Naturalizing humanity: Genealogy and the politics of storytelling in Boccaccio’s Decameron
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In his literary masterwork, the Decameron, Boccaccio undertakes a thorough examination of human values along the lines he had drawn in his history of the origins of the gods, the Genealogie deorum gentilium libri, on the assumption that values, in a world emptied of the gods, retain a similarly normative and aggregating function. To Boccaccio both gods and values are transient items in a moral ontology that acknowledges only one set of perennial items: natural impulses and dispositions. Boccaccio adopts a particular stance towards the emergence of values: genealogy is, for him, a distinctive way to examine the processes whereby beliefs, attitudes, and values come about.