All posts by Tommaso Valentini

Paul Ricoeur – Il linguaggio metaforico come espressione di libertà creativa

ABSTRACT. This paper focuses on the rule of metaphor in Paul Ricoeur’s philosophy of language. In his Multi-Disciplinary Studies in the Creation of Meaning in Language (1975), the French philosopher shows the fundamental power of human language in constructing the world we perceive. He reveals the processes by which linguistic imagination creates and recreates meaning through metaphor. He develops a “linguistic philosophy of freedom,” and a hermeneutics of the subject based on human capabilities. According to Ricoeur, to exist is to act: speaking, doing, telling, and assuming responsibility for the act committed. The very “being” of human beings is to act and the effort to be. In this perspective, the human interiority is considered as dynamic production (enérgeia, conatus): it is a complex ontology of homo capax based on the human freedom and possibilities of language. Being as act and potentiality is the dominant meta-category that governs Ricoeur’s philosophical anthropology, widely developed in the work Oneself as Another (1990).

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Ethics and Politics in the Postmodern Condition

ABSTRACT. In this paper I analyze the postmodern condition with particular reference to the ethical and political spheres. Postmodernism attempts a radical break with all of the major strands of post-Enlightenment thought. For postmodernists as the French Jean-François Lyotard and the Italian Gianni Vattimo, the orthodox Enlightenment “meta-narrative” of progress and the “speculative” narrative of Hegel and Marx have lost their explanatory force. In particular, Lyotard speaks about five large meta-narratives of Western culture: 1) Christianity (understood also in the secularized form which its values have taken into modernity); 2) Enlightenment; 3) Idealism as a “theory of progressive freedom in history”; 4) Marxism, and 5) Capitalism. According to Lyotard, one can consider “the incredulity” towards these meta-narratives (méta-récits or grands récits) as postmodern. He points out that after Auschwitz it is impossible to speak of rationality and progress in Western history: In the twentieth century the Nazi genocide showed that history is not a continuous ethical progress towards the best. From the philosophical point of view the precursor of postmodern atmosphere is Friedrich Nietzsche. This German philosopher elaborated a radically anti-metaphysical thought and proposed an ethic of emancipation. Postmodernists refer to Nietzsche’s thought and theorize ethical-political practices aimed at the emancipation of women and socially weak subjects. Postmodernism’s rejection of “totalizing” theories with universal pretentions is complemented by positive celebration of diversity or “difference” and emphasis on the ethical demands of “the other”: this is, for example, the ethical perspective of Michel Foucault.

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