Art’s Claim to Truth

Columbia University Press
Free sample

First collected in Italy in 1985, Art's Claim to Truth is considered by many philosophers to be one of Gianni Vattimo's most important works. Newly revised for English readers, the book begins with a challenge to Plato, Aristotle, Kant, and Hegel, who viewed art as a metaphysical aspect of reality rather than a futuristic anticipation of it. Following Martin Heidegger's interpretation of the history of philosophy, Vattimo outlines the existential ontological conditions of aesthetics, paying particular attention to the works of Kandinsky, which reaffirm the ontological implications of art.

Vattimo then builds on Hans-Georg Gadamer's theory of aesthetics and provides an alternative to a rationalistic-positivistic criticism of art. This is the heart of Vattimo's argument, and with it he demonstrates how hermeneutical philosophy reaffirms art's ontological status and makes clear the importance of hermeneutics for aesthetic studies. In the book's final section, Vattimo articulates the consequences of reclaiming the ontological status of aesthetics without its metaphysical implications, holding Aristotle's concept of beauty responsible for the dissolution of metaphysics itself. In its direct engagement with the works of Gadamer, Heidegger, and Luigi Pareyson, Art's Claim to Truth offers a better understanding of the work of Vattimo and a deeper knowledge of ontology, hermeneutics, and the philosophical examination of truth.

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About the author

Gianni Vattimo is emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Turin and a member of the European Parliament. His books with Columbia University Press are Christianity, Truth, and Weakening Faith: A Dialogue (with René Girard), Not Being God: A Collaborative Autobiography, Art's Claim to Truth, After the Death of God, Dialogue with Nietzsche, The Future of Religion (with Richard Rorty), Nihilism and Emancipation: Ethics, Politics, and the Law, and After Christianity.Santiago Zabala is ICREA Research Professor at the University of Barcelona. He is the author of The Remains of Being: Hermeneutic Ontology After Metaphysics and The Hermeneutic Nature of Analytic Philosophy: A Study of Ernst Tugendhat; editor of Weakening Philosophy, Nihilism and Emancipation, and The Future of Religion; and coeditor (with Jeff Malpas) of Consequences of Hermeneutics.Luca D'Isanto is a translator, editor, and writer of numerous publications on the religious and political turn in postmodern thought.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Columbia University Press
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Published on
Apr 18, 2008
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Pages
216
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ISBN
9780231515665
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / Aesthetics
Philosophy / Hermeneutics
Philosophy / Movements / Deconstruction
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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What has been the fate of Christianity since Nietzsche's famous announcement of the "death of God"? What is the possibility of religion, specifically Christianity, thriving in our postmodern era? In this provocative new book, Gianni Vattimo, leading Italian philosopher, politician, and framer of the European constitution, addresses these critical questions.

When Vattimo was asked by a former teacher if he still believed in God, his reply was, "Well, I believe that I believe." This paradoxical declaration of faith serves as the foundation for a brilliant exposition on Christianity in the new millennium—an age characterized by a deep uncertainty of opinion—and a personal account of how Vattimo himself recovered his faith through Nietzsche and Heidegger. He first argues that secularization is in fact the fulfillment of the central Christian message, and prepares us for a new mode of Christianity. He then explains that Nietzsche's thesis concerns only the "moral god" and leaves room for the emergence of "new gods." Third, Vattimo claims that the postmodern condition of fragmentation, anti-Eurocentrism, and postcolonialism can be usefully understood in light of Joachim of Fiore's thesis concerning the "Spiritual Age" of history. Finally, Vattimo argues for the idea of "weak thought." Because philosophy in the postmetaphysical age can only acknowledge that "all is interpretation," that the "real" is always relative and not the hard and fast "truth" we once thought it to be, contemporary thought must recognize itself and its claims as "weak" as opposed to "strong" foundationalist claims of the metaphysical past. Vattimo concludes that these factors make it possible for religion and God to become a serious topic for philosophy again, and that philosophy should now formally engage religion.

With Western cultures becoming more pluralistic, the question of "truth" in politics has become a game of interpretations. Today, we face the demise of the very idea of truth as an objective description of facts, though many have yet to acknowledge that this is changing.

Gianni Vattimo explicitly engages with the important consequences for democracy of our changing conception of politics and truth, such as a growing reluctance to ground politics in science, economics, and technology. Yet in Vattimo's conception, a farewell to truth can benefit democracy, exposing the unspoken issues that underlie all objective claims. The end of absolute truth challenges the legitimacy of policies based on perceived objective necessities protecting the free market, for example, even if it devastates certain groups or classes. Vattimo calls for a truth that is constructed with consensus and a respect for the liberty of all. By taking into account the cultural paradigms of others, a more "truthful" society freer and more democratic becomes possible.

In this book, Vattimo continues his reinterpretation of Christianity as a religion of charity and hope, freeing society from authoritarian, metaphysical dogmatism. He also extends Nietzsche's "death of God" to the death of an authoritarian God, ushering in a new, postreligious Christianity. He connects the thought of Martin Heidegger, Karl Marx, and Karl Popper with surprising results and accommodates modern science more than in his previous work, reconciling its validity with an insistence that knowledge is interpretive. Vattimo's philosophy justifies Western nihilism in its capacity to dispense with absolute truths. Ranging over politics, ethics, religion, and the history of philosophy, his reflections contribute deeply to a modern reconception of God, metaphysics, and the purpose of reality.

Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak's original essay "Can the Subaltern Speak?" transformed the analysis of colonialism through an eloquent and uncompromising argument that affirmed the contemporary relevance of Marxism while using deconstructionist methods to explore the international division of labor and capitalism's "worlding" of the world. Spivak's essay hones in on the historical and ideological factors that obstruct the possibility of being heard for those who inhabit the periphery. It is a probing interrogation of what it means to have political subjectivity, to be able to access the state, and to suffer the burden of difference in a capitalist system that promises equality yet withholds it at every turn.

Since its publication, "Can the Subaltern Speak?" has been cited, invoked, imitated, and critiqued. In these phenomenal essays, eight scholars take stock of the effects and response to Spivak's work. They begin by contextualizing the piece within the development of subaltern and postcolonial studies and the quest for human rights. Then, through the lens of Spivak's essay, they rethink historical problems of subalternity, voicing, and death. A final section situates "Can the Subaltern Speak?" within contemporary issues, particularly new international divisions of labor and the politics of silence among indigenous women of Guatemala and Mexico. In an afterword, Spivak herself considers her essay's past interpretations and future incarnations and the questions and histories that remain secreted in the original and revised versions of "Can the Subaltern Speak?" both of which are reprinted in this book.

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