“L’etico non si può insegnare” provides an original insight into the connection between ethics and language by comparing their use in Nietzsche and D’Annunzio. Within the areas of Italian Studies, such an interdisciplinary and comparative approach is unusual and this book offers an innovative approach that will be of interest to scholars in literary studies, ethics and linguistics.
What connects ethics to literary language? By integrating Wittgenstein’s philosophy with Aristotle’s theory of metaphor and phronesis (wisdom), Patrizia Piredda offers readers the concept that ethics not only appears directly in our actions as a form of life, but can also be shown in language through metaphor. The book focuses on Nietzsche and D’Annunzio. Nietzsche represents an ethical form of life that does not consist of following doctrines or ‘truth’ but of self-knowledge and freeing oneself from false belief, while D’Annunzio represents a non-ethical form of life consisting of repeating norms and values derived from the idea of the ‘exeptional man’, insofar as he depicts himself as a model to imitate although he contradictorily defines his own life as ‘inimitable’.
By suggesting that literature is one of the richest sources of examples for reflection on ethics, this book concludes that metaphor is capable of showing ethics, insofar as ethics is not conceived as mere deontology or repetition of given customs, which can cause error and false belief, but rather as self-knowledge and as effort to see through the traps of language, into which we all sometimes fall.