Biography[ edit ] Gianteresio Vattimo was born in Turin , Piedmont. He studied philosophy under the existentialist Luigi Pareyson at the University of Turin , and graduated with a laurea in While remaining at Turin, becoming Professor of Theoretical Philosophy in , he has been a visiting professor at a number of American Universities. Vattimo says he was exempted from military service. He was elected a member of the European Parliament first in and for a second mandate in
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Other Works Cited 1. He was sent to an oratory school as a child. This strongly Catholic environment led to him becoming involved with Catholic youth groups such as Azione Cattolica. He graduated in with a thesis on Aristotle that was published in To fund his studies Vattimo found employment as a television host and at a local high school. At the same time, Vattimo was working increasingly closely with Pareyson. Throughout this period Vattimo was also involved in activism, including protests against South African apartheid.
By this remark, he sought to imply that Catholicism and Italian culture were closely linked at the time. Returning to Turin after his fellowship ended, Vattimo took up a position as adjunct professor at the university in to teach aesthetics, especially those of Heidegger. In Vattimo became a full professor of aesthetics at the University of Turin. However, Vattimo was not seen as revolutionary enough by some groups. When Vattimo received letters from some of his imprisoned students, he realised that they were attempting to justify their actions on metaphysical grounds.
These events contributed to Vattimo reconsidering his own theoretical position. Through these claims, Vattimo attempts to express the view that one should not aim for fixed philosophical solutions or for certainty with regard to knowledge. Rather, one should embrace the endless play of interpretations constitutive of late modernity. His faith is difficult to categorise, being a non-dogmatic and highly idiosyncratic form of the Catholicism with which he was brought up.
Aside from his theoretical output, Vattimo has been active politically and was elected as a Member of the European Parliament in Since retiring from his university post in Turin in he has continued to publish prolifically.
The End of History Vattimo contends that the Western postmodern experience is that of the end of history. By this he means that the way we can view the past can no longer be as if it had a unilinear character. Vattimo argues that there is no longer a coherent narrative which is accepted in the West.
The typical modern narrative was one of progress, whether this concerned scientific and technological innovation, increasing freedom, or even a Marxist interpretation of history. For this narrative to be coherent it must view the past in terms of cause and effect. It must see that which has happened before as determining the present, and therefore determining the future.
According to Vattimo, history loses its unilinear character in three principal ways: theoretically, demographically, and through the rise of the society of generalised communication.
The powerful — kings, emperors, nobles — make history in a manner denied to the poor. Vattimo acknowledges that Benjamin was speaking from a nascent tradition, already begun by Marx and Nietzsche, of seeing history as constructed and not impartial. Given the selective, power-laden nature of unilinear history, Vattimo surmises that it would be mistaken to think there is only one true history. Such a realisation has profound consequences for the idea of progress.
If there is not one unique history but many histories, then there is no one clear goal throughout historical development.
This implication applies equally to sacred eschatology as to secular Marxist hopes of world revolution and of the realisation of a classless society. In modern Europe, where the unilinear conception of history had flourished, demographic effects have acted to undermine this very notion.
In particular, mass immigration has led to a greater prominence of alternative histories. Furthermore, the rebellion of previously ruled peoples is a common theme in history. However, such rebellion becomes postmodern in the context of the age of mass communication and the after-effects of the two World Wars. Of course, a hallmark of the Reformation was the importance of the printed word.
Nevertheless, it did not facilitate the en masse expression and preservation of alternative viewpoints as do radio, television and — mostly significantly — the internet. The Transparent Society, in which Vattimo most clearly outlined his ideas on the end of history, was written shortly before the mass uptake of the internet by Western consumers.
While alternative television and radio stations gave voices to more groups, Twitter, Facebook, blogs and web forums go further by allowing anyone with minimal access to technology to express their worldview. Vattimo acknowledges that this view of the effect of the culture of mass communication is in contrast to the positions of Adorno, Horkheimer, and Orwell. These thinkers predicted that a homogenisation of society would be the result of such communications technology.
Additionally, following his reading of Nietzsche, Vattimo only believes in the possibility of interpretations, rather than facts. Nevertheless, he takes great pains to show that his diagnosis of the situation of late modernity is a cogent interpretation. In particular, he claims that it makes the best possible sense of the interpretative plurality he sees around him. For Vattimo, freedom of information and media multiplicity eliminate the possibility of conceiving of a single reality.
This has epistemological consequences, since the plurality of histories and voices in the age of mass communication brings multiple rationalities and anthropologies to the fore. This undermines the possibility of constructing knowledge on certain foundations. Thus, the tendency to universalise and impose a single view of how the world is ordered on others is weakened.
That is, Vattimo considers it impossible to find objective reality among images received from the media: there is no way to step outside, or be an impartial spectator, of these images. The dissolution of the unilinear conception of history, and its implications for modern views on knowledge and reality, liberates differences by allowing local rationalities to come to the fore.
Hermeneutical Nihilism a. The postmodern experience is fragmented, whereas modernity, with its coherent narrative, is unified. Thinking within a unified, coherent narrative is oriented towards a foundation or origin. It sees history as moving forward from this origin through a logical progression.
By lacking this sense of progress, postmodern experience for Vattimo thus coincides with nihilism. In searching for an anchor for the self, the postmodern person finds no centre and no certain foundations. As such, Vattimo views the notion of nihilism as the expression of the dislocation humans feel in the postmodern age.
Not only is a foundation for knowledge undesirable in the fragmentation of experience characteristic of the postmodern age, but it is also impossible. This is not meant in a metaphysical sense, but rather as the loss of the highest values of which God is the highest of all. It is impossible to find a centre, a universally-accessible metaphysical foundation amidst all the images and messages delivered in a society of mass communication.
As a result, nihilism entails that there is no clear point of origin, no accessible epistemic foundation, and no universally-shared sense of where we are going. Heidegger thought that metaphysics was the history of the forgetting of Being, of how things are. Heidegger viewed philosophy from Plato to Nietzsche as a history of metaphysics. Since Plato, the question of Being had been pushed aside by metaphysics in favour of the question of truth, and of the relationship between subject and object.
Yet the question of truth ignores the prior ontological question, for both subject and object exist. In his reading of Heidegger, Vattimo sees metaphysics reaching its point of culmination in modern technology. Every unconcealment also conceals, however, as our knowledge of beings is always fragmentary; there is always more to the essence of a thing than is revealed to us. Rather than the Rhine appearing poetically as water flowing as a feature of a larger landscape, modern technology has made it become an energy resource.
Equally, tourism cannot see the Rhine as an object of nature, but rather merely as a source of income. All nature is challenged in this way. Humans are also challenged, for they are reduced to the level of objects used for production.
For example, human resources departments can be viewed as regarding humans as resources for production. The term for this type of revealing which is a challenging on a global scale is Ge-Stell enframing.
Ge-Stell is the culmination of metaphysics because it involves the total planning of everything in perfectly ordered relationships of cause and effect, all capable of unlimited manipulation. Heidegger had a negative view of technology because of its nihilistic conclusion as the culmination of metaphysics. Demonstrating the influence of both Heidegger and Gadamer, Vattimo thinks that Being is nothing other than language.
Therefore, the way Being appears to us is in a series of historical announcements events that colour our interpretation of the traces of Being from previous epochs the sendings of Being.
The traces of Being are transmitted through linguistic traditions into which we — as Dasein — are always already thrown. In the play of images and messages attained through media such as television, radio and the internet, the difference between subject and object dissolves. Moreover, how could one ever verify its claim to representing reality? This anthropocentrism continued in different ways through the construction of unilinear narratives surrounding progress and science.
In the Ereignis, humanity and Being traditionally considered as that which grounds the rule of reason lose their metaphysical properties of subject and object. Some philosophers take the end of metaphysics to constitute a total departure from ontology, for they feel it is too closely associated with metaphysical foundationalism.
Yet beings will plan and organise their realms such that an authority akin to the one previously associated with metaphysical Being is postulated of beings. This could lead to a relativism in which local epistemologies or groups are incapable of external criticism. Moreover, relativism may itself take on the appearance of a metaphysical principle. Rather than approaching the end of metaphysics from a relativistic standpoint or retreating into a local epistemology, Vattimo looks at the postmodern experience through a nihilistic ontology.
This fragmentation is exacerbated by the society of mass communication. Nevertheless, for Vattimo there are traces of traditions by which we can — and must — orient ourselves. Our experience of existence is absorbed into the language we use. This language is taken from traces of traditions from past epochs. This process involves the Heideggerian concept Verwindung.
Rather, Vattimo thinks that metaphysics can only be overcome by a long convalescence. If one were to overcome modernity, to leave metaphysics behind altogether, it would be to create a new foundation; whether locally, in the relativist sense described above, or as a new global epistemological foundation, one would be repeating the metaphysical tendency to create foundations.
Moreover, in modernity Being was reduced to the value of the new. The opportunity of accomplished nihilism is limited by language, and this is where Verwindung comes into play: Tradition is the transmitting of linguistic messages that constitute the horizon within which Dasein is thrown as an historically determined project: and tradition derives its importance from the fact that Being, as a horizon of disclosure in which things appear, can arise only as a trace of past words Vattimo, a: The exchange value of Being is like that of a common currency in the community.
This nostalgia is a form of resignation, since one cannot escape metaphysics without creating a new foundation. Yet in doing so, one would succumb to the sort of authoritarianism one wishes to escape.
Garisar The term for this type of revealing which is a challenging on a global scale is Ge-Stell enframing. The opportunity of accomplished nihilism is limited by language, and this is where Verwindung comes into play: Although Vattimo aimed to move away from revolutionary violence, his justification of democracy over totalitarianism is particularly timely given the Arab Spring. He is, however, far from being a traditional believer and has long criticized the Roman Catholic Church for its abiding association of God with Truth and for its conservative social and political stances, particularly with regard to gender and sexuality issues. This anthropocentrism continued in different ways through the construction of unilinear narratives surrounding progress and science. Vattimo was a Marxist during his youth. Altizer Paul van Buren John D.
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