Critical Dussel of Vattimo

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By ANTONINO INFRANCA*

The supposed universalization excludes the emphasis on physical, mental, psychological and cultural violence with which the Other was exploited and excluded.

Enrique Dussel's confrontation with Gianni Vattimo's philosophy took place in three essays. The essays, however, date back nearly thirty years. The dialogue with Vattimo was, however, only one-way, since the Italian philosopher did not mention any response, other than a brief review of the Italian edition of the Philosophy of Liberation by the Argentine philosopher, in which he mostly discussed Latin American literature and Guevarism, which were not addressed in the work. So, we can only register the theses of Enrique Dussel. Vattimo's silence, however, is significant.

Some points in common between the two philosophers are recognized by Enrique Dussel, such as the question of the end of Modernity, to which Dussel, however, does not make post-modernity succeed, in the manner of Vattimo, but opposes a transmodernity, which is the result of the action of a liberating and emancipating reason for the excluded, the exploited, the “barbarians”, as Nietzsche and Vattimo would say, opposed to a postmodernity that is already the moment of twilight and the decline of Modernity.

On the other hand, Gianni Vattimo's estrangement from the serious and uncomfortable weight of Modernity in the periphery is due, according to Enrique Dussel, to the fact that he lacks a self-awareness of his provincialism, of his own regionality, in practice he lacks a real conscience and of the universality of mankind and Planet Earth. To this ethical-ontological strangeness, Dussel adds the fact, now historically recognized, that a large part of the Hellenocentric tradition, which is one of the two pillars of Western Modernity, is, in fact, the fruit of the Egyptian philosophical tradition, from which the Greeks drew many of his conceptions, but denying this African origin.

Denial was radicalized with European classicism and romanticism, especially of German origin. In fact, the culture of the Center is substantially Germanocentric, tending, therefore, to deny the Mediterranean, African and Islamic matrix of the authentic Western philosophical tradition. Then, an ideological mystification, historically planned over time, which has become a concealment of an authentic cultural tradition, joins the ethical-ontological strangeness. Thus, a first disagreement between Enrique Dussel and Gianni Vattimo consists in the different philosophy of history that derives from the different conditions in which the two philosophers were formed, one coming from the Other West – as I like to call Latin America, the continent denied in favor of Europe – the other formed in the heart of European culture.

In fact, Gianni Vattimo, a student of Luigi Pareyson and later of Hans-Georg Gadamer, was formed within the best European philosophical tradition, without ever trying to observe or judge this tradition from the outside, that is, trying to consider this same philosophical tradition as if were a matter of foreign tradition to be learned, considered and judged. Enrique Dussel, on the contrary, coming from Latin America, naturally considered the same philosophical tradition as if it were his and at the same time as if it were a foreign one.

So, already in your beautiful book The cover-up of the other began to develop a philosophy of history which is just the consideration of European history in the light of world history. The result is that Europe, only after the conquest of America, could become the center of the world and that, before that event, it was a small periphery of the Islamic world, the true center of the world, stretching from the Atlantic to the Pacific. From this consideration, some elements that seem central to Europeans are considered secondary by non-Europeans, including Greek antiquity or the Middle Ages.

However, the same category in the West is based on the two pillars of Greek philosophy and Christian thought. These two pillars of the West show their disturbing face of domination, exclusion, oppression only when they open up to the Other, to the non-European. Enrique Dussel concludes that from the exteriority of the Western system one can judge the positivity or, if we want to consider the Platonic origin of the West, the goodness of the system itself.

In addition, Enrique Dussel questions Gianni Vattimo about the meaning that some of the central themes of his thought may assume for the Other that is outside the Eurocentric thought system, such as nihilism or postmodernity. Basically, Enrique Dussel questions the presumption of universalization on which Eurocentric thought bases its globalizing hegemony. This criticism by Dussel may seem like a secondary argument, but in reality it is the criticism of a failed or supposed universalization and it is also the emphasis on physical and mental, psychological and cultural violence with which the Other was previously exploited. and excluded, then hidden for the benefit of this so-called work of peaceful universalization and integration, which is, on the contrary, a work of exclusion and renewed violence against the poor, in the first place, and then against all those who are considered unworthy of ethical equality with bearers of the globalizing culture.

Those outside the Center are asked to deny their own moral subjectivity in order to assume, but always remaining in a peripheral position, the subjectivity of the Center. Many philosophers from the Periphery, especially in Latin America, assumed in whole this subjectivity of the Center and devoted themselves to the exclusive study of the Center's philosophy and thus, as Enrique Dussel recalls, avoided any form of annoyance or persecution during the military dictatorships, demonstrating that the Center's philosophy has recently lost its former critical value . However, taking the philosophy of the Center as one's own did not allow these philosophers from the Periphery to enter the center of the world's philosophical debate: their exclusion is not overcome by the fact of discussing Nietzsche or Heidegger in São Paulo or Buenos Aires.

The Other, the non-European, for this very reason presents itself as the innovative factor of the current Western world-system. These essays on Gianni Vattimo predate the publication of the Liberation ethics in the age of globalization and exclusion by Enrique Dussel, are actually contemporaneous with the writing of the work and, in fact, contain frequent references to the main work, then in progress. A ethics of liberation part of positive regard, emphasis, otherness, can be understood as a critical perspective from which to judge and overcome the West.

In Vattimo, Dussel recognizes a critique of Socratic reason, a critique that is expressed in a “limited irrationalism” or in a “moderate rationality”, from which fragile thinking originates. A ethics of liberation it is not an ethics of absolute values, but an ethics of life, which has no value, because it is the foundation of all values. Without life one cannot have any value. Value is reduced and relativized to an instrument for realizing life. Something only acquires value if it becomes a means for reproducing life.

Therefore, the importance of Gianni Vattimo's lack of economic criticism of the prevailing system becomes central to Dussel's criticism. In practice, Enrique Dussel remembers that only when Marxism was fashionable, Vattimo made a quick reference to the proletariat, which today would be represented by the excluded and the exploited. Unlike Vattimo, then, Enrique Dussel, before trying to confront Gianni Vattimo, had already carried out an analytical and critical re-reading of Marx's economic thought and there he had found the roots for a radical critique of the prevailing dominant system. This critique was radical, as it addressed the issue of reproduction of life, reproduction denied or made difficult for an overwhelming majority of humanity, which always remains on the periphery of postmodernity for Vattimo, while it is the historical subject for Dussel.

Basically, Enrique Dussel is not far from Vattimo's positions, on the contrary, he gives the impression that some of Gianni Vattimo's positions are shared, insofar as they are overcome and abandoned. Dussel is able to operate a kind of subsumption of Vattimo's thought in yours. Thus, Enrique Dussel agrees with overcoming metaphysics and with living in a “post-metaphysical” era, he does not agree with the abandonment of some fundamental ideas of classical metaphysics, such as God or freedom.

But comparing the thought of Gianni Vattimo with that of Emmanuel Levinas, Enrique Dussel prefers an overcoming of metaphysics to a transontological foundation of ethics: the new scope of ethics is now the Other. Starting from this scope, Enrique Dussel makes a precise accusation against Vattimo: fragile thinking is basically thinking without a future and without prospects, in fact, it makes the lack of hope its strength. Vattimo's “hermeneutic ontology” is not based on a reflection on the issue of liberation and, therefore, has no future prospects. They are not looking for alternatives to the late capitalism we live in, a late capitalism that has made hopelessness its force of domination and oppression.

To the extent that Gianni Vattimo's philosophy is not open to life and the economy, that is, to the sphere in which life is reproduced, it fails to transform itself into ethics, because it has lost the sense of values ​​as instruments for the reproduction of life. life. Furthermore, Vattimo's hermeneutics is not a genuine ethic, but a hermeneutical attitude. Now the historical situation has profoundly changed. Until before the philosophy of liberation, the Other was a metaphysical or purely logical being used as a complement to Western thought from Plato onwards.

Now the Other is constituted as the foundation of a Philosophy, an Ethics and a Philosophy of History that start from the Liberation of the Other from the conditions of exclusion, oppression and domination into which the West forced him. Now the Other has the power of speech, it can consult the West, ask it to confront itself, to dialogue, to subsume the foundations of the West itself in order to reconstitute them in a new way. But how many intellectuals are willing to engage in this dialogue and confrontation?

*Antonino Infranca He holds a doctorate in philosophy from the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. Author, among other books, of Work, individual, history – the concept of work in Lukács (Boitempo).

Translation: Juliana Hass.

 

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