The philosopher Gianni Vattimo He died this Wednesday night in Turin, the city where he was born 87 years ago. He has confirmed it to the Italian press Simone Caminada, the thinker’s companion in the last years of his life. He spent his last hours hospitalized in the municipality of Rivoli, belonging to the metropolitan area of Turin. He considered the last great Italian philosopher, author of the theory of weak thought, a criticism of traditional metaphysics. Drawing on the thought of Nietzsche, Heidegger and Gadamer, he reinterpreted postmodernism as a “liberation” from totalizing metaphysics. In addition to his academic career, Vattimo was a member of the European Parliament and actively contributed to Italian and European politics.
Vattimo was also a pioneer in defending the rights of LGBTI people, defining himself as “homosexual and Christian.” The author of works such as The adventures of difference (1979), The weak thought (1983), The end of modernity (1985), The transparent society (1989), Ethics of interpretation (1989), believe that you believe (nineteen ninety six), Dialogues with Nietzsche (2002) and Nihilism and emancipation (2003).
Vattimo’s theory of weak thought, born from his experience of marginalization as a homosexual and Christian, proposes abandoning dogmatic assertions of absolute and universal truths in favor of a more open vision of philosophy. In the philosopher’s own words, he proposes “the abandonment of violence, control over the destruction of nature and, ultimately, a less neurotic interpretation of existence.”
Vattimo always spoke openly about his homosexuality. In an interview with EL PAÍS in 2019, he stated: “I am convinced that this question has been decisive for my training, but I do not know to what extent it could have been a mistake. A youth problem, like politics, which now seems more decisive to me. Today, being a communist or not is more important than being gay, which means almost nothing.”
He also did not mince his words when it came to talking about the Church, despite declaring himself a Christian. He proposed “abolishing celibacy” and “stripping the Church of superstitions.” “The problem is not whether miracles have happened or not. The problem is that there is an authority that tries to tell us if they are true. Who cares? But it is difficult to think of a history of the Church without dogmatic authority. When Christians pray they still think that they are talking to the Virgin. A physicist friend of mine proposes doing an interplanetary expedition to check where in the sky María Santísima Asunta ended up in her body 2,000 years ago. That is the realistic residue that no one has cared about. Worse still, papal authority is based on that,” he commented in the interview with this newspaper.
Vattimo was not only a philosopher, but also a politically committed man. He was a member of several political groups, including the Radical Party, the Alliance for Turin, the Left Democrats and the Italian Communists. He was also a candidate on the lists of Fuori!, one of the first associations of the Italian homosexual liberation movement founded in 1971 in Turin by Angelo Pezzana. In 2005 he ran for mayor of San Giovanni in Fiore, Calabria. On 30 March 2009, Vattimo announced his candidacy as European MP for Antonio Di Pietro’s Italia dei Valori and was elected representative in the North West constituency.
In 2016, Vattimo donated his personal archive to the Pompeu Fabra University of Barcelona, with the consequent anger of the University of Turin, where he taught for a good part of his life. The reason, according to the philosopher, is that Pompeu Fabra was the first to propose it.
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