Ethics, published (anonymously) by Coornhert in 1586, is a remarkable publication for a number of reasons: it is the first work on ethics written in a European vernacular; it is a mature work, appearing four years before Coornhert's death, and summarizes a lifetime of writing and thinking about the good life; it is considered to be fundamentally pagan because of the absence in Zedekunst of biblical references or any direct mention of Christ. Asked why he did not write about such things as the future establishment of God's kingdom on earth, Coornhert answered: 'Because I have a greater desire to learn how to live well, than to learn how to know much.'
This is the first English translation of this important work. It will enhance our insight into the ethical outlook of this prominent freethinker and controversialist of the early Dutch Republic. Also available as a PDF: ISBN 9789087045586.
'Published anonymously in 1586, Ethics summarizes Coornhert's lifetime of writing and thinking about the good life. Originally entitled Zedekunst dat is Wellevenskunste, it is recognized as the first systematic ethical treatise and book of moral instruction to appear in an early modern European vernacular. Editor and translator Gerrit Voogt provides the first English translation of this important work.' Mary Theresa Hall in: Sixteenth Century Journal 74 (2018) 4, p. 1261-1263
'The translation is the work of Gerrit Voogt, who also translated Coornhert's Synod on the Freedom of Conscience (1582). His translation is thorough and precise. It is also very readable, which is an accomplishment in its own right, since wordsmith Coornhert embellished his tract with neologism and puns that often get lost in translation. [...] For many, this translation will be their first introduction to Coornhert’s ideas. Given the great impact of Coornhert and his ideas in his own time, it will evidently prove a very valuable source for readers with a specific interest in sixteenth-century theology and ethics in the Netherlands. However, it also caters to readers with a broader interest in the history of tolerance and nonconformist thought in Europe. A very welcome translation.' Ruben Buys in: The Renaissance Quarterly 69 (2016) 4, p. 1428-1429.