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Born May 30, 1875, in Castelvetrano; died Apr. 15, 1944, in Florence. Italian neo-Hegelian philosopher; an ideologist of fascism. Minister of education in the Mussolini government (1922-24). Professor of history of philosophy at the University of Palermo (from 1907), the University of Pisa (from 1914), and the University of Rome (1917-44).
Gentile’s philosophical system, his so-called actualism, is a subjective idealist variant of neo-Hegelianism. In reforming Hegel’s philosophy, Gentile came close to Fichte’s view, reducing reality to the current thinking process, what he called the “act of thought” or “thinking thought.” Since he identified the act of thought with actual reality, he contrasted it not only to the whole objective world but also to past thought, to “thought thought,” which, according to Gentile, was an “ossified” and materialized thinking process and hence no longer dialectical.
Gentile cooperated with the fascist government and became an apologist of the totalitarian state, which he viewed as the embodiment of the moral spirit. He called for the total submission of the personality to the state and for the dissolution of individuals in political history.
WORKSOpere complete, vols. 1-16. Florence, 1935-46.
REFERENCESEfirov, S. A. Italïianskaia burzhuaznaia filosofiia 20 v. Moscow, 1968. Chapter 2.
Giovanni Gentile: La vita e ilpensiero, vols. 3, 6. Florence, 1950-54.
Harris, H. S. The Social Philosophy of Giovanni Gentile. Urbana, 1960.
S. A. EFIROV