Gianni Vattimo

Gianni Vattimo

region = Western Philosophy
era = 20th-century philosophy
color = #B0C4DE

|thumb|right|200px|Gianni Vattimo at the National Gay Pride march, Como, 1999

name = Gianni Vattimo
birth = January 4 1936 (Turin, Piedmont, Italy)
school_tradition = death of God, continental philosophy, phenomenology
main_interests = Hermeneutics, Ethics, Politics, Weak theology
influences = Nietzsche, Gadamer, Heidegger, Richard Rorty, Luigi Pareyson, Joachim da Fiore
influenced = Richard Rorty, John Caputo, Gavin Hyman, Teresa Oñate, Víctor Samuel Rivera
notable_ideas = Weak theology, Weak thought, secularization, nihilism

Gianteresio Vattimo, also known as Gianni Vattimo (born January 4, 1936) is an internationally recognized Italian author, philosopher, and politician. Many of his works have been translated into English.


Vattimo was born in Turin, Piedmont. He studied philosophy under the existentialist Luigi Pareyson at the University of Turin, and graduated in 1959. After studying with Karl Löwith and Hans-Georg Gadamer in Heidelberg he returned to Turin where he became assistant professor in 1964, and later full professor of Aesthetics in 1969. While remaining at Turin, becoming Professor of Theoretical Philosophy in 1982, he has been a visiting professor at a number of American Universities.

After being active in the Partito Radicale, the short-lived "Alleanza per Torino", and the Democrats of the Left, Vattimo joined the Party of Italian Communists. Between 1999 and 2004 he was a member of the European Parliament.

Vattimo is openly gay and an avowed Catholic "who welcomes God's death".cite web |title=“Mellow Nihilism”: A Review of Gianni Vattimo’s Nihilism and Emancipation |author=Robert Savino Oventile |url= |work=Sobriquet Magazine |accessdate=2007-07-17]

Vattimo’s Philosophy

His philosophy can be characterized as postmodern with his emphasis on "pensiero debole" (weak thought). This requires that the foundational certainties of modernity with its emphasis on objective truth founded in a rational unitary subject be relinquished for a more multi-faceted conception closer to that of the arts.

Vattimo draws on the philosophy of Martin Heidegger with his critique of foundations and the hermeneutical philosophy of his teacher Hans-Georg Gadamer. Perhaps his greatest influence though is the thought of Friedrich Nietzsche whose “"discovery of the 'lie', the discovery that alleged 'values' and metaphysical structures are just a play of forces"” (1993:93), plays an important role in Vattimo’s notion of “"weak thought"”.

Being as event

Vattimo rejects any notion of a transcendental structure of reason or reality that would be given once and for all. This does not imply the loss of truth, but a Heideggarean reinterpretation of truth as the opening of horizons. Such truth is deeper than propositions which are made possible by such openings. Philosophies then are always responses to contingent questions, they are ‘ontologies of actuality’, a thesis that can be confirmed by the historico-cultural links of particular philosophies. For hermeneutics to be consistent with its own rejection of metaphysics, it must present itself, argues Vattimo “"as the most persuasive philosophical interpretation of a situation or ‘epoch’"” (1997:10). To do this Vattimo proposes a reading of hermeneutics as having a "nihilistic" vocation.

Nihilism as the truth of history

To Vattimo, hermeneutics has become boring and vague - lacking any clear significance for philosophical problems. His answer is to insist on the nihilistic consequences of hermeneutics. The claim that “"there are no facts only interpretations and this too is an interpretation"” amounts to saying that hermeneutics cannot be seen as the most accurate/true description of the permanent structures of reality of human existence. Hermeneutics is not a metaphysical theory in this sense and so can only be "proved" by being presented as the response to a history of being, a history of the fabling of the world, of the weakening of structures, that is as the occurrence of nihilism.

This nihilistic reading of history involves a certain attitude towards modernity whereby modernity is dissolved from within through a twisting, distorting radicalisation of its premises. Vattimo uses Heidegger’s term "Verwindung" to capture this postmodern recovery from modernity.

Weak thought and ethics

History as a process of weakening, (secularisation and disenchantment are other terms Vattimo uses) “assumes the form of a decision for non-violence” (1992:95). An ethics of communication along the lines suggested by Jürgen Habermas suffers, according to Vattimo, from finding itself in a substantially ahistorical position, while oscillating between formalism and cultural relativism(1992:117). For Vattimo it is only when hermeneutics accepts its nihilistic destiny that “"it can find in ‘negativity’, in dissolution as the ‘destiny of Being’ … the orientating principle that enables it to realize its own original inclination for ethics whilst neither restoring metaphysics nor surrendering to the futility of a relativistic philosophy of culture"”(1992:119)


* "It is only thanks to God that I'm an atheist"
* "I believe that I believe" ("credere di credere")


Selected works:
* (1991) "The End of Modernity: Nihilism and Hermeneutics in Post-modern Culture", Translated by John R. Snyder, Polity Press, 1991 Translation of "La fine della modernità", Garzanti, Milan, 1985
* (1992) "The Transparent Society" Translated by David Webb, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994 Translation of "La società trasparente", Garzanti, Milan, 1989
* (1993) "The Adventure of Difference: Philosophy after Nietzsche and Heidegger" Translated by Thomas Harrison and Cyprian P. Blamires, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993 Translation of "Le avventure della differenza", Garzanti, Milan, 1980
* (1997) "Beyond Interpretation:The Meaning of Hermeneutics for Philosophy", Translated by David Webb, Stanford University Press, 1997 Translation of "Oltre l'interpretazione", Laterza, Rome-Bari, 1994
* (1998) "Religion" by Jacques Derrida, Edited by Gianni Vattimo, Translated by David Webb Stanford University Press, 1998
* (1999) "Belief" by Gianni Vattimo, et al, Polity Press, 1999 Translation of "Credere di credere", Garzanti, Milan, l996
* (2002a) "Nietzsche: Philosophy as Cultural Criticism" Translated by Nicholas Martin Stanford University Press, 2002 Translation of "Introduzione a Nietzsche", Laterza, Rome-Bari,1985
* (2002b) "After Christianity", New York: Columbia University Press, 2002.
* (2004) "Nihilism and Emancipation: Ethics, Politics and Law", Edited by Santiago Zabala, Columbia University Press, 2004
* (2005) "The Future of Religion", Richard Rorty and Gianni Vattimo, Edited by Santiago Zabala, Columbia University Press, 2005
* (2006) "After the Death of God", John D. Caputo and Gianni Vattimo, Edited by Jeffrey W. Robbins, Columbia University Press.


* Rossano Pecoraro, "Niilismo e Pós(Modernidade). Introdução ao pensamento fraco de Gianni Vattimo", Rio di Janeiro-San Paulo, PUC-Loyola ED. 2005.
* Martin G. Weiss, "Gianni Vattimo. Einführung. Mit einem Interview mit Gianni Vattimo", Passagen Verlag, 2. Auflage: Wien 2006. ISBN 3-85165-738-1.
* Davide Monaco, "Gianni Vattimo. Ontologia ermeneutica, cristianesimo e postmodernità", Ets, Pisa 2006
* "Weakening Philosophy. Essays in Honour of Gianni Vattimo", Edited by Santiago Zabala, Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2007.
* Enrico Redaelli, "Il nodo dei nodi. L'esercizio del pensiero in Vattimo, Vitiello, Sini", Ets, Pisa 2008.
* Ashley Woodward, Review of "Weakening Philosophy. Essays in Honour of Gianni Vattimo", Edited by Santiago Zabala," in "Colloquy" Issue 15 June 2008.

ee also

*Postmodern Christianity
*Weak theology

External links

* [ Personal website] (in Italian)
* [ Nihilism and the postmodern in Vattimo's Nietzsche]
* [ “Mellow Nihilism”: A Review of Gianni Vattimo’s Nihilism and Emancipation]
* [ Vattimo in "A parte rei Review"]

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Gianni Vattimo — Vattimo en desfile del orgullo gay, 1999. Foto de G. Dall Orto. Gianni Vattimo (n. Turín, 4 de enero de 1936) es un importante filósofo y en parte político italiano …   Wikipedia Español

  • Gianni Vattimo — Gianni Vattimo, 1999 Gianni Vattimo (* 4. Januar 1936 in Turin) ist ein italienischer Philosoph, Autor und Politiker. Inhaltsv …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Gianni vattimo — Cette page a été supprimée. Le journal des suppressions et des déplacements est affiché ci dessous pour référence. 28 septembre 2009 à 12:12 Néfermaât (discuter | contributions) a supprimé « Gianni vattimo » ‎ (Page blanchie par un autre… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Gianni Vattimo — Philosophe italien Époque contemporaine …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Vattimo — Gianni Vattimo, 1999 Gianni Vattimo (* 4. Januar 1936 in Turin) ist ein italienischer Philosoph, Autor und Politiker. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Vattimo — Gianni Vattimo Gianni Vattimo Philosophe Époque contemporaine …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Gianni — ist ein italienischer männlicher Vorname. Er ist die Kurzform von Giovanni, der dem deutschen Vornamen Johannes entspricht.[1] Die weibliche Form des Namens ist Gianna. Gianni kann auch als Familienname auftreten. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Bekannte… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Gianni — Infobox Given Name Revised name = Gianni imagesize= caption= pronunciation= gender = Male meaning = Italian form of John, derived from the Hebrew Yohanan ( God is gracious , God is merciful ) region = Italian origin = related names = footnotes =… …   Wikipedia

  • Vattimo — Vạttimo   [v ], Gianni, italienischer Philosoph, * Turin 1936; 1963/64 Schüler von H. G. Gadamer und K. Löwith in Heidelberg; 1964 82 Professor für Ästhetik, seitdem für theoretische Philosophie in Turin; gehört zu den führenden Denkern der… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Vattimo, Gianni — (Torino 1936 ) filosofo collab./opere: “Anterem”, “Aut Aut” …   Dizionario biografico elementare del Novecento letterario italiano

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.