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Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 November 2023

Simonetta Moro
Affiliation:
Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts (IDSVA)
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Summary

Have called by their names many of those in Heaven

For we are a conversation

And able to hear from each other.

Hölderlin, ‘Versöhnender, der du nimmergeglaubt’, 72–4

The notes that follow are based for the most part on Gianni Vattimo’s own autobiography, Not Being God, written with Piergiorgio Paterlini (2016 [2006]); on Santiago Zabala’s comprehensive introduction to Weakening Philosophy: Essays in Honour of Gianni Vattimo (2007); on the long interview Vattimo conducted with Luca Savarino and Federico Vercellone, ‘Gianni Vattimo: Philosophy as Ontology of Actuality’ (2009d); and on various other sources from the Vattimo Archive (Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona) and as specified in the text.

A BIOGRAPHICAL-INTELLECTUAL PROFILE

Gianteresio (Gianni) Vattimo (b. Turin, 1936) is one of those rare philosophers who can claim the mantle of public intellectual, the engagé thinker called to comment on the political and social issues of his time while simultaneously developing an extremely sophisticated, complex and specialised branch of philosophical thought. He is a philosopher in the classic sense of the term: a well-rounded, inclusive figure who has embraced, in his mature years especially, the idea that philosophy is praxis – in the political sense as much as in any other – an approach we find in the origins of Western philosophy.

As Antonio Gnoli writes in his introduction to the ‘Opera Omnia’, Scritti filosofici e politici, ‘[Vattimo’s] writings go beyond the theories that he professes and enter into the existence of a man who, after all, thought the way he lived. It is no small thing. And even though some may think it is, I would like his versatility and his contradictions to be seen as a singular form of coherence’ (2021: 12, my translation). This ‘singular coherence’ may in part derive from Vattimo’s status as a ‘literate proletarian’, as he loves to define himself (Gnoli 2021: 15), which is in marked distinction to most of his fellow schoolmates, and later, colleagues. Vattimo is the son of a Calabrese policeman who died of pneumonia when he was a year old, and of a Turinese tailor who worked from home. A precocious learner, he was always considered by his mother and his sister to be the ‘educated’ member of the family.

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Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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