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.
"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 &.
In these original essays and interviews, leading hermeneutical philosophers and postmodern theorists John D. Caputo and Gianni Vattimo engage with each other's past and present work on the subject and reflect on our transition from ...
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)
Richard Rorty is famous, maybe even infamous, for his philosophical nonchalance. His groundbreaking work not only rejects all theories of truth but also dismisses modern epistemology and its preoccupation with knowledge and representation. At the same time, the celebrated pragmatist believed there could be no universally valid answers to moral questions, which led him to a complex view of religion rarely expressed in his writings. In this posthumous publication, Rorty, a strict secularist, finds in the pragmatic thought of John Dewey, (...) John Stuart Mill, William James, and George Santayana, among others, a political imagination shared by religious traditions. His intent is not to promote belief over nonbelief or to blur the distinction between religious and public domains. Rorty seeks only to locate patterns of similarity and difference so an ethics of decency and a politics of solidarity can rise. He particularly responds to Pope Benedict XVI and his campaign against the relativist vision. Whether holding theologians, metaphysicians, or political ideologues to account, Rorty remains steadfast in his opposition to absolute uniformity and its exploitation of political strength. (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 ...
Having lost much of its political clout and theoretical power, communism no longer represents an appealing alternative to capitalism. In its original Marxist formulation, communism promised an ideal of development, but only through a logic of war, and while a number of reformist governments still promote this ideology, their legitimacy has steadily declined since the fall of the Berlin wall. Separating communism from its metaphysical foundations, which include an abiding faith in the immutable laws of history and an almost holy (...) conception of the proletariat, Gianni Vattimo and Santiago Zabala recast Marx's theories at a time when capitalism's metaphysical moorings -- in technology, empire, and industrialization -- are buckling. While Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri call for a return of the revolutionary left, Vattimo and Zabala fear this would lead only to more violence and failed political policy. Instead, they adopt an antifoundationalist stance drawn from the hermeneutic thought of Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida, and Richard Rorty. Hermeneutic communism leaves aside the ideal of development and the general call for revolution; it relies on interpretation rather than truth and proves more flexible in different contexts. Hermeneutic communism motivates a resistance to capitalism's inequalities yet intervenes against violence and authoritarianism by emphasizing the interpretative nature of truth. Paralleling Vattimo and Zabala's well-known work on the weakening of religion, _Hermeneutic Communism_ realizes the fully transformational, politically effective potential of Marxist thought. (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.
With Piergiorgio Paterlini, a noted Italian writer and journalist, Gianni Vattimo, a leading philosopher of the continental school, reflects on a lifetime of politics, sexual radicalism, and philosophical exuberance in postwar Italy.
Richard 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 that they lose…. (shrink)
This is the heart of Vattimo's argument, and with it he demonstrates how hermeneutical philosophy reaffirms art's ontological status and makes clear the importance of hermeneutics for aesthetic studies.
If utopias in the western cultural tradition owe their model of ideal, final, unitary order to the objective basis of metaphysics, have they not, like metaphysics, undergone a dissolution in Heidegger’s sense of Verwindung? Insofar as the very notion of unity, like that of an ultimate metaphysical foundation, now reveals its violence and will to domination and as we are interested instead in thinking utopia as a ‘project for emancipation’, the author suggests replacing the unity that was hitherto characteristic of (...) utopia with a multiplicity that is defended as a value and not as a phase of ‘confusion’ to be overcome. (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)
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)
For more than forty years, Gianni Vattimo, one of Europe's most important and influential philosophers, has been a leading participant in the postwar turn that has brought Nietzsche back to the center of philosophical enquiry. In this collection of his essays on the subject, which is a dialogue both with Nietzsche and with the Nietzschean tradition, Vattimo explores the German philosopher's most important works and discusses his views on the _Ubermensch_, time, history, truth, hermeneutics, ethics, and aesthetics. He also presents (...) a different, more "Italian" Nietzsche, one that diverges from German and French characterizations. Many contemporary French and poststructuralist philosophers offer literary or aesthetic readings of Nietzsche's work that downplay its political import. Shaped by the revolutionary tradition of 1968, Vattimo's interpretations take Nietzsche seriously as a political philosopher and argue for and defend his relevance to projects for social and political change. He emphasizes the hermeneutic aspect of Nietzsche's philosophy, characterizing the Nietzschean project as a political hermeneutics. Vattimo also grapples with Heidegger, a philosopher who has had a profound influence on the interpretation and understanding of Nietzsche. Vattimo examines Heidegger's philosophy through its complex relationship to Nietzsche's, and he produces a Heideggerian understanding of Nietzsche that paradoxically goes against Heidegger's own readings of Nietzsche's work. Heidegger believed Nietzsche was the ultimate metaphysician; Vattimo sees him as the founder of postmetaphysical philosophy. Throughout these essays, Vattimo draws on and quotes extensively from fragments in Nietzsche's notebooks, many of which have never before been translated into English. His writing is clear, elegant, and accessible, and, for the first time, Vattimo's own intellectual developments, shifts, and continuities can be clearly discerned. The loyal testimony and unique perspective in _Dialogue with Nietzsche_ makes a convincing case for another orientation in Nietzsche scholarship. (shrink)
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