Research

The Edification of the Soul: Leon Battista Alberti’s Dialogue Della tranquillità dell’animo

Hana Gründler with Katharine Stahlbuhk, Giulia Baldelli, Louis Berger and Jacob Veidt

Leon Battista Alberti, Della Tranquillità dell'Animo, 15th century

This project is dedicated to the first German translation and commentary of Leon Battista Alberti’s dialogue Profugiorum ab aerumna libri III, also known as Della tranquillità dell'animo. Alberti’s dialogue On the Tranquility of the Soul, written in the early 1440s, offers insights into early modern conceptions of the self and of its edification and care. The importance of aisthesis in this process of self-edification was intensively and controversially discussed during this period. As the analysis and contextualization of the dialogue shows, Alberti repeatedly addresses similar questions in his œuvre, whereby for him sensual perception in general and the aesthetic-artistic experience of the built environment in specific play a fundamental role in the ethical, but also political constitution of the human being. In this context, it is necessary to take a closer look at the way in which the text, beyond its 'informational content' and its 'theoretical conceptualizations' of sensuality, is endowed with a specific sensuality that decidedly cannot be reduced to its propositional content. It is precisely Alberti's pictorial, profoundly synesthetic language that invites us to explore his reflections on the relationship between aesthetics, ethics, and architecture in all their complexity. 

In addition to making this important work accessible to the German-speaking world for the first time, the project aims more broadly to develop further fundamental insights into Florentine civic humanism and to critically reread Neoplatonism and Neo-Stoicism in the 15th century, among other things with a view to questions about material consciousness, the built environment, the cura sui, and the relationship between the individual and the (civic) community in early modern Florence that are still relevant today. 

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