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The Legacy of Benedetto Croce

The Legacy of Benedetto Croce: Contemporary Critical Views

Jack D’Amico
Dain A. Trafton
Massimo Verdicchio
  • Book Info
    The Legacy of Benedetto Croce
    Book Description:

    The foremost Italian philosopher of the first half of the 20th century, Croce's influence extended to every aspect of Italian intellectual life. This collection explores the depth,originality, and significance of his thought.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8162-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Chronology
    (pp. xi-2)
  6. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 3-15)

    When Benedetto Croce died in 1952 he was one of the most influential philosophers and literary critics not only of his native Italy but also of Europe, and even North America.² Today, however, his very extensive work on philosophy, literary criticism, and history seems to many old-fashioned and inadequate and is largely ignored.³ Only in the last few years, in Italy, has there been a minor revival, with the reprinting of his complete works under the direction of the historian Giuseppe Galasso, who has also written a comprehensive study of Croce’s life and works.⁴ In North America, Croce has fared...

  7. 2 Croce, Philosopher of Naples
    (pp. 16-30)

    By ‘Croce, philosopher of Naples,’ I am referring not only to the fact that Benedetto Croce is rightly considered a Neapolitan philosopher, though born in Pescasseroli in Abruzzo, but also to those early years between 1882 and 1892 when, not yet taken by philosophical concerns, he devoted most of his time to ‘reconstructing’ the history and culture of Naples. I am alluding to Croce ‘erudito,’ the erudite or learned, whose work forms a separate chapter from the later historian/philosopher.¹ In this paper, however, I want to address the continuity that I believe exists between the two Croces and to show...

  8. 3 Croce and the Commedia dell’arte of Naples
    (pp. 31-51)

    The overall purpose of this essay is to examine the origins and the consequences of Croce’s definition of thearteincommedia dell’arteas a professional, industrial art, rather than as a purely aesthetic, or poetic art. A major element of Croce’s contribution to theatre history emerges from his careful examination of the documentary evidence relevant to a study of theatre in Naples and in particular to commedia dell’arte during the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Croce’s definition of commedia dell’arte and his critique of the cultural assumptions related to Pulcinella have informed twentieth-century theatre criticism in certain fundamental ways.


  9. 4 È stata opera di critica onesta, liberale, italiana: Croce and Napoli nobilissima (1892–1906)
    (pp. 52-87)

    The many pages of essays, reviews, and notes that Benedetto Croce wrote for the first series (1892–1906) of the journalNapoli nobilissimaspan what is certainly the most complex and interesting period of his intellectual life. Within these fifteen years Croce concluded his intense engagement with historical materialism, launched his new journal of literature and philosophyLa critica,and sketched out his major philosophical system, thefilosofia dello spirito. For students of Croce’s historicism, this is also the period of his deepest ambivalence aboutmetodo storicoand the moral, political, and intellectual merits of regional historiography. Thus it is...

  10. 5 Croce’s Theory of Historical Judgment
    (pp. 88-102)

    In 1951 Croce publishedFilosofia, poesia, storia,an anthology of his writings, in which he made a selection that systematically recasts the enormous amount of theoretical and critical work that he had written since the 1890s.¹ In reviewing the volume, Carlo Antoni, a distinguished interpreter of Croce, was one of the first to call attention to the singular arrangement of the essays collected by the philosopher, representing an ideal progression – without respect for chronology – of his activity as thinker, historian, critic, and polemicist. First and foremost, as if to emphasize their importance, there is a group of essays...

  11. 6 Political Doctrine in Croce’s History of the Kingdom of Naples
    (pp. 103-116)

    According to Benedetto Croce, all history is contemporary history, by which he means that all serious study of the past is informed by the problems and needs of the writer’s own time; the more conscious historians are of their contemporary motives, the more searching and accurate their investigations of the past and the more useful their reconstructions.¹ Of Croce’s major historical writings, none illustrates this point more clearly than theStoria del regno di Napoli(History of the Kingdom of Naples). First published as a series of essays in Croce’s journalLa critica,then republished as a book in 1925,...

  12. 7 Croce and Mosca: Pluralistic Elitism and Philosophical Science
    (pp. 117-144)

    The aim of this paper is to improve our understanding of Croce by means of a critical comparison of his thought with that of Gaetano Mosca (1858–1941). Since Mosca was one of the founders of the discipline of political science in its present form, as well as Italy’s best-known political scientist of his generation, this exploration involves questions about politics and about science. In fact, these two thinkers are each sufficiently well known that the mere association of their names usually brings to mind two things. The first is that they were on the same side of the political...

  13. 8 Croce and Collingwood: Philosophy and History
    (pp. 145-162)

    When historians of philosophy have attempted to ascertain the influences of Croce’s thinking on Collingwood’s idea of history, they usually have noted some of the similarities between the concepts that these thinkers held in common.¹ More important, many historians have assumed that Collingwood’s interpretations of Croce’s philosophy are correct. The purpose of my essay is to evaluate Collingwood’s interpretations and to reconsider some major differences between the two thinkers’ conceptions of philosophy and history. In conclusion, I will discuss what remains vital in Croce’s theory of history.

    Commentators have written that Collingwood’s early essays offer their reader an anti-Crocean position....

  14. 9 Croce on Vico
    (pp. 163-173)

    By the time Benedetto Croce published his monograph on Giambattista Vico,La filosofia di Giambattista Vico(Bari, 1911), his reputation as possibly Italy’s foremost thinker of his generation was well established. Years earlier he had foundedLa critica(1903), a journal of cultural criticism that programmatically aimed both at inserting Italian thought within the coordinates of European discourse and at subjecting the major events of European intellectual life to severe scrutiny. The enterprise brought Croce international recognition. The high journalism that he practised was an extension of and the laboratory for a number of philosophical works that he had been...

  15. 10 The Impact of Croce’s Aesthetics of 1902 and Today’s Revolt against Modernity
    (pp. 174-195)

    Benedetto Croce came to prominence at the turn of the present century in an Italy torn by cultural and political crises and searching for new direction. For many intellectuals, very many in fact, that new direction came from Croce. According to Eugenio Garin, Croce’s work, particularly in aesthetics, ‘rendered an entire generation Crocean’ (rese crociana una generazione intera).¹ To grasp the reasons for his enormous influence, one must understand the nature of the dramatic dislocations that markedfin-de-siècleItaly.²

    These dislocations had many dimensions but were understood by many intellectuals to be rooted in the ‘crisis of positivism’³ – that...

  16. 11 History as Thought and Action: Croce’s Historicism and the Contemporary Challenge
    (pp. 196-230)

    Benedetto Croce was once well known – as a “neo-Hegelian,” as a philosopher of art, as a philosopher of history, as a partisan of liberty against fascism. A long-time antagonist, the émigré scholar Giuseppe Antonio Borgese, found him ‘the most famed Italian abroad, at least in the scholarly world, since the days perhaps of Galileo.’¹ But by the mid-1940s, near the end of his long life, Croce found himself on the defensive even in Italy, and after his death in 1952 his legacy gradually fell from view all over the Western world.²

    The reaction against Croce stemmed partly from the...

  17. 12 Croce’s Taccuini di lavoro
    (pp. 231-238)

    I taccuini di lavoroare working diaries that Croce began writing in 1906 and continued until just two years before his death in 1952. Collected in six volumes, these notebooks were published in a limited edition by the Croce Institute in Naples and are available at the John P. Robarts Research Library in the University of Toronto. There is only one critical study of the diaries – Gennaro Sasso’sPer invigilare me stesso: I taccuini di lavoro di Benedetto Croce(Bologna: II Mulino, 1989). Sasso’s title quotes the words that Croce used to explain why he wrote the notebooks. Literally...

  18. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 239-244)