Abstract: The main purpose of this essay is to show how Benedetto Croce’s historical method is founded on his conception of dialectics. The so-called “reform” of Hegelian dialectics essentially lies in Croce’s interpretation of the “Phenomenology of the Spirit.” In this paper, I show how Croce’s construction of the historical method is in close relationship with the construction of his philosophical system, namely a “dialectic of the distinct activities of the human spirit.” The Italian philosopher divides mental activity first into the theoretical and the practical, and then into 4 further divisions: Aesthetic (driven by beauty), Logic (subject to truth), Economics (concerned with what is useful), and Ethics (bound to the good). Following the studies of some significant interpreters (Eugenio Garin, Gennaro Sasso, Fulvio Tessitore and Giuseppe Galasso), I conclude that Croce’s dialectics is an essential element to understand his philosophical system and his historical method, which are closely connected. I think that historiography is always (and should be) necessarily connected to a specific philosophical vision.
Abstract: This paper analyzes Giovanni Gentile’s dialectical philosophy, which he called “actualism,” and has been described as “the subjective extreme of the idealist tradition.” According to Gentile, the “pure act” of thinking is foundational to all human experience – it creates the phenomenal world – and involves a process of “reflective awareness.” Gentile’s dialectic is a radicalization of Kant’s transcendental philosophy, and is an absolutisation of subjectivity. Although I recognize the theoretical value of Gentile’s philosophy of mind, I criticize the abstraction and the immanence of this idealistic point of view, expressing the idea “that only the spirit or mind is real.”