Etyka Vaniniego

Andrzej Nowicki

VANINI’S ETHICS

Giulio Cesare Vanini (1585–1619), called by 17th-century theologians the „eagle of atheists” (aquila atheorum), criticized vehemently the fundamental assumption of Christian anthropology according to which virtues in their nature are something alien to the human being („quid ab homine alienum”), and only vices and vicious inclinations (vitia) should be peculiar to it. Vanini discards the theological alienation and restores the dignity of man as an individual of a reasonable and moral nature. According to Vanini, the existence of God as a giver of soul would deprive man of his dignity. Thus, if man received his soul from God, nobody could in fact be father to his children, as he would not be able to transfer his essence to his offspring. An interesting item in Vanini’s considerations is his materialistic idea that men’s nature and conduct are determined by external factors, e.g., by food. As food is transformed into the „substance” of the consumer, „we consist of what we consume”. Vanini observes that rich people feed themselves differently than the poor and concludes that differences in habits may be attributed to different nutrition. Heroic deeds are explained by Vanini by that certain patterns of behaviour of people we adore or esteem are distinctly inculcated on our imagination. In certain situations these patterns „incite us to similar deeds”. To Vanini, the aim of his life was discarding lies („figmenta patefacere, fraudes detegere”) and acting „for the enriching of the world of culture” („pro litterariae reipublicae emolumento”).

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