Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Del Noce, Augusto. the Crisis of Modernity

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Del Noce, Augusto. the Crisis of Modernity

Article excerpt

DEL NOCE, Augusto. The Crisis of Modernity. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2015. xxiv + 312 pp. Cloth, $100.00; paper, $34.95--Augusto Del Noce (1910-1989) was one of the most important philosophers in Italy in the second half of the twentieth century, but remains relatively unknown in the English-speaking world. Carlo Lancellotti, the editor and translator of the present volume, has sought to introduce him to this world by gathering together a dozen essays (plus two more, and an illuminating interview, as appendices) written in the last twenty years of the philosopher's life, all of which concern some aspect of his interpretation of modernity.

Del Noce's philosophical project, at its heart, was to inquire into the metaphysical roots of the movements and events of modern history, and so to understand that history in the light of perennial truths. He wrote his dissertation on Malebranche in 1932 and initially established himself as an expert on early modern philosophy. This early work eventually developed into a more general exploration of the role of atheism in modern thought, and then the meaning and implications of secularization. A major part of his intellectual life was spent studying the philosophy of Marx and the varieties of Marxism, which dominated in Italy after World War II. While many Catholic thinkers were attracted to Marxism as an alternative to Fascism, Del Noce--who initially had some sympathies himself--came to see that atheism was not simply a possible outcome of Marxism, but its indispensable presupposition.

One of Del Noce's central insights, around which a great deal of his work turns, is what he presented as the paradox of Marxism, namely, that its success will inevitably coincide with its dissolution. This "heterogeneity of ends" is due to a fundamental problem that haunts the main line of modern thought--its materialism and the essentially negative dialectic that drives it. In a nutshell, a movement that has as its origin the negation of all preceding thought and culture can end only by eliminating itself, and so turning into its opposite. Marxism drew its revolutionary force from its messianism, its religious passion for a utopian future. But because the Marxist utopia itself is a transcendent value (even if a horizontal one), it too is undermined by the radical materialism of the historical dialectic. It was inevitable, therefore, that the closer Marxism came to victory, the more completely it would subvert itself into a bourgeois individualism. The "affluent society" of the post-Marxist age has, as Lancellotti puts it, "accepted all of Marx's metaphysical negations but rejected his religious/messianic message." The result is a pervasive nihilism, which, because its endemic negativity allows no culture, institution, or tradition to stand, ends up being even more totalitarian than the Fascism it initially opposed. …

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

Oops!

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.