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The Thinker as a Noble Man (bene natus) and Preliminary Remarks on the Medieval Concepts of Nobility

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The late medieval discussion of 'nobility' (= nobilitas, dignitas) defined in philosophical terms (as opposed to other social notions like 'aristocracy'), produced a large number of writings, many of which are still unedited. Nevertheless, modern philosophical historiography (developed throughout the seventeenth century and reaching its first apogee with Hegel) has neglected the conceptual debates on nobility. Perhaps having assumed it to be a dead relic of the 'pre-illuminist' past, historians and philosophers understood 'nobility' as a non-philosophical issue and so it still appears in contemporary scholarship. The first aim of this essay is to draw attention to this issue by presenting a sort of preliminary catalogue of the different types of conceptualizations of 'mobility'. By exploring the meanings and philosophical employment of the expressions 'bene nasci' and 'bene natus', this article also reveals a new aspect of the Aristotelian notion of magnanimity.


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