hub finds only two copies, at Oxford and Cambridge. OCLC adds four copies in Italy, one in Geneva, and one Stuttgart, with no copies of the 1785 Lezione outside Italy.

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