Giorgio Tonelli


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Tonelli, Giorgio

sex: m; b. Jun 10, 1928 in Bologna, Italy – d. Apr 28, 1978 in Binghamton, USA; country/nation/culture: Italian; field of study: history of philosophy, history of ideas; ref.: nonecontrib.: Marco Sgarbi


[edit] Main Works

  • Kant, dall'estetica metafisica all'estetica psicoempirica: Studi sulla genesi del criticismo (1754-1771) e sulle sue fonti, 1955
  • Estetici minori britannici del Settecento, 1955
  • La tradizione delle categorie aristoteliche nella filosofia moderna sino a Kant, 1958
  • Elementi metodologici e metafisici in Kant dal 1745 al 1768: Saggio di sociologia della conoscenza, 1959
  • Poesia e pensiero in Albrecht von Haller, 1961
  • Der historische Ursprung der kantischen Termini "Analytik" und "Dialektik", 1962
  • Qu'est-ce que l'histoire de la philosophie?, 1962
  • Aspetti della lirica tedesca. 1895-1960, 1963
  • Heine e la Germania, 1963
  • Christian Reuter e la società tedesca del Seicento, 1964
  • Das Wideraufleben der deusch-aristotelischen Terminologie bei Kant während der Enstehung der "Kritik der der reinen Vernunft", 1964
  • Kant und die antiken Skeptiker, 1968
  • La philosophie allemande de Leibniz à Kant, 1973
  • Kant's Critique of Pure Reason within the Tradition of Modern Logic, 1974
  • Conditions in Königsberg and the Making of Kant's Philosophy, 1975
  • "Critique" and Related Terms Prior to Kant: A Historical Survey, 1978
  • Le pensée philosophique de Maupertuis, Son milieu et ses sources, 1987
  • Kant's Critique of Pure Reason within the Tradition of Modern Logic, 1994
  • Scepticism in the Enlightenment (co-ed.), 1997 [Popkin, Richard H.; De Olaso, Ezequiel]

[edit] Biography

Giorgio Tonelli, son of the renown mathematician Leonida Tonelli, was born in Pisa on 10th June 1928. He studied at the university of Pisa between 1945 and 1949 as a student of the Scuola Normale Superiore. When young, Tonelli spent most of his time learning foreign languages and studying German classical philosophy. His teachers were Cesare Luporini, Guido Calogero and Luigi Scaravelli. Under Scaravelli's aegis, Tonelli wrote his dissertation titled on the history of the publication of the Critique of Practical Reason from 1784 to 1786. In the 1948/49 academic year, he studied at the Sorbonne with Alexander Koyre, Henry Gouhier and Martial Guéroult. In Basel, he attended lectures by Karl Barth and Karl Jaspers, and in Frankfurt he met with Theodor W. Adorno. In Vienna, he was in contact with Georg Misch and Hermann Plessner, and in London he worked at the Warburg Institute with Ernst H. Gombrich and Paul O. Kristeller. In 1969, Tonelli eventually accepted a permanent position at the State University of New York at Binghamton, where he taught until his premature death on 28th April 1978.

[edit] Characterization

Tonelli's life was all spent in the attempt to achieve a complete knowledge of the development of Kant's philosophy in the context of the German Enlightenment. Beginning with his first monograph, Kant, dall'estetica metafisica all'estetica psicoempirica: Studi sulla genesi del criticismo (1754-1771) e sulle sue fonti Tonelli poses an exegetical dilemma between Kant als Erkenntnistheoretiker and Kant als Metaphysiker making it clear that the analysis of the mutual relationships among logical, epistemological, metaphysical, moral and aesthetic notions leads to the reformulation of a number of interpretations of Kant's works. He emphasizes Kant's juvenile interests for aesthetics as containing in nuce all topics developed later in the Kritik der Urteilskraft. He does fundamental spade-work on the cultural background of the Beobachtungen, with special attention on the philosophy of moral-sense. He deals with the Bemerkungen on behalf of their connections with moral topics and dedicates the conclusion to the connections among aesthetics and logic in Alexander G. Baumgarten, Johann H. Lambert and Christian A. Crusius. His research yields remarkable results for history of ideas and particularly for the history of aesthetic theories. Tonelli also demonstrates that maintaining unchanged its object, aesthetics changes deeply its conceptual and terminological apparatus. The Elementi metodologici e metafisici in Kant dal 1745 al 1768: Saggio di sociologia della conoscenza contain a complete presentation of Kant's development from the beginnings to 1768 with reference metaphysics and methodology, which leads Tonelli to the revaluation of the role, up to then unknown in connection with Kant, played by Aristotle. To the logical and metaphysical tradition of Aristotle and Aristotelianism and to its influence on Kant, Tonelli dedicated articles on the history of specific ideas: "Der historische Ursprung der kantischen Termini Analytik und Dialektik," "Das Wideraufleben der deusch-aristotelischen Terminologie bei Kant während der Enstehung der Kritik der reinen Vernunft," "Analysis and Synthesis in Eighteenth-Century Philosophy Prior to Kant," and "Critique and Related Terms Prior to Kant: A Historical Survey." These studies prelude to Tonelli's masterpiece, Kant's Critique of Reason within the Tradition of Modern Logic, which first published as a paper and posthumously as a book. On the basis of the evidence he had gathered, Tonelli suggests that the Kritik der reinen Vernunft be not a treatise on the theory of knowledge (the reading of most interpreters), and not even a treatise on metaphysics (the reading of Nicolai Hartmann, Max Wundt and Heinz Heimsoeth), but a treatise on the methodology of metaphysics, which is equivalent to say a treatise on the transcendental logic as the first of all particular logics.

Tonelli's expertise was not limited to Kant. he also wrote on a number of philosophers of the Aufklärung such as Christian Thomasius, Johann F. Budde, Martin Knutzen, Alexander G. Baumgarten, Johann G. Sulzer, Johann H. Lambert, Moses Mendelssohn. He was interested on Maupertis, to whom he dedicated an influential book "Le pensée philosophique de the Maupertuis: Son milieu et ses sources." Deeply aware of Christian A. Crusius's role for Kant's development, Tonelli planned the republication of his complete works. Alongside his philosophical studies, Tonelli wrote on literature and poetry of authors such as Albrecht von Haller and Heinrich Heine.

[edit] Method

Tonelli applies in his surveys the methodology of history of ideas, with particular attention to the sociology of knowledge (he uses Karl Mannheim's definition). His goal is the reconstruction of the origin of the ideas used by an author in relation to the dynamics of his thought. The analysis of he dynamics of thought points to psychological and cultural elements that are independent from the expression of the author's own ideas. The work that defines best Tonelli's methodological approach is the paper, "Qu'est-ce que l'histoire de la philosophie?" Tonelli makes it clear that the genetic or historical order, in which certain ideas occur in the author's mind might be quite different from the expositive order the author follows in his writings. It is necessary, first, to reconstruct the initial situation from which the author begins his investigations, i.e., the doctrines of schools, philosophers, or movements to which the author initially refers positively or negatively or for reasons of tradition. Second, one ought to supply an explanation for the fact that the philosopher has perceived the insufficiency of a number of traditional doctrines. The development of the problems he poses can be either negations of a tradition or an integration to that tradition. According to Tonelli, however, many cases exist in which the new formulation of a problem, independently from its origin, produces a new structure. This is the specific case of Kant's Copernican revolution. In the consideration of the new formulation of the problem, the passage from a primitive idea to a more elaborated one must not be considered as a consequence, but rather as a global network that is able to supply multiple explanations for the same reason. Tonelli is not only attentive to the immanent analysis of texts, he also looks for the meaning of the form of their exposition. The first level of analysis is purely philological. It concerns the critical edition of a work, the chronological order of the several parts of the text, the reasons of the writing and the outer circumstances that influenced its drawing up. The second level is about the literary genre, i.e, treatise, essay, scholastic disputations, etc. A third level consists in what Tonelli calls the systematic element, i.e., the system of justification and organization, often not coinciding with the expositional order, which confers a determinate structure to ideas.

Tonelli's interests for applying the methodology of the history of ideas is proved not only by some of his papers–one thinks of his "Zabarella inspirateur de Baumgarten ou l'origine de la connexion entre esthétique et logique," but also of his contributions to the McMillan Encyclopedia of Philosophy and to the Dictionary of History of Ideas. For the Begriffsgeschichte, Tonelli felt a strong engagement: he wrote the articles "Hypothese-Hypothesis," "Naturschönheit-Kunstschönheit, " "Kategorie" and "Kritik" for the Historisches Wörterbuch der Philosophie.

[edit] Impact

Tonelli often repeated that an historical investigation is truly worthy of such name, if and only if it changes both the interpretation of a determinate subject and the standard of rigour that are deemed opportune for writing future historical surveys. Tonelli's works surely fulfilled both these objectives. In April 1974, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung praised his lecture as the "high point" of the First International Kant Congress in Mainz. Tonelli revolutionized the approach to Kantian studies by making it clear a thorough investigation of an author's background is needed in order to understand his work, and he gave a new impulse to the re-evaluation of the German Aufklärung.

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