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Giovanni Gentile and the state of contemporary constructivism: A study of actual idealist moral theory

Wakefield, James R. M. 2015. Giovanni Gentile and the state of contemporary constructivism: A study of actual idealist moral theory. Exeter: Imprint Academic.

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Recent moral philosophers have had little to say about Giovanni Gentile's 'actual idealism’, which is widely dismissed as a kind of obscurantist Hegelianism used to conceal flimsy justifications for the state’s total impunity over questions of morality and truth. While Gentile is increasingly recognised as a major figure in twentieth-century Italian culture, actual idealism itself has yet to be given a full and impartial philosophical appraisal. Giovanni Gentile and the State of Contemporary Constructivism represents the first book-length treatment of actual idealist moral theory. Part I describes and criticises Gentile’s stated view, showing that it includes several ambiguities that he exploits in order to align it with Fascist totalitarianism. Part II develops a modified version that is more consistent with the basic tenets of actual idealism. It is argued that Gentile’s theory is best understood as a radical constructivist doctrine according to which all thinking has a moral character. Rigorously conceived, it promotes not uncritical submission to the state, but free and self-regulating thought in the absence of a fully objective reality. Thus Gentile demonstrates both the plausibility and the limitations of any uncompromising form of anti-realist constructivism.

Item Type: Book
Book Type: Authored Book
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Publisher: Imprint Academic
ISBN: 1845407644
Last Modified: 14 Feb 2018 09:57

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