Both Antonio Genovesi and Ferdinando Galiani devised strategies for Neapolitan economic development, which they realised was essential for preserving its recently acquired independent statehood. In order to avoid any socially disruptive effects they considered how economic processes changed the human mind. Both thinkers grounded their political visions on foreign trade on highly sophisticated ideas of the nature of self-interest. In spite of the similar characters of their projects, the political thought of Genovesi and Galiani has never been subject to serious comparison. Instead the two thinkers have tended to be portrayed as opposite characters with highly divergent political leanings. It is argued here that this view is historically questionable and itself a product of a distorting canonisation process that was set in motion in the second half of the eighteenth century. Ironically, comparing the moral philosophies and economic ideas of Genovesi and Galiani, a picture emerges that inverts the myth that started at the end of the eighteenth century and that until this day has determined accounts of the early Neapolitan Enlightenment.

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History of European Ideas
Department of Public Administration