Benedetto Croce

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Related to Benedetto Croce: Giovanni Gentile

Croce, Benedetto

(bānādĕt`tō krô`chā), 1866–1952, Italian philosopher, historian, and critic. He lived mostly in Naples, devoting himself to studying and writing. He founded and edited (1903–44) Critica, a review of literature, history, and philosophy, which in 1944 became Quaderni della critica. Croce was made a senator in 1910 and was minister of education (1920–21). A staunch opponent of Fascism, he lived in retirement until 1943, when he became a leader of the Liberal party. Croce's system of philosophy is related to the idealistic school in that spirit, monistic in manifestation, constitutes the only reality. In his works on aesthetics Croce held that an artist's mental images, communicated by physical artifacts, constitute works of art. Viewing history as an interpretation of the past, he argued that history is not only a form of thought but the culmination of philosophy. The general title of the work presenting his system is Philosophy of the Spirit (1902–17; tr. 1909–21), which is divided into four parts, Aesthetic as Science of Expression and General Linguistic, Logic as the Science of Pure Concept, Philosophy of the Practical, and History: Its Theory and Practice. Among his other works are A History of Italy, 1871–1915 (1927; tr. 1929) and History as the Story of Liberty (1938; tr. 1941).


See his essays My Philosophy (tr. 1949); M. E. Moss, Benedetto Croce Reconsidered (1987); D. Roberts, Benedetto Croce and the Uses of Historicism (1987).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Croce, Benedetto


Born Feb. 25, 1866, in Pescasseroli, near L’Aquila; died Nov. 20, 1952, in Naples. Italian idealist philosopher, historian, literary scholar, critic, publicist, and political figure; neo-Hegelian.

From 1902 to 1920, Croce was a professor in Naples. In 1903, together with G. Gentile, he began publishing the journal La critica, which subsequently turned into a publication containing almost exclusively Croce’s own articles and reviews. (After 1944 the journal appeared irregularly under the title Quaderni della critica.) Croce was the most outstanding representative of Italian liberalism. In 1910 he became a senator; in 1920–21 he was minister of public instruction. After Mussolini came to power and throughout the German occupation of Italy, Croce was an opponent of the fascist regime. From 1943 to 1947 he headed the Liberal Party, which he refounded.

Croce’s world view was formed under the influence of the school of Neapolitan Hegelianism (B. Spaventa and F. De Sanctis). Thanks to A. Labriola, whose lectures he attended, Croce became acquainted with Marxism; however, despite his interest in Marxist philosophy and sociology (shown in his work, Historical Materialism and the Economics of Karl Marx, 1901), Croce remained an opponent of Marxism. He played a prominent role in the struggle against positivism in Italy.

Croce’s study of G. Vico greatly contributed to the formation of his own philosophy, which he defined as absolute idealism. Spirit manifests itself in theoretical (logical and aesthetic) and practical (ethical and economic) forms. While the logical and the ethical are directed toward the universal, the aesthetic and economic are directed toward the particular. Therefore, Croce’s philosophy is divided into four spheres: aesthetics, logic, the philosophy of economics, and ethics. Croce describes the relationship between the forms of spirit in terms of a dialectic of unity and distinctness of concepts, which he substitutes for the Hegelian principle of contradiction. These spiritual forms are joined into dyads; the first level, aesthetic intuition, is autonomous in relation to the second level, which is the logical concept (the moment of distinctness); but the second level presupposes the first (which is the moment of unity).

In the process of cognition, Croce laid great stress on intuition, which, in distinction to logical thought, grasps the world in its concreteness and unduplicable individuality. Intuition is embodied in an infinite variety of works of art. Therefore, the philosophy of intuition is, precisely, aesthetics, which Croce defined as “the science of expression” and identified with “general linguistics.” Croce saw the essence of poetry in “pure” or “lyrical” intuition, free from logical or moral demands; for this reason, he juxtaposed poetry, as a form of disinterested contemplation, to “prose” and “literature,” which express moral, intellectual, and similar cultural values.

Since for Croce spirit is historical in its nature, philosophy is essentially the philosophy of history, just as history, for its part, is also philosophy, since the historian recognizes the universal in the particular, always understanding the past on the basis of the present. Croce was the founder of the influential “ethical-political school” of Italian historiography and was himself one of the most important Italian historians of the 20th century and the author of numerous works on the history of culture, the arts, and social life, including the history of Italy between 1871 and 1915 and the history of Europe in the 19th century.

Croce’s aesthetic ideas received their greatest recognition outside Italy and had a significant influence on the development of literary scholarship and linguistics (including the idealist school of philology of K. Vossler and L. Spitzer). Croce had a very great influence on all branches of the humanities in Italy during the first decades of the 20th century. His influence declined in the 1940’s, thanks in particular to the works of the Italian Marxists (for example, A. Gramsci), who subjected the idealist views of Croce and his followers to criticism.


Filosofia dello spirito, vols. 1–4. Bari, 1927–32.
Saggi filosofici, vols. 1–14. Ban, 1922–52.
Scritti di storia letteraria e politico, vols. 1–44. Bari, 1911–54.
Scritti varii, vols. 1–12. Bari, 1927–63.
Epistolario, vols. 1–2. Naples, 1967–69.
In Russian translation:
Istoricheskii materializm i marksistskaia ekonomiia. St. Petersburg, 1902.
Estetika kak nauka o vyrazhenii i kak obshchaia lingvistika, part 1. Moscow, 1920.


Abbate, M. Filosofiia B. Kroche i krizis ital’ianskogo obshchestva. Moscow, 1959.
Garin, E. Khronika ital’ianskoi filosofii 20 v. Moscow, 1965. (Translated from Italian.)
Gramsci, A. O literature i iskusstve. Moscow, 1967.
Topuridze, E. M. Estetika. B. Kroche. Tbilisi, 1967.
Efirov, S. A. Ital’ianskoi burzhuaznaia filosofiia 20 v. Moscow, 1968. Chapter 2.
Gramsci, A. II materialismo storico e la filosofia di B. Croce, 2nd ed. Turin, 1949.
Cione, E. B. Croce, 2nd ed. Milan, 1953.
Cione, E. Bibliografia crociana. [Monza] 1956.
Olgiati, F. B. Croce e lo storicismo. Milan, 1953.
Agazzi, E. II giovane Croce e il marxismo. Turin, 1962.
Nicolini, F. B. Croce. Turin, 1962.
Bausola, A. Filosofia e storia net pensiero crociano. Milan, 1965.
Bausola, A. Etica e politica nel pensiero di B. Croce. Milan, 1966.
Cinquant’ anni di vita intellettuale italiana, 2nd ed., vols. 1–2. Naples, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Elisa Levi Sabattini republishes with a few revisions, her father Mario's (1944-2017) 1993 article "Chu Kuang-ch'ien and Croce," as an introduction to his treatment of the thought of Zhu Guangqian 1897-1986 on Benedetto Croce (1866-1952), followed by an English translation of Zhu's Wenyi xinli xue (The Psychology of Art and Literature), published in 1936.
The issue of art in the philosophical speculation occupies an important place but, obviously, it received many solutions or definitions and some of them are diametrically opposed, as in the case of Ernst Cassirer and Benedetto Croce. Unfortunately, there is only one critical monograph on this topic, (1) so it would be very interesting to devote one more study to this topic in order to compare the opposite visions of Cassirer and Croce on the nature of art, just because both of them tried to collocate, as I previously said, the role of art into the life of Spirit.
(22/) See Benedetto Croce, review of Studi filosofici 2 (1941), in La Critica 40 (1942): 48-49, where he comments on Paci, "Il significato storico dell'esistenzialismo"; Croce, "Ancora intorno alla vitalita come momento dello spirito," Quaderni delia Critica 5.15 (November 1949): 93-95; Croce, "Il concetto dell'Utile o del Vitale e le sue aporie," Quaderni della Critica 5.14 (July 1949): 126.
The second figure is Vittorio Gui, the conductor who dared to sign the 'Manifesto degli intellettuali antifascisti' promoted in 1925 by the philosopher Benedetto Croce, as an answer to the 'Manifesto degli intellettuali fascisti' by the Fascist scholar, Giovanni Gentile.
The philosopher Benedetto Croce once began a book with an
Por citar solo algunas de la ultima centuria, en 1916 veia la luz la famosa obra de Benedetto Croce (1916) Teoria e Storia della Storiografia; varias dEcadas mas tarde, Charles Carbonell (1981) publicaba L'Historiographie y Guy BourdE y HervE Martin (1983), Les ?coles historiques.
En la tradicion de Hugo Schuchardt y Benedetto Croce, Matteo Bartoli, quien esperaba en Gramsci un heredero, habia construido una linea de pensamiento que se denomino neolinguistica--y que luego seria rebautizada como "linguistica areal"--posicionada frente al positivismo del siglo XIX y su logica evolucionista yala neogramatica (enmarcada en el incipiente estructuralismo) que concebia la lengua como pura inmanencia en terminos de valor.
Beyond this, Bennett considers the non-dramatic writings of the playwrights and their contemporaries to situate the plays in the empiricism-rationalism debate, including the letters exchanged between Pirandello and Benedetto Croce, which debated idealism from 1908-1909; and including Albee's essays, "Some Notes on Non-Conformity" and "Which Theater is the Absurd One?" which commented on the social, cultural, and artistic movements of the time.
El primero de los articulos referidos, "Filosofia y revolucion ...", esta encabezado un epigrafe tomado de El materialismo historico y la filosofia de Benedetto Croce, donde Antonio Gramsci se pregunta por las razones profundas que explican que la "filosofia de la praxis" haya tenido a veces la suerte de "haber servido para formar combinaciones" con marcos teoricos claramente incongruentes con sus premisas.
C'est ce qu'il explique son interet pour le "Risorgimiento" (renaissance ou resurrection en italien), par la question meridionale, la philosophie de Benedetto Croce (1866-1952: fondateur du Parti liberal italien), les intellectuels, le principe moderne, le mouvement ouvrier, la culture et le probleme catholique, la langue et la litterature, etc.
The introductory sections sometimes develop many ideas by the same thinker, such as revelation, history under art, what is distinct, what is living, what is dead in the work of Benedetto Croce.