This introduction sets out the circumstances that gave rise to the collection of essays presented in this special issue of the «Rivista di Filosofia Neo-Scolastica». Furthermore, the theoretical lines and methodological assumptions lying at the bottom of the whole project are outlined, in order to make the intertwining of the diverse perspectives at stake more evident. Finally, some indications are provided about the approaches, the topics and the authors discussed in every single text.
The two leading questions of this paper are: How do we have to conceive objectivity, and where does the normativity of objectivity come from? These are challenging questions because the traditional reservoirs that are required to answer them (like, e.g., ontological metaphysics and universalism) are no longer at our disposal the way they used to be. On one side the idea of objectivity plays a highly important role in our triangular I-We/You-World relations. On the other side, objectivity seems to be highly elusive and hard to grasp. The leading thesis of this paper is that we can solve the riddle of objectivity by conceiving our objectivity assumptions as internal presuppositions of our human experience, perception, speech, thought, and action. Given that this new conception of objectivity must integrate the temporal and processual nature of what counts as an object and an objectivity, we face the crucial desideratum of developing a dynamic model of objectivity.
18th Century German Philosophy can be characterized by competing attempts to analyze the notion of «possibility», some of which are still of philosophical interest. Famous examples are Leibniz’s theory of infinite possible words, Wolff’s development of ontology on the basis of logical possibility and the law of non-contradiction, Lambert’s radically constructivist conception of the possible (as that, which can be made) and, finally, of course Kant’s modal definition of «possibility» as conformity to the a priori conditions of experience. In my paper I shall argue that in the works of the philosophers of the Thomasian school in Leipzig—Johann Andreas Rüdiger (1673-1731), August Friedrich Müller (1684-1761), Adolf Friedrich Hoffmann (1703-1741) and Christian August Crusius (1715-1775)—we find an alternative conception of «possibility» that deserves similar attention. According to this conception, the notion of «possibility» is based on the epistemological notion of «hypothesis». Thus, the possible is not explained in terms of possible worlds, logical non-contradiction, mathematical constructions or the formal conditions of experience. Rather, the ontological concept of possibility is reduced to the role it plays in the formulation of a theory or in the description of a hypothetical state of affairs. Moreover, a distinctive feature of that conception of the possible lies in the fact that these philosophers did not attempt to contrast it to a stronger notion of «necessity». Rather, they defended the primacy of subjectivity and contingency on the basis of a pure epistemological definition of the possible. This seems to be a typical feature of an «empiricist» conception of reality, which basically excludes any reference to the notion of rational law. For these philosopher, scientific hypotheses are mere possibilities that are derived from experience and therefore exhibit a certain degree of probability. What makes these theories philosophically relevant is not only the attempt to develop the empirical notion of hypothetical possibility in strictly metaphysical terms, but also to reduce all other ontological concepts and all metaphysical principles to it.
The contribution seeks to elucidate the multiform and complex relation that links the a priori and the a posteriori in Kant’s transcendental philosophy. The contribution proceeds in six sections that address as many essential aspects of the relation in question. Each section opens with a key quotation from Kant (two such quotations in the case of section 6), followed in each case by concatenated systematic reflections based on the text of the Critique of Pure Reason. The thesis of the contribution can be conveyed by the grammatical ambiguity in its key concept, «enabling experience» (Erfahrungsermöglichung), which oscillates between «experience» being the grammatical object and the grammatical subject of the enabling in question. For Kant, only an experience that is itself enabled by something other than experience, viz., the non-empirical, can enable something other than experience, viz., the non-empirical.
Bearing in mind the problem of body-soul commerce, and its sub-task of reordering the I’s bodily and spiritual faculties—all pertinent questions in the elevation of the new study of man to a science of man—, the present essay intends to analyze how these are seen by Platner, Baumgarten, and especially in Kant’s Lectures on Anthropology. Here, we aim at explaining how the different imaginative faculties, and their singular redisposition, serve the purpose of a Kantian anthropology; how Kant indeed proposes that revolution of the representative faculties, and centers it around the faculty of imagination; and how, with this pragmatic conception of the faculty of imagination, Kant suggests an alternative temporality and existence, thus supplanting Platner’s and even Baumgarten’s more objective and generalizing conception of the power of imagination, and bringing the imagining I’s subjectivity to the center of the creative process.
The concept of causality is central to the assessment of numerous related metaphysical and epistemic positions, in Hegel and elsewhere. The present essay tries 1) to understand Hegel’s critique of the merely categorically understood concept of causality; 2) to uncover the theoretical structure that must accompany the categorical concept of causality in order to avoid the problems mentioned above; and 3) to argue that such a theory of causality has a fundamental function for Hegel’s conception of objectivity.
What does it mean to be objective? Is someone objective from the outset or does he or she become objective? Does objectivity dwell within a fact, a state, a value, an intention, a wish, a decision, or does it reveal itself in a space or in a place? Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy makes it possible to tackle those questions, starting from an epistemological aporia, and following a phenomenologically oriented methodological impulse. Indeed, his philosophy confidently denounces the dream of absolute objectivity that inhabits some exact and human sciences, which seem ready to sacrifice everything to objectivity, including their rigour. The paradox of objectivity lies then in the fact that objectivity exists at the very price of its absoluteness. On this critical basis, Merleau-Ponty’s approach emphasizes the necessity of investigating more deeply the problem of objectivity, from the perspective of a transcendental and embodied intersubjectivity. Such an approach eventually provides a renewed access to the notion of objectivity, by trying to conceive of it at the crossroads of the subjective and the objective, in the heart of Nature and in the co-belonging to being. In doing so, a strange form of objectivity emerges, which is no longer «objective» in the sense that we use to say it (but not «subjective» either), an objectivity that has to be conquered, full of promise, fragile and secondary.
Realism is often presented as a defence of the existence of certain objects, or, in a way that must probably be distinguished, of the objectivity of certain thoughts or statements. This text discusses these presuppositions, questioning the notions of «object» and «objectivity». It highlights the underlying perspectival metaphor that seems to be constitutive of modern philosophy, and questions its limits. After criticizing a conception of thought and discourse that understands their respective engagements with reality on the model of perception, it questions the adequacy, constantly presupposed by modern philosophy, of the perspectival model as an interpretation of perception itself. The notion of «perspective» and the notion of «object» that depends on it are not able to provide by themselves any key to reality. One must rather turn the problem upside down and become aware that there is no perspective – and therefore no «object» in this sense – without real conditions.
In this essay I would like to introduce three possible models for dealing philosophically with a theological-religious object. These three models are illustrated by three concepts, namely, analogy, paradox and dispositive. However, the three models also correspond to approaches of three disciplines, namely natural theology, philosophy of religion and political theology. What is usually called «philosophy of religion» is in fact stricto sensu only a historically determined way of philosophically exploring transcendence. But this particular way has a history a parte ante, and now also a history a parte post. The three concepts and the three approaches thus correspond to three stages in time or three historical phases of what can be called «philosophy of religion» only broadly, but not in the strict sense.
The present paper aims to explore the possibility of rethinking the concept of objectivity by abandoning the idea that it cannot be defined except by its opposition to subjectivity. The leading idea is that such a dependence upon the contrast to the subjective dimension has impoverished the investigation prospects on the concept of objectivity. In order to propose this new way to look at the concept of objectivity, we will start from the early twentieth-century debate between Neo-Kantianism (Natorp) and Phenomenology (Husserl). This is a meaningful example of the way in which objectivity depends on subjectivity, and even more on the relationship between subjectivity and temporality. Then we will refer to G. Abel’s philosophy of signs and interpretation, as a very perspicuous perspective, which allows to disentangle the subject from temporality within the process that brings to the construction of what we call «objective reality». This methodological paradigm’s overturning sets the stage for an idea of objectivity, which relies on the basic assumption that, in a sense, the objects can be taken as having their own life.
The concept of ‘medically assisted suicide’ has been recently introduced in the bioethical debate. In Italy, a recent verdict of the Constitutional Court has established a difference between helping and instigating suicide, thereby stating that in some clinical cases it is legitimate to help those who want to commit suicide. This way of considering the problem changes the standpoint and the theoretical framework on the suicide topic, which is placed in the medical context, and is at the same time confronted with both euthanasia and the remit of healthcare. In this thematic shift medicine is not called upon to explain or to contrast suicide—as in psychiatric and psychoanalytical practice and literature—but to facilitate it, although, under certain conditions. Indeed, such a kind of suicide would be in line with the so-called ‘rational’ suicide, based on the individual’s free and conscious choice, while other forms of suicide, to be hindered and restrained, would not enjoy this premise. Here, we would like to consider whether it is legitimate, from the standpoint of an articulated philosophical reflection, to address the issue of medically assisted suicide without pronouncing on the moral legitimacy of suicide as such. On this evaluation will depend the possibility of considering assistance to suicide, regulated by legal procedures and medical protocols, either as a morally legitimate act or as a complicity that does not escape the logic of instigation, even admitting diverse forms of instigation, not all of which can be configured as assistance.
This paper aims to provide a critical edition of the first two questions of the Prologue of the redactio posterior of the Commentary on the Sentences by Alessandro Bonini of Alessandria, Franciscan Master, successor of Duns Scotus at the chair of Theology at the University of Paris (1307-1308). In the context of his metatheological reflections, Alessandro presents his thoughts on the possibilities and limits of the human intellect in comparison with Henry of Ghent and Duns Scotus. The critical edition is preceded by a brief historical-theoretical introduction that is meant to identify key aspects of both questions.
Ermenegildo Bertola (Vercelli, 1909-2000), was an important historian of medieval philosophy in the Italian academic panorama. In particular he pioneered the studies concerning the Jewish philosophical tradition. After a brief biographical note, the present contribution concisely focuses on some specific research topics regarding the history of medieval philosophy, the domain Bertola was mainly interested in.
According to Leonardo Messinese’s ‘original metaphysics’, the concrete reason – in the process of phenomenological becoming – is the relationship of creation. Starting from the reflections of Gustavo Bontadini and Emanuele Severino, the contribution aims to present and discuss this concrete form of experience (and of metaphysics), without the reiteration of the abstract logic of ‘isolation’.
The aim of this paper is to introduce the readers to the current state of Italian studies about one of the main philosophers of the Modern Age, Francisco Suárez. The main purpose of these pages is to give a triple perspective on his vision: metaphysics, philosophy of law and politics and the influence of Suárez on the authors that came after him.