The Responsibility of the Philosopher

The Responsibility of the Philosopher

GIANNI VATTIMO
Edited with an Introduction by FRANCA D’AGOSTINI
Translated by WILLIAM MCCUAIG
Copyright Date: 2010
Pages: 168
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/vatt15242
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  • Book Info
    The Responsibility of the Philosopher
    Book Description:

    Over the course of his career, Gianni Vattimo has assumed a number of public and private identities and has pursued multiple intellectual paths. He seems to embody several contradictions, at once defending and questioning religion and critiquing and serving the state. Yet the diversity of his life and thought form the very essence of, as he sees it, the vocation and responsibility of the philosopher. In a world that desires quantifiable results and ideological expediency, the philosopher becomes the vital interpreter of the endlessly complex.

    As he outlines his ideas about the philosopher's role, Vattimo builds an important companion to his life's work. He confronts questions of science, religion, logic, literature, and truth, and passionately defends the power of hermeneutics to engage with life's conundrums. Vattimo conjures a clear vision of philosophy as something separate from the sciences and the humanities but also intimately connected to their processes, and he explicates a conception of truth that emphasizes fidelity and participation through dialogue.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-52712-5
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION: THE STRONG REASONS FOR WEAK THOUGHT
    (pp. 1-46)
    Franca D’Agostini

    There exist thinkers—Kierkegaard and Hannah Arendt come especially to mind—whose propensity for singularity and antitheory is grounded in precise and rigorously theoretical reasons. This to a certain extent is Gianni Vattimo’s case too, and the primary aim of what follows is to bring out the strong reasons for Vattimo’s commitment to “weak thought” (pensiero debole), and to an “attenuation” or “lightening” of the structures of traditional philosophical discourse.¹

    Attenuation and lightening are not self-explanatory notions when applied to philosophy. To lighten or pare down a theory generally means strengthening the logical power of the theory itself (a point...

  4. 1 PHILOSOPHY AND SCIENCE
    (pp. 47-68)

    There are a few things I wish to make clear at the outset. The first is that I do not regard philosophy as a handmaiden to science; indeed, I do not believe there is a privileged rapport between philosophy and any part of the scientific spectrum—not the exact sciences, not the natural sciences, not the “sciences of the spirit” (the Geisteswissenschaften—the humanities and social sciences). Indeed, I do not believe that philosophy is a science at all if we are using the word strictly in accord with its prevalent modern connotation. If by science is meant any form...

  5. 2 PHILOSOPHY, HISTORY, LITERATURE
    (pp. 69-80)

    I wrote an essay once on truth as rhetoric.¹ It might look a little different if I were writing it today, but let’s see if we can clear the matter up once and for all. First and foremost: I am convinced that truth is not a problem of political science, or even a matter subject to scientific demonstration. Truth for me is persuasion, and when I say persuasion, I don’t mean “take it from me, sonny boy,” I mean something more like “let’s all lend a hand here.” In other words: philosophical arguments are arguments ad homines, not ad hominem....

  6. 3 LOGIC IN PHILOSOPHY
    (pp. 81-94)

    For Nietzsche, nihilism potentially reaches an end stage, at which it is “accomplished,” meaning completed or fulfilled. For me, nihilism is accomplished when the contradiction internal to the hermeneutic experience of truth is fully acknowledged. And that acknowledgment is a “logical” stance, if logic broadly means the mode in which we think truth, and in which we engage in thought and discourse in whatever contingent circumstances, historical and linguistic, are given to us. On that basis, the connection between truth and rhetoric adduced in the previous chapter does not take anything away from logic. But if logic merely denotes the...

  7. 4 TO SPEAK THE TRUTH
    (pp. 95-100)

    Yet in the end, underlying all the debates between hermeneutic and antihermeneutic philosophers, there is always the question of truth as adequacy, and as I’ve intimated, hermeneutics might even enjoy the advantage of a concept of adequacy that is different and more complex. But on the reasons for preferring this stance in philosophy, the first thing that always comes to my mind is a phrase from the Psalms, “redemisti nos Domine Deus veritatis.”¹ Why do I think that in philosophy there should be a certain frosty reserve toward the notion of truth as objective description? Principally for the reason already...

  8. 5 THE VOCATION TO PHILOSOPHY AND THE RESPONSIBILITY OF PHILOSOPHY
    (pp. 101-118)

    It is no secret that I also write for the newspapers, and “professional” philosophers view that as something of a blot on philosophy. You start doing it because it’s a chance to earn, then you keep on for ideological reasons, or to justify yourself, or because you discover that it is not such a base occupation after all. Actually, in my considered view, there is no difference between what I do when I am teaching in the university, and what I do when I write a column for a newspaper. These days, the media presence of cultural luminaries is normally...

  9. NOTES
    (pp. 119-134)
  10. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 135-144)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 145-154)