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Luxury and Public HappinessPolitical Economy in the Italian Enlightenment$
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Till Wahnbaeck

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199269839

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199269839.001.0001

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(p.1) Introduction
Luxury and Public Happiness


Oxford University Press

This chapter presents the central claim of this study which is the critical incorporation of the themes of the European Enlightenment by regional elites, embedded in local intellectual tradition and driven by the attempt to sketch the path towards public happiness. It then discusses that luxury was important to the major thinkers of the 18th century because one of the primary concerns of political reformers and philosophers alike was ‘public happiness’, and that encompassed public wealth. It describes Italian Enlightenment as a cosmopolitan enterprise and an eminently regional project. Moreover, this chapter explains that the study attempts to combine Franco Venturi's conviction that the 18th century in Italy was a cosmopolitan age of reform with Mario Mirri's insistence on political history in local context and with Lucian Guerci's view of ‘the other 18th century’, that of religion, conservatism, and anti-Enlightenment.

Keywords:   European Enlightenment, Italian Enlightenment, public happiness, public wealth, political history, Franco Venturi, Mario Mirri

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