Thursday, August 23, 2012

Italian Institute for Philosophical Studies' 300,000 books go into storage

Authors such as Benedetto Croce and Giordano Bruno will not be available. The Italian Institute for Philosophical Studies after a mere 37 years will close access. Co-founder Gerardo Marotta laments its closing and compared it to the Warburg Institute in London.

Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici / Italian Institute for Philosophic Studies

Naples, Palazzo Serra di Cassano - Via Monte di Dio, 14

Twenty-five years of International Culture in Naples

November 30th, 2009

The Italian Institute for Philosophic Studies was founded in 1975 in Naples by Attorney Gerardo Marotta, who is also its President, around the humanistic library of more one hundred thousand volumes that have been collected over some thirty years of patient searching di fondi librari throughout Europe.

After about thirty years from the foundation of the Italian Institute for Historical Studies, that was promoted by Benedetto Croce, Attorney Marotta felt that of the vichiano verum-factum dual concept, philosophy-philology, the weak ?pole had indeed become that of speculative thought, since the great impetus of theoretical debate of the first post-war period appeared to be exhausted, to the point of far nascere in Croce’s mind the intention to temper it and, at the same time, reinforce it by avviando young people su the road of strict historical studies.

During the first years of life of the Institute, born under the auspices of the Accademia dei Lincei, the didactic and scientific activities took place? in Viale Calscione in the seat of the Institute’s library. However, these premises very soon became angusti, due the great affluence of scholars and graduate students from all parts of Italy and Europe, who were almost more numerous in their attendance at seminars and meetings.

In 1983, the "Ministero per i Beni Culturali e Ambientali [Ministry for Culture and the Environment]" acquired the 18th-century Palazzo Serra di Cassano from the governmental patrimony, and lo destinava in uso to the Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici. This was done so that it could develop in a seat that was sufficiently decorous and functional for its existence, that by now has become the centre of attention of scholars on a worldwide basis. An architectural complex among the most remarkable in Naples’s already very rich historic patrimony was thus recovered for a very high cultural function.

As Professor Paul Dibon has asserted, the Italian Institute for Philosophical Studies has made of these magnificent premises, loaded with history, "a crossroads of European culture".

From Eugenio Garin to Luigi Firpo, from Hans-Georg Gadamer to Karl Popper, all the greatest Italian and foreign experts of the history of thought have held seminars at the Institute. During the long academic year which commences at the beginning of September, to conclude only in late July, various seminars are held every day, as well as courses of lessons, for the Institute’s graduate students, researchers, young students, and the city’s vast cultured public.

At an always more intense rhythm, the Institute si adopera also in order to make a contribution to the riavvicinamento between the philosophic-humanistic culture and the scientific culture, with seminars on physics and biology, to which various Nobel Prize winners have contributed: from Rita Levi Montalcini to Carlo Rubbia, from Steven Weinberg to Sheldon Glashow, from Max Perutz to Ily Prigogine. Ernst Gombrich, Francis Haskell, Ferdinando Bologna, and Jean Starobinski have given seminars on the history and theory of art, while Professor Luigi De Rosa has been assigned to organise scientific meetings and publications in the field of economic history.

In collaboration with the most prestigious foreign cultural institutions, the Institute periodically organises for its graduate students cycles of lessons at foreign universities and research centres: from the Warburg Institute of London to the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes of Paris, to the universities of Cambridge, Warwick, Rotterdam, Austin, Munich, Frankfurt, Hambourg, Tubigen, and Erlangen.

The Italian Institute for Philosophic Studies, which is directed by Professor Giovanni Pugliese Carratelli and whose current Steering Committee consists among others of Luigi De Rosa, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Eugenio Garin, Tullio Gregory, Raymond Klibansky, Rita Levi Montalcini, Alfonso Maria Liquori, Gerardo Marotta, Vittorio Mathieu, Giovanni Pugliese Carratelli, and E. G. C. Sudarshan, has also developed an extensive publishing activity, aimed at the recovery of the highest moments in the history of thought.

Thus have been born series of critical editions of texts of Greek philosophy (The School of Plato, The School of Epicurus), the Corpus Reformatorum Italicorum, the Italian Illuminists, the Hegels Vorlesungen, while the series Memories of the Institute continuously makes available to national culture the results of the seminars.

In 1980, the Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici set up its School of Graduate Studies in Naples, directed by Tullio Gregory, to offer young people a possibility of avviarsi a) an activity of study and research after concluding their undergraduate studies. During their courses, Charles Schmitt, Robert Shakleton, Yvon Belaval, Paul Ricoeur, Otto Pöggeler, Dieter Henrich, and many other teachers, have met the most promising graduates at all the Italian universities.

Jeff Matthews wrote this in December 2008...

The Italian Institute for Philosophical Studies

For whatever reason, I don’t spend a lot of time hanging out at the Italian Institute for Philosophical Studies (Istituto Italiano per gli Studi Filosofici), (maybe I'm too Sophoclean!) but it’s an interesting place. One of the best public lectures plus Q & A sessions I ever attended was there some years ago when researchers, Allen and Beatrice Gardner, presented findings on their Project Washoe and the cognitive abilities of chimpanzees. It was an example of the wide-ranging program at the Institute, some of which may seem only peripherally connected with philosophy. (Primate cognition, I suppose, is one of the border areas.)

The institute was founded in 1975 in Naples by Gerardo Marotta and others. At first, it was under the auspices of the Accademia dei Lincei (known in English as The Lincean Academy), the prestigious organization founded in 1603 in Rome, at the beginnings of modern science. (The Institute is thus part of a long tradition in Naples that even boasts a predecessor to the Accademia dei Lincei: the Academia Secretorum of Giambattista della Porta).

In 1983, the Institute moved into the 18th-century Palazzo Serra di Cassano (entrance, photo, above). At its heart, of course, is the library, the nucleus of which is more than 100,000 volumes that were collected over some thirty years of patient searching throughout Europe. The beautiful premises are sufficiently upscale for “philosophical studies.” (I know, I know—you don’t need upscale. Someone famous and philosophical once said that all you really need is a teacher, a disciple and a log to sit on. But “upscale” is still nice.) The Palazzo Serra di Cassano is one of the most remarkable buildings in Naples and because of the Institute attracts the attention of scholars throughout the world.

Over the years, the premises have hosted seminars with modern philosophers Hans-Georg Gadamer and Karl Popper and scientists such as Rita Levi Montalcini, Carlo Rubbia, Steven Weinberg, Sheldon Glashow and Ilya Prigogine, all Nobel Prize winners. The institute seems to be open all the time, at least during the long academic year (from September through late July) and is usually crawling with graduate students, researchers and just ordinary people interested in one or more of the items on the very active seminar schedule or in simply browsing in some of the publications of the Institute.

Their current webpage displays a wide range of material on a long list of philosophers, from Socrates and Plato to Kierkegaard and Nietzsche as well as a complete list of seminars to be held in the coming months. There is obviously some overlap with another institute in Naples, the one for Historical Studies founded by Benedetto Croce in 1946. I see, for example, an upcoming presentation of a recent—and what looks to be interesting—book entitled The Hamilton Letters, The Naples Dispatches of Sir William Hamilton. The Institute provides student and researcher exchanges with many foreign universities and since 1980 has had its own School of Graduate Studies

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