ExcerptRichard Rorty, who was a member of our Academy and who passed away much too early, wrote that the “hermeneutical attitude is in the intellectual world what democracy is in the political world.”1 This statement is more and more evident, although not in its prima facie sense, which always runs the risk of becoming an ineffective truism. I want to suggest that the parallelism between hermeneutics and democracy should be taken today as the indication of a common crisis affecting them. (...) To say it rather brutally: both hermeneutics and democracy appear nowadays so obvious and harmless (innocui) that they lose…. (shrink)
ExcerptI am retiring, but only in a certain sense. I plan to still be in contact with students who wish to work with me through seminars and research projects. Maybe, then, it was not necessary to create a special occasion such as this to announce my retirement, and for a long time I wondered whether I should. Lately, it seems that I will be more in the spotlight by being absent than I would by being here, as they say. This (...) ends up being a small act of arrogance, especially when I am faced with the solemnity of my superiors. (shrink)
Through an exchange that is both intimate and enlightening, Vattimo and Girard share their unparalleled insight into the relationships among religion, modernity, and the role of Christianity, especially as it exists in our multicultural ...
The following interview retraces the intellectual development of a leading contemporary thinker, from his early student years to his most recent interventions as a political philosopher, and includes a discussion of some of his most well-known and influential theoretical contributions, such as the notion of “weak thought” and his reflections on postmodernism. Gianni Vattimo presents his philosophy to the reader as an “ontology of actuality” which can only properly be understood in the light of the author’s Christian background and his (...) unwavering interest in social and political questions. (shrink)
Such is the scale of information production today that the verb ‘to know’ may be heretofore declined in the impersonal. A new ‘subject of knowledge’ - the machine - is seen as removing from homo sapiens the so far uncontested role of ‘learned subject’. This calls for a rethinking of our notions of knowledge and democracy. To think of a knowledge society where every single person would be capable of knowingly taking any type of decision on community life, points to (...) an incapacity to rethink the concept of knowledge. The fragmentation of knowledge transforms democracy into a simple possibility for each and every person to choose ‘the expert’ by whom he wishes to be guided. Kant had distinguished between ‘knowledge’ and ‘thought’, associating the latter with leisure. It appears today that pleasure and games may be the ultimate bulwarks of humanity. Perhaps we ought to be speaking of a leisure society rather than a knowledge society. (shrink)
This book is both a concise and lucid introduction to Nietzsche and an original contribution to critical debates concerning Nietzsche interpretation and reception. This overview takes issue with the prevailing tendency to focus on Nietzsche’s later work, which reaches its extreme with Heidegger’s almost exclusive focus on the group of late notes posthumously collected as The Will to Power. Vattimo aims to mediate between two prominent hermeneutic readings of Nietzsche: Wilhelm Dilthey’s view that Nietzsche’s work fits into the nineteenth-century tradition (...) of the philosophy of life and Heidegger’s belief that Nietzsche is best understood as the author of a pair of ontological doctrines, the will to power and the eternal return of the same. Vattimo aims to show that Nietzsche’s early interest in cultural and historical criticism can be found throughout his corpus and that it informs, and helps to explain, Nietzsche’s later doctrines and writings. This allows us to understand these later doctrines in a deeper way, to see their connections with his wider concerns, and thus to make greater sense of Nietzsche’s philosophy as a whole. This working hypothesis guides Vattimo through his elegant exposition of the basic views of the early and late Nietzsche, from the philological beginnings and the musings on Dionysus through the so-called positivist phase of the middle period up to the philosophy of Zarathustra and the fragmented insights that bespeak the will to power. Throughout, Vattimo’s intellectual agenda is to present the philosophical relevance of a cultural criticism that does not let itself be reduced to a merely literary presentation of the psychology of decadence and nihilism, or to the grand ontological-metaphysical finale that Heidegger had in mind in his monumental Nietzsche studies. As an appendix, Vattimo provides a history of Nietzsche reception in Europe that counters the narrow Anglo-American bias of much English-language Nietzsche scholarship. (shrink)
Hermeneutics has had a pervasive influence on contemporary philosophy, social and cultural theory, literary criticism, and aesthetics. In this book one of Europe's foremost contemporary philosophers provides hermeneutics with a fresh relevance and a substantive account of its philosophical meaning for science, ethics, religion, and art. Vattimo argues for a reading of hermeneutics that radicalises it according to what the author calls its 'nihilistic vocation', a term referring to the interpretive character of truth and taken from Nietzsche's statement that there (...) are, in the modern period, no facts, only interpretations. Modernity, for Vattimo, is conceived as the advent of nihilism, and the central question of the book is to ask what it means to take this nihilistic vocation seriously. This involves not simply accepting the current status of hermeneutics, but evaluating why it appears when, and where, it does. (shrink)
In this book, Gianni Vattimo examines the notion of "difference" in scientific knowledge and contemporary mass society and illustrates the importance of Nietzsche and Heidegger in both formulating the concept and exploring its implications for current debates on the nature of modernity.
"This book is of major importance to the debate on the postmodern question."--Jean François Lyotard. "This is Vattimo at his best--and at his best he is very, very good, which is to say, erudite, witty, engaging, and precise. I do not think anyone comes close to Vattimo in his ability to correlate complex philosophical issues and arguments, such as those of Heidegger or Benjamin on such topics as &.
Gianni Vattimo reexamines the roots of modernism and postmodernism in Nietzsche, Benjamin, and Heidegger. Exploring the links between concepts of nihilism and destiny in nineteenth-century humanism, Vattimo follows these trends in aesthetic and scientific theory from Benjamin to Bloch, Ricoeur, and Kuhn.