Benedetto Croce

Benedetto Croce

Italian idealist philosopher, historian, literary critic, critic, publicist, politician
Date of Birth: 25.02.1866
Country: Italy

  1. Biography of Benedetto Croce
  2. Contributions to Italian Idealism

Biography of Benedetto Croce

Benedetto Croce was an Italian idealist philosopher, historian, literary critic, publicist, and politician. He was born on February 25, 1866, in Pescasseroli, near L'Aquila, Italy, into a family that owned lands in the central part of the country. Unfortunately, Croce's parents died in 1883 as a result of a volcanic eruption.

Croce lived in Naples and received his education at the University of Naples. However, he became disillusioned with university education and pursued self-education. He became a professor at the university from 1902 to 1920 and later became a senator in 1910. From June 1920 to July 1921, he served as the Minister of Education in D. Giolitti's cabinet. Croce was an ideologue and leader of the Italian liberals in the 1930s and 1940s and was an outspoken opponent of Mussolini's fascist regime.

After Italy's defeat in World War II, Croce joined the National Liberation Committee. He passed away in Naples on November 20, 1952.

Contributions to Italian Idealism

Croce was a prominent representative of Italian idealism, which emerged directly from the "Neapolitan" version of 19th-century Hegelianism (B. Spaventa, F. De Sanctis) and the more distant source of Italian philosopher D. Vico from the 18th century. According to this philosophical movement, the absolute negation of Hegel and the affirmation of the creative and self-generating mind as the sole reality are characteristic. Croce's autobiographical work, "Contributo alla critica di me stesso" (1951), is crucial for understanding his development of ideas.

In the early stages of his career, Croce was influenced by Marxism and was a student of Labriola. He referred to his doctrine as "absolute idealism." His philosophy is systematically presented in four volumes collectively titled "Filosofia dello spirito" (Philosophy of Spirit). The first two volumes, "Estetica come scienza dell'espressione e linguistica generale" (1902) and "Logica come scienza del concetto puro" (1909), describe the theoretical activities of the mind, including artistic creativity and conceptual thinking. The latter volumes, "Filosofia della pratica. Economia ed etica" (1909) and "Teoria e storia della storiografia" (1917), analyze the practical aspects of the mind, such as economic activities and ethics, which find their highest expression in history.

Croce made significant contributions to aesthetics and the philosophy of history. According to him, art is the expression of creative reason, and creativity is the most important activity of the mind, without which knowledge is impossible. Therefore, art is the foundation of all theories. His theory challenges the idea of beauty as a property of physical objects and rejects naturalism. He applied this approach to the interpretation of art and literature, thus establishing a school of art criticism and art history. Croce's philosophy of history also rejects naturalism. He sees history as a creation of the present, an act of thought, and thus, history is also philosophy. For Croce, history is the highest form of philosophy, representing the culmination of the development of the mind that begins with artistic expression. He believed that historical narratives are always philosophical because they interpret the past, creating it anew. Each generation must rewrite history, as evaluative judgments are expressions of the creative nature of the mind and become part of history.

Croce wrote numerous works and essays on history, literature, and politics, making significant contributions to historiography. He founded the renowned cultural journal "La Critica" in 1903 (together with D. Gentile), where he published almost all of his works. He also served as the director of the "Laterza" publishing house in Bari and was a founding member of the Italian Institute for Historical Studies in Naples.