Constantin Noica

Constantin Noica

Constantin Noica (Romanian pronunciation: [konstanˈtin ˈnojka]; July 25 [O.S. July 12] 1909 - December 4, 1987, Sibiu) was a Romanian philosopher, essayist and poet. His preoccupations were throughout all philosophy, from epistemology, philosophy of culture, axiology and philosophic anthropology to ontology and logics, from the history of philosophy to systematic philosophy, from ancient to contemporary philosophy, from translating and interpretation to criticism and creation.



Noica was born in Vităneşti, Teleorman.

He studied at the Dimitrie Cantemir and Spiru Haret lyceums, both in Bucharest. At Spiru Haret his math teacher was Dan Barbilian (pen name Ion Barbu, poet and mathematician). His debut was in Vlăstarul magazine, in 1927. Between 1928 and 1931 he attended courses of the University of Bucharest's Faculty of Letters and Philosophy, where he graduated in 1931 (thesis: "Problema lucrului în sine la Kant" / "The matter of thing-in-itself in Kant's philosophy"). Here he met as a teacher philosopher Nae Ionescu.

He worked as a librarian at the History of Philosophy Seminar and attended the courses of the Faculty of Mathematics for one year (1933). He was a member of the Criterion Association (1932–1934). His friends there, including Mircea Eliade, Mihail Polihroniade, and Haig Acterian, later supported the fascist Legionnaire Movement.

After attending specialization courses in France between 1938-1939 (receiving a scholarship from the French government), he returned to Bucharest where in 1940 he earned his doctor's degree in philosophy (thesis: Sketch on the history of How is it that there is anything new, published the same year).

In October 1940 he left for Berlin as a reviewer at the Romanian-German Institute, returning in 1944, having stayed in Germany during most of World War II.

After the war, the Soviet army remained in Romania, backing the establishment of a communist regime. Romanian thinkers such as Mircea Eliade, Emil Cioran and Eugen Ionescu had to leave the country in order to be able to continue their work. Noica did not follow suit, and as a consequence he was harassed by the new regime.

In 1949 he was sentenced by the communist authorities to 10 years of forced residence in Câmpulung-Muscel, remaining there until 1958. In December of that year, after making public the book "Histoire et Utopie" by Emil Cioran (who had left for France), he was sentenced to 25 years of forced labor in the Jilava prison as a political prisoner, and all his possessions confiscated. He was pardoned after 6 years as part of a general amnesty and released in August 1964.

From 1965 he lived in Bucharest, where he was the principal researcher at the Romanian Academy's Center of Logics. In his two-room apartment he held seminaries on Hegel's, Plato's and Kant's philosophy. Among the participants there were Sorin Vieru (his colleague at the Center of Logics), Gabriel Liiceanu and Andrei Pleşu.

In 1975 he retired and went to live in Păltiniş, near Sibiu, where he remained for the next 12 years, until his death on December 4, 1987. He was buried at the nearby hermitage, having left behind numerous philosophical essays.

In 1988 Constantin Noica was posthumously awarded the Herder Prize, and in 1990, after the fall of communism in Romania, he was accepted as a posthumous member of the Romanian Academy.


The 20th century is thought to be dominated by science. The model of scientific knowledge, which means transforming reality into formal and abstract concepts, is applied in judging the entire environment. This kind of thinking is called by Noica "the logic of Ares", as it considers the individual a simple variable in the Whole. The existence is, for this scientific way of considering things, a statistical fact.

In order to recover the individual senses, the sense of existence, Noica proposes, in opposition with "the logic of Ares", "the logic of Hermes", a way of thinking which considers the individual a reflection of the Whole. The logic of Hermes means understanding the Whole through the part, it means identifying in a single existence the general principles of reality. This way of thinking allows one to understand the meaning of the life of a man oppressed by the quick present moment.


  • "I dream of a school where they really teach nothing." / "Visez o şcoală în care să nu se predea, la drept vorbind, nimic."
  • "I am a merchant of ideas." / "Eu sunt negustor de idei." (declaration during trial)


  • 1934 - Mathesis or simple pleasances ("Mathesis sau bucuriile simple")
  • 1936 - Open concepts in the history of philosophy in Descartes, Leibniz and Kant ("Concepte deschise în istoria filozofiei la Descartes, Leibniz şi Kant")
  • 1937 - De caelo. Essay around knowledge and the individual ("De caelo. Încercare în jurul cunoaşterii şi individului")
  • 1937 - Life and philosophy of René Descartes ("Viaţa şi filozofia lui René Descartes")
  • 1940 - Sketch for the history of How is it that there is anything new ("Schiţă pentru istoria lui Cum e cu putinţă ceva nou")
  • 1943 - Two introductions and a passage to idealism ("Două introduceri şi o trecere spre idealism")
  • 1944 - Philosophical journal ("Jurnal filosofic")
  • 1944 - Pages on the Romanian soul ("Pagini despre sufletul românesc")
  • 1962 - "Phenomenology of Spirit" by G.W.F. Hegel narrated by Constantin Noica ("Fenomenologia spiritului de G.W.F. Hegel istorisită de Constantin Noica")
  • 1969 - Twenty-seven levels of the real ("Douăzeci şi şapte trepte ale realului")
  • 1969 - Platon: Lysis
  • 1970 - The Romanian philosophical utterance[1] ("Rostirea filozofică românească")
  • 1973 - Creation and beauty in Romanian utterance[1] ("Creaţie şi frumos în rostirea românească")
  • 1975 - Eminescu or Thoughts on the complete man of Romanian culture ("Eminescu sau Gânduri despre omul deplin al culturii româneşti")
  • 1976 - Breaking up with Goethe ("Despărţirea de Goethe")
  • 1978 - The Romanian sense of being ("Sentimentul românesc al fiinţei")
  • 1978 - Six maladies of the contemporary spirit. The Romanian spirit at the conjuncture of time ("Şase maladii ale spiritului contemporan. Spiritul românesc în cumpătul vremii")
  • 1980 - Narrations on man, after Hegel's "Phenomenology of Spirit" ("Povestiri despre om")
  • 1981 - Becoming in-to being,[2] vol. 1: Essay on traditional philosophy, vol. 2: Treatise of ontology ("Devenirea întru fiinţă", vol. 1: "Încercare asupra filozofiei tradiţionale", vol. 2: "Tratat de ontologie")
  • 1984 - Three introductions to becoming in-to being[2] ("Trei introduceri la devenirea întru fiinţă")
  • 1986 - Letters on Hermes' logic ("Scrisori despre logica lui Hermes")
  • 1988 - De dignitate Europae (in German)
  • 1990 - Pray for brother Alexander! ("Rugaţi-vă pentru fratele Alexandru")
  • 1991 - Journal of Ideas ("Jurnal de idei")
  • 1992 - Sunday essays ("Eseuri de duminică")
  • 1992 - Simple introductions to the kindness of our time ("Simple introduceri la bunătatea timpului nostru")
  • 1992 - Introduction to the Eminescian miracle ("Introducere la miracolul eminescian")
  • 1997 - Cîmpulung manuscripts ("Manuscrisele de la Cîmpulung")
  • 1998 - The spiritual equilibrium. Studies and essays (1929-1947) ("Echilibrul spiritual. Studii şi eseuri (1929-1947)")

See also

External links

  • An anthology of Noica's works "for the benefit of the students that Noica was never allowed to have", with the volume Brother Alexander translated into English by his wife, Katherine Muston, and an introductory essay (Atitudinea Noica) by C. George Sandulescu, is available at the Contemporary Literature Press (Bucharest University) [2]


  1. ^ a b The title is built on a word game: "rost" = sense, meaning, but "a rosti" = to pronounce, translated here by to utter.
  2. ^ a b Noica uses the old Romanian word "întru" (< Lat. intro), now rarely used and substituted in the current use of the language by "în" (= Eng. in). See here how Noica explains its use:
    "If a nourishing plant, that we can not find elsewhere, would grow on the Romanian soil, we should have to answer for it. If words and meanings that can enrich man's soul appeared in our language, but they didn't appear in others speech or thought, we should also have to answer for them.
    Such a word is întru; such a meaning appears to be that of beingness. Actually, our peculiar understanding of beingness is, maybe, the result of the peculiar meanings of întru, that came to seemingly express the beingness from within, suggesting that «to be» means «to be into /întru/ something», that is to be, but not fully, in something, to rest but also to aspire, to close oneself but also to open oneself. In this way the beingness was pulled out from stillness and shook. But if it wouldn't be shaking, would it still be truly? What kind of beingness is the one that has no place for neither a vibration, nor an advance?".

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