restricted access Le chant de la terre (review)
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BOOK REVIEWS ~49 actual politics as President of the Italian Liberal Party from 1944 to i947, but demonstrates through a study of Piero Gobetti that neither Croce's own conservatism nor his doctrinal rigidity was a necessary corollary of "absolute historicism" in politics. As the main intellectual beacon of opposition to Fascism during its twenty years of power, Croce enjoyed enormous prestige in 1944; but as Don Benedetto, with his great family estates in the South, he could not bring himself to admit that, if Fascism was only an "interlude," it was precisely an interlude in the resolution of a social crisis. As Roberts says (233) Croce's philosophical liberalism validated his right to hold conservative views; but if he wanted to speak for a "pre-partisan" view, he should have avoided party involvements altogether. He undermined his own philosophical authority in a matter of months, and so lost his greatest cultural opportunity. When he died in 195~ he was already a back number, and it was no one's fault but his own. Roberts does a good job on Croce's historical works in the next chapter. Croce's conservatism, his ingrained personal prejudice against serious social change, explains the evident presence of an element of special pleading in the Historyofltaly x87I-I915, and the History of Europe in the Nineteenth Century. All of Croce's formal histories were written as part of his defence of the liberal spirit against Fascism. But in these two works, which dealt with the world in which Fascism was actually born, we can readily detect his anxiety to prove that Fascism was indeed an interlude--and that when it was over nothing important would be changed. His other works are more respectable examples of "ethico-political history," but that is only because they are more "ethical" and less "political," so to speak. Croce was in many ways fortunate to live and work in the great "interlude" between 1914 and i945. For the fact is that he was not himself very good at the sympathetic and humanely humble dialogue that his theory called for, and the worst of his many heritages from Hegel was precisely that identification of philosophy with the "logic of the pure concepts" which enabled him to defend himself against philosophical dialogue with such righteous certitude. Roberts has none of this righteous spirit, and I hope most earnestly that his book will help many readers to see past it in Croce. H. S. HARRIS York University Michel Haar. Le chant de la terre. Paris: Editions de l'Herne, 1987. Pp. 3oL FF 13o. In Le chant de la terre Michel Haar finds himself swimming upstream. Whereas many Parisian thinkers conclude that every possiblefundamentum inconcussumhas finally met its end, Haar holds "that the thought of Ereignisdoes not give way.., to a liberation of multiple and decentered forces. On the contrary, the turn from the oblivion of Being marks a reentry into the Simple and a concentration in the Same [l'Unique]" (a7)" Thus Haar's general concern is with foundations and origins. However, Haar's project is not a resumption of Cartesian philosophy, for he resumes Heidegger's analysis of Dasein in Being and Time, which undercuts Cartesian dualism and shows that man, as Being-in-the-world, is essentially finite, historical, and 150 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 28:1 JANUARY 1990 linguistic. Haar then undertakes the sisyphean task of showing that something called 'earth,' while itself ahistorical and "pre-linguistic," is at the basis of man's historical and thoroughly linguistic existence. Therefore it behooves Haar, given the abysmal difference between the historical/linguistic domain and the ahistorical/pre-linguistic domain, to show that the latter can have a foundation in the former--that is, how the ahistorical , prelinguistic earth makes a difference for man even though one can never "escape" the historical/linguistic realm in any practical or theoretical sense. To do this Haar initially appeals to two Heideggerian notions: Stimmung (roughly translated as 'disposition') and phusis. Following Heidegger, Haar argues that disposition , while rooted in Dasein's facticity, by nature is attuned to something beyond this facticity. Since "every Grundstimraung reveals the Grund [ground], the abysmal foundation...