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Ovi Symposium; Fifteenth Meeting
by The Ovi Symposium
2013-12-20 13:23:10
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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
Fifteenth Meeting: 19 December 2013



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.


Table of Content for the 15th Meeting of the Symposium (19 December 2013)

Theme of 15th Session:  The Nexus between Language and Art

Indirect Participants within Time, Space and Perennial Philosophy’s Great Conversation (in the order mentioned and illustrated): Titus Lucretius, Giambattista Vico, Renè Descartes, Edward Said, Noam Chomsky, Ernesto Grassi, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Martin Buber, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Benedetto Croce, Ferdinand de Saussurre, Friedrich Humboldt, R.G. Collingwood, Edward Sapir.

Preamble:  by the symposium’s coordinator Emanuel L. Paparella

Section 1: “The Nexus between Language and Historicism in Vico’s Philosophy vis a vis Modern Hermeneutics.” A presentation by Emanuel L. Paparella

Section 2: “Aesthetics as Linguistics and Art as language” A presentation by Ernesto Paolozzi as translated from his book L’estetica di Benedetto Croce.

Section 3: A comment by Emanuel L. Paparella on Ernesto Paolozzi’s presentation.

Section 4: An announcement of Ernesto Paolozzi’s latest essay on Croce’s thought recently published in The Philosophical Bulletin of the University of Calabria (Vol. XXVIII, 2013), an issue dedicated to the commemoration of Croce’s philosophy, soon to appear in its English translation in the Ovi Symposium.


 Preamble by the Symposium’s Coordinator

As indicated above in the table of content the thematic of this 15th session of the Ovi Symposium is “The Nexus between Language and Art.” This theme, already broached in the previous session, is further explored, deepened and elucidated. Vico as well as Croce, who had a great affinity for Vico’s thought and was in fact largely inspired by it, considered language the horizon encompassing the expression of the poetical in all genuine works of art. They also held that when the poetical is missing so is genuine art.

It’s worth pointing out that these Ovi symposium discussions on aesthetics take place via written language which is a symbolic system of communication, and are carried on not only among its direct participants but also among some of the innumerable philosophers of past ages who for more than two millennia have had pride of place in the pantheon of the Western philosophical patrimony. Indeed, the reason why philosophy remains a fascinating subject is that it transcends a compilation of dry boring school notes or sterile theories devoid of practice to be studied and reviewed for a college exam; it is rather a fascinating, vibrant, passionate and extremely interesting conversation spanning some 25 centuries, beginning in ancient Greece five centuries B.C. That “great conversation” will undoubtedly remain an on-going one as long as man remains a rational being capable of reflection and with the ability to imagine and to carry out an intrepid and adventurous journey of self-discovery.

For example, in this issue of the Ovi symposium, in order for us to explore Vico and Croce’s philosophical linguistics and their relationship to art we have mentioned, in order of appearance, Titus Lucretius, René Descartes, Edward Said, Noam Chomsky, Ernesto Grassi, Hans-George Gadamer, Martin Buber, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Ferdinand de Saussurre, Wilhelm von Humboldt, R.G. Collingwood, Edward Sapir, Alan Sica. They are all in some way indirect participants in the conversation on the nexus between language and art, and as such they too are part of the Ovi symposium, not to speak of the conversation between Vico and Croce themselves, two Southern Italian philosophers that although two centuries apart, are inextricably linked by their common ideas and philosophical vision.

We can therefore surmise that this symposium which is by now a few months old, currently can list hundreds of indirect participants as well as hundreds of readers. One hopes that those same readers may eventually be motivated to join the “great conversation” in some fashion or other. It would be a distortion to consider the symposium an exclusive elitist club for philosophy experts only. It would in fact be a distortion of what philosophy is all about.

Come to think of it, the invitation has actually been tendered some 24 centuries ago since Socrates’ open-ended conversations in Athens’ agora and Plato’s writing of the dialogues, which are also conversations; in fact our modern technological means of communication, not to speak of our concept of free unfettered speech, make it even more feasible nowadays for any interested individual to accept that invitation personally thus becoming part of the ongoing perennial “great conversation.” I dare say that such is the Ovi symposium’s all encompassing educational vision.

It should also be pointed out that the function of the preamble by the symposium’s coordinator is not only that of announcing the theme of the conversation for that particular session but it is also conceived as a guide for the readers to navigate the intricate threads of the issues examined within the larger all- encompassing framework of aesthetics. More specifically on this session, at the outset, in section one, Paparella offers a notion of Vico’s understanding of language vis a vis art and symbols (spanning three centuries: from the 18th century’s Vichian opposition to Cartesian rationalism culminating into 21st century hermeneutics) which in turn  creates the human world, a world of symbols, interpretations (hermeneutics) and meanings, a world made by man, tied to both history and art; the only world he can fully hope to understand because he himself made it.  

Given this session’s focus on linguistics, this time around the order of appearance of the presentations was construed around a thematic criterion rather than a purely historical chronological one. That explains why Paparella’s presentation is placed in section one disregarding also the previous alphabetical order by contributor’s last names. It belongs there because it returns to the very primordial springs of hermeneutics (all the way back to Lucretius in fact) to be logically followed in section two by Ernesto Paolozzi’s report on Croce’s understanding of aesthetics as linguistics, and vice-versa art as language, an understanding which itself builds and expands on Vico’s insight on the nexus between language and the poetical as integral part of the intelligible rational world of man.

In section three Paparella proffers a pertinent comment on Paolozzi’s lucid presentation stressing the inextricable nexus between Vico and Croce’s thought on the crucial issue of the poetical in art. The reader must surely be aware by now that the symposium eschews lists based on a purely chronological historical order for their own sake; for such an operation runs the danger of becoming mere boring academic pedantry. What is urgently needed, rather, is a summoning of the human imagination (Vico’s fantasia) as integral part of the rational and what it means to be human, for it is imagination that allows us to discern the holistic and the universal within a particular historical process.

Finally, in section four we have an announcement of a forthcoming Ovi symposium presentation by Ernesto Paolozzi by way of an essay which has already been published in Italian in the issue of Philosophical Bulletin (Vol. XXVIII, 2013) of the University of Calabria, an issue dedicated in its entirety to the memory of Croce. We have reproduced here the entire list of contributors and the title of their contributions. Paolozzi’s essay will appear in the near future in the Symposium in its English translation; its title is “Benedetto Croce and the Re-evaluation of the Complexity of Science.” It is indeed encouraging to notice that whole issues of academic journals’ are being dedicated to the commemoration of Croce’s thought; undoubtedly this is a good omen and bodes well for a vibrant renewal of Croce’s vision and thought in the 21st century. 



The Nexus between Language and Historicism in Vico’s Philosophy
vis a vis Modern Hermeneutics

A presentation by Emanuel L. Paparella


Titus Lucretius (99 B.C.-55 B.C.)
An epicurean Roman poet who wrote De Rerum Natura


Giambattista Vico (1688-1744)


Original cover of Vico’s New Science
(3rd edition) as it appeared in Naples in 1744

The study of language is the starting point of Vico’s historicism. For Vico, language is humanity’s primordial historicization. In fact, Vico’s professed academic discipline was neither history nor philosophy but rhetoric, i.e., the study of language in its creative aspects and as a literary phenomenon.

Vico rejects the Cartesian paradigm for the apprehension of reality. The reason is that, in stressing rationalism, it  fails to criticize itself in order to return to the springs of reason. Thus rationalism is unable to acknowledge that fantasia, which is to say, imagination, intuition and other non-rational factors play an important role in the creation of the human world. Vico asserts that it is language, rather than “clear and distinct ideas,” that provides the most important documentation for the epistemological relationship between man and his world. This relationship of the mind with the external world is imaginative, sensuous and even emotional. It is there, within language that one may hope to discover the genesis (dubbed by Vico nascimento) of institutions and human development.

Vico informs us that most of his literary career has been devoted to pondering and researching how primitive man thought and spoke. From these reflections Vico derived his “poetic logic” defined as the master key of his New Science. That key is “…the fact that the early gentile people, by a demonstrated necessity of nature, were poets who spoke in poetic characters” (SN, 34). He is able to recreate this primordial poetic phase of language by focusing on its dynamic, rather than its mere functional communicative aspects where the connection between signifier (form) and signified (content) remains an arbitrary one. For Vico verum factum convertuntur, i.e., content and form are convertible. As Edward Said explains it: “Vico…associates intelligence with a kind of escape-and-rescue operation, by which the mind gathers and holds on to something that does not fall under the senses, even though that ‘something’ could not come into being without the body and sense experience (From “Vico and the Discipline of Bodies and Texts” in Modern Language Notes, 1976, p.823).


Renè Descartes (1596-1650)

For us modern men, the recapturing of this mode of thinking is problematic and lies in the fact that for us a mediating reason necessarily alters it. Lucretius in his De Rerum Natura, intimates a pre-logical phase of language; a language originating naturally, within feelings. Vico however goes further and postulates three eras: the era of the gods, the era of the heroes, and the era of men (SN, 31). To these three eras (which may be phenomenological and epistemological as well as chronological) he assigns three specific phases of language: (1) a mute phase characterized by body or sign language, (2) a spoken phase characterized by heroic emblems, similes, comparisons, images, metaphors, (3) a human language characterized by words agreed upon by the people (SN, 32). In the first two eras the language is expressive and poetic; here acts and objects have a natural relation to the ideas they are meant to signify.


Edward Said (1935-2003)
In 1974 he published Beginning: Intention and Method
with a whole chapter dedicated to Vico 

The primitive men who made these poetic signs were poets (in Greek the word “to create” is poein). Behind the linguistic sign there is a real image. In fact, at its very origins the sign and the image are one. This is not easy for us to imagine because our linguistic signs do not, as a rule, evoke an image. We abstract things and their qualities out of existence and create notions to which the linguistic sign then attributes existence. But at the origins of language, the image signifies and is assumed to signify universally what it is: the “poetic universal” objectifies a section of experience into permanent significance. This still obtains for us in art where the singularity of the object “signifies,” i.e., it has autonomous value by itself but it is also universal. But even here we need to return to cave painting to better understand how the bull is not a mere representation, or for that matter, and aesthetic thing of beauty, or an abstract essence, rather it is a sign, a gestalt, a presence of the life force incarnated in the bull. Here, much better than in our modern art, one can perceive the dynamic power and vitality of life in act, something that is not accessible to reflection and analysis.

We should however keep in mind that Vico is not excluding rational induction from the creation of language. The three phases of language are three aspects of human nature which converge in producing language as activity and form. Here the unity of human nature establishes the universality of language. As Vico puts it: “From these three languages is formed the mental dictionary by which to interpret properly all the various articulate languages” (SN, 35). This is similar to Noam Chomsky’s generative grammar, almost a genetic endowment of Man.


Noam Chomsky (1928- )
considered with Saussurre and Wittgenstein
one of the founders of modern linguistics 

Indeed, the very possibility of Vico’s science is related to the existence of universals of human nature reflected in linguistic universals formed by the human mind. There is a diachronic and a synchronic unity in language which is based on the unity of human nature. The failure to correlate spoken and written language produces in turn the failure to understand the origins of language. Regarding this matter Vico says that “the difficulty as to the manner of their origins was created by the scholars themselves, all of whom regarded the origin of letters as a separate question from that of the origin of languages, whereas the two were by nature conjoined…scholars failed to understand how the first nations thought in poetic characters, spoke in fables, and wrote in hieroglyphs (SN 428). In other words, Vico is saying that spoken and written languages are two aspects of the same phenomenon. 

Vico is searching within the linguistic sign for clues to that kind of creativity reflecting, almost unconsciously, the lived experience of things. The three moments in which this happens are: (1) the silent, (2) the sacerdotal heroic, (3) the conventional. In the first phase man, still without a spoken language, confronts the world which he experiences and within which he is submerged almost as integral part of nature. Here there is no dualism, no awareness of the mind that knows as distinct from the surrounding world. The particular event, lived or experienced, is expressed through gestures subsequently rendered graphically as a hieroglyph. In contemporary linguistics this is called “topical recognition” of an experience for the purpose of representation.

In the second phase, i.e., the heroic, a particular content of consciousness relates to sense data by becoming their symbol and signifying them. Here there is still a necessary natural connection between signifier and signified which becomes arbitrary with the sign of the third stage where the necessity is merely historical. Within the Vichian linguistic scheme, this is the most genuinely creative stage: the sacerdotal-heroic. Here language is poetry. The theological poets see the sky and the earth as majestic animated realities and personify every natural phenomenon. Every cosmic reality is captured in images. In Vico’s own words: “This is the way in which the theological poets apprehended Jove, Cybele or Berecynthia, and Neptune, for example, and, at first mutely pointing, explained them as substances of the sky, the earth, and the sea which they imagined to be animated divinities and were therefore true to their senses in believing them to be gods” (SN, 402).

An inverse process obtains in the more properly heroic language. Here the particular individuation of a figure (for example, Achilles) precedes the signified (the strength of heroes). The signifier is the myth or the allegory, as for instance the legend of the hero (Achilles); the signified is the logos or the meaning; the idea of valor or strength proper to heroes. This idea Vico calls an “imaginative universal,” or the expression of a truth. The two, the myth and the logos can be distinguished but cannot be separated. Like form and content, they are inseparable. The two phases preceding conventional language are mental processes through which intuitive knowledge finds its form. A form of knowledge this which has been contemptuously neglected within Western Cartesian rationalism.

By the time we get to the third stage, that of conventional language, we find reflected there, in a shortened form, the universal processes of the divine and heroic phases of language. To say it in Vico’s own words: “In this way the nations formed the poetic language, composed of divine and heroic characters, later expressed in vulgar speech, and finally written in vulgar characters. It was born entirely of poverty of language and need of expression. This is proved by the first lights of poetic style, which are vivid representations, images, similes, comparisons, metaphors, circumlocutions, phrases explaining things by their natural properties, descriptions gathered from their minuter or their more sensible effects, and, finally, emphatic and even superfluous adjuncts” (SN, 456).

Many of the elements of the conventional language (the third stage) can be traced back to that poetical or creative moment when the nexus between the sign and the thing is still necessary.

Finally, we must emphasize here that in his attempt to discover through language the documents of primordial human history, Vico’s conception of rhetoric is not one of rhetoric as a purely literary instrument, but rather one of rhetoric as a poetics informing the different forms of the linguistic act and consequently the different forms of human participation to things in time. These forms are primary creations, not artifacts of oratory. In fact, Vico associates his three stages of language with three major rhetorical figures of speech: the silent divine stage is associated with metonymy; the heroic with synecdoche; the conventional with metaphor. Irony emerges last as the product of pure reasoning and cannot therefore be a pure form of that imaginative creativity from which issued the other three tropes. The most important of these is metaphor. It is the most important tool for the development of poetic language. It is, in fact, the tool with which “the first poets attributed to bodies the being of inanimate substances, with capacities measured by their own, namely sense and passion, and in this way made fables of them. Thus every metaphor so formed is a fable in brief” (SN, 304).

This is consonant with the Vichian principle that the original creativity of man is based primarily on the senses, passions and imagination rather than on reason. Ernesto Grassi (in his Rhetoric and Philosophy, The Pennsylvania University Press, 1980) says that “No theory, no abstract philosophy is the origin of the human world, and every time that man loses contact with the original needs and the questions that arise of them, he falls into the barbarism of ratio” (p.25). Indeed that describes our technocratic Cartesian civilization. The origins of human history are to be found not so much in the discovery of primitive technology (tools, fire making, etc.) but in that mytho-poetic clearing of the primeval forest for the preparation of a human habitat. Metaphorically, that is one of the acts of Hercules. Every genuine metaphor is Herculean work. And it is this Herculean act, according to Vico and Heidegger, that needs to be re-created in order to rediscover human origins.


Ernesto Grassi (1902-1991) 

What are the hermeneutical implications of Vico’s linguistic speculation? Vico is the first linguist to point out that language is performatory in nature, i.e., at its most fundamental level it is intrinsically related to what it signifies. The specifically historical way in which he understands this performatory function of language is seen in this fundamental principle of the New Science: “The nature of institutions is nothing but their coming into being (nascimento) at certain times and in certain guises” (SN, 147). For Vico the nature of things is the verum or the content; the guise or mode of being is the certum or the form. And of course, one of the first things that comes into being in a special mode at a particular time is language.


Rhetoric as Philosophy: The Humanist Tradition by Ernesto Grassi (1980)

In his De Antiquissima Italorum Sapientia, Vico points out that in primordial times there is a kind of incarnation of a particular language to a particular people. Here too a principle of complementarity obtains: minds are fashioned by languages just as languages are fashioned by minds. The two poles (language/mind) are inseparable. It is absurd to think that there are “clear and distinct ideas” standing behind language which then language strains to express adequately, as Descartes thought. Rather, historical reality arises with the language that testifies to it. In turn that particular language has a “natural” or intrinsic relation to the historical reality. That is what the term “Latin people” intimates. The process remains complementary.



Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002)


Truth and Method (1974) is Gadamer’s magnum opus

Vico is usually accorded little credit for the above described hermeneutics: the idea that understanding comes through language, that is, through the form of a literary or philosophical or even scientific work. One of the notable exceptions to this neglect is Hans-Georg Gadamer who in many ways introduces hermeneutics to the modern philosophical world building on Vico (see his book Truth and Method) explaining that the form pointing to a subject matter (the content) is already in itself an initial interpretation of the subject matter. Therefore, in order to understand the nature of language, one does not try to penetrate to the thought which Descartes assumed standing behind language. Rather, as Martin Buber aptly puts it: “The encounter with any of man’s works, especially those done through language, remains intrinsically historical.” The link of language to history is “poetic wisdom” proper, transcending the dichotomy subject/object.


Martin Buber (1878-1965) Author of I-Thou (1923)

On the other hand, Cartesian objectivity ends up reducing a “work” to a mere “object.” With such an operation, the language event cannot possibly seize and transform the reader. Being preoccupied with analysis, one will invariably neglect to listen to what is being spoken in the words and, most importantly, what is being left unsaid. In short, the work will not speak. How can it, since it has been reduced to an object, an it preventing any kind of I-Thou relationship with the reader.

The other modern linguistic philosopher who saw the above mentioned flaw of traditional Western philosopher is Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951). In his Tractatus Logico Philosophicus and Philosophical Investigations, not unlike Vico and Croce, he provided new relevant insights into the relation between world, thought and language.

Ultimately all these philosophers, beginning with Vico, all the way down to Gadamer and Wittgenstein make us more aware that meaning can only arise in relationship. A wrong relationship will produce a distorted message. In order to have a proper relationship Man has to discern that since understanding is by its very nature linguistic, language is equally as primordial as understanding. Only through language can a world arise for Man. This world is a shared world only in as much as we share understanding through language. With the passage of time this shared understanding (of history in and through language) may of course change. That in effect means that the hermeneutical experience is a language event. Consequently the encounter with the being of a work of art or a text cannot be Cartesian, i.e., static and ideational outside of time. It is rather a truth that happens and emerges, always eluding efforts to reduce it to concepts and objectivity, to those alluring “clear and distinct ideas.”


Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)

Indeed, the being that happens in language is not the product of a reflective activity of the mind. Man’s relationship to language and history cannot be one of “using” them but rather, one of “participating” in them. This is also an Heideggerian theme which might have appeared original with Heidegger but not to the likes of Croce who knew Vico inside-out. Nevertheless, In the presentation of contemporary histories, the readers rarely get an invitation to participate actively in language as another man standing within a world made by language. What they end up getting nowadays, especially from academic experts, is literary and “distinct” explanations of events looked upon as objects. A whole semester may be spent on literary analysis while the text itself will go unread and thus the student rarely discerns that a great literary work is truly an historical experience in the sense that understanding stands in a specific place in time and space.


Hermeneutics in the Philosophy of Giambattista Vico
(1993, Mellen Press): revised Ph.D. dissertation as written for his
doctorate in 1981 at Yale University by Emanuel L. Paparella



Aesthetics as Linguistics and Art as Language
A Presentation by Ernesto Paolozzi


Benedetto Croce (1866-1952)

If art is intuition, and if intuition is always expression, then art is language. This conclusion to which Croce arrives and to which he returns in all his conclusions, beginning with his book titled Aesthetics as Science of Expression and General Linguistic, is of utmost importance, even if not always easily understood. As Croce puts it: “Aesthetics as science of expression has been studied by me under every aspect. Nevertheless, it still behooves me to justify its sub-title of General Linguistic which I have added to its title and propose and clarify the thesis that the science of art and that of language, i.e., Aesthetics and Linguistics, as true sciences, are not two distinct sciences but only one science (Estetica come scienza dell’espressione e linguistic generale, p. 161, 1902).

In the first place we ought to attempt an understanding of what constitutes language for Croce, otherwise his theoretical stance remains incomprehensible. In this instance, language does not refer to the language of literary people, or the language of institutions, or the language of a people, nor the codified language of grammars and dictionaries. Language is not to be understood as the great linguist Saussure defined as langue (that is to say, the organic and structural whole of a particular language) but what he defined as parole, or creative language. In fact Croce asserts that “the philosophy of language is not a philosophical grammar, but is beyond all grammars and does not render philosophical grammatical classes, rather it ignores them, and when it meets them, it destroys them; which is to say, that the philosophy of language is one and the same as the philosophy of the poetical and the artistic, with the science of intuition-expression, and with aesthetics…” (Croce, Aesthetica in nuce, 1935, p 26).


Croce’s Aesthetics as Science of Expression and General Linguistics (2008)
originally published by Croce in Italian in 1902 with later revisions and expansions


Ferdinand de Saussurre (1857-1913)
The father of modern linguistics and Semiotics


This book covers Saussurre’s lectures from 1907 to 1911
It has had a lasting impact on the intellectual life of the 20th century

Having established that much it becomes almost superfluous to remember that language should be understood as any form of expression, even the most simple gesture of a primitive man, since with such a gesture he expresses a particular gesture of his particular individual reality. Expressivity, which is always creative and imaginative even when it is very elementary, is constituent of a common element of every artistic expression, of every language, of painting, of sculpture, from geometry to cinematographic expression, and so on. This is what Croce derives from ancient philosophic tradition, from Vico to Humboldt, which intersects modern linguistic as thematized by Sapir.


Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767-1835)


Edward Sapir (1884-1939)
An American Anthropologist and Linguist


Sapir’s Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech (1921)

A fundamental aspect of Crocean thought is that there is no expressive aspect of human life which is not in some way tied to art. In order for philosophy and science to express themselves they must individuate themselves. Even the most abstract and universal logical reasoning must be expressed, must find words, signs, particular symbols. As Croce puts it: “The concept has the character of expressivity, which is to say it is a descriptive work and as such it must be expressed or spoken; it is not a dumb act of the spirit, as a practical action would be in itself. To put to a first test the effective possession of a concept we can use an experiment which I have advised on another occasion: invite anyone who claims to possess it to express it with words or other means of expression (graphic symbols or similar things). If the interlocutor refuses to do so claiming that his concept is so deep that words cannot translate it, one can be sure that either he is deluding himself that he is in possession of a concept and in reality he possesses only nebulous phantasms or pieces of ideas, which is to say that such a deep concept is only vaguely grasped or at most it has begun to be formed but in reality he has no possession of it” (Logica come scienza del concetto puro, 1905, p. 26).

A philosophical or scientific idea (even the coldest or driest), when it is well expressed (that is to say, if has scientific or philosophical validity) has its own style, as Croce asserts or as all those who distinguish the style of Galileo or Newton, of Aristotle or Hegel, well know.

Croce’s Aesthetics concludes with those words: “These observations ought to be enough to demonstrate that all scientific problems are the same as those of aesthetics, and the mistakes and the truth of one are the same as those of the other. The reason that linguistics and aesthetics seem two different sciences is due to the fact that with the first one we think of grammar, or a mixture of philosophy and grammar, or an arbitrary mnemonic outline, not a rational science or a pure philosophy of speech. Grammar, or what is certain in the grammatical, generates prejudice in the mind, given that the reality of speech consists of isolated words that can be combined, and not in living speeches, in expressive organisms which are rationally indivisible.

Linguists and glottologists with philosophical talent who have best deepened the issues of linguistics, are in the condition of a workers in a tunnel (to use an abuse but effective image): at a certain point they need to be able to hear the voice of their fellow workers, i.e., the philosophers of Aethetics, which have begun on the other side, a certain grade of scientific elaboration, linguistics, in as much as it is philosophy, it must join with aesthetics; a joining that in fact leaves no residues” (Estetica, 1935, p. 71).

Thus ends one of the most celebrated philosophy books of the 20th century, a book that is loved and hated, discussed or despised, a book which has influenced generations upon generations of scholars, not only within philosophy, but perhaps even more in literary, musical, artistic criticism. A book which reveals tracts of extreme modernity, as well as some residue of 19th century philosophy. But throughout its theme, one can always detect the preoccupation of conferring to art an autonomous value which is due to it within the intricate journey of life. Which is the equivalent of declaring art’s absolute freedom.


Benedetto Croce: The Philosophy of History and the Duty of Freedom
By Professor Ernesto Paolozzi. An Ovi e-book posted in 2013



A comment by Emanuel L. Paparella on Ernesto Paolozzi’s presentation:

Thank you you again Ernesto for this informative and lucid excursus on the nexus between language and the poetical in Croce’s thought. It better brings to the fore, in my opinion, the astonishing affinity between Croce’s and Vico’s thought on the issue of the poetical within language and imagination as integral part of the rational. That this  is so is fully confirmed by the fact that, as you well know, the  first propagandist and disseminator of Vico’s thought in Italy was none other than Croce himself.

As you know, in 1910, in his mid-forties, Croce wrote a book on Vico titled La filosofia di Giambattista Vico which was promptly translated into English by R.G. Collingwood in 1913 and has since reappeared in a modern edition in America in 2002 (Alan Sica, professor at Pennsylvania University, being its editor and introducer). In the preface to the book as translated by Collingwood (who believed that the historian’s picture of the poet is always an imaginary picture), Croce laments the unfortunate neglect of Vico in Italy, a fate that he himself would suffer after his death in 1952, and writes this revealing, almost prophetic passage: “I hope, in fact, that the present work will rekindle rather than quench the discussion of Vico’s philosophy: since in him we have, as Goethe calls him, the Altvater whom a nation is happy to possess, and to him we must hark back for a time in order to imbue our modern philosophy with an Italian feeling….” Indeed, there are still two such not fully appreciated Altvaters in Italy nowadays. What is urgently needed is to hark back to both Vico and Croce and through them rediscover the living springs of a neglected humanistic tradition.


This book on Vico by Benedetto Croce appeared in 1910
It was subsequently translated into English by R.G. Collingwood in 1913
The above edition by Alan Sica appeared some 100 years later in 2002


Robin George Collingwood (1889-1943)



Coordinator’s Introductory note to Ernesto Paolozzi’s latest publication in The Philosophical Bulletin of the University of Calabria (Vol. XXVIII, 2013) dedicated to Croce’s memory under the theme of “Croce between Past and Future.”

The Ovi Symposium is delighted to announce the publication of Ernesto Paolozzi’s latest essay on Croce in The Philosophical Bulletin of the University of Calabria. This important essay on Croce vis a vis science and positivism will soon be translated and published in the  Symposium.

That whole issues of academic philosophical journals are now dedicated to the memory of Benedetto Croce is a very encouraging sign of the successful revival of Croce’s thought in the 21st century which is the lofty aim of Paolozzi’s scholarly efforts. To Professor Paolozzi and the other distinguished international collaborators mentioned in the bulletin (see below) goes much of the credit for this sterling intellectual success. Ad majorem.

For the moment we’ll merely identify the titles of all the essay as found in summary of The Philosophical Bulletin with Paolozzi’s essay emphasized; we have also included  a few words on the identity of the journal. We trust that this announcement will give the readers a preliminary idea of the vastness of the horizon of Croce’s thought. The specific title of  Paolozzi’s essay is “Benedetto Croce and the Re-evaluation of Science’s Complexity.” Stay tuned for its translation and publishing in English in the next symposium’s session.


The Philosophical Bulletin is a philosophical magazine subject to peer review, founded in 1978 at the Department of Philosophy, the University of Calabria, now the Department of Humanities. It provides a forum for theoretical and historiographical Italian and foreign scholars engaged in the most important questions of philosophical research. Over the years, The Philosophical Bulletin has paid, and pays great attention to the emerging themes of contemporary philosophical debate, publishing essays that explore a number of thematic areas, such as ontology and epistemology, ethics and social sciences, aesthetic and religious thought, phenomenology and hermeneutics, neo-idealism, German and Italian philosophy, Kantianism and Marxism, the history of modern scientific thought and contemporary philosophy of language, semiotics, culture and language of cinema and entertainment.


Cover of the Bollettino Filosofico (a journal of the University of Calabria)
Vol 28 (2013): Croce between past and future

Sommario degli articoli (IN ORDINE ALFABETICO):


Pio Colonnello

Croce e il Cristianesimo

Paolo Bonetti

Galvano della Volpe e l’estetica di Benedetto Croce

Romeo Bufalo

Oltre l'idealismo. Lo storicismo in forma negativa

Giuseppe Cacciatore

«Leggere Dante “da solo a solo”». Note in margine a La poesia di Dante.

Giuseppe Cantillo

Croce e la post-modernità

Salvatore Cingari

Croce e la storia tra arte e scienza

Daniela Coli

Per una rilettura di Croce tra passato e presente. Croce e la crisi del secondo dopoguerra.

Pio Colonnello

Benedetto Croce, la Germania, e Thomas Mann a partire dalle "Pagine sulla guerra" (1919)

Domenico Conte

Croce e la rivoluzione

Girolamo Cotroneo

Filosofia, religione, storia: la trinità crociana

Maria Della Volpe

Croce e la filosofia della complessità

Giuseppe Gembillo

Filosofia dell'economia e scienza dell'economia. Intorno ad alcune pagine crociane di "Filosofia della pratica"

Giuseppe Giordano

Su Croce, Bergson e Pirandello. A proposito della fenomenologia del comico

Giovanni Invitto

Per una logica delle scienze della cultura: Croce e Cassirer

Fabrizio Lomonaco

Lo statuto logico delle scienze storiche della cultura. Weber, Rickert e il "primo" Croce

Edoardo Massimilla

Croce. Oltre la "Metafisica della mente". La filosofia come "storicismo assoluto"

Aniello Montano

Croce, Historian-Philosopher: Is History Autobiography?

Myra E. Moss

Benedetto Croce e la rivalutazione della complessità della  scienza

Ernesto Paolozzi

La disputa sul Barocco e altri motivi crociani in Benjamin

Rosalia Peluso

Recent Crocean Encounters Outside Italy

David Roberts

Croce e Machiavelli. Forme e percorsi di una continuità

Emilia Scarcella

Tra passato e presente

Aldo Trione

L'esistenza nel pensiero di Croce

Renata Viti Cavaliere




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