Sturzo, Luigi (1871–1959)

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Luigi Sturzo, the Italian political figure and philosopher who elaborated a systematic historical anthropology, was born in Caltagirone, Sicily. He was ordained a priest in 1894 and received a doctorate in philosophy from the Gregorian University in Rome in 1898. He taught philosophy at the seminary in Caltagirone from 1898 to 1903. Sturzo served as mayor of Caltagirone from 1905 to 1920. He founded the Italian Popular Party in 1919 and served as its political secretary from 1919 to 1923. As early as 1926, in Italy and Fascism, Sturzo exposed the total economic concentration of power in the ruling radical right and the method of violence by which the power elite governed. His major works were written in exile in the period from 1924 to 1946 in Paris, London, and New York and were first published in translations. In recognition of his historic role in the birth of the Italian Republic, Sturzo was named a senator for life in 1952.

In philosophy Sturzo elaborated a "dialectic of the concrete" based primarily on the thought of St. Augustine, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Giambattista Vico, and Maurice Blondel. He opposed this dialectic to both absolute idealism, which he regarded as a necessitarian monism, and scholastic realism, which he considered a spectatorlike abstractionism. At the basis of his thought is historical man projected into "the fourth dimension, that of time." Man is at one and the same time individual and social, free and conditioned, structural and in process; he is a singular history in process rather than a nature fixed in essence. Man is never pure becoming, however, but a radical tendency toward reason in action.

Organically, man is constitutionally relational in his total organic connections. Socially, he is a manifold and simultaneous projection of collective purposes that are made concrete in social structures that embody his many needs in a dynamic interplay of primary and subsidiary associations.

When collective purposes become institutionalized and each social form presses for exclusive domination, conflicts are engendered. If one form gains such domination, forces of renewal and reform are unwittingly released. Thus, driven by precarious and incomplete achievements, man advances by conquering new dimensions of experience, both personal and collective.

The most radical novelty and the most powerful solvent of conflicting interests is the concrete ingression of the divine into the total human process. This "historicization of the divine" in its empirical reality is both singular and collective and constitutes the driving force of human progress.

Although he recognized the recurrence of regression, Sturzo professed an enlightened optimism, similar to that of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, born out of his vision of one humankind moving toward ever greater socialization through the growth of international consciousness as revealed in the rationalization of force and the repudiation of war.


works by sturzo

Opera Omnia. Edited under the auspices of the Istituto Luigi Sturzo. Bologna, 1953. Of a projected 30 vols., 12 have been published.

The following works were first published in Italian in Opera Omnia, First Series.

La comunità internazionale e il diritto di guerra (1928). Vol. II. 1954. Translated by Barbara B. Carter as The International Community and the Right of War. London: Allen and Unwin, 1929.

La società: Sociologica storicista (1935). Vol. III. 1960. Translated by Barbara B. Carter as The Inner Laws of Society. New York: P.J. Kenedy, 1944.

Chiesa e stato: Studio sociologico-storico (1937). Vols. VVI. 1959. Translated by Barbara B. Carter as Church and State. New York, 1939.

La vera vita (1943). Vol. VII. 1960. Translated by Barbara B. Carter as The True Life. Washington, DC: Catholic University of America Press, 1943.

Del metodo sociologico. Bergamo, Italy, 1950.

works on sturzo

De Rosa, Gabriele. Storia del partito popolare. Bari: Laterza, 1958.

Di Lascia, Alfred. "Sturzo." Cross Currents 9 (1959): 400410.

Pollock, Robert C., ed. "Luigi Sturzo: An Anthology." Thought. 28 (1953): 165202. Pollock's commentary is invaluable.

Timasheff, Nicholas S. The Sociology of Luigi Sturzo. Baltimore: Helicon Press, 1962.

Walsh, John, and Joan Quick. "A Sturzo Bibliography." Thought 28 (1953): 202208.

Alfred Di Lascia (1967)