Ethos, authority and worldly reputation in the Erasmian Republic of Letters

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http://hdl.handle.net/10138/335619

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Havu , K 2019 , ' Ethos, authority and worldly reputation in the Erasmian Republic of Letters ' , Renaissance Studies , vol. 33 , no. 5 , pp. 789-807 . https://doi.org/10.1111/rest.12543

Title: Ethos, authority and worldly reputation in the Erasmian Republic of Letters
Author: Havu, Kaarlo
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Department of Philosophy, History and Art Studies
Date: 2019-11
Language: eng
Number of pages: 18
Belongs to series: Renaissance Studies
ISSN: 0269-1213
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/335619
Abstract: The Erasmian Republic of Letters has often been portrayed as a place of retreat where intellectual qualities could be cultivated among the learned. This article argues that Erasmian humanists thought that the Republic of Letters could make a decisive contribution to a life of active engagement (negotium). The article claims that Erasmian humanists understood that the reputation forged within the Republic of Letters could be turned into intellectual authority and rhetorical ethos, which were deemed decisive for a successful life of negotium. This was visible in rhetorical theory which, despite the insistence on virtue as the only source of true authority, underscored the importance of one’s social reputation as a potential source of rhetorical ethos. This was equally perceivable in actual discussions within the Republic of Letters (most notably in the discussion between Erasmus and Guillaume Budé), where the importance attributed to reciprocal relations as a source of public visibility, reputation and, ultimately, authority, was explicitly recognized. In the long history of the Republic of Letters, Erasmian humanism represented the emergence of a new form of non‐institutional authority which, however, proved inefficient in the attainment of specific reforms, because it was often appropriated by the powerful for their own purposes.
Subject: 615 History and Archaeology
Erasmus of Rotterdam
Republic of Letters
Authority
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