Handbooks of Research Methods and Applications series
Edited by Luigino Bruni and Pier Luigi Porta
Chapter 23: The idea of happiness in Italy
Public happiness is the core idea of the Italian School during the latter half of the eighteenth century. This chapter focuses on that notion and on the impact of the analysis of some of the major Italian economists along those lines especially in connection with the reforms launched and implemented particularly in Naples and in Milan at the time. Among other figures, Antonio Genovesi, Pietro Verri, Ferdinando Galiani and Cesare Beccaria stand out for their contributions. Genovesi and Beccaria are also pioneering professors of the discipline in Naples and in Milan respectively. The chapter expands the study of the Italian case in three directions. In the first place it is shown that the Italian School is the offspring of the humanist movement, thriving in Italy and exported all over Europe since the twilight of the Middle Ages, and their emphasis on vita civile: it is significant that Genovesi, the master of the Italian School, calls the discipline economia civile. Secondly the Italians, with their analysis of happiness, are shown to be more relevant than other precursors (e.g. the Physiocrats) in paving the way to the formative steps of the British Classical School and to Smith’s Wealth of Nations in particular. Finally the chapter brings out the continuity of the Italian School through the subsequent centuries up to the present day.
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