- 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 founded the journal La Critica, to which he contributed extensively. After the First World War, Croce became involved in Italian public life, firstly as a senator, and then after 1925 as a leading intellectual opponent of fascism . His opposition was expressed largely in historical and aesthetic writing in the period. In 1944, at the end of the fascist years, he served briefly as a cabinet minister.Croce's philosophy showed a retreat from an early realism towards a Hegelian preoccupation with the nature of spirit, as revealed in historical and artistic activity. His aesthetics is centrally concerned with the way in which ‘intuition’ as a non-cognitive and emotional state nevertheless generates genuine cognition or understanding. This understanding is the point of art, which is therefore sharply separated from mere amusement or instruction (a doctrine which greatly influenced Collingwood ). Logic balances aesthetics by studying concepts rather than intuitions. These stand to each other in a dialectical relationship reminiscent of Kant, but Croce does not allow that concepts can be the building-blocks of a true, Kantian science. Truth is not found in science, which Croce regards in an instrumentalist spirit, and still less in the delusions of metaphysics and religion, but only in historical judgements. Like Hegel and Gentile, Croce identifies philosophy with the historical study of the development of concepts. In ethics Croce kept a sensitive distance from the dangerous Hegelian notion of the nation-state as the organic unity responsible for the development of the spirit, instead finding the highest realization of understanding in the self-conscious, free exercise of historical enquiry. His philosophy has been titled the ‘Philosophy of Spirit’. Its best-known expressions are Estetica (1902, trs. as The Aesthetic as the Science of Expression and the Linguistic in General, 1992), Logica (1905, trs. as Logic as the Science of the Pure Concept, 1917), Filosofia della pratica (1909, trs. as Philosophy of the Practical, 1967), and Teoria e stòria della storiografia (1917, trs. as Theory and History of Historiography, 1921).
Philosophy dictionary. Academic. 2011.