Gentile, Giovanni


Gentile, Giovanni
(1875–1944)
   Born in Trapani (Sicily), Giovanni Gentile was both a philosopher of great distinction and a cultural propagandist on behalf of the Fascist regime. His early studies were done at Italy’s most renowned institute of higher education, the Scuola Normalein Pisa, where he developed parallel interests in German idealism and the philosophy of Karl Marx. He disparaged all forms of positivism, materialism, or utilitarianism and was opposed to the political manifestations of such broad philosophical currents as socialism and laissez-faire liberalism, but he remained unusually aloof from political activity until World War I. During the war, which he enthusiastically supported, Gentile published what is arguably his most important philosophical treatise, I fondamenti della filosofia di diritto (The Fundamentals of the Philosophy of Law, 1916). It was in this book that he introduced the concept of the “moral state,” which rested on the belief that the individual only fully realizes himself when he obeys a state whose purposes are good. Service and sacrifice to the community, in this ethic, are higher virtues than independence and the pursuit of individual happiness. The implications of this position are obvious. By the end of the war, Gentile was associated politically with the nationalists. In October 1922, Benito Mussolini invited the philosopher to join his first cabinet. Gentile accepted and, in 1923, became both a member of the Partito Nazionale Fascista/National Fascist Party (PNF) and a senator. As minister, he was responsible in May 1923 for an important educational reform that laid the basis for the modern Italian school and university system. He was also responsible for the infamous “loyalty oath” that all Italian teachers, at whatever level, were asked to sign. Doing so pledged signatories to teach all their courses in such a way as to promote Fascism and its values. Only a handful refused.
   Gentile resigned from the government in June 1924 after the murder of Giacomo Matteottibut remained the regime’s most respected cultural and philosophical voice. In 1925, in opposition to his former mentor, Benedetto Croce, Gentile published a manifesto, signed by Filippo Marinetti and Luigi Pirandello, among others, urging on intellectuals a moral commitment to Fascism’s historical mission. In the same year, he wrote Che cosa e il fascismo (The Nature of Fascism), a highly readable short account of what he understood to be Fascism’s objectives and ideals. It is probable that Mussolini used parts of this essay in preparing his article on Fascism for the Italian Encyclopedia,of which Gentile was the editor. Gentile was president of the Institute of Fascist Culture and was a member of the Fascist Grand Council until 1929. In 1944, he became the last president of the Accademia d’Italia (Italian Academy). The encyclopedia was a huge undertaking and occupied most of Gentile’s scholarly energies between 1929 and 1936. Most of Italy’s leading intellectuals contributed, with the conspicuous exception of Benedetto Croce. Gentile lost much direct political influence after the Lateran pacts in 1929, which he opposed on doctrinal grounds. He never renounced Fascism, however, even after Mussolini’s downfall. After some hesitation, Gentile backed the Republic of Salo, and this cost him his life. In 1944, he was assassinated in Florenceby a squad of partisans.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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  • Gentile, Giovanni — born May 30, 1875, Castelvetrano, Italy died April 15, 1944, Florence Italian philosopher, sometimes called the philosopher of fascism. A university professor, he and Benedetto Croce edited the journal La Critica (1903–22). He served in education …   Universalium

  • Gentile, Giovanni — (1875–1944) Italian philosopher. Born in Sicily, Gentile followed a career in education before becoming professor of history of philosophy at Palermo in 1906. He taught at Pisa, was Minister of Education in Mussolini s government in 1922, and in… …   Philosophy dictionary

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  • Gentile, Giovanni — ► (1875 1944) Filósofo y político italiano. Creador de una tendencia filosófica llamada actualismo. Fue director de la Enciclopedia Italiana. * * * (30 may. 1875, Castelvetrano, Italia–15 abr. 1944, Florencia). Filósofo italiano, a veces llamado… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Gentile, Giovanni — (Castelvetrano, Trapani 1875 Firenze 1944) filosofo, teorico dell’attualismo; fondatore del “Giornale critico della filosofia italiana”, direttore de “La Nuova Antologia”; direttore dell’“Enciclopedia italiana” e presidente dell’Accademia… …   Dizionario biografico elementare del Novecento letterario italiano

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  • Giovanni Gentile — (* 30. Mai 1875 in Castelvetrano, Provinz Trapani, Sizilien; † 15. April 1944 in Florenz) war ein italienischer Philosoph, Kulturmanager und Politiker. Fotografisches Portrait Gentiles Im öffentlichen Bewusstsein vor allem Italiens wird …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Giovanni Gentile — (Castelvetrano, 30 de mayo de 1875 Florencia, 15 de abril de 1944) fue un filósofo italiano. Después de sus estudios de filosofía, a partir de 1906 se dedicó a ser profesor universitario. En ese mismo año empezó a colaborar con …   Wikipedia Español

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  • GENTILE (G.) — GENTILE GIOVANNI (1875 1944) Ancien élève de l’École normale supérieure de Pise, Gentile enseigne dès 1903 la philosophie aux universités de Naples, de Palerme et de Rome. Il est, après Benedetto Croce, le représentant le plus éminent de la… …   Encyclopédie Universelle


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