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The Historical Genesis of the Kantian Concept of »Transcendental«

Zurück zum Heft: Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte. Band 53
DOI: 10.28937/9783787336715_5
EUR 16,90

The article traces the origin of a work that, on many accounts, can be considered as one of the landfalls of 18th century debate on sensibility, Petro Verri’s Discorso sull’indole del piacere e del dolore. Firstly published in Livorno in 1773 under the title Idee sull’indole del piacere, the text was significantly revised at the end of the ’70, when Verri was at work on his most controverse book, Osservazioni sulla tortura (Milano 1804), and then finally included in Milano 1781 edition of the Discorsi. As noted by Franco Venturi, in Italy the debate concerning the notions of pleasure, pain and happiness was started around the middle of the century by the Italian translations of Maupertuis’s Essai de morale and of La Mettrie’s Anti-Sénèque. Traces of such a debate can be seen also in Verri’s booklet, though pleasure is defined there as »sudden breaking of pain«, mainly under the influence of Locke, Dubos and Helvétius. Moreover, significant clues are reminiscent also of Burke’s Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, which, through the French translation, already found a profitable use in Beccaria’s Ricerche intorno alla natura dello stile. Verri’s synthesis is an original achievement where philosophical and medical refl ections on sensibility meet the crucial issue of the relationship between law and justice, which was at the heart of his Osservazioni sulla tortura. The latter work was left unpublished until the beginning of the 19th century, but many of its themes can be traced in the Discorso sull’indole del piacere e del dolore, whose concluding sections give therefore a decisive contribution to the illuministic struggle against death penalty and torture, which was started in 1764 by Beccaria’s Dei delitti e delle pene.