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History of Philosophy|
by Turner, William (S.T.D.)
 Cf. "Historical Sketch of Modem Italian Philosophy," by
Botta, Appendix II to Ueberweg's History of Philosophy, II, 461
ff. consult also the last (German) edition of Ueberweg's
History, edited by Heinze.
The founder of modern Italian philosophy is Giovanni Battista
Vico (1668-1744), who, at the beginning of the eighteenth century,
opposed the Cartesian method in philosophy and anticipated the
historical method subsequently developed by Herder and Hegel.
The mind, Vico teaches, can know only that which it can produce through
its own activity; this activity is manifested in the historical
development of civilization, the basis of which is Divine Providence.
Human experience is, therefore, to be interpreted and rendered
reasonable by referring it to the principles by which human nature has
developed itself. In this development Vico distinguishes three stages:
the divine (theocracy), the heroic (aristocracy), and the
human (monarchy and democracy).
In the movement of philosophic thought in Italy during the nineteenth
century we may distinguish
1. Sensism and Empiricism, of which the chief representatives
are Gioja (1767-1829) and Romagnosi (1761-1835).
These represent the Italian phase of the sensistic philosophy of
Condillac, which, as we have seen, was dominant in France at the
beginning of the nineteenth century.
2. Criticism, of which the chief exponent is Pasquale
Galuppi (1770-1846), who, while he assumes the immediate
consciousness of the ego and the objectivity of sensation, reduces the
intellectual element of thought to the synthetic relations
(rapporti) of identity and difference, which are a priori
products of the activity of the mind. In this, as well as in his
emphatic assertion of the supremacy of moral obligation, Galuppi
betrays the influence of Kant.
3. Idealism. The principal representative of idealism in Italy
during the nineteenth century is Antonio Rosmini.
Life. Antonio Rosmini-Serbati (1797-1855), the founder of
Italian idealism, was born at Rovereto near Trent. In 1821 he entered
the priesthood, and in 1828 founded the Institute of Charity, a
religious society devoted to corporal, intellectual, and spiritual
works of charity. In 1848 he went to Rome as special envoy of King
Charles Albert; in the same year he became minister of instruction in
the papal cabinet and was considered a candidate for the honors of the
cardinalate. After the murder of Rossi (November, 1848) and the flight
of Pius IX to Gaeta, changes in the policy of the pontifical court
necessitated Rosmini's retirement. The last years of his life he spent
at Stresa, near Lago Maggiore, where he had established a house of his
order. There he led a quiet, studious life, edifying his brethren by
his many virtues, and especially by the humility with which he received
the condemnation of two of his works.  He died in 1855.
 The pamphlet Delle cinque piaghe, etc., and a project for a
constitution. cf. "Letter to the Master of the Sacred Palace,"
Letters of Rosmini, trans. by Gazzola, p.664.
Sources. The treatises in which Rosmini sets forth his
metaphysical and psychological doctrines are Teodicea (1828),
Nuovo Saggio sull' Origine delle Idee (1830), Il Rinnovamento
della Filosofia in Italia (1836), Antropologia (1838),
Psicologia (1846-1850), Introduzione alla Filosofia
(1850), La Logica (5853), and Teosofia (1859). For full
bibliographical list, cf. Davidson, Rosmini's Philosophical
System (London, 1882). 
 Cf. Father Lockhart's Life of Rosmini (London, 1856);
also, Letters of Antonio Rosmini, trans. by Gazzola (London,
1901). For list of Rosminian doctrines condemned by the Holy~See,
cf. Rosminianarum Propositionum Trutina Theologica
(Romae, Typis Vaticanis, 1892).
Rosmini distinguishes the matter and the form of thought, the matter
being sensation, and the form being the pure intellectual element. Now
the matter of thought is multiple and diverse; the form, however, is
one and self-identical, namely, the intuition of Being in its
transcendental ideality (l' essere ideale, ente universale). This
intuition cannot result from experience,
abstraction, or reflection: it is an innate concept and is of divine
origin. Rosmini does not, it is true, expressly identify this idea of
Being with the idea of God; for he teaches that l' essere
ideale, although it is necessary, eternal, immutable, and identical
for all minds, is a principle of knowledge, not a principle of
existence.  Nevertheless, Rosmini cannot consistently maintain a
distinction between l' essere ideale and God; because, although
he maintains that God is both real and ideal (l' essere
reale-ideale), he teaches that the reality of l' essere
iniziale is a reality of pure indetermination. Indeed, in the
Teosofia, all attempts at discriminating between l' essere
iniziale and God are abandoned, and we are told that the former is
something of the Word, which the Father distinguishes from the Word by
a distinction which is merely logical (distingue non realmente ma
secondo la ragione dal Verbo).  There is, therefore, in Rosmini's
teaching only too much foundation for the almost unanimous verdict of
his critics, that he was an ontologist  and by implication a
 Il Rinnovamento, Cap. 42. In reply to Gioberti, who argued
that the idea of Being must be God, since it possesses divine
attributes, Rosmini writes: "Every real being must be God or
creature, but not so every ideal being. The idea of Being
abstracted from God's reality is neither God nor creature, it is
something sui generis, an appurtenance of God." Rosmini's
Short Sketch of Modern Philosophies and of his Own System,
trans. by Lockhart (London, 1882), p. xii.
In his account of the soul and its faculties, Rosmini teaches that the
soul is not the substantial form of the body, but is united to it by a
fundamental sensibility (sentimento fondamentale), that the
essence of the soul is sensibility (sentimento primitivo e
sostanziale), and that the soul becomes intelligent by the
intuition of Being in its ideality (essere ideale). 
 Teosofia, Vol. I, No. 490.
 "The difference between our system and that of Malebranche lies not
in fundamentals but in details" (Sketch, etc., p. 30).
 "La quiddità (ciò che una cosa é) dell' ente
finito non é costituita da ciò che ha di positivo, ma dai
suol limiti" (Teosofia, Vol. I, No. 726).
 Cf. Antropologia, Lib. IV, Cap. 5, No. 819, and
Psicologia , P. II, Lib. I, Cap. 11, No. 849.
Ontologism. Vincenzo Gioberti (1801-1852), who was a
priest, a revolutionary leader, a statesman, and a controversialist
(Il Gesuita Moderno, his best known controversial work, appeared
in 1846), opposed the philosophy of Rosmini and formulated a system of
his own, which is characterized by ontologism. He begins as a
metaphysician rather than as a psychologist; he does not examine the
contents of the mind, nor does he subject mental processes to analysis;
he simply postulates a primitive intuition with which
constructive synthesis begins. The content of this intuition is not
Being in its ideality nor God, but God as creating, -- Ens creat
"Through the intuition of this principle, the mind is in possession at
once of the real and the ideal; for the first member of the formula,
Being, contains the object, the absolute idea as well as the absolute
substance and cause; the second, existences, gives the organic
multiplicity of contingent substances and causes and relative ideas;
the third, the creative act, expresses the relation existing between
the absolute and the relative, . . . the production of real and ideal
existences from the Absolute."  The primum philosophicum is,
therefore, an organic truth containing in itself the primum
ontologicum and the primum psychologicum. Gioberti's
posthumous works (published by Massari, 1856-1859) exhibit a more
advanced form of ontologism than that which has just been sketched.
 Cf. Ueberweg, op. cit., II, 498.
Among the later ontologists may be reckoned Terenzio Mamiani
(1800-1885), who during the later half of the century associated his
name and influence with the rationalistic movement represented by
Ferri (1826-1895), Ferrari (1812-1876), and Ausonio
Franchi (C. Bonavino) (1821-1895).
Positivism. The principles of positivism were defended by the
three rationalistic writers just mentioned and taught systematically by
Roberto Ardigò (born 1828), Andrea Angiulli (1837-
1890), and others.
Hegelianism. The most distinguished of the Italian
representatives of Hegelianism, Augusto Vera (1813-1885), was by
education and long residence a Frenchman rather than an Italian. His
works, some of which were composed in French, others in Italian, and
others in English, are devoted to the interpretation and exposition of
Scholasticism. The history of Scholastic philosophy in Italy
during the nineteenth century will be given in the chapter devoted to
the history of Catholic philosophy.
Historical Position. The systems which have just been outlined
do not, with the exception of Rosmini's idealism, exhibit any sustained
effort at independent construction. The most distinctive trait of
modern Italian philosophy is its tendency to treat religious and
political philosophy in the controversial or polemical spirit, rather
than in the spirit of constructive synthesis, -- a tendency easily
traceable to the influence of the events which determined the political
history of Italy during the nineteenth century.