In Beyond the Subject Gianni Vattimo offers a reading of Nietzsche and Heidegger that shows how the premises to overcome the metaphysical Subject were already embedded in their thought. Vattimo makes a case for a Nietzsche who is not concerned with the structure and glorification of the Overman, but rather with its opposite, by showing how it is the single individual who must see and accept his/her potential and then excel and develop an inner strength and ethic. He reads Heidegger as concerned with the inevitable distortion present in every interpretation, which, when confronted and accepted, humbles us to deal with a less overarching telos or Grund, and makes us more attuned to contingency and interpersonal communication—what Vattimo calls a “weakened” notion of being. These original readings of Nietzsche and Heidegger pave the way for Vattimo’s concept of weak thought and open up to a future social ethic that is less agonistic and more community oriented. This edition includes two supplementary essays from 1986 and 1988 that expand on the same themes, providing a deeper look at an important decade in the development of Vattimo’s thought.
Gianni Vattimo is Professor Emeritus of Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Turin, Italy. He is the author of several books, including The End of Modernity: Nihilism and Hermeneutics in Postmodern Culture and Nietzsche: An Introduction.
Peter Carravetta is Professor of Philosophy at Stony Brook University, State University of New York. He is the author of several books, including After Identity: Migration, Critique, Italian American Culture,and the translator of Vattimo and Pier Aldo Rovatti’s coedited book Weak Thought, also published by SUNY Press.
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.
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.
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It is no accident, Vattimo argues, that the call to embrace reality has emerged at a time when the inequalities of liberal capitalism are at their most extreme. Developed from his popular Gifford Lectures, this book advances a critical approach that recovers our interpretive powers and native skepticism toward normative claims. Though he recognizes his ideas invite charges of relativism, the philosopher counters with a discussion of truth, highlighting its longstanding ties to history and social circumstance. Truth is always contingent and provisional, and reason and reasonableness are bound to historical context. Truth is therefore never objective, and resistance to reality is our best hope to defeat the indifference that threatens the scope of freedom and democracy.