Nicola Abbagnano


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Leading Italian existentialist. Born in Salerno, Abbagnano studied in Naples and taught at Turin. His ‘philosophy of the possible’ condemned other existentialists for either denying human possibility (because all our efforts are futile in a hostile and meaningless universe) or exaggerating it, imagining us capable of things which actually lie outside our potential. In his later work he tended to adopt a more naturalistic and scientific approach to philosophy, although still condemning the ‘myth of security’ implicit in a complacent scientific world view. His major works include the monumental three-volume Storia della filosofia (‘History of Philosophy’, 1946–50) and Possibilità e libertà (‘Possibility and Liberty’, 1956).

Subjects: Philosophy.

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