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Vattimo, Gianni 1936–

Vattimo, Gianni 1936–

PERSONAL: Born January 4, 1936, in Turin, Italy; son of Raffaele (a policeman) and Rosa (Richiero) Vattimo. Education: Turin University, graduated, 1959; attended University of Heidelberg, 1962–64.

ADDRESSES: Home—Turin, Italy. Agent—c/o Associazione Democratici, Via San Pio V, 20, Turin 10125, Italy.

CAREER: University of Turin, Turin, Italy, assistant professor, 1964–69, professor of aesthetics, 1969–82, professor of theoretical philosophy, 1982–. Member of European Parliament, 1999–.

MEMBER: Academy of Science (Italy; fellow).

WRITINGS:

IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION

Le avventure della differenza: Che cosa significa pensare dopo Nietzsche e Heidegger (essays), Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 1980, translated by Cyprian Blamires and Thomas Harrison as The Adventure of Difference: Philosophy after Nietzsche and Heidegger, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1993.

La fine della modernita, Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 1985, translated by Jon R. Snyder as The End of Modernity: Nihilism and Hermeneutics in Postmodern Culture, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1988.

La societa trasparente (essays), Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 1989, translated by David Webb as The Transparent Society, Johns Hopkins University Press (Baltimore, MD), 1992.

Oltre l'interpretazione: Il significato dell'ermeneutica per la filosofia, Laterza (Rome, Italy), 1994, translated by David Webb as Beyond Interpretation: The Meaning of Hermeneutics for Philosophy, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 1997.

(Editor, with Jacques Derrida) La Religion, Editions du Seuil (Paris, France), 1996, translated as Religion, Stanford University Press (Stanford, CA), 1998.

Credere di credere, Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 1996, translated by Luca D'Isanto and David Webb as Belief, Polity Press (Cambridge, England), 1999.

Dialogo con Nietzsche: saggi 1961–2000, Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 2000, translated by William McCuaig as Dialogue with Nietzsche: Essays, 1961–2000, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

Dopo la cristianita: per un christianesimo non religioso, Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 2002, translated by Luca D'Isanto as After Christianity, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Nichilismo ed emancipazione: etica, politica, diritto, Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 2003, translated by William McCuaig as Nihilism and Emancipation: Ethics, Politics, and Law, edited by Santiago Zabala, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

(With Richard Rorty) The Future of Religion, edited by Santiago Zabala, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 2005.

UNTRANSLATED WORKS

Il concetto di fare in Aristotele, Giappichelli (Turin, Italy), 1961.

Essere, storia e linguaggio in Heidegger, Filosofia (Turin, Italy), 1963.

Ipotesi su Nietzsche, Giappichelli (Turin, Italy), 1967.

Introduzione all'ermeneutica di Schleiermacher, Giappichelli (Turin, Italy), 1967.

Poesia e ontologia, Mursia (Milan, Italy), 1968.

Schleiermacher filosofo dell'interpretazione, Mursia (Milan, Italy), 1968.

Introduzione ad Heidegger, Laterza (Rome, Italy), 1971.

Il soggetto e la maschera Nietzsche e il problema della liberazione, Bompiani (Milan, Italy), 1974.

Estetica moderna, Il Mulino (Bologna, Italy), 1977.

Al di la del soggetto: Nietzsche, Heidegger e l'ermeneutica, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1981.

(Editor, with P.A. Rovatti) Il pensiero debole, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1983.

La fine della modernita, Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 1985.

Introduzione a Nietzsche, Laterza (Rome, Italy), 1985.

Etica dell'interpretazione, Rosenberg & Sellier (Turin, Italy), 1989.

(With Luca Bagetto) Filosofia al presente, Garzanti (Milan, Italy), 1990.

(With Pier Aldo Rovatti) Il pensiero debole, Feltrinelli (Milan, Italy), 1990.

(With others) Modernita senza avanguardia, Electa (Milan, Italy), 1990.

(With Katie Roggero and Peter Sarkoezy) L'Ungheria e l'Europa, Bulzoni (Rome, Italy), 1996.

(With Francia D'Agostini) Vocazione e responsabilita del filosofo: Filosofia 2000, Il Melangolo (Genoa, Italy), 2000.

(With Giovanni Ruggeri and Pierangelo Sequeri) Interrogazioni sul cristianesimo: Cosa possiamo ancora attenderci dal Vangelo?, Edizioni Lavoro (Rome, Italy), 2000.

Il socialismo, ossia L'Europa, edited by Giuseppe Iannantuono and Mario Cedrini, Trauben (Turin, Italy), 2004.

Author of annual monograph, Filosofia; editor of Rivista di estetica (title means "Aesthetic Review"); member of the scientific committees of Italian and International journals.

SIDELIGHTS: Gianni Vattimo is a philosophy professor who demonstrates what Claudia Baracchi, writing in the Review of Metaphysics, called "a sustained concern with the ethical and political implications of postmodern thought. "Baracchi added that Vattimo applies himself to "the question of the possibility of interpretation, recollection, and communication in the fading of comprehensive metaphysical frameworks." Another critic, Robert Cooper, noted in Sociological Review that "for Vattimo, interpretation is an 'event,' a happening: it's not the cognitive rendering of an object that is already there. "Cooper wrote that "Vattimo explores the various features of hermeneutic interpretation—opening, event, sending on, coming and going—as 'unfounding' forces in the constituting of late-modern reality. He discusses and illustrates their significance in several different socio-cultural contexts—science, ethics, religion, art—and shows how hermeneutic interpretation is common to them all."

Vattimo's writings in English translation include The Adventure of Difference: Philosophy after Nietzsche and Heidegger, a collection of essays on the nature, and validity, of interpretation. Among the philosophers whose works are discussed are Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida. Bryan S. Turner, writing in Sociological Review, affirmed that "this translation is a welcome addition to social theory," though he warned that "these essays are not exactly easy reading." A Review of Metaphysics critic, appraising the original Italian edition, acknowledged that Vattimo is "considered to be the leading Italian critic of Nietzsche and Heidegger." The critic, who described Vattimo's perspective as "post-existential," lauded The Adventure of Difference as "eloquent and instructive." Baracchi, meanwhile, noted that the essays reflect the development of Vattimo's "interpretive positions over a period of several years."

In another work, The Transparent Society, Vattimo provides, according to Ronald Brogue in Comparative Literature Studies, a "significant account of postmodernity." Brogue stated that "Vattimo's claim is that the project of modernity can only emerge in a world of increasing communication, but that the establishment of a society of generalized communication thwarts the very aims of that project." Choice reviewer R.E. Palmer, lauding Vattimo as "a brilliant contemporary … philosopher," concluded that The Transparent Society "sheds a refreshing light on a wide range of topics." Journal of Communications critic Briankle G. Chang, describing Vattimo as "sophisticated and optimistic," praised his book as "lucidly written and well worth one's while." Brogue found "much to recommend" and considered Vattimo "an important voice in contemporary philosophy."

Vattimo also discusses communication in Beyond Interpretation: The Meaning of Hermeneutics for Philosophy, an examination of relativism, nihilism, and the validity of interpretation. Cooper noted that Vattimo "addresses the question of communication in his continuing scrutiny of the techno-scientific character of late modernity." He added that "Vattimo's nihilistic hermeneutics is a response to the increasing mediatization of the late-modern world where science, technology and mass culture come together in the society of generalized communication." Choice reviewer D.M. Maier proclaimed Beyond Interpretation "an important contribution to contemporary philosophy" and contended that the book "should have a broad readership."

Vattimo and Derrida are the editors of Religion, a collection of conference papers that Mark I. Wallace noted in Journal of Religion "represent a broadly postmodernist focus on the resurgence of religious belief and practice in the aftermath of the modernist dismissal of religion as an exercise in dogmatism and superstition." In his contribution, "The Trace of the Trace, "Vattimo argues that religion is enjoying a revival fueled by nostalgia. Not known for being a religious philosopher, Vattimo nonetheless wrote Belief, in which he traces his own return to faith. David B. Hart wrote in the Journal of Religion that "it is within the very project of hermeneutical retrieval that has long occupied him that an opening to theology has appeared; the history of the decline of every 'strong thought of Being,' he now asserts, belongs to the history of the proclamation of God's kenosis in Christ—to, that is, 'salvation history.' Moreover, he believes that this turning in his thought is dictated by the 'piety' of weak thought, the peaceful act of Andenken that he thinks a postmetaphysical philosophy must become."

Continuing with this theme, in After Christianity Vattimo considers the effect of Christianity on contemporary secular society and whether Christian ideas and ideals can influence a reclamation of Christianity. The Future of Religion, written with Richard Rorty, speculates on the evolution of religion in Western culture. The authors contend that metaphysical thought has been rejected in the West and that this abandonment "is incompatible with democracy and the exercise of civic responsibility and virtue," noted Paul J. Griffiths in First Things. "And finally there's the claim that religion, though slow to achieve this, is moving inexorably in the same post-metaphysical direction: away from being a contributor to the ordering of the public sphere, and toward being a private comfort that may foster civic virtue."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, July, 2002, Steven Schroeder, review of After Christianity, p. 1802.

Choice, February, 1993, R.E. Palmer, review of The Transparent Society, p. 979; September, 1997, D.M. Maier, review of Beyond Interpretation: The Meaning of Hermeneutics for Philosophy, p. 145.

First Things, June-July, 2005, Paul J. Griffiths, review of The Future of Religion, p. 38.

Journal of Communication, winter, 1994, Briankle G. Chang, review of The Transparent Society, pp. 140-142.

Journal of Religion, October, 2000, Mark I. Wallace, review of Religion, p. 692; January, 2002, David B. Hart, review of Belief, p. 132; October, 2003, W. David Hall, review of After Christianity, p. 658.

Library Journal, September 15, 2004, Francisca Goldsmith, review of Nihilism and Emancipation: Ethics, Politics, and Law, p. 60; February 15, 2005, James A. Overbeck, review of The Future of Religion, p. 136.

Review of Metaphysics, September, 1992, review of Le avventure della differenza: Che cosa significa pensare dopo Nietzsche e Heidegger, pp. 174-176; March, 1995, Claudia Baracchi, review of The Adventure of Difference: Philosophy after Nietzsche and Heidegger, pp. 681-683.

Sociological Review, November, 1994, Bryan S. Turner, review of The Adventure of Difference, pp. 789-791; November, 1997, Robert Cooper, "Millennium Notes for Social Theory," pp. 690-703.

ONLINE

Gianni Vattimo Home Page, http://www.giannivattimo.it (January 29, 2006).

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