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Matteo Vincenzo d' Alfonso

Maître de conférences
Department of Philosophy, University of Bologna, Italy
The French Moralistic-literary Tradition and Anthropology, Morals and Character in the Thought of Arthur Schopenhauer
01 February 2011 - 31 October 2011
Matteo d'Alfonso studied philosophy in Milan and Munich, where he defended his dissertation on Fichte’s final period in 2002. He continued his research in Munich as part of the HyperNietzsche project (at Ludwig Maximilians University) and working with the editorial team for J.G. Fichte’s works (Bavarian Academy of Sciences). After being awarded a fellowship at the Humboldt Foundation from 2006 to 2010, he taught the history of philosophy at the University of Bologna. Dr D’Alfonso’s research focuses on classical German philosophy, and notably on the works of Fichte, Schelling, Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. He has translated several of Fichte’s texts into Italian (The Science of Knowing, 1804; Facts of Consciousness, 1810-1811). He published a book dedicated to the final period of Fichte’s philosophy (Von Wissen zur Weisheit. Fichtes Wissenschaftslehre 1811, Rodopi, Amsterdam-New York, 2005), and edited some of Schopenhauer’s previously-unpublished notes (Schopenhauers Kollegnachschriften der Metaphysik- und Psychologievorlesungen von E. G. Schulze, Göttingen, 1810-1811, Ergon, Würzburg 2008). He co-edited a collective work on the political uses of fear, Gouverner la peur (Olms, Hildesheim, 2010).

Among German philosophers, it was Arthur Schopenhauer who measured himself most openly against French culture, appreciating equally its metaphysical and scientific tradition, as exemplified by Malebranche and Buffon, and its moral-literary leanings. This research intends to examine in particular the role that his youthful and assiduous studies of French moralistic literature – from Montaigne to La Bruyère, La Rochefoucauld and Chamfort, taking in the moral reflections of Helvetius – had on the following three aspects of his philosophical thought: the orientation of the philosopher’s specific contribution to anthropological investigations, the correct definition of the end and method of the philosopher’s activity in the moral area and, lastly, the empirical confirmation of his theory of individual character as the specific difference of each individual. While staying at IAS-Paris I propose to study the French sources frequented by Schopenhauer, in order to relate them to passages of his works and Nachlass in which they either reappear directly, or of which it may be hypothesized that they provided inspiration for his own manner of research and writing. More generally, this research also aims to test, on the basis of the eminent example of a writer such as Schopenhauer, to what extent even those sources that traditional historical writings are reluctant to count as strictly philosophical, are in reality essential for philosophical thought in the strict sense when they make anthropological-moral reflections on an empirical basis.

Workshop organized by Matteo V. d'Alfonso (Paris IAS fellow)
14 Jun 2011 09:15 -
14 Jun 2011 17:30,
Paris :
Les moralistes français dans la philosophie allemande

Contemporary period (1789-…)