In a renowned pamphlet dedicated to the spirit of geometry and the art of persuasion, Pascal states that there are three possible objectives in the study of truth: to discover it when sought, to prove it when possessed, and finally to distinguish it from falsehood when examined. Discovering the truth, proving it, and distinguishing it from falsehood – these three operations can also summarize the function of philosophy. However, only the first of these three operations is a solitary action. One searches alone, but if one proves a truth already possessed, it is essentially done for others. The operation of distinguishing truth from falsehood is always the result of a dialogue as well, even if it is an inner dialogue with our past mistakes and prejudices. But as soon as the space for dialogue opens, the question arises of how to approach it: which words to use to convey a truth one possesses or believes to possess? And which words to elicit to lead others to accept it or at least acknowledge it? In this sense, the question of style becomes inseparable from that of truth. No philosophical text is formulated by an anonymous voice. The “view from nowhere,” theorized by philosopher Thomas Nagel, remains inaccessible to us. In fact, the more a text aims to be neutral, devoid of personal inflection, clear, the more the style emerges with strength: how discernible is Spinoza’s voice in the scholia accompanying the litany of propositions in the Ethics, or Wittgenstein’s setting the tone for each proposition in his Tractatus! To the point that the lack of style in a philosophical text could be almost an infallible indication that the author does not possess but merely recites the truth proposed.

The essential question of style in philosophy is the focus of the dossier directed by Silvia Pieroni, which occupies the Philosophical Question section. Through a series of contributions dedicated to specific authors (Adorno, Merleau-Ponty, Derrida, Deleuze), as well as broader reflections, the texts collected here clearly demonstrate the need to make style in philosophy the subject of a philosophical, or rather, meta-philosophical investigation. Reflecting on the role of style in philosophical practice means returning to the essential connection between truth and language, recognizing the literary status of philosophical texts, and, above all, problematize the requirement for philosophy to conform to the ideal (or illusion?) of rigorous science.

Gilles Deleuze is one of the most significant French philosophers of the 20th century for the depth and rich articulation of his thought. In the Laboratory section, Fulvio Carmagnola addresses it in his text “A Good Dose of Philosophical Candor: Deleuze’s Theory of the Idea,” drawing from a careful and in-depth examination of the fourth chapter of Difference and Repetition (1968), titled “Ideal Synthesis of Difference,” to focus on the complexity of the idea in Deleuze’s philosophy. The starting point is the concept that the idea is dynamic difference, as the differential shown by the dx symbol is not only a tool of mathematical calculation but also stands for the dynamics of thought in the philosophy of difference – recalling that ideas, in general, are essentially “problematic” in their nature, simultaneously immanent and transcendent. This appropriation of thought reaches the extreme limit of its possibility with “a touch of madness,” which Deleuze does not lack. In the subsequent part, Carmagnola refers to The Fold. Leibniz and the Baroque (1988), in which the author introduces the concept of the fold as an addition to that of difference. The folds – makers of the Baroque – limit or blur the precise outline of the object. It should be clarified, however, that there is no dualism of the sensible and the intelligible, or of the fold and the idea, but the fold is in the same immanence as matrix of the actualization of things through a serial process of proliferation. The publication of this contribution anticipates the next issue of this journal, the Philosophical Question of which will focus on the thought of Gilles Deleuze.

The second contribution of section, “The Phenomenology of the Pensées between Indifference and Diversion” by Manlio Forni, extends a series of contributions that appeared last year on the occasion of the four-hundredth anniversary of the birth of Blaise Pascal. Forni is particularly interested in one of the most well-known concepts of the French philosopher, that of “divertissement,” and interestingly links it to Pascal’s analysis of the indifferent, i.e., one who, although feeling existential anguish, decides not to care and rushes toward the precipice, as Pascal says, after blindfolding his eyes. This is an essential problem for the apologetic nature of Pascal’s project when writing the Pensées. But the scope of these analyses that Forni, following some pages of Heidegger, conducts in a strictly phenomenological manner is undoubtedly broader. Indifference (real, affected, suffered due to lack of strength and momentum) constitutes, for more than one reason, the fundamental “passion” of our time, and Pascal provides an understanding that maintains its relevance.

Katia Cannata concludes the section with “Thinking in Complexity: A Journey on the Edge of Chance,” addressing a matter of paramount importance in contemporary science related to Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) – systems that are considered today, and unlike in classical mechanics, to characterize the majority of physical phenomena. With complex systems, we find ourselves at the edge of chaos, in the intermediate line suspended between the idea of a deterministic world and a world subject to chance, dismantling the notion of unidirectional causal connections. Emergentism accompanies this perspective, illustrating new qualities that transcend those of the constituent parts. As a result, the theme of complexity extends from physical science to social sciences and philosophy itself, as Edgar Morin’s thoughtful reflections have highlighted.

The theme of complexity, dealt with in the Laboratory section, returns with different nuances in Intersections with Giuseppe Fornari’s text “The Magic Cave: Melancholy of Lars von Trier and the Thought of Complexity,” which establishes an interesting correlation between the narrative plot of the film Melancholia and a critical reflection on contemporary society. The temporary and absolutely precarious refuge of the magic cave in which the film’s protagonist, Justine, attempts to shelter herself from the catastrophic impact of the rogue planet about to irreparably devastate Earth is symbolic of our human condition. Similarly precarious is what can be set up as a refuge in our times, marked as they are by the complexity of problems and the sense of loneliness that people experience in daily life. This leads to a denunciation of the ordinary use of sciences and, above all, the flattening of society based on stereotypes functional to the economic and political management of dominant powers. The tragedy permeating von Trier’s film is transferred to the atmosphere of a present full of ominous signs not easy to exorcise.

For the Cultures section, Bruno Guerini’s text “The Aesthetic Principle of Fūryū in Japanese Thought, from the Heian Court to 20th-century Intellectuals” focuses on the various facets of the word fūryū throughout the different epochs of Japanese history. Born as a derivation from the Chinese term fengliu, the notion takes on the meaning of refined beauty during the Heian dominance (794-1185), finding its best expression in The Tale of Genji, a work that would become an important reference for subsequent Japanese literature. With the advent of Zen Buddhism, fūryū is associated with the simple decorum of the tea ceremony, and in more recent times, under Western influence, it spans a range of meanings from beauty to freedom and truth. This shows that the history of this word and the political-cultural history of Japan proceed hand in hand.

The Correspondence of this issue is provided by Helmut Heit, a German scholar and renowned Nietzsche specialist, who reports in his contribution on the three years of teaching at Tongji University in Shanghai. As suggested by the title, “Three Years of Western Philosophy in the People’s Republic of China,” Heit not only testifies to the teaching and research practices he experienced but also offers a broader and at times surprising reflection on the relationship between Asian culture and our philosophical tradition. Western philosophy is indeed at the center of a complex process of assimilation that forces us to reflect on what are, despite our own perception, the liveliest demands, if not the “most easily exportable” elements of European thought.

The issue concludes with the Readings and Events section, which features a series of reviews: Stefano Stradotto on Kierkegaard. La fede come superamento dell’angoscia by Giuseppe Macrì; Gianni Trimarchi on Antropogenesi e apprendimento by Serena Veggetti; Elena di Bella on L’ombelico del sogno by Vittorio Lingiardi; Massimo Mezzanzanica on Briciole di complessità. Tra la rugosità del reale by Mario Castellana; Marco de Paoli on “Come non insegnare la filosofia” by Massimo Mugnai; Bianca Curioni on Günther Anders by Marina Lalatta Costerbosa.

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