BENEDETTO CROCE

Dates: 1866-1952

Nationality: Italian

Benedetto Croce (February 25, 1866 – November 20, 1952) was an Italian critic, idealist philosopher, and occasionally also a politician. He wrote on numerous topics, including philosophy, history, methodology of history writing and aesthetics, and was a prominent liberal, although he opposed laissez-faire free trade.

Croce’s work Breviario di Estetica (The Essence of Aesthetic) appears in the form of four lessons (quattro lezioni), as he was asked to write and deliver them at the inauguration of Rice University in 1912. He declined the invitation to attend the event; however, he wrote the lessons and submitted them for translation, so that they could be read in his absence. In this brief, but dense, work, Croce sets forth his theory of art. He claimed that art is more important than science or metaphysics, since only the former edifies us. He felt that all we know can be reduced to logical and imaginative knowledge. Art springs from the latter, making it at its heart, pure imagery. All thought is based in part on this, and it precedes all other thought. The task of an artist is then to put forth the perfect image that they can produce for their viewer, since this is what beauty fundamentally is – the formation of inward, mental images in their ideal state. Our intuition is the basis of forming these concepts within us. This theory was later heavily debated by such contemporary Italian thinkers as Umberto Eco, who locates the aesthetic within a semiotic construction.

Wikipedia contributors, ‘Benedetto Croce’, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 5 December 2010, 19:48 UTC, <en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Benedetto_Croce&oldid=400716710>

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