Croce, Benedetto

   One of the greatest philosophers in modern Italian history, and arguably one of the greatest philosophers of history of this century, Benedetto Croce also became a symbol of the intellectual resistance to Fascism. He was born in the province of Aquila (Abruzzi). When he was just 17, both parents and his sister died in an earthquake, and he was obliged to move to Rome, where he lived with his uncle, the economist and cabinet minister Silvio Spaventa. While in Rome, he began studying law, but soon became distracted by the lectures of the Marxist philosopher Antonio Labriola. Croce’s first major book was an original critique of Marxism, Materialismo storico ed economia marxista (Historical Materialism and Marxist Economics), but Marxism soon came to seem a rudimentary and inadequate form of historical explanation for Croce. Of far greater interest were G. W. F. Hegel and Giambattista Vico (whose current intellectual standing as one of the most important philosophers of the 18th century owes much to Croce’s rediscovery of his work). Between 1902 and 1909 Croce, in the words of the title of his most famous book in this period, explained “what is alive and what is dead in the thought of Hegel.”
   During the same period, Croce founded and edited the intellectual review La Critica. Together with his collaborator, Giovanni Gentile, Croce carried on an intellectual battle in the pages of his journal against both the growing irrationalism of the younger thinkers and the waning influence of positivism and Marxism. Later, after Gentile himself had espoused Fascism, Croce combated his former colleague’s apologetics for Benito Mussolini in La Critica. The review was published continually from 1903 to 1944. Even Mussolini dared not totally silence Croce’s voice.
   Croce was a neutralist in 1915. During the war years, he became increasingly interested in the theory of historiography. After a brief spell as minister for education in 1920, Croce turned to actually writing political history. It was through the medium of narrative history that Croce made arguably his most effective protests against Fascism. Croce’s Storia d’Italia,1871–1915 (History of Italy,1871–1915) and his Storia d’Europa nel secolo decimonono (History of Europe in the 19th Century) snubbed the pretensions of Fascism to be a new phase in Italian and European history. In elegant, erudite prose, Croce made the case for the liberal state and parliamentary institutions and exalted the “religion of liberty.” Croce was directly active in opposing the regime after the murder of Giacomo Matteotti in 1924. He countered Gentile’s 1925 attempt to rally intellectual opinion to the Fascist cause with a counter-manifesto signed by the cream of Italy’s liberal intelligentsia, opposed the Lateran pacts in a famous Senate speech, and refused all intellectual collaboration with the regime. He was, for instance, almost the only prominent Italian intellectual who refused to contribute to Gentile’s Enciclopedia italiana. Unsurprisingly, the Fascists made life difficult for him. From the mid-1930s,
   Croce lived under virtual house arrest. Croce lent his name and reputation to the Partito Liberale Italiano/ Italian Liberal Party (PLI) after September 1943. He took part in the wartime cabinets of Pietro Badoglio and Ivanoe Bonomi and was elected to the Constituent Assembly in June 1946. But direct political activity was never his forte. In 1947, he retired from politics to found the Institute for Italian Historical Studies. He died in 1952 in Naples, where he had lived almost continuously since 1886.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Croce, Benedetto — born Feb. 25, 1866, Pescasseroli, Italy died Nov. 20, 1952, Naples Italian patriot, aesthetician, critic, and cultural historian. He founded La Critica, an influential journal of cultural criticism, in 1903 and was its editor until 1937. A… …   Universalium

  • Croce, Benedetto — ► (1886 1952) Filósofo e historiador italiano. Su filosofía está inspirada en el idealismo de Hegel y en Vico. Autor de Materialismo histórico y economía marxista, Estética como ciencia de la expresión (1902) y Filosofía del espíritu. Como… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Croce, Benedetto — (1866–1952) Italian philosopher and historian. Born in the Abruzzi, Croce studied in Rome from 1883 (when his parents were killed in an earthquake) until 1886, when he took up residence in Naples, where he lived the rest of his life. In 1903 he… …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Croce, Benedetto — (1866–1952)    Born in Percasseroli, southern Italy, Croce was a leading philosopher and active in Italian politics. Greatly influenced by the philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, he in turn was a major influence on the great Marxist… …   Historical dictionary of Marxism

  • Croce,Benedetto — Cro·ce (krōʹchĕ), Benedetto. 1866 1952. Italian philosopher, historian, and critic noted for a major work of modern idealism, the four volume Philosophy of the Spirit (1902 1917), and as a staunch opponent of fascism. * * * …   Universalium

  • Croce, Benedetto — See Idealism (italian) and after …   History of philosophy

  • Croce, Benedetto —  (1866–1952) Italian writer, philosopher, and politician …   Bryson’s dictionary for writers and editors

  • CROCE, Benedetto — (1866 1952)    Italian philosopher whose work on the philosophy of HISTORY strongly influenced R. J. COLLINGWOOD …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Croce, Benedetto — (Pescassèroli, L Aquila 1866 Napoli 1952) filosofo, storico e critico letterario, figura di massimo rilievo del Novecento, fondatore de “La Critica”. collab./opere: “La Voce”, “Energie nove”, “Nuova Antologia”, “Il Baretti” …   Dizionario biografico elementare del Novecento letterario italiano

  • Croce — Croce, Benedetto …   Philosophy dictionary

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