Gentile, Giovanni

Gentile, Giovanni

Gentile, Giovanni (jōvänˈnē jāntēˈlā), 1875–1944, Italian philosopher and educator. He taught philosophy in several Italian universities and for many years contributed to the magazine of Benedetto Croce. In 1920 he founded the Giornale critico della filosofia italiana. An early supporter of the Fascist movement, he has been called the philosopher of Fascism. In 1922 he was made a senator and until 1924 was minister of public instruction. While in this office he reformed the structure of public education. He also directed the work of the new Enciclopedia italiana. Gentile's philosophy, called actual idealism, is a form of neo-Hegelian idealism and was developed in Teoria generale dello spirito come atto puro (1916, tr. The Theory of Mind as Pure Act, 1922).


See studies by H. S. Harris (2d ed. 1966), M. E. Brown (1966), and W. A. Smith (1970).

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Gentile, Giovanni


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.


Opere complete, vols. 1-16. Florence, 1935-46.


Efirov, 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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Gentile, Giovanni. Ifondamenti della filosofia del diritto.
Gentile, Giovanni. "Giambattista Vico nel secondo centenario della morte (1944)." Studi vichiani.
Gentile, Giovanni. Origins and Doctrine of Fascism with Selections from Other Works.
Gentile, Giovanni. Genesis and Structure of Society.
Gentile, Giovanni. "La donna nella coscienza moderna." Preliminari allo studio del fanciullo.