Providence, Temporal Authority, and the Illustrious Vernacular in Dante's Political Philosophy

In Nancy van Deusen & Leonard Michael Koff (eds.), Time: Sense, Space, Structure. Leiden: E.J. Brill. pp. 231-260 (2016)
Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
Drawing primarily upon Dante’s three major philosophical treatises (De vulgari eloquentia, Convivio, and Monarchia), this essay explores how Dante’s ethico-political philosophy operates within the crucial tension between the phenomenology of time as the condition for the possibility of human moral development and yet also as, metaphysically speaking, the privation and imitation of eternity. I begin by showing that, in the De vulgari eloquentia, Dante’s understanding of the poetic and rhetorical function of the illustrious vernacular is tied to his political philosophy in a way that depends upon a rich but ultimately unresolved tension between (a) the demand that only an atemporal, unchanging vernacular would be suitable for the tasks of universal monarchy and (b) the recognition that only a temporal, localized, and changing illustrious vernacular could possibly bring about the existence of the universal monarchy. In the second half of the essay, I will turn to Dante’s treatment of the providential grounding for the independence of spiritual and temporal authority in Convivio and Monarchia. I will argue that Dante’s understanding of divine providence provides common justification for the temporal and spiritual authorities whose independence he otherwise insists upon. Finally, drawing on the letter to Cangrande della Scala (the authorship of which is disputed), I will discuss how, for Dante, the providential ground for the legitimacy of temporal authority can only be discerned through the allegorical interpretation of history itself. In light of my discussion of these themes in Dante’s political philosophy and its dependence on his understanding of divine providence, I will conclude with a brief reflection on how Dante’s understanding of divine providence might help us better appreciate important aspects of the neglected legacy of Renaissance humanism in the history of early modern philosophy.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
ALEPTA-3
Revision history
Archival date: 2019-01-10
View upload history
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Added to PP index
2019-01-10

Total views
48 ( #32,567 of 40,675 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
42 ( #14,008 of 40,675 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.