Giovanni Gentile

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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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.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.
References in periodicals archive ?
As Giovanni Gentile, a Mussolini supporter, said, "Fascism should more appropriately be called corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." In the updated American case, in public-private partnerships the profits are privatized.
D'Souza identifies Giovanni Gentile as the founding philosopher of fascism.
His 1932 manifesto, The Doctrine of Fascism, co-authored with Giovanni Gentile, presented a statist, totalitarian philosophy completely compatible with communism: "Everything in the State, nothing against the State, nothing outside the State."
Gottfried understands that a movement, and later a regime, could be reactionary and still appeal to workers, anarchosyndicalists, and even leftist Hegelian philosophers like Giovanni Gentile.
In 1923, Giovanni Gentile's reform of the Italian educational system gave great importance to the study of classical culture in general and the Latin language in particular.
In addition to extensive work in the archives of Eugenio Garin (Scuola Normale Superiore in Pisa), Giovanni Gentile (Rome), Hans Baron (Duke University), and Paul Oskar Kristellcr (Columbia University), Rubini--assistant professor of Italian Literature at the University of Chicago--engages in a deep reading of their representative texts: Garin's L 'umanesimo italiano (1952) and Cronache di filosofia italiana (1955); Gentile's Opere filoso fiche and Storia della filosofia italiana (both edited by Garin); Baron's Crisis of the Early Italian Renaissance (1955); and the four volumes of Kristeller's Studies in Renaissance Thought and Letters (1956-1996).
Moreover, in order to verify the coherence and pertinence of the proposed diagnosis on nihilism, the new insight is put to the test through an extended critical dialogue with several expressions of the nineteenth- and twentieth-century philosophers, including Nietzsche and Heidegger, Edmund Husserl, Giovanni Gentile, Jacques Maritain, Paul Ricoeur, Jurgen Habermas, Gianni Vattimo, and some analytical philosophers.
Idealist critics like the neo-Hegelian Giovanni Gentile (1875-1944) attacked the status quo as focusing on "istruzione" (instruction) rather than "educazione" (character building).
He devotes considerable space to assessing the philosopher Giovanni Gentile's neo-Hegelian view of Giuseppe Mazzini, the prophet of Italian unification.
With the exception of Benedetto Croce, Giovanni Gentile and Antonio Gramsci, the other Italian modern philosophers are almost unknown in foreign countries (especially in the Anglo-Saxon cultural area).
Benito Mussolini's supporters drew variously on strands they found in Sorel, futurism, and corporatism, for example, and one of Italy's leading philosophers, Giovanni Gentile, became a sophisticated apologist for the new regime.
Otro ejemplo contrastante fue el de Giovanni Gentile y Benedetto Croce durante el fascismo.