Cosmos and History: The Journal of Natural and Social Philosophy, Vol 5, No 1 (2009)

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Beyond Nihilism: Notes Towards a Critique of Left-Heideggerianism in Italian Philosophy of the 1970s

Matteo Mandarini

Abstract


This article provides a much-needed introduction to the philosophical debates around nihilism and negative thought which preoccupied many Italian left intellectuals in the seventies, and which still have important repercussions today. In order to present the principal stakes of the ‘Left Heideggerian’ current, the article undertakes a close reading of Massimo Cacciari’s 1976 book Krisis, and of Antonio Negri’s critical response to it—first in a review of the book, and then in a number of texts from the seventies and eighties, closely analysed by Mandarini, in which Negri develops a positive political metaphysics. This contrast between Cacciari and Negri allows Mandarini to investigate the significance of seemingly recondite philosophical issues to the development of Italian radical political thought, and to identify some of the key stakes of this debate: the status of politics and the political, the role of ontology, the place of dialectics and, crucially, the opposition between Cacciari’s formalistic understanding of negativity and Negri’s link between negativity and antagonism.

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