DOI: https://doi.org/10.15581/011.3.373-420

Il concetto di violenza nel passato e nella civiltà di massa dei nostri tempi

 -Michele Pallottini


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Resumen

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In agreement with the title of this article, the essay is divided into two basic parts: one which is historical and the other philosophical. In the first part, the author examines at the beginning the classical Latin etyma of the term uiolentia (uis, uiolare, uiolator, etc ...). After that comes the acclaration of the philosophical concept of «violence» in Aristotle and Saint Thomas, and in continuation an indication of the application of the same concept to the field of ethics, and finally to the juridical field within classical roman law. In another sphere of considerations -ethical and political- the author points out the opinions of some characters which Plato introduces in his dialogues Gorgias and The Republic, due above all to the resonance which these works hace had in the history of the Western World until the present time. The subject of bloody violence, which is inherent to the action of the tyrannicide, is treated here briefly with references to the works of Cicero, John of Salisbury, Saint Thomas, Marsilius of Padua, Coluccio Salutati, Juan de Mariana, etc. Phenomena of midieval history suchaas the Crusades and the trials of the Inquisition could not be silenced in this case because both phenomena legitimized morally the use of violence directed towards infidels and heretics. The historical excursus on the topic of the legitimacy of violence in the hands of those who govern passes in successive order, through Machiavelli, to the political literature on the a «reason of state», jusnaturalism, etc ... To be underlined is the fact that since the end of the Eighteenth Century -and in an even much more important way in the realm of hegelian Idealism- the concept of violence has undergone a process of amplification as much within the field of Philosophy as within the experimental sciences: Darwin, Malthus and Hegel form the framework. This concept, which in Hegel's dialectic transformed itself into the dynamic principie of the antithesis, and which, therefore, affirmed the structure of the metaphysical movement of history, was passed on as a legacy to the successive hegelian trend, which was in itself so complex and so full of ramifications. The figure of Marx stands out in these pages not so much for his ties with the hegelian left, and with Feuerbach in particular, but rather because of one of the basic concepts of historical materialism -the struggle of the classes- which Marx underlined in his Communist Manifesto as the motivating force of history. The author then considers on the one hand the relationships which exist between the different European nationalisms of the last Century and the ones actually existing today, and, on the other, the Marxist ideology; he analyzes in passing the profound influence exercised by the Aufklärung of the Eighteenth Century upon the de-Christianization of man wrapped up first in his rationalism, and, later on, as a compensation, in new forms of religion and the cult of the world. From here on several names appear: Lenin, Stalin, Sorel, Mussolini, Hitler, etc., men who were very different one from the other and even opposed with regard to their respective political philosophies, but who set the pace for violence of a revolutionary and counter-revolutionary nature during short years or lasting decades. After a few more considerations, the first part of this essay ends with the author underlining the interest which experimental psychology and psycho-analysis have dedicated to the study of human aggressiveness and its mechanisms. In the second part of this work the author tries to establish guidelines for the study of the relationships between the multiple phenomena of individual and collective violence in the present, and the mass civilization of our time. In the first place, the author makes a series of admonitions with relation to the words used: «violence», «mass civilization» instead of «mass society», «civilization» instead of «culture», etc. He also recommends the need for not classifying en masse as a result of a reactionary mentality, the discontent which the intellectual contemplation of the present times produces in the observer, because if our state of animation could be termed as nothing else but «reactionary», then the same could be said to define a great part of the best literature of this Century, as well as the figurative arts of this modem age. The expression «mentality of violence» is applied in the historical context of cultural regression, from Friedrich Nietzsche to our day. After this, the author makes a summary description of the mental coordinates of massified man, as well as of certain particular features of the actual «organization» of culture, which is increasingly impregnated by political and economic ideas, in agreement with the fundamental methodology of historical materialism. The nucleus of these considerations is made up of a philosophical definition of the actual conditions of culture in Europe. This definition rests upon the conviction that the ideology of Marxism-Leninism, although it may by in a stage of partial historical modification, directs not only the political evolution of important sectors of occidental society, but also that it has known how to model, thanks again to the coming-together of circumstances, the forma mentis of the contemporary intellectual. In the final part of the essay, the author dedicates special emphasis on the influence of Marxism upon wide sectors of modem Catholicism. He then adds several warnings in order to avoid, on the part of the reader, interpretations which might be inopportune or false.

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