Italian Philosophy (and Philosophers) in Leuven

On September 1, 2016 I entered my office at KU Leuven for the first time. I was starting a 3-year scholarship, which is now half-way over. I was still struggling to turn on my computer, when an old professor (whom I now really love) stormed in, and briskly asked me who I was. When I said my name, he immediately added: “And where are you from?” Eventually, the conclusion of his syllogism was quite natural: “Italy, again!!!” The old professor was right. The number of Italians at the Institute of Philosophy (and in Leuven, in general) is quickly growing. Not just students in Erasmus, but also Ph.D. candidates and young researchers, like myself. At least 90% of the prejudices regarding Italians are actually right. We are clearly louder than other people, we like to hang around, and to speak our language, even in the presence of foreigners who are normally too polite to interrupt us and re-establish the Koine English. Personally, I’ve always sincerely loathed all these habits. On holidays, I’m the one who pretends to be from somewhere else, every time I stumble upon flocks of Italian tourists who are looking for the closest pizzeria. This did not prevent me, however, from pinpointing in record time the best pizza in Leuven (it’s ‘Mangia e Via’, in the Parkstraat), and to get friendly with the owner, who 50 years before me also emigrated. By the way, both his sons are lecturers at KU Leuven.

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Guido D. Neri – Images of what is “after”. Natural World, Europe, Cosmopolitanism

[Materiali di Estetica, N. 3,1, 2016, p. 119-122. Republished by gracious permission of the Author]

1. I take this title from an essay by Guido Davide Neri, the contents and take of which I decided to further develop by taking a more personal stance towards it. This decision to refer back to Guido’s pages comes from the great debt of gratitude that I owe to him since our first meeting more than 50 years ago.
The essay in question was written in 1982, and the ‘after’ of the title referred to the situation in Eastern Europe following the repression and normalization that took place over the 1960s and 70s. In this regard, Neri particularly focused on the condition of Poland, by referring to Solidarność and the attempt to build a “stratified socialism” (as Neri defined it in another article from 1974).
Neri would later recall, however, also another “after” – namely the one that follows Gorbachev’s failed attempt to renew the Soviet Union, which ends up dissolving along with the very idea of a “realized” socialism.
In order to better understand this point, it is helpful to take into account Neri’s last paper, which consists of a series of notes for a lecture on phenomenology that he never managed to deliver (see on this Neri, Il sensibile la storia l’arte. Scritti 1957-2001, Verona: ombre corte, 2003, 171-183. See also L. Fausti, Guido Davide Neri tra scepsi e storia. Un percorso filosofico, Milano: Unicopli, 2010, 122-124).

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History & Praxis: Antonio Banfi and the Milanese School of Phenomenology

[Paper presented by Francesco Tava at the 2016 Annual Conference of the British Society for Phenomenology. Manchester, 2-4 September]

Let me say by way of introduction that rather than talking of the future of phenomenology this paper will tackle phenomenology’s past. More precisely, what I am going to deal with is a secondary and often neglected chapter in the history of phenomenology that for many reasons is still meaningful today, in light of the most recent trends of phenomenological research. The reason why I decided to focus on the contribution of Milanese philosophers, and especially of Antonio Banfi, to the development of phenomenology, is due to the project of a philosophy blog that I have recently started, together with a group of collaborators in Italy and abroad.

click here to see the blog project

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