Cover of Belief by Gianni Vattimo Translated by Luca D’Isanto and David Webb
Belief
Gianni Vattimo Translated by Luca D’Isanto and David Webb

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1999
104 pages.
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Cloth ISBN: 9780804739184
Paper ISBN: 9780804739191

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In this highly personal book, one of Europe’s foremost contemporary philosophers confronts the theme of faith and religion. He argues that there is a substantial link between the history of Christian revelation and the history of nihilism, in particular as the latter appears in the work of Nietzsche and Heidegger, Vattimo’s philosophical specialty. Tracing the relation between his response to these two thinkers and his own life as a devout Catholic, Vattimo shows how his interpretation of Heidegger’s work and his conceptions of “weak thought” and “weak ontology” can be seen as closely linked to a rediscovery of Christianity.

Vattimo speaks here in the first person—a risk that results in a disarmingly open exploration of the themes of charity, truth, dogmatism, morality, and sin, viewed through the lens of his own life and his own return to Christianity. While deeply critical of institutionalized religion and the Church, Vattimo discovers in the Christian tradition a voice (not a distinct message) whose interpretation is still being played out around us. Shaped by his readings of Nietzsche and Heidegger, Vattimo’s decision to affirm his formation within the Christian tradition provides an original and engaging contribution to the contemporary debate on religion.

At the center of this book is the enigma of belief. Freed by modernity from its Platonic subordination to knowledge, belief is recovered as a crucial and inevitable feature of our cultural and personal lives. “Do you believe?” Vattimo is asked. “I believe so,” he replies.

About the author

Gianni Vattimo is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Turin. Among his books are Nietzsche: Philosophy as Cultural Criticism (Stanford, 2000), Beyond Interpretation: The Meaning of Hermeneutics for Philosophy (Stanford, 1997), and, with Jacques Derrida, the edited volume Religion (Stanford, 1998).