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Thinking and feeling in actual idealism

Wakefield, James R. M. 2018. Thinking and feeling in actual idealism. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 26 (4) , pp. 782-801. 10.1080/09608788.2017.1337561

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In La filosofia dell’arte, Giovanni Gentile assigned a prominent new role to the sentiments. This change struck some critics as a major departure from the earlier, classic accounts of actual idealism, in which Gentile argued that thought and language comprise the entirety of reality. Sentiments do not fit cleanly into a theory so narrowly concerned with thought and thinking. Their introduction, runs the objection, only compounds certain existing ambiguities in Gentile’s conception of the relation between mind and world. This article describes and criticizes Gentile’s attempts to integrate feeling into actual idealism. It is argued that the appearance of feeling in his mature theory does not undermine but instead clarifies his views on the relation between thought and the act of thinking. Yet it also shows the strain under which idealist language was being put by the late 1920s. Gentile’s attempts to lay out a comprehensive and phenomenologically accurate account of how thinkers actually experience reality were never wholly successful. The difficulties he faced reflect the reasons why idealism as a whole declined so sharply over the first half of the twentieth century, prompting its supporters to abandon it in favour of less metaphysically demanding doctrines.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
ISSN: 0960-8788
Date of Acceptance: 30 May 2017
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2018 11:12

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