Sguardi francesi sulla dialettica marxista: Merleau-Ponty, Sartre, Raymond Aron

This entry is part 14 of 38 in the series Vol 4-2019

Abstract: This paper analyses the interpretation of the Marxist dialectic proposed by three important French philosophers of the twentieth century: Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-1961), Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) and Raymond Aron (1905-1983). Starting from different theoretical and political points of view, they criticize the historical determinism of the Marxist dialectic and propose three different “philosophies of freedom.” In the Adventures of the Dialectic (1955), Merleau-Ponty criticizes a theory of human history based only on economic structure, and denounces the violence of the Soviet communism. He also accuses his friend Sartre – who had a more favourable attitude towards Soviet communism – of “ultrabolshevism.” Merleau-Ponty was subsequently active in the French non-communist Left. The existentialist philosopher Sartre always sympathized with the Left, and supported the French Communist Party (PCF) until the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary. In his Critique of Dialectical Reason (1960), Sartre also underlined the failure of the Soviet revolution, and criticized the violence of Marxist revolutionary thought. The last part of this paper deals with the philosopher and political sociologist Raymond Aron, who had a lifelong, sometimes fractious, friendship with Sartre. He always defended a “skeptical and anti-ideological” liberal position. In his best known book The Opium of the Intellectuals (1955), Aron argues that in post-war France, Marxism was the opium of the intellectuals. In this book, Aron chastised French intellectuals for what he described as their harsh criticism of capitalism and democracy and their simultaneous defense of Marxist oppression, atrocities, and intolerance. In opposition to the dialectical ideology of Marxism, Aron proposes an antitotalitarian philosophical and political theory based on the development of individual liberties.

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Il trascendentale come forma linguistica e storica: la proposta teoretica di Ernst Cassirer

This entry is part 11 of 33 in the series Vol 2-2017

Abstract: In this paper is analyzed Ernst Cassirer’s transcendental philosophy and his theoretical foundation of “cultural sciences” (Geisteswissenschaften). His perspective is a transcendental logic of the cultural sciences” based on the idea that the man is not only a “rational animal,” but also an animal symbolicum. Continuing the methodological approach of Hermann Cohen, Cassirer expands the Kantian vision of the transcendental epistemology to the cultural phenomena, and argues that objective and universal validity can be achieved not only in the natural sciences, but also in practical, cultural, moral, and aesthetic phenomena. He asserts that a type of inter-subjective “objective validity” takes place in the cultural sciences: it is the universal form of symbolic activity. In the paper, particular attention is given to the sources of the Cassirer’s major work: the three volumes of Philosophy of Symbolic Forms, dedicated to the Language (1923), to the Myth (1925), and to the Phenomenology of knowledge (1929). Thus, it has been underlined the fundamental role that it has had for Cassirer the study of the romantic linguistic: particularly, Herder and Wilhelm von Humboldt. Reflecting on these romantic authors Cassirer elaborates a vision of the transcendental as linguistic and historical “form of mind”. In the last part of the paper, are highlighted the ethical aspects of Cassirer’s thought. He affirms that the transcendental production of the symbolic forms is founded on the human freedom, and it is finalized to an increasing emancipation of man.

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“Archeologia del soggetto” ed “ermeneutica del sé”. Paul Ricoeur lettore e critico di Freud

This entry is part 4 of 31 in the series Vol 1-2016

Abstract: In this paper it is analyzed Paul Ricoeur’s critical comparison with Freud. We have highlighted that the psychoanalysis is interpreted as “archeology of the subject”, and as “hermeneutics of the human condition”. In particular, we have considered Ricoeur’s work of 1965 Freud and Philosophy: An Essay on Interpretation, first edited in 1965. According to Ricoeur, Freudian psychoanalysis is a form of determinism: the human action is essentially explained on the basis of an unconscious and primordial mind. In this perspective, man is not completely free: Éros, thánatos, and anánke determin the human agency. In opposition to Freudian psychoanalysis, Ricoeur proposes a teleological conception of human action. He develops a “philosophy of freedom”, and a hermeneutics of the subject based on human capabilities. In the last part of our paper, we have analyzed the great work Oneself as Another (1990), in which Ricoeur deals with the problem of selfhood in the context of contemporary discussions of “otherness.” We have particularly underlined that Ricoeur’s intention is to develop a complex ontology of homo capax. According to the French philosopher, to exist is to act: speaking, doing, telling, and assuming responsibility for the act commetted. The very “being” of human beings is to act and the effort to be. In this perspective, the human interiority is considered as dynamic production (enérgeia, conatus). Being as act and potentiality, accordingly, is the dominant meta-category that governs Ricoeur’s philosphical anthropology.

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