The Unpolitical: On the Radical Critique of Political Reason

The Unpolitical: On the Radical Critique of Political Reason

The Unpolitical: On the Radical Critique of Political Reason

The Unpolitical: On the Radical Critique of Political Reason


Massimo Cacciari is one of the leading public intellectuals in today's Italy, both as an outstanding philosopher and political thinker and as now three times (and currently) the mayor of Venice. This collection of essays on political topics provides the best introduction in English to his thought to date. The political focus does not, however, prevent these essays from being an introduction to the full range of Cacciari's thought.

The present collection includes chapters on Hofmannstahl, Lukacs, Benjamin, Nietzsche, Weber, Derrida, Schmitt, Canetti, and Aeschylus. Written between 1978 and 2006, these essays engagingly address the most hidden tradition in European political thought: the Unpolitical. Far from being a refusal of politics, the Unpolitical represents a merciless critique of political reason and a way out of the now impracticable consolations of utopia and harmonious community. Drawing freely from philosophy and literature, The Unpolitical represents a powerful contribution to contemporary political theory.

A lucid and engaging Introduction by Alessandro Carrera sets these essays in the context of Cacciari's work generally and in the broadest context of its historical and geographical backdrop.


Alessandro Carrera

Negative Thought and the Autonomy of Politics

Massimo Cacciari’s career is nothing short of impressive. Both an academic philosopher and a public figure who has devoted a significant part of his life to active politics, he is also one of the high-profile intellectuals in contemporary Italy. Born in Venice in 1944, Cacciari graduated in philosophy from the University of Padua with a dissertation on Kant’s Critique of Judgment. When he was twenty years old, he and literary scholar Cesare De Michelis started Angelus novus, an innovative journal that lasted from 1964 to 1966. Between 1968 and 1971 Cacciari coedited another journal, Contropiano: Materiali marxisti (Counterplan: Marxist Materials) with Alberto Asor Rosa, later an influential scholar and a leading literary critic. Between 1967 and 1969 Cacciari was close to the radical leftist movement Potere Operaio (Workers’ Power). in the early 1970s he abandoned his initial radicalism and in 1971 was appointed professor of history of architecture at the Architecture Institute of Venice; in 1985, he became professor of aesthetics in the same school. in 1976 he joined the Italian Communist Party and served as representative to the Italian Parliament from 1976 to 1983. in 1983 he abandoned his party militancy.

At the beginning of the 1980s, Cacciari began an intensive collaboration with two new journals, Il centauro (The Centaur, 1980–1985), and . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.