The Other RenaissanceItalian Humanism between Hegel and Heidegger

The Other RenaissanceItalian Humanism between Hegel and Heidegger

Rocco Rubini

Print publication date: 2015

ISBN: 9780226186139

Publisher: University of Chicago Press


This book provides an overdue cultural translation of modern Italian intellectual and philosophical history, a development bookended by Giambattista Vico and Antonio Gramsci. It shows Italian philosophy to have emerged during the age of the Risorgimento in reaction to eighteenth-century French revolutionary and rationalist standards in politics and philosophy and in critical assimilation of the German reaction to the same, mainly Hegelian idealism and, eventually, Heideggerian existentialism. Specifically, this is the story of modern Italian philosophy told through the lens of Renaissance scholarship. It introduces Anglo-American readers to Italian philosophy as it reflected a Renaissance precedent it wished to enliven, reactivate, and improve in support or criticism of nineteenth- and twentieth-century upheavals: unity (Risorgimento), empire (Fascism), and democracy (Republicanism). This Renaissance or humanist focus clarifies the Italian philosophical “difference” vis-à-vis the main strands of Continental philosophy (French, German, and their American elaborations), a “difference” that, perhaps to our advantage today, sheltered Italian inquiry from the self-confuting framework of the postmodern moment. By identifying the presence of Renaissance humanism in modern philosophical thought and in the scholarship of Bertrando Spaventa, Giovanni Gentile, Ernesto Grassi, Eugenio Garin, and Paul Oskar Kristeller, among others, The Italians' Renaissance recovers a tradition in Renaissance studies that runs parallel to, and separately from, the one initiated by Jacob Burckhardt's The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy (1860). In so doing it calls for a renewed dialogue between students of philosophy and of the Renaissance, a dialogue that would prevent the study of the origins of modernity from turning into a form of antiquarianism.