The philosopher Gianni Vattimo has died, he was 87 years old. Vattimo had been hospitalized in Rivoli hospital, in the province of Turin.
Vattimo passed away in the evening in Turin, as Simone Caminada, the philosopher’s companion in the last years of his life, told La Repubblica. The philosopher’s health conditions had worsened in recent days, as Caminada himself reported on social media.
Among the most famous Italian philosophers and among the greatest exponents of hermeneutic philosophy at a global level, translated into various languages, scholar and original continuer of the thought of Martin Heidegger, Vattimo theorized the abandonment of the claims of foundation of metaphysics and the relativization of every perspective philosophy, thus becoming the master of “weak thinking” on an international level.
Born in Turin on 4 January 1936 as Gianteresio known as Gianni, Vattimo was a student of Luigi Pareyson, together with Umberto Eco with whom he shared friendship and interests, graduating in philosophy in 1959 at the University of Turin. In addition to his youthful militancy in Catholic Action, Vattimo was also among the pioneers of Italian television with Eco: in 1954 together they participated and won a Rai competition for the hiring of new officials; they left the television organization in the late 1950s. Vattimo then specialized at the University of Heidelberg with Hans Georg Gadamer and Karl Löwith. In 1964 he became a professor at the University of Turin, first as professor of aesthetics, then (from 1982) as professor of theoretical philosophy. A scholar of contemporary hermeneutic philosophy, he investigated its historical presuppositions and developed its theoretical implications, dedicating his research to Friedrich Schleiermacher, Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger and Gadamer, for whom he edited the Italian edition of “Truth and Method” (1972 ).
Vattimo has taught as a visiting professor in the United States and held seminars in various universities around the world. He was director of the Rivista di estetica, member of scientific committees of various Italian and foreign magazines, corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of Turin, as well as a columnist for the newspapers “La Stampa” and “La Repubblica” and for the weekly “L’ Expressed”. He received honorary degrees from the Universities of La Plata, Palermo, Madrid and from the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos in Lima.
Vattimo was not only a speculative thinker but also a prominent militant intellectual of the left, openly homosexual and at the same time claiming his Catholic faith, carrying out political activity in various formations: first in the Radical Party, then in the Alleanza per Torino, subsequently in the Democrats of the Left (from 1999 to 2004), for which he was a European parliamentarian, and finally in the Party of Italian Communists. From 2009 to 2015 he was a European parliamentarian for Antonio Di Pietro’s Italia dei Valori.
The complexity of his thought places Vattimo among the main postmodern philosophers. On the basis of the Nietzschean and Heideggerian objections to the ‘metaphysics of representation’ (correspondence of language to being) and in consonance with Gadamerian hermeneutics, Vattimo came to identify being and language, underlining the role that interpretation based on presuppositions linguistic and historical-cultural significance in every area of human experience. The hermeneutic outcomes of contemporary philosophy constitute for Vattmo the starting point of a historicized and “nihilistic” conception of reality and values, for which being exists only as temporality and as the “transmission of linguistic messages” from an era to the other. This perspective is codified with the proposal – connected to the Nietzschean and Heideggerian theoretical horizon, but also convergent with the postmodernist (Jean-François Lyotar) and neopragmatist (Richard Rorty) theses – of a “weak thought” characterized by the abandonment of pretensions of foundation of traditional metaphysics and of every philosophical or ideological conception that intends to present itself as absolute. He has recently proposed a “secularized” vision of the Christian faith, based on charity and considered adequate for the contemporary era, characterized by the dissolution of metaphysical projects.
Vattimo has numerous books, including: “Being, history and language in Heidegger” (Edizioni di Filosofia, 1963); “Poetry and ontology” (Mursia, 1967); “Schleiermacher philosopher of interpretation” (Mursia, 1968); “The subject and the mask. Nietzsche and the problem of liberation” (Bompiani, 1974); “The adventures of difference. What it means to think after Nietzsche and Heidegger” (Garzanti, 1980); “Beyond the subject” (Feltrinelli, 1981); “The weak thought (collection of essays edited in collaboration with Pier Aldo Rovatti, Feltrinelli, 1983); “The end of modernity. Nihilism and hermeneutics in post-modern culture” (1989); “Ethics of interpretation” (Rosenberg & Sellier, 1989); “Beyond interpretation” (Laterza, 1994); “Believing in believing” (Garzanti, 1996); “Dialogue with Nietzsche. Essays 1961-2000” (Garzanti, 2001); “Technique and existence. A philosophical map of the twentieth century” (Bruno Mondadori, 2002); “After Christianity. For a non-religious Christianity” (Garzanti, 2002); “On reality” (Garzanti, 2012). The volumes “Being and surroundings” (La Nave di Teseo, 2018) and “Philosophical and political writings” (La Nave di Teseo, 2018) have recently appeared. Ship of Theseus, 2021).
(by Paolo Martini)
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