We think it is wise to accept reality, rather than fight for something that does not exist or might never be. But in Of Reality, Gianni Vattimo condemns this complacency, with its implicit support of the status quo. Instead he urges us to never stop questioning, contrasting, or overcoming reality, which is not natural, inevitable, or objective. Reality is a construct, reflecting, among other things, our greed, biases, and tendencies toward violence. It is no accident, Vattimo argues, that the call to embrace reality has emerged at a time when the inequalities of liberal capitalism are at their most extreme. Developed from his popular Gifford Lectures, this book advances a critical approach that recovers our interpretive powers and native skepticism toward normative claims. Though he recognizes his ideas invite charges of relativism, the philosopher counters with a discussion of truth, highlighting its longstanding ties to history and social circumstance. Truth is always contingent and provisional, and reason and reasonableness are bound to historical context.
Truth is therefore never objective, and resistance to reality is our best hope to defeat the indifference that threatens the scope of freedom and democracy.
Gianni Vattimo is emeritus professor of philosophy at the University of Turin and a former member of the European Parliament. His most recent Columbia University Press books include A Farewell to Truth (2011); Hermeneutic Communism: From Heidegger to Marx (with Santiago Zabala, 2011); The Responsibility of the Philosopher (2010); and Art's Claim to Truth (2008), all translated into several languages.
Introduction Part I. The Leuven Lectures 1. The Nietzsche Effect 2. The Heidegger Effect 3. The Age of the World Picture Part II. Intermission 4. The Temptation of Realism Part III. The Gifford Lectures 5. Tarski and the Quotation Marks 6. Beyond Phenomenology 7. Being and Event 8. The Ethical Dissolution of Reality Part IV. Appendix 9. Metaphysics and Violence: A Question of Method 10. From Heidegger to Marx: Hermeneutics as the Philosophy of Praxis 11. The End of Philosophy in the Age of Democracy 12. True and False Universalism 13. The Evil That Is Not, 1 14. The Evil That Is Not, 2 15. Weak Thought, Thought of the Weak 16. From Dialogue to Conflict Notes Index