Italian philosophy

Italy over the ages has had a vast influence on Western philosophy, beginning with the Greeks and Romans, and going onto Renaissance humanism, the Age of Enlightenment and modern philosophy.

Greek origins

Philosophy was brought to Italy by Pythagoras, founder of the Italian school of philosophy in Crotone. Major Italian philosophers of the Greek period include Xenophanes, Parmenides, Zeno, Empedocles and lastly Gorgias, responsible for bringing philosophy to Athens.

Ancient Rome

There were several formidable Roman philosophers, such as Cicero (106–43 BC), Lucretius (94–55 BC), Seneca (4 BC – 65 AD), Musonius Rufus (30 AD – 100 AD), Plutarch (45–120 AD), Epictetus (55–135 AD), Marcus Aurelius (121–180 AD), Clement of Alexandria (150–215 AD), Alcinous (2nd century AD), Sextus Empiricus (3rd century AD), Alexander of Aphrodisias (3rd century AD), Ammonius Saccas (3rd century AD), Plotinus (205–270 AD), Porphyry (232–304 AD), Iamblichus (242–327 AD), Themistius (317–388 AD), Augustine of Hippo (354–430 AD), Proclus (411–485 AD), Philoponus of Alexandria (490–570 AD), Damascius (462–540 AD), Boethius (472–524 AD), and Simplicius of Cilicia (490–560 AD). Roman philosophy was heavily influenced by that of Greece.


Italian Medieval philosophy was mainly Christian, and included several important philosophers and theologians such as St Thomas Aquinas. Aquinas was the student of Albert the Great, a brilliant Dominican experimentalist, much like the Franciscan, Roger Bacon of Oxford in the 13th century. Aquinas reintroduced Aristotelian philosophy to Christianity. He believed that there was no contradiction between faith and secular reason. He believed that Aristotle had achieved the pinnacle in the human striving for truth and thus adopted Aristotle's philosophy as a framework in constructing his theological and philosophical outlook. He was a professor at the prestigious University of Paris.


The Renaissance was an essentially Italian (Florentine) movement, and also a great period of the arts and philosophy. Among the distinctive elements of Renaissance philosophy are the revival (renaissance means "rebirth") of classical civilization and learning; a partial return to the authority of Plato over Aristotle, who had come to dominate later medieval philosophy; and, among some philosophers, enthusiasm for the occult and Hermeticism.

As with all periods, there is a wide drift of dates, reasons for categorization and boundaries. In particular, the Renaissance, more than later periods, is thought to begin in Italy with the Italian Renaissance and roll through Europe.


Giordano Bruno
Giordano Bruno, one of the major figures of the early western world.

Renaissance Humanism was a European intellectual movement that was a crucial component of the Renaissance, beginning in Florence in the latter half of the 14th century, and affected most of Italy. The humanist movement developed from the rediscovery by European scholars of Latin literary and Greek literary texts. Initially, a humanist was simply a scholar or teacher of Latin literature. By the mid-15th century humanism described a curriculum – the studia humanitatis – consisting of grammar, rhetoric, moral philosophy, poetry, and history as studied via Latin and Greek literary authors.

Humanism offered the necessary intellectual and philological tools for the first critical analysis of texts. An early triumph of textual criticism by Lorenzo Valla revealed the Donation of Constantine to be an early medieval forgery produced in the Curia. This textual criticism created sharper controversy when Erasmus followed Valla in criticizing the accuracy of the Vulgate translation of the New Testament, and promoting readings from the original Greek manuscripts of the New Testament.[1]

Italian Renaissance humanists believed that the liberal arts (art, music, grammar, rhetoric, oratory, history, poetry, using classical texts, and the studies of all of the above) should be practiced by all levels of "richness". They also approved of self, human worth and individual dignity. They hold the belief that everything in life has a determinate nature, but man's privilege is to be able to choose his own path. Pico della Mirandola wrote the following concerning the creation of the universe and man's place in it:

But when the work was finished, the Craftsman kept wishing that there were someone to ponder the plan of so great a work, to love its beauty, and to wonder at its vastness. Therefore, when everything was done... He finally took thought concerning the creation of man... He therefore took man as a creature of indeterminate nature and, assigning him a place in the middle of the world, addressed him thus: "Neither a fixed abode nor a form that is thine alone nor any function peculiar to thyself have we given thee, Adam, to the end that according to thy longing and according to thy judgement thou mayest have and possess what abode, what form and what functions thou thyself shalt desire. The nature of all other beings is limited and constrained within the bounds of law. Thou shalt have the power to degenerate into the lower forms of life, which are brutish. Thou shalt have the power, out of thy soul's judgement, to be born into the higher forms, which are divine."[2]


Marsilio Ficino - Imagines philologorum
Marsilio Ficino, one of the most influential humanist philosophers of the Renaissance.

Italy was also affected by a movement called Neoplatonism, which was a movement which had a general revival of interest in Classical antiquity. Interest in Platonism was especially strong in Florence under the Medici.

During the sessions at Florence of the Council of Ferrara-Florence in 1438–1445, during the failed attempts to heal the schism of the Orthodox and Catholic churches, Cosimo de' Medici and his intellectual circle had made acquaintance with the Neoplatonic philosopher George Gemistos Plethon, whose discourses upon Plato and the Alexandrian mystics so fascinated the learned society of Florence that they named him the second Plato.

In 1459 John Argyropoulos was lecturing on Greek language and literature at Florence, and Marsilio Ficino became his pupil. When Cosimo decided to refound Plato's Academy at Florence, his choice to head it was Ficino, who made the classic translation of Plato from Greek to Latin (published in 1484), as well as a translation of a collection of Hellenistic Greek documents of the Hermetic Corpus,[3] and the writings of many of the Neoplatonists, for example Porphyry, Iamblichus, Plotinus, et al.. Following suggestions laid out by Gemistos Plethon, Ficino tried to synthesize Christianity and Platonism.


Santi di Tito - Niccolo Machiavelli's portrait headcrop
Niccolò Machiavelli (1469–1527).

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (3 May 1469 – 21 June 1527) was an Italian philosopher /writer, and is considered one of the most influential Italian Renaissance philosophers and one of the main founders of modern political science.[4] His most famous work was The Prince. The Prince's contribution to the history of political thought is the fundamental break between political realism and political idealism. Niccolò Machiavelli’s best-known book exposits and describes the arts with which a ruling prince can maintain control of his realm. It concentrates on the "new prince", under the presumption that a hereditary prince has an easier task in ruling, since the people are accustomed to him. To retain power, the hereditary prince must carefully maintain the socio-political institutions to which the people are accustomed; whereas a new prince has the more difficult task in ruling, since he must first stabilize his new-found power in order to build an enduring political structure. That requires the prince being a public figure above reproach, whilst privately acting immorally to maintain his state. The examples are those princes who most successfully obtain and maintain power, drawn from his observations as a Florentine diplomat, and his ancient history readings; thus, the Latin phrases and Classic examples.

The Prince politically defines “Virtu”—as any quality that helps a prince rule his state effectively. Machiavelli is aware of the irony of good results coming from evil actions, and because of this, the Catholic Church proscribed The Prince, registering it to the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, moreover, the Humanists also viewed the book negatively, among them, Erasmus of Rotterdam. As a treatise, its primary intellectual contribution to the history of political thought is the fundamental break between political Realism and political Idealism—thus, The Prince is a manual to acquiring and keeping political power. In contrast with Plato and Aristotle, a Classical ideal society is not the aim of the prince’s will to power. As a political scientist, Machiavelli emphasises necessary, methodical exercise of brute force and deception to preserve the status quo.

As there seems to be a difference between Machiavelli's advice to ruthless and tyrannical princes in The Prince and his more republican exhortations in Discorsi, some have concluded that The Prince is actually only a satire. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, for instance, admired Machiavelli the republican and consequently argued that The Prince is a book for the republicans as it exposes the methods used by princes. If the book was only intended as a manual for tyrannical rulers, it contains a paradox: it would apparently be more effective if the secrets it contains would not be made publicly available. Also Antonio Gramsci argued that Machiavelli's audience was the common people because the rulers already knew these methods through their education. This interpretation is supported by the fact that Machiavelli wrote in Italian, not in Latin (which would have been the language of the ruling elite). Although Machiavelli is supposed to be a realist, many of his heroes in The Prince are in fact mythical or semi-mythical, and his goal (i.e. the unification of Italy) essentially utopian at the time of writing.

Many contemporaries associated Machiavelli with the political tracts offering the idea of “Reason of State”, an idea proposed most notably in the writings of Jean Bodin and Giovanni Botero. To this day, contemporary usage of Machiavellian is an adjective describing someone who is "marked by cunning, duplicty, or bad faith"[5]. The Prince is the treatise that is most responsible for the term being brought about.[6] To this day, "Machiavellian" remains a popular term used in casual and political contexts, while in psychology, it denotes a personality type.[7]

Age of Enlightenment

Cesare Beccaria 1738-1794
Cesare Beccaria (1738–1794) was one of the greatest writers of the Italian Age of Enlightenment.
Dei delitti e delle pene 1764
On Crimes and Punishments (1764) by Beccaria.
Storia dell'Italia antica (1873) (14780177694)
Giambattista Vico, one of the greatest philosopher of the Age of Enlightenment.

Italy was also affected by the enlightenment, a movement which was a consequence of the Renaissance and changed the road of Italian philosophy.[8] Followers of the group often met to discuss in private salons and coffeehouses, notably in the cities of Milan, Rome and Venice. Cities with important universities such as Padua, Bologna and Naples, however, also remained great centres of scholarship and the intellect, with several philosophers such as Giambattista Vico (1668–1744) (who is widely regarded as being the founder of modern Italian philosophy)[9] and Antonio Genovesi.[8]

Italian society also dramatically changed during the Enlightenment, with rulers such as Leopold II of Tuscany abolishing the death penalty. The church's power was significantly reduced, and it was a period of great thought and invention, with scientists such as Alessandro Volta and Luigi Galvani discovering new things and greatly contributing to Western science.[8] Cesare Beccaria was also one of the greatest Italian Enlightenment writers, who was famous for his masterpiece Of Crimes and Punishments (1764), which was later translated into 22 languages.[8]

Early modern and 19th-century philosophy

Italy also had a renowned philosophical movement in the 1800s, with Idealism, Sensism and Empiricism. The main Sensist Italian philosophers were Gioja (1767–1829) and Romagnosi (1761–1835).[9] Criticism of the Sensist movement came from other philosophers such as Pasquale Galluppi (1770–1846), who affirmed that a priori relationships were synthetic.[9] Antonio Rosmini, instead, was the founder of Italian Idealism. The most comprehensive view of Rosmini's philosophical standpoint is to be found in his Sistema filosofico, in which he set forth the conception of a complete encyclopaedia of the human knowable, synthetically conjoined, according to the order of ideas, in a perfectly harmonious whole. Contemplating the position of recent philosophy from Locke to Hegel, and having his eye directed to the ancient and fundamental problem of the origin, truth and certainty of our ideas, he wrote: "If philosophy is to be restored to love and respect, I think it will be necessary, in part, to return to the teachings of the ancients, and in part to give those teachings the benefit of modern methods" (Theodicy, a. 148). He examined and analysed the fact of human knowledge, and obtained the following results:

  1. that the notion or idea of being or existence in general enters into, and is presupposed by, all our acquired cognitions, so that, without it, they would be impossible
  2. that this idea is essentially objective, inasmuch as what is seen in it is as distinct from and opposed to the mind that sees it as the light is from the eye that looks at it
  3. that it is essentially true, because being and truth are convertible terms, and because in the vision of it the mind cannot err, since error could only be committed by a judgment, and here there is no judgment, but a pure intuition affirming nothing and denying nothing
  4. that by the application of this essentially objective and true idea the human being intellectually perceives, first, the animal body individually conjoined with him, and then, on occasion of the sensations produced in him not by himself, the causes of those sensations, that is, from the action felt he perceives and affirms an agent, a being, and therefore a true thing, that acts on him, and he thus gets at the external world, these are the true primitive judgments, containing
    1. the subsistence of the particular being (subject), and
    2. its essence or species as determined by the quality of the action felt from it (predicate)
  5. that reflection, by separating the essence or species from the subsistence, obtains the full specific idea (universalization), and then from this, by leaving aside some of its elements, the abstract specific idea (abstraction)
  6. that the mind, having reached this stage of development, can proceed to further and further abstracts, including the first principles of reasoning, the principles of the several sciences, complex ideas, groups of ideas, and so on without end
  7. finally, that the same most universal idea of being, this generator and formal element of all acquired cognitions, cannot itself be acquired, but must be innate in us, implanted by God in our nature. Being, as naturally shining to our mind, must therefore be what men call the light of reason. Hence the name Rosmini gives it of ideal being; and this he laid down as the fundamental principle of all philosophy and the supreme criterion of truth and certainty. This he believed to be the teaching of St Augustine, as well as of St Thomas, of whom he was an ardent admirer and defender.

In the 19th century, there were also several other movements which gained some form of popularity in Italy, such as Ontologism. The main Italian son of this philosophical movement was Vincenzo Gioberti (1801–1852), who was a priest and a metaphysician. Gioberti's writings are more important than his political career. In the general history of European philosophy they stand apart. As the speculations of Rosmini-Serbati, against which he wrote, have been called the last link added to medieval thought, so the system of Gioberti, known as Ontologism, more especially in his greater and earlier works, is unrelated to other modern schools of thought. It shows a harmony with the Roman Catholic faith which caused Cousin to declare that Italian philosophy was still in the bonds of theology, and that Gioberti was no philosopher.

Method is with him a synthetic, subjective and psychological instrument. He reconstructs, as he declares, ontology, and begins with the ideal formula, the "Ens" creates ex nihilo the existent. God is the only being (Ens); all other things are merely existences. God is the origin of all human knowledge (called lidea, thought), which is one and so to say identical with God himself. It is directly beheld (intuited) by reason, but in order to be of use it has to be reflected on, and this by means of language. A knowledge of being and existences (concrete, not abstract) and their mutual relations, is necessary as the beginning of philosophy.

Gioberti is in some respects a Platonist. He identifies religion with civilization, and in his treatise Del primato morale e civile degli Italiani arrives at the conclusion that the church is the axis on which the well-being of human life revolves. In it he affirms the idea of the supremacy of Italy, brought about by the restoration of the papacy as a moral dominion, founded on religion and public opinion. In his later works, the Rinnovamento and the Protologia, he is thought by some to have shifted his ground under the influence of events.

His first work, written when he was thirty-seven, had a personal reason for its existence. A young fellow-exile and friend, Paolo Pallia, having many doubts and misgivings as to the reality of revelation and a future life, Gioberti at once set to work with La Teorica del sovrannaturale, which was his first publication (1838). After this, philosophical treatises followed in rapid succession. The Teorica was followed by Introduzione allo studio della filosofia in three volumes (1839–1840). In this work he states his reasons for requiring a new method and new terminology. Here he brings out the doctrine that religion is the direct expression of the idea in this life, and is one with true civilization in history. Civilization is a conditioned mediate tendency to perfection, to which religion is the final completion if carried out; it is the end of the second cycle expressed by the second formula, the Ens redeems existences.

Essays (not published till 1846) on the lighter and more popular subjects, Del bello and Del buono, followed the Introduzione. Del primato morale e civile degli Italiani and the Prolegomeni to the same, and soon afterwards his triumphant exposure of the Jesuits, Il Gesuita moderno, no doubt hastened the transfer of rule from clerical to civil hands. It was the popularity of these semi-political works, increased by other occasional political articles, and his Rinnovamento civile d'Italia, that caused Gioberti to be welcomed with such enthusiasm on his return to his native country. All these works were perfectly orthodox, and aided in drawing the liberal clergy into the movement which has resulted since his time in the unification of Italy. The Jesuits, however, closed round the pope more firmly after his return to Rome, and in the end Gioberti's writings were placed on the Index. The remainder of his works, especially La Filosofia della Rivelazione and the Prolologia, give his mature views on many points.

Other Ontological philosophers include Terenzio Mamiani (1800–1885), Luigi Ferri (1826–1895), and Ausonio Franchi (1821–1895).[9]

Hegelianism, Scholasticism and Positivism. Augusto Vera (1813–1885) was probably the greatest Italian Hegelianist philosopher, who composed works in both French and Italian. It was during his studies, with his cousin in Paris, that he came to know about philosophy and through them he acquired knowledge of Hegelianism and it culminated during the events of the 1848–49 French revolution. In England he continued his studies of Hegelian philosophy.[10] During his years in Naples, he would maintain relationships with the Philosophical Society of Berlin, which originally consisted of Hegelians, and kept up to date with both the German and the French Hegelian literature. As a teacher, he undertook the translation of Hegel's Introduzione alla filosofia (Introduction to philosophy) in French.[11] A lot of his work on neo-Hegelian theories were undertaken with Bertrando Spaventa.[12] Some works see the Italian Hegelian doctrine as having led to Italian Fascism.[13]

Modern, contemporary and 20th-century philosophy

Idealisti italiani
Benedetto Croce and Giovanni Gentile, the two greatest exponents of the Italian idealism.

Some of the most prominent philosophies and ideologies in Italy during the late 19th and 20th centuries included anarchism, communism, socialism, futurism, fascism, and Christian democracy. Both futurism and fascism (in its original form, now often distinguished as Italian fascism) were developed in Italy at this time. From the 1920s to the 1940s, Italian Fascism was the official philosophy and ideology of the Italian government. Giovanni Gentile was one of the greatest Italian 20th-century Idealist/Fascist philosophers, who greatly supported Benito Mussolini. He had great a number of developments within his thought and career which defined his philosophy.

  • The discovery of Actual Idealism in his work Theory of the Pure Act (1903)
  • The political favour he felt for the invasion of Libya (1911) and the entry of Italy into World War I (1915)
  • The dispute with Benedetto Croce over the historic inevitability of Fascism.
  • His role as education minister (1923)
  • His belief that Fascism could be made to be subservient to his thought and the gathering of influence through the work of such students as Ugo Spirito.

Benedetto Croce wrote that Gentile "...holds the honor of having been the most rigorous neo–Hegelian in the entire history of Western philosophy and the dishonor of having been the official philosopher of Fascism in Italy."[14] His philosophical basis for fascism was rooted in his understanding of ontology and epistemology, in which he found vindication for the rejection of individualism, acceptance of collectivism, with the state as the ultimate location of authority and loyalty to which the individual found in the conception of individuality no meaning outside of the state (which in turn justified totalitarianism). Ultimately, Gentile foresaw a social order wherein opposites of all kinds weren't to be given sanction as existing independently from each other; that 'publicness' and 'privateness' as broad interpretations were currently false as imposed by all former kinds of Government; capitalism, communism, and that only the reciprocal totalitarian state of Corporative Syndicalism, a Fascist state, could defeat these problems made from reifying as an external that which is in fact to Gentile only a thinking reality. Whereas it was common in the philosophy of the time to see conditional subject as abstract and object as concrete, Gentile postulated the opposite, that subject was the concrete and objectification was abstraction (or rather; that what was conventionally dubbed "subject" was in fact only conditional object, and that true subject was the 'act of' being or essence above any object).

Gentile was a notable philosophical theorist of his time throughout Europe, since having developed his 'Actual Idealism' system of Idealism, sometimes called 'Actualism.' It was especially in which his ideas put subject to the position of a transcending truth above positivism that garnered attention; by way that all senses about the world only take the form of ideas within one's mind in any real sense; to Gentile even the analogy between the function & location of the physical brain with the functions of the physical body were a consistent creation of the mind (and not brain; which was a creation of the mind and not the other way around). An example of Actual Idealism in Theology is the idea that although man may have invented the concept of God, it does not make God any less real in any sense possible as far as it is not presupposed to exist as abstraction and except in case qualities about what existence actually entails (i.e. being invented apart from the thinking making it) are presupposed. Benedetto Croce objected that Gentile's "pure act" is nothing other than Schopenhauer's will.[15] Therefore, Gentile proposed a form of what he called 'absolute Immanentism' in which the divine was the present conception of reality in the totality of one's individual thinking as an evolving, growing and dynamic process. Many times accused of Solipsism, Gentile maintained his philosophy to be a Humanism that sensed the possibility of nothing beyond what was contingent; the self's human thinking, in order to communicate as immanence is to be human like oneself, made a cohesive empathy of the self-same, without an external division, and therefore not modeled as objects to one's own thinking.

Prof Maria Montessori
Maria Montessori, credited with the creation of the "Montessori education".

Meanwhile, anarchism, communism, and socialism, though not originating in Italy, took significant hold in Italy during the early 20th century, with the country producing numerous significant figures in anarchist, socialist, and communist thought. In addition, anarcho-communism first fully formed into its modern strain within the Italian section of the First International.[16] Italian anarchists often adhered to forms of anarcho-communism, illegalist or insurrectionary anarchism, collectivist anarchism, anarcho-syndicalism, and platformism. Some of the most important figures in the late 19th and 20th century anarchist movement include Italians such as Errico Malatesta, Giuseppe Fanelli, Carlo Cafiero, Alfredo M. Bonanno, Pietro Gori, Luigi Galleani, Severino Di Giovanni, Giuseppe Ciancabilla, Luigi Fabbri, Camillo Berneri, and Sacco and Vanzetti. Other Italian figures influential in both the anarchist and socialist movements include Carlo Tresca and Andrea Costa, as well as the author, director, and intellectual Pier Paolo Pasolini. Antonio Gramsci remains an important philosopher within Marxist and communist theory, credited with creating the theory of cultural hegemony. Italian philosophers were also influential in the development of the non-Marxist liberal socialism philosophy, including Carlo Rosselli, Norberto Bobbio, Piero Gobetti, Aldo Capitini, and Guido Calogero. In the 1960s, many Italian left-wing activists adopted the anti-authoritarian pro-working class leftist theories that would become known as autonomism and operaismo.

Early and important Italian feminists include Sibilla Aleramo, Alaide Gualberta Beccari, and Anna Maria Mozzoni, though proto-feminist philosophies had previously been touched upon by earlier Italian writers such as Christine de Pizan, Moderata Fonte, Lucrezia Marinella. The Italian physician and educator Maria Montessori is credited with the creation of the philosophy of education that bears her name, an educational philosophy now practiced throughout the world.

See also


  1. ^ See Jerry Bentley, Humanists and holy writ Princeton University, 1983, 32–69, 137–193.
  2. ^ Pico 224–225
  3. ^ Yates, Frances A. (1964) Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition. University of Chicago Press 1991 edition: ISBN 0-226-95007-7
  4. ^ Moschovitis Group Inc, Christian D. Von Dehsen and Scott L. Harris, Philosophers and religious leaders, (The Oryx Press, 1999), 117.
  5. ^ "Definition of MACHIAVELLIAN". Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  6. ^ Skinner, Quentin (12 October 2000). Machiavelli: A Very Short Introduction. OUP Oxford. ISBN 9780191540349.
  7. ^ Christie, Richard; Geis, Florence L. (22 October 2013). Studies in Machiavellianism. Academic Press. ISBN 9781483260600.
  8. ^ a b c d "The Enlightenment throughout Europe".
  9. ^ a b c d "History of Philosophy 70".
  10. ^ "Augusto Vera". Facoltà Lettere e Filosofia (in Italian). Retrieved 10 November 2006.
  11. ^ "10. La rinascita hegeliana a Napoli". Ex-Regno delle Due Sicilie (in Italian). Retrieved 10 November 2006.
  13. ^ "Idealismo. Idealistas". Enciclopedia GER (in Italian). Retrieved 10 November 2006.
  14. ^ Benedetto Croce, Guide to Aesthetics, Translated by Patrick Romanell, "Translator's Introduction," The Library of Liberal Arts, The Bobbs–Merrill Co., Inc., 1965
  15. ^ Runes, Dagobert, editor, Treasure of Philosophy, "Gentile, Giovanni"
  16. ^ Nunzio Pernicone, "Italian Anarchism 1864–1892", pp. 111–13, AK Press 2009.
Andrzej Nowicki (philosopher)

Andrzej Rusław Fryderyk Nowicki (b. 27 May 1919 in Warsaw – d. 1 December 2011 in Warsaw) was a Polish philosopher of culture, a specialist in the history of philosophy and of atheism, in Italian philosophy of the Renaissance and in religious studies and a connoisseur of the fine arts, poet and diplomat . He conceived his own philosophical system which he called "the ergantropic and incontrological (Polish: ergantropijno-inkontrologiczny) philosophical system of meetings within things". He worked as an academic at the University of Warsaw (1952–63), the University of Wrocław (1963–73), the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University in Lublin (1973–91) and achieved the rank of a professor. He was co-founder and chairman of the Association of Atheists and Freethinkers and of the Polish Association for Religious Studies (Polish: Polskie Towarzystwo Religioznawcze). He was the founder and editor-in-chief of the "Euhemer" magazine. He was the grandmaster of the Grand Orient of Poland in 1997–2002 and was a member of the committee of the Front of National Unity in 1958.

Apollinare Offredi

Giovan Pietro Apollinare Offredi (... – 15th century) was an Italian philosopher.

Dante Alighieri

Durante di Alighiero degli Alighieri (Italian: [duˈrante deʎʎ aliˈɡjɛːri]; Latin: Dantes), commonly known by his pen name Dante Alighieri or simply as Dante (, also US: , Italian: [ˈdante]; c. 1265 – 1321), was an Italian poet during the Late Middle Ages. His Divine Comedy, originally called Comedìa (modern Italian: Commedia) and later christened Divina by Giovanni Boccaccio, is widely considered the most important poem of the Middle Ages and the greatest literary work in the Italian language.In the late Middle Ages, most poetry was written in Latin, making it accessible only to the most educated readers. In De vulgari eloquentia (On Eloquence in the Vernacular), however, Dante defended the use of the vernacular in literature. He would even write in the Tuscan dialect for works such as The New Life (1295) and the Divine Comedy; this highly unorthodox choice set a precedent that important later Italian writers such as Petrarch and Boccaccio would follow.

Dante was instrumental in establishing the literature of Italy, and his depictions of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven provided inspiration for the larger body of Western art. He is cited as an influence on John Milton, Geoffrey Chaucer and Alfred Tennyson, among many others. In addition, the first use of the interlocking three-line rhyme scheme, or the terza rima, is attributed to him. In Italy, he is often referred to as il Sommo Poeta ("the Supreme Poet") and il Poeta; he, Petrarch, and Boccaccio are also called "the three fountains" or "the three crowns".

Dewey Decimal Classification

The Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC), colloquially the Dewey Decimal System, is a proprietary library classification system first published in the United States by Melvil Dewey in 1876. Originally described in a four-page pamphlet, it has been expanded to multiple volumes and revised through 23 major editions, the latest printed in 2011. It is also available in an abridged version suitable for smaller libraries. OCLC, a non-profit cooperative that serves libraries, currently maintains the system and licenses online access to WebDewey, a continuously updated version for catalogers.

The Decimal Classification introduced the concepts of relative location and relative index which allow new books to be added to a library in their appropriate location based on subject. Libraries previously had given books permanent shelf locations that were related to the order of acquisition rather than topic. The classification's notation makes use of three-digit Arabic numerals for main classes, with fractional decimals allowing expansion for further detail. Using Arabic numerals for symbols, it is flexible to the degree that numbers can be expanded in linear fashion to cover special aspects of general subjects. A library assigns a classification number that unambiguously locates a particular volume in a position relative to other books in the library, on the basis of its subject. The number makes it possible to find any book and to return it to its proper place on the library shelves. The classification system is used in 200,000 libraries in at least 135 countries.

Gianni Vattimo

Gianteresio Vattimo (born 4 January 1936) is an Italian philosopher and politician.

Giovanna Borradori

Giovanna Borradori is Professor of Philosophy and Media Studies at Vassar College. Borradori is a specialist in Social and political theory, Aesthetics, and the philosophy of terrorism. A crucial focus of her work is fostering new avenues of communication between rival philosophical lineages, including the analytical and Continental traditions, liberalism and communitarianism, as well as deconstruction and Critical Theory. To invigorate this exchange, she pioneered the scholarly interview as a new philosophical genre.

Giovanni Gentile

Giovanni Gentile (Italian: [dʒoˈvanni dʒenˈtiːle]; 30 May 1875 – 15 April 1944) was an Italian neo-Hegelian idealist philosopher, educator, and fascist politician. The self-styled "philosopher of Fascism", he was influential in providing an intellectual foundation for Italian Fascism, and ghostwrote part of The Doctrine of Fascism (1932) with Benito Mussolini. He was involved in the resurgence of Hegelian idealism in Italian philosophy and also devised his own system of thought, which he called "actual idealism" or "actualism", and which has been described as "the subjective extreme of the idealist tradition".

History of Italian culture (1700s)

The 1700s refers to a period in Italian history and culture which occurred during the 18th century (1700–1799): the Settecento. The Settecento saw the transition from Late Baroque to Neoclassicism: great artists of this period include Vanvitelli, Canaletto and Canova, as well as the composer Vivaldi and the writer Goldoni.

Italian idealism

Italian idealism, born from interest in the German one and particularly in Hegelian doctrine, developed in Italy starting from the spiritualism of the nineteenth-century Risorgimento tradition, and culminated in the first half of the twentieth century in its two greatest exponents: Benedetto Croce and Giovanni Gentile.


The Italians (Italian: Italiani [itaˈljaːni]) are a Romance ethnic group and nation native to the Italian peninsula and its neighbouring insular territories. Most Italians share a common culture, history, ancestry or language. Legally, all Italian nationals are citizens of the Italian Republic, regardless of ancestry or nation of residence (in effect, however, Italian nationality is largely based on jus sanguinis) and may be distinguished from people of Italian descent without Italian citizenship and from ethnic Italians living in territories adjacent to the Italian Peninsula without Italian citizenship. The majority of Italian nationals are speakers of Italian, or a regional variety thereof. However, many of them also speak another regional or minority language native to Italy; although there is disagreement on the total number, according to UNESCO there are approximately 30 languages native to Italy (often misleadingly referred to as "Italian dialects").In 2017, in addition to about 55 million Italians in Italy (91% of the Italian national population), Italian-speaking autonomous groups are found in neighbouring nations: almost a quarter million are in Switzerland, a large population is in France, the entire population of San Marino, and there are smaller groups in Slovenia and Croatia, primarily in Istria (Istrian Italians) and Dalmatia (Dalmatian Italians). Because of the wide-ranging diaspora, about 5 million Italian citizens and nearly 80 million people of full or partial Italian ancestry live outside their own homeland, which include the 62.5% of Argentina's population (Italian Argentines), 1/3 of Uruguayans (Italian Uruguayans), 40% of Paraguayans (Italian Paraguayans), 15% of Brazilians (Italian Brazilians, the largest Italian community outside Italy), and people in other parts of Europe bordering Italy, the Americas (such as Italian Americans, Italian Canadians and Italo-Venezuelans among others), Australasia (Italian Australians and Italian New Zealanders), and the Middle East.

Italians have greatly influenced and contributed to diverse fields, notably the arts and music, science and technology, fashion, cuisine, sports, jurisprudence, banking and business both abroad and worldwide. Furthermore, Italian people are generally known for their localism, both regionalist and municipalist.

List of Italian philosophers

This list of Italian philosophers contains a collection of philosophers who hail from Italy specifically or, more broadly, from the Italian peninsula.

Lorenzo Chiesa

Lorenzo Chiesa (born 25 April 1976) is a philosopher, critical theorist, and translator whose research focuses on the intersection between ontology, psychoanalysis, and political theory.

He is best known for his monographs on Jacques Lacan, published by MIT Press, and translations of the work of Giorgio Agamben, published by Stanford University Press. He has also written widely on contemporary French and Italian philosophy, biopolitics, and Marxism.Since 2014 Chiesa has been Visiting Professor in the socio-political philosophy MA programme of the European University at Saint Petersburg and at the Freud’s Dream Museum of the East European Institute of Psychoanalysis. He serves as Director of the Genoa School of Humanities. Previously, he taught at the University of Kent (2006-2014), where he was Professor of Modern European Thought and founded and directed the Centre for Critical Thought. He also held visiting positions at the University of New Mexico, the Institute of Philosophy of Ljubljana, Italian Institute of Human Sciences (SUM) Naples, and Jnanapravaha Mumbai.

Chiesa’s Subjectivity and Otherness (2007), which focuses on Lacan’s theory of the subject, has been described as setting “a new benchmark of conceptual rigour within the realm of introductory texts on Lacanian thought”. His treatment of the implications of psychoanalysis for materialism and atheism in The Not-Two (2016) is extensively discussed by Slavoj Žižek in Disparities. According to Roberto Esposito, Chiesa is “one of the rare philosophers capable of making Lacan’s psychoanalytic apparatus interact with the various languages of continental thought”. He has also been referred to as “the leader of a new generation of ‘young Lacanians’, for whom Lacan is primarily a text that needs to be read”. Chiesa argues that “psychoanalysis is not intrinsically political” while it is needed to “criticise classical ontology, think new ways in which to approach the question of ontology, and then, from that standpoint, think progressive politics”.

Mario Perniola

Mario Perniola (20 May 1941, Asti – 9 January 2018, Rome) was an Italian philosopher, professor of aesthetics and author. Many of his works have been published in English.

Michael Lewis (philosopher)

Michael Andrew Lewis (born 9 November 1977) is a British philosopher and Head of Philosophy at Newcastle University. He is the co-founder and general editor of the Journal of Italian Philosophy.

Lewis is known for his expertise on continental philosophy.


Philosophy (from Greek φιλοσοφία, philosophia, literally "love of wisdom") is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras (c. 570 – 495 BCE). Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust (if one can get away with it)? Do humans have free will?Historically, "philosophy" encompassed any body of knowledge. From the time of Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle to the 19th century, "natural philosophy" encompassed astronomy, medicine, and physics. For example, Newton's 1687 Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy later became classified as a book of physics. In the 19th century, the growth of modern research universities led academic philosophy and other disciplines to professionalize and specialize. In the modern era, some investigations that were traditionally part of philosophy became separate academic disciplines, including psychology, sociology, linguistics, and economics.

Other investigations closely related to art, science, politics, or other pursuits remained part of philosophy. For example, is beauty objective or subjective? Are there many scientific methods or just one? Is political utopia a hopeful dream or hopeless fantasy? Major sub-fields of academic philosophy include metaphysics ("concerned with the fundamental nature of reality and being"), epistemology (about the "nature and grounds of knowledge [and]...its limits and validity"), ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy, logic and philosophy of science.


Platonism, rendered as a proper noun, is the philosophy of Plato or the name of other philosophical systems considered closely derived from it. In narrower usage, platonism, rendered as a common noun, refers to the philosophy that affirms the existence of abstract objects, which are asserted to "exist" in a "third realm" distinct both from the sensible external world and from the internal world of consciousness, and is the opposite of nominalism. Lower case "platonists" need not accept any of the doctrines of Plato.In a narrower sense, the term might indicate the doctrine of Platonic realism. The central concept of Platonism, a distinction essential to the Theory of Forms, is the distinction between the reality which is perceptible but unintelligible, and the reality which is imperceptible but intelligible. The forms are typically described in dialogues such as the Phaedo, Symposium and Republic as transcendent perfect archetypes of which objects in the everyday world are imperfect copies.

In the Republic the highest form is identified as the Form of the Good, the source of all other forms, which could be known by reason. In the Sophist, a later work, the forms being, sameness and difference are listed among the primordial "Great Kinds". In the 3rd century BC, Arcesilaus adopted skepticism, which became a central tenet of the school until 90 BC when Antiochus added Stoic elements, rejected skepticism, and began a period known as Middle Platonism.

In the 3rd century AD, Plotinus added mystical elements, establishing Neoplatonism, in which the summit of existence was the One or the Good, the source of all things; in virtue and meditation the soul had the power to elevate itself to attain union with the One. Platonism had a profound effect on Western thought, and many Platonic notions were adopted by the Christian church which understood Plato's forms as God's thoughts, while Neoplatonism became a major influence on Christian mysticism, in the West through St Augustine, Doctor of the Catholic Church whose Christian writings were heavily influenced by Plotinus' Enneads, and in turn were foundations for the whole of Western Christian thought.

Renaissance humanism

Renaissance humanism is the study of classical antiquity, at first in Italy and then spreading across Western Europe in the 14th, 15th, and 16th centuries. The term humanism is contemporary to that period, while Renaissance humanism is a retronym used to distinguish it from later humanist developments.Renaissance humanism was a response to the utilitarian approach and what came to be depicted as the "narrow pedantry" associated with medieval scholasticism. Humanists sought to create a citizenry able to speak and write with eloquence and clarity and thus capable of engaging in the civic life of their communities and persuading others to virtuous and prudent actions. This was to be accomplished through the study of the studia humanitatis, today known as the humanities: grammar, rhetoric, history, poetry, and moral philosophy.

According to one scholar of the movement,

Early Italian humanism, which in many respects continued the grammatical and rhetorical traditions of the Middle Ages, not merely provided the old Trivium with a new and more ambitious name (Studia humanitatis), but also increased its actual scope, content and significance in the curriculum of the schools and universities and in its own extensive literary production. The studia humanitatis excluded logic, but they added to the traditional grammar and rhetoric not only history, Greek, and moral philosophy, but also made poetry, once a sequel of grammar and rhetoric, the most important member of the whole group. Humanism was a pervasive cultural mode and not the program of a small elite, a program to revive the cultural legacy, literary legacy, and moral philosophy of classical antiquity. There were important centres of humanism in Florence, Naples, Rome, Venice, Genoa, Mantua, Ferrara, and Urbino.

Roberto Esposito

Roberto Esposito is an Italian philosopher, who is important for his work in biopolitics.Roberto Esposito was born in Piano di Sorrento where he graduated at the University of Naples 'Federico II'. He currently teaches Theoretical Philosophy at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Italy. He was Vice Director of the Istituto Italiano di Scienze Umane, Full Professor of Theoretical Philosophy, and the coordinator of the doctoral programme in Philosophy until 2013. For five years he was the only Italian member of the International Council of Scholars of the Collège International de Philosophie in Paris.

He was one of the founders of the European Political Lexicon Research Centre and of the International Centre for a European Legal and Political Lexicon, which was established by a consortium made up of the Universities of Bologna, Florence, Padua, Salerno, Naples L'Orientale and Naples S. Orsola Benincasa.

He is co-editor of Filosofia Politica published by il Mulino, the series 'Per la Storia della Filosofia Politica' published by Franco Angeli, the series 'Storia e teoria politica' published by Bibliopolis, and the series 'Comunità e Libertà' published by Laterza. He is editor of the 'Teoria e Oggetti' series published by Liguori and also acts as a philosophy consultant for publishers Einaudi.

His 2012 monograph, Living Thought. The Origins and Actuality of Italian Philosophy (trans. Zakiya Hanafi, Stanford UP, 2012), is dedicated to Italian philosophical thought, and aims at creating a historical and theoretical background for the definition of the notion of "Italian Theory".He has been featured in the Summer 2006 and Fall 2009 issues of the journal Diacritics and the Fall 2013 special issue of Angelaki.

Sketchy Beats

Sketchy Beats is an arts concept combining live music, improvised dancing and life drawing. The concept has received considerable praise and coverage in the Scottish press and in Scottish art circles.Sketchy Beats was conceived by Cosima Canneti an Anglo-Italian philosophy student in March 2015 and initially appeared as a monthly pop-up event in the basement of the Yellow Bench concept cafe on Leith Walk in Edinburgh, with the support of Polish-born Monika Lisicka. The original format was split into three sections: live drawing of a live musician; live drawing of a dancer; and finally live drawing of a posed model. The latter sections were supported by a live DJ, who would often to continue to provide music for those who remained.

Following a crowdfunder event in late 2015, the concept removed to a new premises at 208 Great Junction Street in Leith and was specifically rebranded as Sketchy Beats Cafe. The arts events then moved to a weekly rather than monthly cycle. The specifically non-profit cafe also houses other activities such as poetry slams and music jam sessions.With a strongly international flavour, notable models include the Italian, Eve Casini, the French jazz performance artist, Ariane Mamon, Slovakian Theresa van Wald, and the Lucrezia Paterno Castello from Sicily.

In 2017 the range was expanded to include Stitchy Beats a knitting class held within an atmosphere of contemporary music.

On 30 May 2018 Sketchy Beats took over the abandoned State Cinema (attached to the rear) for a day of music, interpretive dance and sketching for the day as part of the Hidden Doors event in Leith (which also incorporated the old Leith Theatre).


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