Weakening Philosophy: A Forum on Gianni Vattimo

By Santiago ZabalaNovember 10, 2016

Weakening Philosophy: A Forum on Gianni Vattimo
2016 HAS BEEN A BIG YEAR for the Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo. In January, he turned 80; an updated edition of his autobiography, Not Being God, was released; in June, his archives were inaugurated at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. During his speech at the inauguration, the president of the university, Professor Jaume Casals (also a philosopher), stressed how important it is for the university “to host the archives of the father of ‘pensiero debole [weak thought],’ a philosophical stance centered on weakening political and religious dogmatism, an urgent matter in the 21st century.”

The goal of this forum is not simply to celebrate this important year for Vattimo but also to engage his thought critically. This is why I invited thinkers to interpret his philosophy of religion (Noëlle Vahanian), nihilism (Robert T. Valgenti), political thought (Katerina Kolozova), and the latest developments of weak thought (William Egginton). Their concise contributions allow us to acknowledge the significance and diversity of Vattimo’s philosophical work. Yet Vattimo was more than philosopher who wrote seminal studies of Nietzsche and Heidegger, influencing such thinkers as Richard Rorty and Jacques Derrida: he was also a politician who relentlessly fought for and endorsed progressive policies both in Italy and at the European Union, where he was a deputy for 10 years. The pieces here honor both aspects of his legacy.

Even though Vattimo has retired from political and academic life, he is hardly inactive. Like other “retired” philosophers, such as Ágnes Heller and Jürgen Habermas, he continues to engage in philosophical, political, and cultural debates throughout the world. This forum testifies to that continued engagement.

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Santiago Zabala is ICREA Research Professor of Philosophy at Pompeu Fabra University and author of The Remains of Being (2009), The Hermeneutic Nature of Analytic Philosophy (2008), and co-author, with Gianni Vattimo, of Hermeneutic Communism (2011).

LARB Contributor

Santiago Zabala is ICREA Research Professor of Philosophy at the Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. He is the author or editor of 13 books and has written for The Guardian, The New York Times, and Al-Jazeera. His most recent book is Being at Large: Freedom in the Age of Alternative Facts(McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2020). His web page is http://www.santiagozabala.com/. (Photograph by Xavier Cervera.)

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