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Man in his vanity: analysis of Matias Aires reflections on the perspective of psychological knowledge

Grant number: 13/14015-0
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Scientific Initiation
Effective date (Start): October 01, 2013
Effective date (End): September 30, 2014
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Psychology
Principal Investigator:Marina Massimi
Grantee:Nayara Aparecida Saran
Host Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras de Ribeirão Preto (FFCLRP). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Ribeirão Preto , SP, Brazil


In the history of Western culture, the theme of vanity has always being discussed as something inherent to the human condition. Vanity mobilizes a great deal of the human actions and ultimately determine habits, customs and values of a society. The human interest in satisfying their own vanities instead of making a clearheaded judgment of reality prompted many philosophers and novelists to discuss the influence of vanity under the conception of man from tied to each historical period. In vanity it is possible to perceive the existence of a spiritual, psychic and corporeal dimension which mobilizes the person in search of happiness. Thus, is it possible to see that vanity ultimately dictate a life's ideal that accompanies the person on their experiences. One can say that vanity interfere in the human's psychic state and motivates the thoughts, emotions and behaviors evolved by each person. The book Reflections on the vanity of man written in 1752 by Matias Aires has 163 fragments of reflections that encompass the theme of vanity and offers elements to think about the concept of man in the eighteenth century. Matias Aires was a philosopher of Brazilian origin who received a Jesuit education and was strongly influenced by the French Enlightenment. Aires' reflections are considered of fundamental contribution to psychological knowledge developed in Brazil along the colonial era. Thus, the aim of the research is to seek the understanding of how vanity is posed within the work of Matias Aires and how vanity affects human life due to the influence it can have in one self's image and the pursuit of an ideal of happiness. The historical conceptual method from the perspective of History of Psychological Knowledge is the basis for the reading, analysis, interpretation and writing of the history of this research, having, as the primary source, the work of Matias Aires Reflections on the vanity of men (1752). In this research Matias Aires' biography will be considered and the historical context of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth century will also be studied through secondary sources.

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