Italy has a rich, rigorous history of great philosophers. From the ancient Roman thinkers Cicero and Lucretius, to the scientist-philosophers Galileo Galilei and Giordano Bruno, it’s impossible to measure the international significance of Italy’s philosophical traditions.
When studying at John Cabot University in Rome, students can enroll in philosophy courses while in the nation of thinkers like Machiavelli and Marcus Aurelius. They’re in the right place to immerse their minds in the theories of creative Italian intellectuals. Read on for an introduction to a few important figures in the history of Italian philosophy.
Marxist Thinker Antonio Gramsci
Antonio Gramsci was born in 1891 in the rural south of Italy, back when there was a staunch demarcation between the industrial north and the poor south. Growing up in a small town on the island of Sardinia, his family was notable for their unique reading and writing skills. As an adolescent, he won a scholarship to the University of Turin.
Turin at the time was one of the highly industrialized centers of Italy, with a strong labor movement and a rich history of political activism. Gramsci’s experiences studying at the university and living in Turin shaped his engagement with Marxist philosophy. Turin is still an important cultural center today, and you might get the chance to visit it when you study abroad in Rome.
Gramsci went on to develop a philosophical analysis of the way power exacts subtler forms of control and manipulation through ideas and culture, rather than just explicit violence, warfare, and repression. Criminalized by Italy’s dictator Mussolini in the late 1920s, he spent 11 years in prison until he died there in 1937. He completed over 30 notebooks while imprisoned, which were smuggled out and published after the war.
Read Umberto Eco’s Novels While You Study Abroad in Rome
Umberto Eco is one of Italy’s most widely read novelists and philosophers. Born in 1932, he’s notable for his contributions to the field of semiotics. This is a branch of literary theory that studies signs, symbols, and how we communicate meaning through them. He was a prominent professor of semiotics at the world’s oldest university, the University of Bologna.
As a novelist, he published such books as The Name of the Rose, a murder mystery set in a 14th century Italian monastery, and Foucault’s Pendulum, a lengthy, esoteric psychological thriller about the Knights Templars and other secret societies. Eco passed away in 2016.
Antonio Negri and His Seminal Work, Empire
When you attend an English language university in Rome, you may get the opportunity to study one of Italy’s best known still-living philosophers. Antonio Negri was born in 1933 in the city of Padua in northern Italy and taught at the University of Padua in the 1960s. His life at this point was characterized by violent government repression due to his activism and ideas, which were in the tradition of leftist thinkers like Marx and Spinoza.
After former prime minister Aldo Moro was murdered in 1978, he was arrested and detained for four years. He was eventually released and fled to France, returning to Italy only at the break of the millennium. Negri shot to international fame in 2000 with his book Empire, which discusses how global capitalism has generated a new form of sovereignty in the form of the international empire. He continues to write, speak, and publish, now working as a professor at the European Graduate School in Malta.
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