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Ovi Symposium; Sixteenth Meeting Ovi Symposium; Sixteenth Meeting
by The Ovi Symposium
2014-01-02 13:00:55
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Ovi Symposium:

“A Philosophical Conversation on the Nature of Art within Modernity
and the Envisioning of a New Humanism”

between Drs. Nannery, Paolozzi and Paparella
Sixteenth Meeting: 2 January 2014

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Direct participants (in alphabetical order):

nannery01Dr. Lawrence Nannery has studied at Boston College, Columbia University and at The New School for Social Research where he obtained his Ph.D. He founded The Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal and authored The Esoteric Composition of Kafka’s Corpus. Devising Nihilistic Literature, 2 vols. Mellen Press.

 

enDr.Ernesto Paolozzi teaches history of contemporary philosophy at the University Suor Orsola Benincasa of Naples. A Croce scholar and an expert on historicism, he has written widely and published several books, especially on aesthetics and liberalism vis a vis science. His book Benedetto Croce: The Philosophy of History and the Duty of Freedom was printed as an e-book in Ovi magazine in June 2013.

 

papDr. Emanuel Paparella has a Ph.D. in Italian Humanism with a dissertation on Giambattista Vico from Yale University. He currently teaches philosophy at Barry University and Broward College in Florida, USA. One of his books is titled Hermeneutics in the Philosophy of G. Vico, Mellen Press. His latest e-book Aesthetic Theories of Great Western Philosophers was printed in Ovi magazine in June 2013.

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Table of Content for the 16th Session of the Ovi Symposium (02/01/2014)

Main Theme of the 16th Session:  Philosophy vis a vis Positivism and Science.

Indirect Participants at this meeting within the “Great Conversation” across the Ages (in the order mentioned and illustrated in this session): Vico, Pollard, Descartes, Croce, Bergson, Blondel,  Boutroux, Gembillo, Cassirer, Gadamer, Sorel, Husserl,  Heidegger, Nietzsche, Von Humboldt, Schleiermacher, Dilthey, Droysen, Wildeband, Collingwood, Wittgenstein, Russell, Schiller, Whitehead, Newton, Galileo, Mach, Avenarius, Einstein, Planck, Bohr, Heisenberg, Kuhn, Popper, Derrida, Prigogine, Morin, Marx, Hegel, D’Annunzio, Marinetti, Fourier, Darwin, Poincarè, Hume, Kant, Lorenz, Plato, Aristotle, Strauss, Aquinas, Montesquieu, Augustine, Dante, Pico, Sophocles, Van Gogh, Habermas.  

Preamble as a Summative Abstractby the coordinator.

Section 1: “Scientific Reality vis a vis the Complementarity of Vico’s Historicism.” A presentation by Emanuel L. Paparella.

Section 2: “Benedetto Croce and the Re-evaluation of the Complexity of Science.” A presentation by Ernesto Paolozzi as translated from his essay published in Bollettino Filosofico (n. XXVIII, 2013) of the University of Calabria, an issue dedicated to the commemoration of Croce’s thought.

Section 3: Paparella’s Observations on Paolozzi’s presentation, followed by a comment from Paolozzi.

Section 4: Paolozzi’s thought-provoking Aphorisms on Freedom with a brief discussion between Paparella and Paolozzi by way of an initial exploration of the thorny philosophical issue truth/freedom.

Section 5: “On Heidegger’s Essay ‘The Origin of a Work of Art.’” A Presentation by Lawrence Nannery, followed by a comment from Paparella and a response by Nannery.

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Preamble as a Summative Abstract by the Coordinator

The theme for this 16th session of the Ovi Symposium is “Philosophy vis a vis Positivism and Science.”  This is a rather complex and thorny subject already discussed at some length in a previous conversation on the problematic of language and art and of the “two cultures,” and the feasibility of bridging them.

Here we further clarify and deepen this theme with an initial presentation by Paparella on Vico’s stance vis a vis Descartes’ scientific rationalistic approach to knowledge. Vico does not reject science per se; after all, his opus is titled The New Science. He simply pushes back to the advancement of a type of scientific mind-set (dubbed “reductionistic scientism” by Paolozzi) wishing to substitute science for metaphysics, the instrumental utilitarian “how” and “what” of science for the “why” and the search for truth and meaning of philosophy, thus losing sight of the fact that positivism itself is the creation of a new metaphysics devoid however of the very elements that make us humans: feelings, imagination, intuition, the poetical, the arts and the humanities in general. That is in fact what happened a century or so later with the advent of positivism and extreme ideologies of science out to obliterate metaphysics and parading as progress and “enlightenment.”

In section two Paolozzi takes over the baton by way of an insightful essay, already published in Italian in the Bollettino Filosofico of the University of Calabria (n. XXVIII, 2013: an issue dedicated in its entirety to a celebration of Croce’s thought), and now translated into English for this particular session of the Ovi symposium. Paolozzi’s essay clarifies the misunderstanding that ensued after Croce began to push back to positivism’s attempt to displace philosophy with science, quite similar to the misunderstanding that ensued after Vico pushed back to the extreme rationalism of Descartes. In reality, the two Neapolitan philosophers were not inveighing against science per se which deserves its proper function and place in the intelligible world, after all science too is a product of Greek philosophy and arose in the West before it arose in Asia, rather they were defending the liberal arts (of which philosophy is integral and essential part) and humanistic modes of thought forcefully asserting that to attack them, as positivism attempts to do with the pretext that it is attacking religious obscurantism and superstition while conveniently forgetting that the Renaissance was made possible in part by the rediscovery of the ancient manuscripts in monasteries, is in effect to embark on a process of dehumanization, what Vico calls “the barbarism of the intellect.” Few today, only seventy years away from the crimes against humanity of the Nazi era, can dispute that the two Neapolitan philosophers, as the culmination of all that is best in Italian Humanism, and were a prophetic Cassandra-like warning voice.

Section three contains a series of observations and comments by Paparella on Paolozzi’s presentation followed by a response by the same Paolozzi always conducted within the framework of a convivial symposium-like dialogue.

Section four presents us with some powerful and thought-provoking aphorisms by Paolozzi on the value of freedom and the nexus between theory and praxis. Another interesting discussion then follows with Paparella’s invitation to explore the nexus between freedom and truth. Paolozzi replies acknowledging that the issue is intricate and needs further rigorous and thorough analysis, clarification and inquiry in subsequent sessions. Such a discussion would pick up the challenge of those who’d like to hermetically seal theory from praxis. What’s included initially in this session on this matter can thus be construed as an introduction and a preview to the next session of the symposium (the 17th session  due out on the 16th of Janurary 2014)).

In section five Larry Nannery takes over the baton to give a preliminary excursus on the issue of truth and freedom by dwelling on Heidegger’s famous essay, The Origins of the Work of Art, already broached by Paparella in another session and included in his Ovi-e-book Aesthetic Theories of the Great Western Philosophers (2013), which explores the idea that art is a revelation of truth. What is intriguing in this presentation is that once again, as with Croce, there are unmistakable Vichian echoes (especially the one of “originative thinking”) in Heidegger’s acute analysis, as Paparella points out in some pertinent observations that follow the presentation.  The essay in fact is a pertinent introduction to the next theme which as mentioned will be on truth and freedom vis a vis theory and practice.

This session is undoubtedly one of the best that the Ovi Symposium has managed to put together. The encounters’ discussions seem to get better and better; it appears in fact that perfectibility applies well to our project which is already demonstrating what can happen when friends sit down around a table with good will and conviviality and honestly and passionately discuss a philosophical issue with as little academic experts’ lingo as possible and always remaining respectful of each other’s views and of free speech. At a symposium’s conversations, in fact, rhetorical sparks may fly at times and anything can happen around the discussion table. Perhaps the greatest surprise is that in the contentious times we live in, we may at times come to the realization that the conversation because it has remained cordial and friendly has yielded new insights and has brought us a bit closer to the unveiling of the truth.

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1

Scientific Reality vis a vis the Complementarity of Vico's Historicism
A Presentation by Emanuel L. Paparella

“The concrete without the universal becomes trivial. The universal without the concrete becomes irrelevant”
                                                                                                                           —Alfred N. Whitehead

Mathematics would certainly have not come into existence if one had known from the beginning that there was in nature no exactly straight line, no actual circle, no absolute magnitude.

                                                                                                                           --Friedrich Nietzsche

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Giambattista Vico (1668-1744)
Author of The New Science

Within Vico’s historicism verum/factum, life/thought, form/content, subjective/objective are distinguishable but not separable. They are complementary to each other. Vico was acutely aware that to treat real concrete moments of Man’s history as mere moments of something higher is not to take them very seriously. Indeed, this was Hegel's flaw: By absorbing the concrete historical situation into a higher theoretical scheme, he in effect distorted the reality of their contingency. It is a dangerous thing to separate theory form praxis as some modern philosophers have indeed done thus never regretting some of their more misguided practical actions. Somehow they felt that their theories absolved them of their unwise praxis.

Beginning with Kierkegaard, the existentialists also pointed out that by viewing contingent situations as “moments” of something else is to have them cease being themselves. This is also the flaw of scientists and logical positivists who consider the mytho-poetic mentality of primitive man as a mere “moment” of a superior reflexive-rational-scientific mentality. In so doing they lose sight of mytho-poetic mentality itself. Vico’s insight is that there is more than one pole to an historical event. One can claim that there is a providential pole, a higher scheme, a telos, and yet insist that the nearest I can come to understanding this providential reality is by careful attention to the concrete circumstances of the past or present. Which is to say that in Vico’s thought the particular and the universal are also complementary poles.

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William G. Pollard (1911-1969)
who wrote various books on the relation of science and religion

Vico’s problematic consisted in reconciling the concrete events of history with the universal and providential when the universal happens to be a concatenation of concrete instances exhibiting a providential design. He clearly saw the Hegelian pitfall: to know things one must see them in relation, but if I stress the relation more than the thing itself I will end up trivializing it and losing sight of its uniqueness. He perceived that to undermine either pole of reality (i.e., pole n. 1: the unique concrete particular event; pole n. 2: the relationships of such an event) is to repeat what he termed “the conceit of scholars” and thereby lose contact with reality. Vico had great respect for both poles and was unwilling to abandon either. He did not see them as mutually exclusive and he refused to reduce the phenomena to a mere rational theoretical scheme a la Descartes. He insists that both complementary poles are made manifest in concreto.

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René Descartes (1596-1649)

What is astonishing nowadays is that science itself has discovered that reality operates on two complementary poles. I am referring to the findings of quantum mechanics as they apply to the nature of light. In his book, Change and Providence, William Pollard points out that quantum mechanics has introduced into physics not merely a different description of the structure of the external world but also a radical modification in the relationship between the real world and our knowledge of the world. This modification patterns the modifications proposed by Vico’s historicism making man both creature and creator of history.

In Vico's time, however, the rampant rationalistic Cartesian approach did not permit such a reorientation as described by Pollard in modern times. We know today that quantum mechanics rests on Heisenberg’s intermediary principle of complementarity from which derives in turn Bohr’s principle of complementarity. The latter applies to an essential characteristic of the way physical systems are described in quantum mechanics which prior to its discovery could only be regarded as paradoxical or contradictory. A case in point is the behavior of light and electrons. The more precise the information about such behavior became the more paradoxical became the problem of its assimilation into a coherent picture of the atomic world. Bohr’s principle of complementarity asserts that light and electrons will have wave and particle properties as complementary aspects of a single reality. This paradox, which seems to be inherent in the very structure of matter, cannot be resolved by further scientific work but must be looked upon as reflecting an essential characteristic of reality, associated with the uncertainty principle, as a result of which physical systems present themselves to our observation in complementary aspects.

Let us now transpose this scientific discovery of the principle of complementarity to historical reality. Indeed Niels Bohr himself thought that the problem of complementarity went beyond the situation in atomic physics and was a fundamental characteristic of the human mind in search of comprehension. One of his favorite maxims was that “there are two types of truths: trivial truths whose opposites are plainly absurd, and profound truths which can be recognized by the fact that the opposite is also a profound truth.” It was part of the human condition to seek to embrace profound truths, such as the opposing demands of justice and love.

Bohr’s suggestion is obvious: the apprehension of reality is possible only in complementary terms. That this is still not fully accepted is due to the pervasive influence of the classical Newtonian mechanics as a model for ultimate achievement in scientific explanations. Nevertheless it is beginning to be recognized in both psychology and biology that, despite Descartes’ cogito ergo sum, Man’s body is as much a product of his mind, as his mind is a product of his body thus rendering moot the question of whether or not Man is essentially mind or body.

The Vichian paradigm apprehends reality in terms of both/and. For Vico Man is both a creature and a creator of history. From a formal rational standpoint this appears as a logical paradox, yet both opposites are profound complementary truths which can be distinguished but not separated. The solution to such a paradox lies in a reorientation of our thinking about the relationship between human knowledge and understanding, that is to say, the way the human mind operates in search of comprehension, on one hand, and the reality which we seek to know on the other.

Having made this reorientation we will understand how in a Vichian sense it is possible that in the very nature of things the reality light can present itself to our apprehension as both wave and particle; or for that matter, how the reality Man can be both mind and body, both creature and creator of history. The corollary to this seeming paradox is the paradox of human decisions which presents itself to our apprehension as both freedom and providence in complementary relationship, which leads to the seeming contradiction of immanence and transcendence in Vico’s concept of providence. Transcendence/Immanence in such a concept are not mutually exclusive either but are complementary to each other, both poles to be held together in tension. idem for universal/particular.

What I have always found intriguing in Vico is the fact that he did not call his magnum opus a new humanism but a new science. Like Croce later on, he accepts science as a useful pragmatic tool but at the same time he does not reject humanistic modes of thought, hence his proposal of a “new science.”

I’d like to suggest that this “new science” was at least 300 years ahead of the modes of thinking of the current assorted Heideggerians, Derridarian deconstructionists, existentialists, nihilists, and Straussians, all battling each other and sure that only they have the key to reality. Croce certainly had to deal with some of them, especially the positivists, to even begin to enunciate and disseminate his philosophy of aesthetics in an attempt to find a dialectical middle ground between the two extremes of deconstructionism and Straussianism. More on this issue further down in this session (in the incipient dialogue with Paolozzi in section 4).

But had Vico been accorded a more attentive reading there would not be such typically modern conundrums to resolve. Three modern eminent philosophers who fully understood the implications of Vico’s thought and the implications of its disregard were Croce who wrote a whole book on Vico to explain his thought, Cassirer (known for his symbolic philosophy) and Gadamer (known for his philosophy of hermeneutics). Others unfortunately ignored Vico’s, or perhaps did not know it at all, and alas, they have perhaps unknowingly ended-up re-inventing the wheel.

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Frontispiece to Giambattista Vico’s The New Science

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2
Benedetto Croce and the Re-evaluation of Science’s Complexity

A Presentation by Ernesto Paolozzi

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Benedetto Croce (1866 -1952)

Introductory Note: this essay originally appeared in Italian in the academic journal of the University of Calabria Bollettino Filosofico (Vol. XXVIII, 2013), an issue of the journal dedicated to the commemoration of Croce’s thought. It has been translated by Emanuel L. Paparella.

Abstract of the article: For too many years people have believed that Croce’s thought was antagonistic to science. A more careful reading of Croce’s texts shows that while his philosophy was against Newton’s traditional science claiming to surpass philosophical and humanistic studies in general, Croce’s criticism coincides with that of the most important epistemologists and scientists of the 20th century. Only In this sense we can talk of Croce’s re-evaluation of science and consider his philosophy a foundation of the philosophy of complexity. In reality, Croce’s critique is against what within scientific thought presents itself as a-historical and abstract. He, to the contrary, accepts concreteness as historicity, as an essential element of knowledge: from Heisenberg to Maturana, from Prigogine to Morin.

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Henri Bergson (1859-1941)

The issue of the relationship between science and philosophy is central to the history of philosophy, at  least since Galileo’s attempt to come up with a scientific method devoid of any irrational residue. We could exemplify this matter by pointing out that throughout the intricate journey of history, dominant cultures have alternatively privileged either the scientific mind-set or the philosophical attitude and almost all philosophers have dreamt of identifying the point of connection between the two.

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Maurice Blondel (1861-1949)

Benedetto Croce straddles two centuries: the 19th and the 20th century, an era at times designated as positivistic, within an historical period when philosophy had lost its credibility, so to speak, metaphysics was disparaged, intuitionism and spiritually condemned outright. Although the young scholar was influenced by such a cultural climate, to the point of planning the publication of a book dedicated to the history of science (a book that never saw the light of day), in a more mature age he proudly proclaimed that he never was a positivist: he will admit to committing many mistakes in his life, some so grievous as to still feel the shame, but never that of adhering to Positivism.

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Emile Boutroux (1845-1921)
Wrote on the implications for science in Kantian philosophy

Such a declaration would suffice, and there are dozens of pages of rigorous philosophical, historical, aesthetic critique which confirm it, to appraise the cultural environment of the beginning of the 20th century. Croce had to pay a high price for his stand in the controversy. Even today, after a whole century has gone by, there is a persistent notion of a Croce as the sworn enemy of science, when in effect he was merely the enemy of scientism, which is to say, of the illegitimate attempt to extend, if not impose, the empirical-rationalistic method to all other spheres of culture, to the whole of life, in fact. As Giuseppe Gambillo has well demonstrated in his essay Benedetto Croce filosofo della comeplessità, the reductionistic dimension, as was said later within epistemology, of the culture of that era was placed on the table as a characteristic of the cultural crisis of the times.

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Giuseppe Gembillo (1949-   )
who has written several books on Croce and the philosophy of science

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Giuseppe Gembillo’s Complessità e Storicismo (2006)

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Gembillo’s Benedetto Croce: Filosofo della Complessità (2006)

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Giuseppe Gembillo’s From Einstein to Mandelbrot:
The Philosophy of Contemporary Scientists

In reality anti-positivism was never a particularly original position at that time. The philosophy of that era was born under the sign of what we could define as the reaction to positivism, or perhaps better put, the liberation from positivism. In France one can detect the positions of Bergson, Blondel, Boutroux and of the great friend of Croce Georges Sorel, just to mention the most notable. In Germany one notices the historicist movement, commonly named Historismus in Latin; the complex thought of Husserl and soon after that of Heidegger which break once and for all with the positivistic tradition, a break already effectuated by Nietzsche’s poetic philosophy who did not follow the trend of the times. The ones who come to the fore are the Humboldt, the Schleiermacher, the Dilthey, the Droysen, the Windelband, the neo-Kantian types of philosophers.

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Georges Sorel (1847-1922)
a philosopher who wrote about the power of myth on our lives

Husserl’s essay, The crisis of European sciences, is a real manifesto of anti-positivism, and not only on the philosophical level but on the ethical too, a live testimony of a new spiritual condition. It’s a new attitude and a new mentality which pervades even Anglo-Saxon culture, even if it remains rooted in classical epistemology within whose horizon one can find radical idealistic positions together with clear revisions of scientism which is after all what pragmatism does. And this is valid even without taking into account the happy ambiguity of a Wittgenstein in whose opus one finds logic together with mysticism and the eclectic position of a Russell; an acute thinker this who in his long journey has at times defended one position and at times another with equal argumentative efficacy; and we could mention so many others, such as the great logician Whitehead who in his maturity embarked on a philosophical journey which balanced historicism and a return to metaphysics.

But the most evident sign of the break that was happening can be found in an inversion that can be found within the sciences themselves. The break is effectuated by mathematicians, scientists, epistemologists and it is not only with positivism but even with classical empiricism, with Newton’s physics which was considered the queen and the model of all concrete sciences. The meditations of Ernst Mach and Richard Avenarius were crucial with that philosophical movement defined as empiric-critique.

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Edmund Husserl (1859-1938)
father of phenomenology and mentor to Martin Heidegger

On the other hand, we have a new direction given to Physics from great scientists such as Einstein, Planck, Bohr, Heisenberg, which challenges the very foundations of the scientific tradition, to the point that we can declare, without falling into a paradox, that at the very moment when Einstein and Planck announce their respective theories, they take away, or better, they annul, despite themselves, the very foundations of classical Physics. A tendency this which will not pause at the beginning of the new century but will remain alive and will definitely affirm itself at the end of the 20th century with the analysis of Kuhn, partly with Popper and his followers, but above all with Prigogine, Morin and many others, and this despite the temporary re-birth of positivism accomplished by the Vienna Circle and the so called logical positivism.

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Martin Heidegger (1889-1976)
who wrote Being and Time in 1927

The red thread that crosses all those diverse experiences rendering them homogeneous, at least under a critical aspect, is the idea that sciences and mathematic are not necessarily ontologically true: they are not true in the philosophical sense of that word, that is to say, they do not correspond to any objective ontological reality. Those sciences can be found to be efficient, can be considered conventional, instrumental and complex, even intuitive, but they are negated the possibility of arriving at truth, even if common sense dictates that they appear certain, because, to say it with Heidegger they are exact. Indeed, they are exact, not true. Perhaps even more than the philosophers, as we explore the elemental particles and the expansion of the universe, scientist have accepted the idea that one cannot confront so called Nature without taking into account the multiplicity of events, the complexity of thought, temporality as a fundamental component of history and nature itself. These new acquisitions and different mind-set have benefited not only epistemology and philosophical research in general, but have been the basis of the innumerable successes of science in every sector and application, from medicine, to chemistry, to technology in general.

In this new cultural milieu, the original positivistic project was no longer credible, that is to say the attempt to extend to the sciences of the spirit the methodology of the sciences of nature: sociology was no longer social physics.

Even Marxism, which, if we can so express ourselves, had played the coquette with science, tends to privilege its Hegelian historicist-dialectical aspect while showing respect for scientific progress in itself and also fiercely fighting positivism, understood as the ideological disguise for the affirmation of the middle class. 

Something similar, in the sense that history at times tends to repeat itself, is happening today, as we begin a third millennium, in the sense that ecological movements are “fighting” the technological mentality, understood and condemned as functional to economic domination of the upper classes of the rich countries vis a vis poor countries.

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Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900)

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Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835)

In any case, it is futile to pause once again on particular aspects of what was a mind-set and an ethical attitude of an era. In this sense Croce was a son of his times. And the spirit of those times was in fact, as we have suggested, anti-positivistic and anti-scientific in all its manifestations, poetry, literature, art in all its expressions, imbued by a sort of neo-romanticism, activism or decadentism, as was defined reductively the entire cultural tendency. To stay with Italy, all we need to remember is D’Annunzio’s influence, or the desecrating Marinetti and, with him, of the futurists of the whole of Europe, so that if at times there was an exaltation of the sciences, it was an exaltation born under the sign of a robust romantic vision of reality that  took its distance from the eminent mediocrity of positivistic philology.

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Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834)

The real originality of Croce’s philosophy consists in a thorough reconsideration of the relationship between science and philosophy.

Gembillo, in the above mentioned book Croce as Philosopher of Complexity writes that “Croce’s logic represents the first place of encounter of the critique of classical science as expressed and represented, in an independent mode, between two attitudes that are quite different: the scientific one which from Fourier and Darwin leads to Poincarè and Mach; the other is philosophical which goes above all through Vico and Hegel. What the two have in common is what can be defined as a process of individuation and historicity of Nature.”

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Wilhelm Dilthey (1833-1911)

Therefore, if we like to understand rigorously Croce’s thought, the logic of Croce, his polemical fundamental target were not the sciences, and above all, considering his thought in relation to that of other philosophers and scholars at the beginning of the 20th century, we need to acknowledge its extreme balance. His critique was not intended as a denigrating of the value of science but rather an attentive consideration of their role and their place within the logic of philosophy. An important documentation for this, it seems to me, is this clear passage from the introduction to the fifth edition of Croce’s Logic: “What philosophy tries to keep at a distance from itself in science is not what is truthful and worth knowing from the real historical elements of science, but only from its schematic form into which these elements are compressed, mutilated and altered; and therefore philosophy attempts a rejoining with what is alive, concrete, progressive in the so called sciences. And if something needs to be destroyed, it is abstract anti-historical philosophy; and in this regard, as long as abstract philosophy presents itself as the true philosophy, this Logic ought to the contrary be considered not so much a rejection of science but a rejection of philosophy” (Benedetto Croce, Logica come scienza del concetto puro, p. 8, 1917).

As we have seen, the sciences, as the very etymology of the word would suggest, are considered, within a long philosophical tradition, and even more so by common sense, a form of knowledge. We have shown up to now how Croce, accompanied by a good number of the major philosophers and scientists of his time, had a good reason for his critique of the idea that the scientific method was the best cognitive method. But the question that needs to be asked is if the sciences really know something, that is to say, if they really are an instrument of knowledge.

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Johan Gustav Droysen (1808-1884)

Throughout his writings Croce seems to deny it. Empirical science, founded on the experimental method cannot give us a knowledge that is certain. In the final analysis, the Crocean rationale is not that distant from that of David Hume, the Scottish philosopher who terminated the philosophical movement to which he himself belonged. The empirical founds its cognitive validity on the principle of cause-effect, on the idea of the uniformity of nature, on the certitude about natural laws inferred by induction. But, between cause and effect there is no logical nexus, only a psychological one based on customary habitual events. That the sun will come up every morning is a prevision founded on the fact that up to now it has been so. There is no logical proof why this natural phenomenon ought to repeat itself at infinitum, nature is not uniform and unmovable and, therefore, it is difficult to impose on it certain and constant laws.

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Wilhelm Wildeband (1848-1915)
A great scholar of the history of philosophy

Croce declares that empirical scientific methodology is purely descriptive, it has no ability to grasp the essence of things. In fact, even granting that science begins with concrete data, even historical, it arbitrarily  abstracts concepts and laws which then become tautological, so that, as he writes in his Logic, the biological law of the wolf turns out to be the wolf itself. Or it is the wolf in its general description, never the way one meets it in its reality, given that in our experience we only meet individual exemplars, never the wolf in its generality.

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R.G. Collingwood (1889-1943) who wrote The Idea of History
and translated into English Croce’s The Philosophy of G. Vico (1913)

In this sense science operates via pseudo-concepts or logical make-believes. But mathematical sciences which seem able to avoid the criticism leveled against empirical sciences and Physics as queen of those sciences cannot avoid the same criticism that they do not grasp the concreteness of reality. They are in fact analytic like geometry, or assiomatic like some mathematical principals. Their abstract discursive character they do not conserve, rather they cancel reality and all its live and pulsating aspects. The cognitive judgment, on the other hand, consists exactly in a synthesis of the universal and the individual. Even if we were to think of mathematics as founded on intuitive elements, as some philosophers have suggested, it would not be the same as intuition as knowledge of the particular, but rather of a sort of vision which resembles the Platonic idea whose etymology derives from the verb to see, to grasp an idea. Thus we would open another discussion on the essence of mathematic. But the kind of mathematic to which Croce refers is the one understood in its traditional sense.

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Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)

And yet, especially to common sense, the sciences appear as true; fundamentally because of the exactitude which characterizes them and because they are in daily life, efficient, operative, useful and practical. But, as we shall see this is what Croce tries to show: the sciences are not mere errors, a disguise of truth, pure make-believe, more or less clever linguistic games, as the most popular philosophies of the 20th century have held. They mislead when they claim that they can substitute philosophy and history. By themselves they are neither errors or deceptions. They carry on their own necessary function: they belong to the world of utility and their progress can only be celebrated as the progress of human kind.  

According to Croce the sciences are to be located in the world of praxis not in that of theory. This is not to claim that they are action from their beginning, but because they are a tool (Popper will speak of instrumentalism as a specific speculative function held by the greatest scientists of the 20th century) and, in as much as they are tools, they are neither true nor false, neither are they good or bad: they can only be useful or useless, efficient or inefficient.

Consequently, moral judgment or even political judgment which can be legitimately be proffered on the sciences, does not concern the sciences in themselves but only the use made of them, that is to say of sciences in their relationship with other human activities.

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Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)

Nature: Naturalistic method and historical method:

But the most original and fecund of Croce’s originality on the issue of scientific knowledge, and therefore most pregnant with consequences and possible innovations concerns the idea of nature.

Croce wants to overcome once and for all, as he does throughout his system, the dualism between spirit and nature which has tormented the entire journey of the history of philosophy and sciences. A problem this which is even more acute within idealistic philosophies, exactly because they did not have the duty of resolving it once they had absorbed nature within spirit, the natural object in the spiritual subject. This is a central question in Kantian thought, especially the late Kant of the Critique of Judgment, a work in which via the teleological judgment, nature conceived as an entity that is separate from the subject which investigates it, is in some way recomposed and brought back to a unitary principle.

Even less is the problem is resolved in Hegelian and Schillerian thought, which under their point of view looks rather a step backward vis a vis the philosopher of the Critiques, in as much as nature is not described and understood empirically as in classical sciences, and neither it is understood philosophically, since it is pervaded by the metaphysical and romantic vision of such a philosophy.

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Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805)

Croce assumes a quite different view-point. He asserts that nature too has its history in his History as Thought and as Action, a history which is not written by man. We could ask Croce how do we know that nature has its own history, if it is impossible for man to know it? It is probable that Croce has spoken metaphorically, alluding to what is common knowledge, that is to say, that what we call nature is subject and change, condemned to a submersion into temporality, so that the famous affirmation that even a hair of grass has its own history does not appear paradoxical.

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Alfred N. Whitehead (1861-1947)

In some way, nature writes its own history: leaves its imprints. To give some simple examples: in societies constructed by bees and ants, in the experiences that animals pass on, in the modification of those experiences which every naturalist, scientist or environmentalist could easily describe and could also give witness that what appears to us as an objective, static, immovable and uniform fact within nature, is always endowed with the character of and irreducible particularity which possesses its own particular story: the history of a forest which is not exactly the same as the story of another forest, the particularity of a rock which is not the same as that of any other, the originality of a marine environment which is never exactly the same and has no equals in no other parts of the world. We all know that any cat, or a dog, or a horse has its own distinguishing character, its own personality, which, just as in man, is not only a material characteristic but also an historical characteristic given that they are their own history.

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Isaac Newton (1643-1727)

What we can therefore perceive about nature is its temporality, not historicity in its proper sense, for to grasp historicity one has to also grasp its ethical and political aspect, that is to say, the human aspect. If at times it appears to us that nature too has these categories, that is because it is us who impose them on it, or better, because nature becomes part of our history, participates in our projects. Therefore, if nature has its own history, how can one even think of being able to grasp it immutable essence on which to build definitive scientific theories?

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Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)

Environmentalism, ecologism, which today have a fundamental importance, have taught us, among other things, that the environment in which we live is fundamental part of our history and that our history can not even be fathomed without the environment and if we wished to bring to its proper consequences this just concept we need to eliminate the convenient empirical, linguistic distinction between environment and society, nature and history, because in reality they are two dialectical aspects of the only concrete reality which is life.

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Ernst Mach (1838-1916)

The great progress that Croce accomplishes even in respect to the classical distinction proposed by Dilthey between sciences of nature and sciences of the spirit depends on the diversity of the objects being investigated. Dilthey held the sciences of the spirit are to be distinguished from the sciences of nature since the former belong to the changing world as historicity, the latter to the unchanging world of nature. Thus Dilthey opposed the decadent positivism which by way of social physics had attempted to reduce the method of the sciences of the spirit to that of the natural sciences.

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Richard Avenarius (1843-1896)

But as mentioned, this position which was certainly more acute than the positivistic one, did not solve the problem since it was affected from a realistic residue of probable Kantian origin, the Kant who who, as hinted already, had modified his own position attempting to overcome such a residue by the formulation of a judgment which could penetrate the irreducible barrier of the numenon, considered a problem more than a really existent phenomenon.

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Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
The Functions of the Mind

Croce’s striking position brings back the whole issue to a question of interpretation. Within such a perspective, many equivocation can be put to rest and some problems can be resolved. For indeed we are able to investigate the world of historicity, of the flowing changes, of absolute originality with a method which naturalizes that live and changing reality in the sense that it abstracts and immobilizes to construct laws that are useful but not necessarily universal, instrumental but not necessarily true. We in fact separate history into epochs (ancient world, medieval world, modern world, contemporary world) and we further sub-divide it into periods (end of the Roman Empire, beginning of Restoration, completion of the Risorgimento, and so on), or we make distinctions between social classes, juridical and political systems. Similarly, to say it with a few words, when we operate in the world of art we formulate genres, poetics, styles and so on, not to mention the analysis of language and its expressions were we abstract from live reality to speak of grammar, rhetoric, TV languages, film language, painting language, musical language, architectural language, the sky is the limit. Even in philosophy we carry on with arbitrary but useful distinctions and separations: logic, metaphysics, gnoseology, philosophy of practice, of law, of ethics, of language, of art and so on.   

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Max Planck (1858-1947)

Croce is very explicit on this point. Even the most creative and innovative work of art is subject to its practical considerations and is in some way subject to the naturalistic method. And we brand that work “art” because its artistic aspect is predominant, the intentionality of the same work has a tendency toward artistic creation or simply because we are in the process of analyzing the artistic aspect of the work. So, even in a work of art there are present historical and naturalistic elements, given that all distinctions are logical, not realistic.

Croce is less clear on the scientific work. For example, in his Logic he hints at the fact that even science has historical elements (and therefore of truth) and is founded on true judgments not only pseudo-judgments, but he never completely clarifies this position.

On further reflection it seems plausible that what was said for the work of art is also valid for the work of science and in fact for all human artifacts be they be big or small. When we analyze a scientific theory we notice in it, as already debated at length by the epistemological current issuing from Popper’s philosophy or Morin’s epistemology, epistemological elements, historical elements, at times even metaphysical elements, and preponderantly empirical elements of pure calculation, which is typical of the method defined as naturalistic or scientific.

We therefore need to distinguish, and this is fundamental, between concrete works and the functions which create theories and are foundational to the same unified concrete works: the function which is abstracting and the function of truth as we could call the Crocean categories of praxis and theory. We could even consider that a modern contemporary reconsideration of the Hegelian distinction between abstract intellect and concrete reason becomes plausible, as long as, from our perspective, that such fundamental distinction does not lead us back to a hierarchy of values, functions and categories.

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Niels Bohr (1885-1962)

Within this perspective it is advisable to operate, especially within an epistemological horizon, another distinction: the one between scientific “discovery” (in reality we are not dealing with a “discovery” but with a construction of truth), and scientific “theory.” For the former it is legitimate to speak of a judgment on truth, the latter beginning with scientific discovery, elaborates elements which serve to generalize an individual case reducing the multiplicity of the real to some of its component: abstract formulas and deterministic laws. When one observes and analyzes a determinate scientific theory, it always looks, under certain aspects as if it were submerged in non-cognitive elements. This is the reason why scientific theories engage in competition with each other and are historically disposable after a while. Were we to overcome the cognitive elements that they contain we’d have to admit that in reality they were false, given that one cannot hold two truths. We’d get to the paradox, to which in fact have arrived many epistemologists who are non Popperians, according to whom the history of science is not a history of the general progress of science, but rather it is the general progress of knowledge, a surpassing of theories accepted for various reasons by the scientific and the civil society. If we, on the other hand, hold on to the distinction between cognitive elements and elements extraneous to cognition which are present in every single historical theory, we will soon notice that what falls, what is surpassed is not the elements of truth but those elements that Croce would have defined as allotric, the metaphysical, psychological, social, even political elements from which even the most purist of scientists can free himself.

So, a “true” scientific theory merely creates conditions for research, thus generating new errors, it puts into place the conditions for the appearance of new “truths” within that constant search which is integral part of our life. Our hope is that we have contributed to at least clarify a thorny and difficult issue.

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Werner Heisenberg (1901-1976)

Reductionism and moral indifference

In conclusion, we must firmly emphasize the point that every form of scientifics or scientism, be it mechanistic or deterministic, or as it is common to say today with an appropriate term, a scientific reductionism, inevitably leads to moral skepticism, to a sort of indifference which, sooner or later will also invade the political sphere. It cannot be denied that often, scientific progress and the epistemological research which was tied to it have anchored themselves to liberal-democratic or socialist-democratic ethical-political movements; this is even the case of the Enlightenment first and positivism afterward. These are historical phenomena that by themselves do not place on the table the fundamental philosophical-logical question by which a conception of life founded on the idea that there is a reality which is unchanging and unalterable, a material mechanical substratum whose laws need to be “discovered” (to discover means to take away the veil from that which is already constituted and perfect in itself) taking away the very possibility of modification. If a condition cannot be modifies because it responds to scientific laws, be they physical or mathematical why would we, Don Quixote like, commit ourselves to modifying them? Who would ever dare to incriminate a stone that fell from a balcony and killed a passerby? A stone cannot violate its own nature, its scientific objective, certain experimented law which is that of gravity or a tendency to fall down from the top. But we can accuse a man who through negligence let the stone fall, because that man has responsibility, freedom of choice, capacity to reflect and to decide. Man responds to a law that is not mechanical, deterministic, natural, but spiritual and creative. He can evaluate if that stone he keeps on his balcony represents a threat to the safety of his neighbor.

If then, to change the metaphor, one retains that the laws of nature and those that govern society are objective laws, true and immutable, why would we need ethical and political action, with the duty to modify them when they reveal themselves inimical to freedom, to justice and the general welfare of men and women? 

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Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996)
Author of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1971)
where he coined the concept of “paradigm shifts”

Many totalitarian ideologies search for their legitimacy in the assumed scientific objectivity of natural laws. We have endure the tragedy of racial hatred founded on the so called scientific proofs of the idea of race. Even progressive socialism, the criminal code of the beginning of the 20th century, even if within a positivistic horizon fell into this typical tragic error or reductionism: to lead moral concepts to natural necessity, humiliate freedom confining it to abstract laws.

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Karl Popper (1902-1994
Known for his scientific “theory of falsification”

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Ilya Prigogine (1917-2003)

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Edgar Morin (1921-    )

It is quite evident then that scientific reductionism, even when it appears democratic, is in its essence a totalitarian attitude. This does not mean that progress in technology, intimately tied to the growth of scientific knowledge, is not in itself connected also to moral and civil progress of society. Nobody can deny, for example, that the production and dissemination of antibiotics can be considered a great progress, and that in some way has advantaged the most poor and the most destitute of social environments. This ought to be evident and explains why history needs to be respected, since it teaches that progressive and revolutionary movements are often accompanied by a faith in science’s progress.

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Karl Marx (1818-1883)

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Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831)

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Gabriele D’Annunzio (1863-1938)

Were we to return to the Enlightenment and even Positivism, we can explain why the emphasis on science which was typical of those eras. In that particular historical moment, especially that of the Enlightenment, the progress of sciences was a sign of the struggle against obscurantism, one of the many forms of emancipation of philosophy vis a vis the Church, from the various superstitions which impeded the free growth of human-kind. What we are implying is that at such a time, more than the triumph of science, we have a triumph of ideology of science, what the scientific mind-set signified. Thus the exaltation of science was conjugated with the ethico-political exaltation of freedom, of equality, of justice, of democracy. An exaltation this which at times would contradict itself by becoming a faith, a non critical faith in science which replaced the place of the authority of the ancient and medieval world from whose throne it had been removed.

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Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876-1944)
Founder of Futurism

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Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier (1768-1830)

It is not by chance that the epochs of the Enlightenment and of Positivism, produced literary persons and philosophers who tended to promote the idea of a real religion of science, and it is not by chance either that even in those epochs the most critical spirits, the most alert progressives, took their distance from openly fanatical tendencies which ultimately were not so much different from religious fanaticism which they meant to oppose.

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Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

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Henri Poincarè (1854-1912)

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David Hume (1711-1776)

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Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)

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Konrad Lorenz (1903-1989)

Having untied the knot of this possible equivocation, the idea that a blind belief in the possibilities of science, in its progress and, above all, in that ideology which is scientific reductionism, contains within itself the terrible germs of totalitarianism, ought not to result scandalous. The rigorous defense of science’s utility must be accompanied by an equally rigorous defense of the distinction of the sciences from other human activities, first among those philosophical critique. It is in that distinction that we find the essence of the theoretical defense of liberty.

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3
Paparella’s Observations on Paolozzi’s Presentation
followed by a Comment from Paolozzi   

Thank you Ernesto for placing on the symposium’s table such a masterful Crocean clarifications on this thorny subject of the nexus philosophy/science. In the first place they confirm for me how inextricably intertwined are the speculations of Vico and Croce around the core concept of the historical imagination. It seems to me that this concept is perhaps the best defense possible against the attempt of Positivism and the scientific mind-set, still alive and well within post-modernity, still aiming at the demise of metaphysics.

Your essay is a reminder to us that science originated in the West, in ancient Greece to be precise, the same Greece whose cultural presence was established in Southern Italy 8 centuries B.C., before the arrival of the Romans, thus laying the early foundations for Graeco-Roman civilization. The fact that philosophy too originated in the same extended place and at the same time (Pytagoras lived a good part of his life in Magna Graecia) is no sheer coincidence. Aristotle after all was both a philosopher and a biologist. There was no strict dualism for the ancients between science and philosophy and not even between philosophy and art as Aristotle’s Poetics more than confirms, just as for a man like Leonardo da Vinci in the Italian Renaissance there was no dualism between science and art. It was well understood that they had a common origin and were originally in harmony with each other.

Indeed life abounds and is most vibrant and fruitful at the boundaries of fields of knowledge and disciplines as they interact with each other. It seems to me that if we are to speak of a faith tied to philosophy and science in ancient Greece it is the faith in human reason’s capacity to grasp truth, a faith not provable scientifically and empirically but without which neither philosophy nor science would have even begun, to be distinguished of course from an irrational faith based on superstition. Aquinas, the greatest of the Church doctors, certainly makes such an important distinction on which he builds his Summa. The other side of that same coin is undoubtedly a faith in a fanatical ideology substituting religion and appealing to reductive scientism or positivism, as you aptly point out toward the end of your presentation. In any case, I believe we are in substantial agreement that it was that kind of faith in reason’s ability to arrive at truth that allowed science and philosophy to arise and prosper in the West some 24centuries ago.

In the second place, that statement that men cannot write the history of nature since they are not its originator and therefore will never know it with 100% certitude, brought me immediately back to the Vichian axiom that men can never know with absolute certitude what they themselves have not made while they may have confidence in knowing what they themselves have created such as works of art or human culture in general. So, while man makes history, it is also true that history makes man, that is to say, man is his own history. In this sense there is no apparent disagreement between the two great Southern Italian philosophers. The disagreement, if indeed one can even be discerned, is more properly concerning the Vichian concept of Providence which Vico considers an essential paradox of his philosophy of history holding at the same time and in tension both the transcendent pole and the immanent pole of the concept, while Croce seems to emphasize the immanent pole, practically ignoring, without however rejecting it altogether, the pole of transcendence; this is similar in some way to Kant’s distinction between the phenomenon and the numenon.

Finally, it bears mentioning here that your presentation has inevitably placed once again a thorny problem on the symposium’s table for our attentive consideration. I refer to the problem of freedom vs. determinism, absolutism vs. relativism in post-modern philosophy, perhaps best exemplified by Eistein’s famous question: does God play dice with the universe? I too believe, as you do, that Vico and Croce are nowadays the best guides to a bridge and a resolution to this conundrum of modernity. I for one am convinced that it will never be resolved unilaterally by the two extremes of current philosophy: the deconstructionists on the extreme left (championed by Derrida) and the Straussians on the extreme right (championed by Leo Strauss).

Let me place on the table for discussion a still tentative but feasible way out of this post modern conundrum. Here in America, and to a lesser extent in Europe too where it originated, in the third quarter of the 20th century, a severe critique of modernity was leveled by Leo Strauss and his cohorts who later became the right-wing neo-cons of American politics, at the University of Chicago. He had a notion, as original as it was misguided in my opinion, that modernity was a reaction against Thomas Aquinas’ distortion of Aristotelian philosophy and therefore a true return to the ancients has to be preceded by a disengagement from their Thomistic misreading. This is held as a veritable article of faith in conservative Straussian circles and to deviate from it is to be branded a heretic. Strauss argued that the great advantage of the political philosophy of Aristotle and Plato, is that while they thought that the good was objective and absolute, the more proximate rule of action was relative to what was actually praised and blamed in a given political context. Both Plato and Aristotle, according to Strauss, avoided the Scylla of “absolutism” and the Charybdis of “relativism” by holding a view which one may express as follows: There is a universally valid hierarchy of ends, but there are no universally valid rules of action.

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Leo Strauss (1899-1973)

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Jacques Derrida (1930-2004)

St. Thomas’s teaching on natural law, Strauss then argues, misses this mean and falls prey to the “Scylla of absolutism.” Because St. Thomas sees the natural law as promulgated in every heart through conscience it is universally binding, and there is thus no room for a discrepancy between what is good absolutely and what is good relative to a particular civil society. Moreover, Strauss argues, the Thomistic teaching on natural law orders all things to a final end which transcends earthly life, and is thus a properly theological account of law. The fundamental precepts of this law are thus the same always and everywhere and can brook no exception.

Strauss thinks that this moral absolutism is inhuman as it leaves too little room for the role of prudence and the situatedness of human life in contingent political circumstances.

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Thomas Aquinas (1225-1273)
Another Neapolitan philosopher

Obviously the transcendence pole of Providence has been eliminated here and some modern scholars see the same flaw in Croce’s deemphasizing of Vico’s concept of Providence where the immanent is retained and the transcendent is simply tolerated. Like Strauss they see modernity as an understandable reaction against this overly theological moral legalism, a reaction however which falls prey to the Charybdis of relativism.

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Charles Louis de Montesquieu (1689-1755)

A work like Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws is misunderstood if one disregards the fact that it is directed against the Thomistic view of natural right. Montesquieu tried to recover for statesmanship a latitude which had been considerably restricted by the Thomistic teaching. Modernity’s wish to avoid the Straussian charge of absolutism leads it to exaggerate the variability of morality.

Now, while it is quite correct to think  the natural law is not an extrinsic imposition on humanity and it is indeed human reason itself that determines the fitting means to the end of human life, to then suddenly jump to arguing that there is no universally valid, set pattern, of moral rules, is tantamount to an enormous equivocation  on the word “determine.” The fact remains that human reason does not “determine” the natural law in the sense of “making it up,” but in the sense of “recollecting” the eternal law and the Wisdom of the Creator who made nature and therefore knows it thoroughly and in whom all things are harmoniously ordered. This would go a long way in explaining the centrality of Vico’s concept of Providence (both immanent and transcendent at the same time) in his opus magnum The New Science (1725). That concept is not extraneous or superfluous to a science of imagination; to the contrary, it is essential.

Comment by Paolozzi to Paparella’s observations (translated from Italian):

Paparella’s reflection on the affinity of Croce to Vico’s conception of history and nature seems to me particularly relevant. We can know what we ourselves make, which is history in all its forms. Nature too, to a certain extent can be known, given that in reality we also historicize nature. We impose on her natural laws, not vice-versa. We humanize her and then attribute to her, in a Vichian or Kantian key, ends and purposes. So, Vico and Croce’s thought, as acutely observed by Paparella, meet each other.

There is another passage which is also very relevant. Without faith in the ability to know and to reason we would not even begin to reason and to know. This act of faith, consciously or unconsciously, pervades all our life, It even pervades our actions: we would not act had we not faith that our action could be efficacious and could be successful. Emanuel, you are quite right in pointing out that this kind of faith has nothing to do with religious, scientific, philosophical or political fanaticism. Indeed, fanaticism goes together with a form of faith which is ultimately irrational and prejudiced even when it presents itself as rational.

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4
Paolozzi’s Thought-provoking Aphorisms on Freedom
With a discussion between Paparella and Paolozzi by way of an initial
exploration of the thorny philosophical issue of truth/freedom

- Between ideals and reality there ought not be any opposition since reality is nothing without ideality and ideals are sterile without reality. Such is the dialectical horizon of freedom, its very concrete possibility.

- There are no absolute principles, except the principle of freedom which by its own intrinsic nature does not admit absolutes.

- Liberalism is always an interpretation of reality through the principle of freedom. It is also an assumption of responsibility vis a vis reality.

- The principle of freedom guides the action of the liberal among the infinite phenomenology of possible choices. In this sense, what locates the liberty of the individual, an individual which as an individual is a social and communitarian being, at the beginning and at the end of his project is a concretely operating utopia.

- To the question “what is freedom” one could answer jokingly, ma it would not be a foolish joke, that everybody knows what it is.

- There is no formula for freedom. Those who think they know it are fundamentally illiberal, or are troubled by the uncertainty of life.

- Existentialism is the philosophy of those who are happy for being unhappy. Existence is tragic because it is free, and therefore uncertain. But we seem to be unable to live a different kind of life than ours, except for one which is beyond the earthly. It means that we have no choice but live within freedom.

- Vico holds that there are mishaps which become opportunities. Unfortunately there are also opportunities which become mishaps. Freedom consists in the eternal conflict between mishaps and opportunities. A liberal always tries to change mishaps into opportunities.

- Liberalism is always to be put in motion. It is to be located within history and reality and brought up to date. In this sense, liberalism is always a liberal method. It is not a technique, or only a technique. It is not a method in the sense of institutional engineering. It is not even a comfortable lying on the spontaneous developments of the economy. Freedom, in fact, is unable to find an authority that is extraneous to the individuals who realize it concretely. Liberalism is always an interpretation of reality through the principle of liberty.

- Uncertainty is on the psychological level the equivalent of freedom on the philosophical-ethical-political level. To learn to live in uncertainty is to learn to live in freedom.

A Response from Paparella as an incipient dialogue on the issue of man’s freedom

Indeed the above powerful aphorisms have provoked some reflections which I’d like to share. They brought me back to my Ph.D. dissertation at Yale University in 1981, to what can be considered a slight divergence between Vico and Croce’s thought, despite their general affinity. It has to do with the concept of Providence in Vico that has both an immanent and a transcendent pole, not mutually exclusive and not violating man’s freedom. Croce seems to consider the pole of transcendence superfluous to the phenomenon of history. He emphasizes the immanent. Thus, within an immanent concept of Providence man’s freedom, which as Kant has also demonstrated, cannot be proven empirically, assumes the place of the highest value of man, which indeed it is, as long as transcendence is excluded or bracketed.

Logically, to eliminate the pole of immanence would also falsify Vico’s concept of Providence so that one ends up with a Deus ex machina which intervenes in history at crucial time thus violating man’s freedom. But this is not so for Augustine, Aquinas or Vico. For them freedom is only the penultimate value of man on this earth; the ultimate value, or the final destination of man’s journey if you will, transcends even freedom by asking the question “freedom for what?,” which of course is a much deeper conception of freedom than freedom “from” (or the idea that to be free is to be liberated from enslaving habits and other limitations).

That ultimate goal of man’s journey on earth is not here on any of earth’s utopias within time and space but is to be found in Dante’s Paradiso, in that transcendent world dubbed by Augustine “The City of God,” which in effect means that for Augustine, Aquinas and Dante freedom is not the ultimate value in and by itself with no end in sight but rather it is constituted by obedience to truth with a final telos or destination.

To be free for these three Christian thinkers is to affirm the truth of being. Men do not create truth, they discover it. Truth does not arise after the exercise of freedom, but rather it is discovered within the very act of freedom itself; and it is the truth that makes men free not vice-versa freedom that allows truth to appear. Freedom of inquiry can only be exercised within a context in which the question of truth arises within the question of freedom and not after it. So, staying with the polarity, or the complementarity if you will, immanence/transcendence in Vico’s concept of Providence, it seems to me that this much can be affirmed: together with the polarity between existence and essence in the structure of being, a similar polarity is seen in the three transcendentals of being: the polarity between form and splendor in the beautiful, the polarity between obedience and freedom in the good; and the polarity between subject and object in the true. Plato as well as Augustine, Pico della Mirandola and Vico were surely on to something when they saw the Good, the Beautiful and the True as beyond time and space.

A follow-up response and a pertinent suggestion from Paolozzi

Thank you Emanuel for your acute interpretations. This is a fundamental and intricate theme. I suggest that we continue this dialogue in the subsequent meetings of the symposium. This is an issue that remains unclear and uncertain, rather difficult in fact, yet indispensable. I will anticipate here that I’d like to discuss the theme of transcendence and freedom via the analysis of the nexus between thought and action: one transcends the other and vice-versa. This is the theme of the telos and the end of freedom which you have brilliantly staged. It attempts to answer this question: can freedom have a purpose and an end outside itself? I suppose it all depends on how we understand freedom. But let us not burn the themes of the dialogue ahead of time. Let us reserve them for subsequent meetings.

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5

On Heidegger’s Essay “The Origin of the Work of Art”
A Presentation by Lawrence Nannery

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Martin Heidegger (1889-1974)

It is well-known that Heidegger is a difficult author, but a few words of introduction may forestall some elements of frustration. They  may be allayed if one understands his intentions.

His intentions are based upon his dissatisfactions with “the tradition of Western Philosophy,” which he deemed basically misleading.  He thus started his own philosophy with new terminologies.  I will mention a few of these sets of terminologies in this article.  He does not even espouse the wisdom of Greek philosophy, since the great luminaries of that time and place also made the same types of mistakes as the late medieval and modern philosophies in Europe.  However, he believes he has succeeded in intuiting the intentions of the pre-Socratic philosophers, and reworks the Greek vocabularies used therein to enlighten the reader of his intentions. Better than that no man could be expected to do.

His reasoning was led by a dissatisfaction with the abstract nature of European philosophy through all its history — particularly metaphysics — and this was based upon his realization that he wanted a concrete vocabulary, as he states over and over in his first famous work, Sein und Zeit.

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Translation of Sein und Zeit (1962)
which originally appeared in German in 1927

Now let us turn to the text of “The Origins of the Work of Art”. 

The lecture by that name was given three times in three different venues, and each time it got longer.  Heidegger was a man who did not let up on himself or his readers.  The first word is “origin”, and Heidegger immediately defines it as something “that from which and by which something is what it is and as it is.    The origin of something is the source of its essence.”  He then notes that works of art have authors, but the relation between the artist (of any kind) and the artwork is not psychological, as modern writers naively assume.  In fact, he claims that the artist and the work are reciprocally related, and both stand under the influence of art itself. 

This reasoning is circular, of course, but no alternative, as for example a cataloging of all the major artworks together could reveal what art is in itself.  A definition of art is not possible to give; hence the circularity. (Though it seems to always be about paintings, this essay is about all types of art, as the examples he provides of works of architecture and statuary.)

Readers of this line of reasoning cavil at the circularity, especially because modern readers have been taught ad nauseam that art works are the product of the psychology of the artist who creates them.  Instead, Heidegger has a historical claim in mind, and it can be justified by the many different periods in which any art undergoes through different ages, which shows that there can be no definition of art itself.  And all works of art have a “thingly character.”  Even the most enthusiastic love of art cannot gainsay this fact.

Next, Heidegger examines the relation between “Thing and Work.”

In fact, almost all things, including God, is a thing, including Kant’s thing-in-itself,” though it is not common to call persons or living beings such as animals “things” as though they were mere objects.  Heidegger surveys what things are called things.  Generally they are what many call “mere things.”  And the acknowledgment that things are composed of a central entity at the core (hypokeimenon) and other parts which accompany the core, (symbebekota).  But, historically, the meaning of these parts of things were translated into Latin: hypokeimenon became subjectum; symbebekos became accidens; and hypostasis became substantia, and in this way the original Greek insight into things was lost.  He claims that with this change “the rootlessness of Western thought begins with this translation.”  Consequently the way we ask, “what is a thing?” has not been uncovered because the grammar used to ask this has not “the structure of the thing itself.”  Only if the question of what is the thing happened to possess the right structure of such isomorphism could it draw near to understanding the essence of the thing.  The current use of the word “thing” can refer to any being whatever, not to things alone.  He goes on to say that moods tell a person more about things than the wrong questions do.

Since the question raised is so indefinite, we should put aside all our prejudices and strictly concentrate upon the thing itself.  We know things through our physical nature, an object of any kind and its accompanying qualities.  “Things” are derived from the experience of the meaning of the Greek word aistheton, i.e., the perceptible.  All such perceptions are singular, not general.  Heidegger rejects this way of proceeding, because merely enumerating all the things that are called “thing”, to attain a comprehensive view of the matter, or examining every part of every “thing” is bound to fail.  Either way is impossible, because the thing vanishes under such dissolving scrutinies.

The next attempt at definition makes use of hylemorphism, where there is no matter without form, and when those are both present one has reality, an eidos. 

Why did we not begin here, in this, Aristotle’s comfortable position?  Why did we go through a longer process?  Heidegger answers: because he distrusts this hylemorphism.  It is noteworthy to notice that hylemorphism is the basis of virtually all art theory and aesthetics.  He asks: “Where does the matter-form structure have its origin — in the thingly character of the thing or in the workly character of the art work?”

Things that occur in nature are to be distinguished from works that come from the hand of man.  This is still hylemorphism, but the latter types of objects, objects made by human hands for human purposes, are given the title of “equipment” (Zeug).  Man himself, in making objects of use participates in the propagation of objects that are useful.  And, Heidegger notes, “equipment takes an intermediate place between the mere thing and work.”

Though Heidegger admits that the form – matter paradigm of the thing has been central to much of philosophical thinking for millennia, he rejects Aristotle’s use of the word thing in the traditional sense, and his reason for this rejection of a definition of a thing as either a bearer of traits, or as the unity of a manifold of sensations (Kant’s formula), or as formed matter is this:  all three orientations impinge illicitly upon the thingly character of the thing; the equipmental character of equipment; and the workly character of the work. So, it seems we have only engaged in a negative study so far.

The most difficult of the three is the first: the thingly character of the thing.  He states: “The unpretentious thing evades thought most stubbornly.”  The thing seems unapproachable because it is usually accessed by means of the central function of the equipment.  The puzzle is most difficult and invites us to stop thinking.  But Heidegger was not one to ever do a thing like that.  Instead he decides to speak of equipment by examining a well-known painting by Van Gogh that depicts a pair of peasant shoes.  This is the most famous section of the article, and shows great sensitivity on the part of the author.  First, he mentions that shoes are useful in different ways, which dictate the different kinds of shoes that are made and used.  An obvious point.  But then he asks: “what about this usefulness itself?”  Van Gogh provides no guide as to the actual usage of these particular shoes.  But if we examine the painting carefully, we find that the shape and type of the shoes must have been peasant shoes, shoes that serve the owner in the fields, i.e., shoes of a peasant.  He imagines a peasant woman wearing these shoes in the fields, and makes many likely experiences the woman who would have worn these shoes in very poetical language, reminiscent of the singularity of all sensations from her experiences in life that in sum make up her life.

Heidegger sums up this part of the article by saying: “This equipment belongs to the earth, and it is protected in the world of the peasant woman.”  This introduces two new terms into the discussion, and the most important elements of his conclusion of the question about the origin.

Next, Heidegger goes further into the question of the equipment that enables things that serve the actors’ purposes in life and work.  He writes: “the equipmental being of the equipment consists indeed of its usefulness.  But this usefulness itself rests in the abundance of an essential Being of the equipment.  We call it reliability.”  This “repose of equipment resting within itself” enables the twin origins of her life to come together and, earth and world together, effect normal reliability in her experience.  This experience can not be communicated to the reader except by the experience of confronting the painting itself.  He concludes: “In the work of art the truth of beings has set itself to work.  “To set” means here “to bring to stand.”  Some particular being, a pair of peasant shoes, comes in the work to stand in the light of its Being.  The Being of beings comes into the steadiness of its shining.  The essence of art would then be this:  the truth of beings setting itself to work…”

Now the argument starts to become quite difficult; now it shifts in ways an ordinary thinker would not think of.  There is a puzzle about the thing.  The concepts that guide the reader in this region of thought are not helpful because, historically, the understanding of the thing in its essence is not from the essence of the thing, but is the essence of equipment.  This shakes the whole analysis up to this point in the article.  After some paragraphs, Heidegger finds that “the thingly feature in the work should not be denied; but if it belongs admittedly to the work-being of the work, it must be conceived by way of the work’s workly nature. If this is so, then the road toward the determination of the thingly reality of the work leads not from thing to work but from work to thing.”

Later he says “Art is truth setting itself to work.” 

So now, the stage is set on this extensive journey that includes two more steps, first a consideration of the work and truth; second, it refers to World and Earth.

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Sophocles’ Antigone, a tragedy written in 441 BC

Work and truth carry the burden of history.  It is not possible to experience the truth of art of ages that have long since perished.  Art historians write many disquisitions on works from ages past, but they do not encounter the artwork.  This astonishing claim rocks the boat, especially for persons like myself who cherish much of the known productions from several dead cultures.  Only artworks of near contemporary provenance can really be breathed in, made real, transform us.  He mentions the Aegina sculptures in the Munich collection and Sophocles’ Antigone as examples.  Also the temple in Paestum and the Bamberg cathedral.  Heidegger concludes: “where does a work belong?  The work belongs, as work, uniquely within the realm that is opened up by itself.”

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Sophocles (496-406 B.C.)

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Bamberg Cathedral (13th century Romanesque Architecture)

Van Gogh’s painting of the peasant shoes fulfills the function of art as truth, for in the work there is a happening of truth at work.  And this has nothing to do with representationalism.  Heidegger selects as an example a Greek temple.  The statue of the god is present in it, which confers a status of holiness on it.  The temple “gathers around itself the entire scene of the institution of place and time,” and much else besides: “It is the temple-work that first fits together and at the same time gathers around itself the unity of those paths and relations in which birth and death, disaster and blessing, victory and disgrace, endurance and decline acquire the shape of destiny for human being.  The all-governing expanse of this open relational context is the world of this historical people.  Only from and in this expanse does the nation first return to itself for the fulfillment of its vocation.”

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One of the Aigina sculptures mentioned in Heidegger’s essay on art (500 B.C.)

The course of history is repetitious; things of all kinds, including animals and humans and cities and states of all descriptions rise and then fall, in a seeming circular necessity.  The ancient Greeks called these processes physis.  Heidegger calls it earth.  He tells us:  “Earth is that whence the arising brings back and shelters everything that arises. … In the things that arise, earth occurs essentially as the sheltering agent.

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Van Gogh’s Shoes of a Peasant Woman

The temple that has risen transforms the landscape, providing something new in the world, because it gathers men to itself for rituals, interactions of citizens, and possibly can dictate a way of life to the population, based upon the ideals and character of the god it contains. All work-beings engage in world-building.  It is never without its correlative, given the name of world.  The opposition between world and earth is strife, striving.  In this way a new kind of life can be introduced into life, for, in strife, each of these two are carried away, beyond themselves.  Such competition gives an edge to the taste of life, and allows for great works to be undertaken and completed.

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Greek Temple to Minerva at Paestum, near Naples (460 BC)

“World” in this scheme is the active principle and “earth” is the defensive sheltering and concealing.  The work of these two “origins” of life and work and art, are complementary and neither can overcome the other.  All that can be asseverated about these operational forces in our experience is that “the world worlds” and “the earth earths.”  Further than this we cannot penetrate or control.

In other words, they reflect the finitude of the human condition under another description.

From the point of view of the human artist, the work is generated out of the strife that governs the worlding of the world and the earthing of the earth.  In such a work of art, truth is revealed.

But what is truth?  Heidegger goes back, as he often does, to the ancient Greeks and finds there the word for truth, aletheia, which means, literally “not forgetting.”  In German the word is “Entbergung”, in English it is “unconcealedness” — both equivalent because they name the same process.  This is most revealing in every sense.  Heidegger is thus a proponent of the view that every truth is a revelation!  It may not be a strictly religious opinion, but it does indeed feel vaguely religious. 

Here is what can be said about these two hidden forces of World and Earth. “The world is the self-operating openness of the broad paths of the simple and essential decisions in the destiny of a historical people.  The earth is the spontaneous forthcoming of that which is continually self-secluding and to that extent sheltering and concealing.  The world grounds itself on the earth, and earth juts through world. … The world, in resting upon the earth, strives to surmount it.  As self-opening it cannot endure anything closed.  The earth, however, as sheltering and concealing, tends always to draw the world into itself and keep it there.”

The opposition of world and earth is strife, and neither can ever destroy the other. 

The work is said to “repose” in the midst of this strife, since the work of constructing any work of art is filled with indeterminacies that require energy to overcome resistances to a new thing being brought into existence.  As he sums it up: “the work that rests in itself thus has its essence in the intimacy of strife.”

And now, having brought forth unconcealedness as truth, he wants to say how this happens.  “In the midst of beings as a whole an open space occurs.  There is a lighting. … the open center is before beings and therefore not surrounded by beings; rather the lighting center itself encircles all that is, as does the nothing, which we scarcely know.”

What does all this mean?  It means that for every lighting and clarity, there is also concealment.  The teaching once again, as at the beginning of his career, is human finitude.  And, harder to understand, concealment and disclosure interpenetrate one another.  In other words, falsehood exists, even in truth, in the forms of refusal to reveal themselves or dissembling.  And the lighting is not a thing, but wavers and sometimes disappears.  The situation is unclear, and the reason is that truth is itself wavering, and has nothing to do with propositional matters of fact.  “At bottom,” he orates, “the ordinary is not ordinary.”  The difficult part for philosophy is that truth is never purely true and nothing else.  Even the truth contains untruths in the concealments it keeps or in dissembling, which, in the first instance, would stem from the weakness of our minds to understand.

Again, this is more about the finitude of human beings than it is about ill-will.  We have not yet realized that the terms World and Earth are not unblemished with error, and so falsehood and deception have places in the decision for truth, and decisions are always accompanied by a lack of ability to secure truth unblemished.

Setting to work is what beings do, and in this sense of human beings, the lighting that reveals the being of all the many things there are in the world — all these and many more are finite as well as human beings.  The work-being of the work, in the case of art, is one of the ways in which truth happens.  The mysterious lighting lights up all beings.  When we encounter a work such as Van Gogh’s painting, a shining of truth is effectuated, and this shining in the work is beauty, which, amazingly, is one way in which truth essentially occurs, and is beauty. 

But, we must always remember that works are things made, and in this case, a work of art is made by a creator.  The artist is the creator, in the midst of all these limitations and forces of finitude. His job is to create a work that is unique, and which organizes the era that will come in the future, as all artworks do.  Thus again, everything that is lit up is historical.  “As a world opens itself, it submits to a historical the question of victory and defeat, blessing and curse, master and slavery.”  The artist must produce a work if he is to be called an artist.  One does not need to be a genius to be a creator.  In fact, works that have been produced but the creator is unknown are more purely works of art.  The equipment, which has no destiny like the work, which is not useful at all, and does not remain, like equipment, commonplace.  Perhaps Heidegger means by this that uniquely brilliant works fail to carry a social message, in regulating what is thought of as valid in the larger, historical arena. 

Works are powerful in that they attract attention, because, as the product of a human artist, it is surprising that it exists at all.  The work is extraordinary; it transports us out of the ordinary. As he concludes, “art is the creative preserving of truth in the work.  Art then is the becoming and happening of truth.”  In a sense art arises from nothing.  Heidegger returns to formulations of his earliest book, Sein und Zeit, and shows in his new vocabulary that being thrown into a open space between World and Earth, and opening a place in which the lighting of beings happens, is truth. 

Truth is always partial, composed of truth and falsehood, and, more important, all art is essentially poetry.  This is because the place where art breaks out into an open place, whose openness is anything but usual, is most creative and gives meaning to a culture.  It has nothing to do with objects that obey causal laws.  The working of the work lies in a change, coming from out of the work, of aletheia, and this means Being, i.e., Sein, which confers meanings on human experience.

Heidegger believes that all the arts, in so far as they bear truth, is poetry.  He states: “the linguistic work, poetry in the narrower sense, has a privileged position in the domain of he arts.”  Language, he tells us, “by naming things for the first time, first brings beings to word and to appearance.”  Only language projects and affirms the existence of things, by naming them.  And projective saying is poetry; it is the saying of the aletheia of beings.  It permits the saying of the unsayable and brings it into a world. At the end of this difficult article, Heidegger tells us: “The origin of the work of art — that is, the origin of both the creators and the preservers, which is to say of a people’s historical existence, is art.  This is so because art is in its essence an origin: a distinctive way in which truth comes into being, that is, becomes historical.”

As a last addition, I wish to tell the reader that what Heidegger has to say depends in some measure in his profundity, his originality and his poetical practice that astound the reader and win him over.  There are two places in his article where this magic is most pronounced.  First, in his lyrical tone while he demonstrates that we know our world through the simplest of sounds, and not in combinations of events.  Second, the same is true of the description he gives of the peasant woman whom he believes is the wearer of the shoes painted by Van Gogh, which in the end, in showing her routines in life, show that the essence of equipment is reliability. 

Both of these texts evince the magical property of existence for the human being, and validate for Heidegger his teaching of the ontological difference, that is, Being with a capital B. 

In the final analysis, we are confronted by a kind of wizardry that does work on the imagination, but also calls into question materialist thinking.  His thinking is not religious, but it seems to fit the definition of the magical.

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Observations by Paparella on Nannery’s presentation

Thank you Larry for this lucid and brilliant excursus and the clarifications of Heidegger’s complex thought on the nature of art. Indeed, when I taught a course on aesthetics at Barry University some time ago and re-read the essay in question, I remember being immediately struck by two themes that run through it: the first one, contained in the very title of the essay, is that of “originative thinking” and the second was that of historicity and the necessary relationship between truth and history in Heidegger’s philosophy. I found those themes quite similar to what Vico had written in The New Science way back in 1725 about Poetic Wisdom.  When Heidegger writes in his essay that “Art is historical, and as historical it is the creative preserving of truth in the work. Art happens as poetry. Poetry is founding in the triple sense of bestowing, grounding, and beginning... This is so because art is by nature an origin: a distinctive way in which truth comes into being, that is, becomes historical” he is, consciously or unconsciously, whether he knows it or not, harking back to Vico. Consider now this passage from The New Science: “The nature of things [natura di cose] is nothing but their coming into being [nascimento di esse] at certain times and in certain guises” (S.N. 147).

The above passage from Vico’s New Science clearly demonstrates that Vico was on to something about modern metaphysics’ forgetfulness of its own origins well 200 years before the modern deconstructionists and existentialists and nihilists began dealing with such a subject, simply because he considered the whole of his “science” a science of origins. But nobody was paying any attention; they were too busy developing Descartes’ extreme rationalism. Had more attention been paid to Vico, modern philosophy would like quite different nowadays.

Be that as it may, as a science of origins Vico’s basic operating principle is that of a return to the archè, the basic governing root of the matter under investigation. In other words, the birth or origin of the subject of investigation is thus central: one must descend, as it were, to the origins, to make sense of any aspect of human making. Now, while it is true that Vico has finally been recognized in post-modern times as the father of historicism, or at the very least its precursor, little credit is accorded to him as the precursor of originative thinking.

I don’t believe that in the entire opus of Heidegger Vico is mentioned once although Cassirer and Gadamer as contemporaries of Heidegger do frankly and openly acknowledge their debt to Vico as precursor of deconstructionism, symbolic forms, hermeneutics and historicism. I don’t know what Heidegger actually thought of Vico and Croce, if anything at all, but I dare say that for anybody to consider them thinkers from the backwaters of Europe (i.e., Southern Italy) not to be compared to a Hegel or a Heidegger, is a huge misjudgment from which they may well need to be disabused. This is partly one of the aims of this symposium where Vico and Croce have been presented from the beginning as first rate Western philosophers at a par with a Plato or a Kant or a Heidegger.

In any case, we certainly do not wish in this symposium to dally in envious comparison or grade our philosophers, and even less grade each other. Frankly, my puzzlement is simply this: could it be that Heidegger in regard to originative thinking reinvented the wheel in some way? One has to wonder. I have been wondering in fact since I took a seminar on Heidegger in my college days (1966) and dared submit a controversial paper to the eminent professor teaching the seminar. In that paper I suggested that theory and practice cannot be so neatly and hermetically sealed off from each other when teaching the philosophy of an influential thinker such as Heidegger, and that in fact to compartmentalize those two aspects of a philosopher’s life is to insure that truth will never be revealed. In response the eminent professor promptly assigned a C- to the paper, suggesting in the accompanying comments that I had understood little if anything of Heidegger anti-metaphysical deconstructionism, that as Heidegger himself repeatedly reminded us “there is no philosophy of Heidegger,” there is only the question of Being in the Western philosophical tradition and that in fact the theory of a philosopher has to be kept well separated from his actions and practices; one could not judge one from the other. Some fifty years later I am still pondering those comments, and alas, I remain puzzled.

So I thought to myself: what better place to clarify the issue than to resurrect it some fifty years later in a convivial symposium of friends and colleagues not out to judge or grade each other or champion their pet philosophers but vitally committed to the solution of this intricate difficult issue? I propose in fact that we begin to do so in the next theme of the symposium’s 17th session (January 16, 2014) which will be dedicated to a well focused and rigorous philosophical analysis of “the nexus between theory and practice vis a vis truth.” What the contemporary and influential German philosopher Jurgen Habermas has to say about this issue in his book The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity may well serve us as a starting point for the session (see below).

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Jurgen Habermas (1929--   )

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In his 1985 book The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity Jurgen Habermas wrote that Heidegger's lack of explicit criticism against Nazism is due to his unempowering turn (Kehre) towards Being as time and history: "he detaches his actions and statements altogether from himself as an empirical person and attributes them to a fate for which one cannot be held responsible” [from the Wikipedia Encyclopedia].

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Reply by Nannery to Paparella’s observations

I long ago realized that only certain countries' laureates are allowed to control debates in philosophy.  How else explain the prominence of British thought in the 20th century?  There is not even a simulacrum of a thought in the whole crowd!  England, France and Germany dominate in the modern European arena, and it is not fair, since there are plenty of good philosophers in other nations.  It is unfair to Italy for no other reason than Germans have dominated the narrative in Italy.  There is no good explanation for it that I have ever found.  For example, perhaps my favorite author in philosophy is Ortega y Gasset, who was called by Camus, the greatest of Europeans. 

My own preferences run to ancient Greek philosophy and against Scholasticism, which I had to learn at Boston College; and against modern philosophy in all English speaking countries due to "Analysis".  About other philosophies I do not know much, but I am always ready to look into things. As you may sense, I am more into literature than I am into philosophy, because the vast majority of philosophers have no real talent. I do honor Vico and have mentioned him to many people.  He had a great imagination, and resurrected what had been forgotten by everyone until he came along.  So, I am in league with you, but have some other things to say about other thinkers of note.

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END  OF 16TH SESSION OF THE  OVI  SYMPOSIUM (02/01/2014)

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Intro - P. 1 - P. 2 

2nd Meeting - 3rd Meeting - 4th Meeting - 5th Meeting - 6th Meeting - 7th Meeting - 8th Meeting -

9th Meeting - 10th Meting - 11th Meeting - 12th Meeting - 13th Meeting - 14th Meeting - 15th Meeting -

16th Meeting - 17th Meeting - 18th Meeting - 19th Meeting - 20th Meeting - 21st Meeting -

22nd Meeting -23rd Meeting - 24th Meeting - 25th Meeting -

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