Frasi di William Godwin

William Godwin foto
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William Godwin

Data di nascita:3. Marzo 1756
Data di morte:7. Aprile 1836

William Godwin è stato un filosofo, scrittore e politico libertario britannico.

Pensatore del tardo illuminismo , radicale e repubblicano, è considerato uno dei primi teorizzatori anarchici moderni. Sua moglie fu la scrittrice Mary Wollstonecraft, antesignana del femminismo e dei diritti delle donne, autrice di Rivendicazione dei diritti della donna. La loro figlia fu Mary Godwin, nota, dopo il matrimonio con il poeta Percy Bysshe Shelley come Mary Shelley autrice del romanzo Frankenstein.

L'opera più celebre di Godwin è il saggio Inchiesta sulla giustizia politica.

Frasi William Godwin

„It has an unhappy effect upon the human understanding and temper, for a man to be compelled in his gravest investigation of an argument, to consider, not what is true, but what is convenient.“

— William Godwin
Life of Geoffrey Chaucer; The Early English Poet: Including Memoirs of His Near Friend and Kinsman, John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster: With Sketches of the Manners, Opinions, Arts and Literature of England in the Fourteenth Century Volume 1

„Godwin on Fenelon and his Valet *


Following is an excerpt from William Godwin's Enquiry Concerning Political Justice, Book II, Chapter II: “Of Justice”:


In a loose and general view I and my neighbour are both of us men; and of consequence entitled to equal attention. But, in reality, it is probable that one of us is a being of more worth and importance than the other. A man is of more worth than a beast; because, being possessed of higher faculties, he is capable of a more refined and genuine happiness. In the same manner the illustrious archbishop of Cambray was of more worth than his valet, and there are few of us that would hesitate to pronounce, if his palace were in flames, and the life of only one of them could be preserved, which of the two ought to be preferred.

But there is another ground of preference, beside the private consideration of one of them being further removed from the state of a mere animal. We are not connected with one or two percipient beings, but with a society, a nation, and in some sense with the whole family of mankind. Of consequence that life ought to be preferred which will be most conducive to the general good. In saving the life of Fenelon, suppose at the moment he conceived the project of his immortal Telemachus, should have been promoting the benefit of thousands, who have been cured by the perusal of that work of some error, vice and consequent unhappiness. Nay, my benefit would extend further than this; for every individual, thus cured, has become a better member of society, and has contributed in his turn to the happiness, information, and improvement of others.

Suppose I had been myself the valet; I ought to have chosen to die, rather than Fenelon should have died. The life of Fenelon was really preferable to that of the valet. But understanding is the faculty that perceives the truth of this and similar propositions; and justice is the principle that regulates my conduct accordingly. It would have been just in the valet to have preferred the archbishop to himself. To have done otherwise would have been a breach of justice.

Suppose the valet had been my brother, my father, or my benefactor. This would not alter the truth of the proposition. The life of Fenelon would still be more valuable than that of the valet; and justice, pure, unadulterated justice, would still have preferred that which was most valuable. Justice would have taught me to save the life of Fenelon at the expense of the other. What magic is there in the pronoun “my,” that should justify us in overturning the decisions of impartial truth? My brother or my father may be a fool or a profligate, malicious, lying or dishonest. If they be, of what consequence is it that they are mine?“

— William Godwin

„What power there is in the word my.“

— William Godwin
Godwin's Political Justice.; A Reprint of the Essay on Property, from the Original Edition Volume 8: ,,,,,,

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