- The Italian Panikkar
Despite the slow development of intercultural studies and the relative narrowness of a significant part of the Italian academic world toward either comparative philosophy or interreligious dialogue, the figure of Raimon Panikkar (1918–2010) has found a curious resonance among Italians in the last two decades. Not only have scholars, philosophers, and theologians become acquainted with his works and considered them a source of inspiration, or a milestone on the way toward new frontiers of research, but also non-academic readers seem to be particularly moved by the lectures that Panikkar delivered in Italy in the 1990s and the early years of the twenty-first century as well as by the several books that have been published by Italian publishing houses. It seems that it is not by accident that the first edition of the Complete Works by the Indo-Catalan thinker came to be published in Italy.1
It can be useful to inquire into the reason for this interest, given that Panikkar’s reputation seems to be deeply rooted in Italy—more than in his home country, or in [End Page 316] the United States, where he lived and taught for over twenty years. This would allow us to retrace some of the peculiarities of Panikkar’s intellectual path, and shed some light also on his legacy.
A Hermeneutic Approach
Through a comparison of some essays published in Italy in recent years, we can delineate a trajectory to clarify the reasons for Panikkar’s success in Italy. Thus, we will be able to advance some hypotheses about the dissemination of his work, not only through the efforts of his friends and colleagues, but also by the strength of his theoretical proposals and his theological insights.
The spread of articles, essays, and volumes on Panikkar’s work and thought is widening almost day by day in Italy. In particular, it seems that his ideas of “intrareligious dialogue” and “dialogical dialogue” have found fertile ground in which seeds could germinate and roots could grow, nurtured in a peculiar disposition by his audience. But even if some articles and reviews of Panikkar’s books had already appeared in the 1990s, it was only after Panikkar’s death in 2010 that a relatively conspicuous number of essays were dedicated to him.
One original book was by Roberta Cappellini, with the title Sulle tracce del sogno dell’uomo. Its interest lies in the fact that it is not a book on Panikkar, but it is indeed a work on the notion of dream and its relation to the notions of “I,” “subject,” “vision,” “art,” and “history,” going through these concepts and investigating the possible crossing of paths between authors like Freud, Jung, Lacan, Hillmann, Merleau-Ponty, Benjamin, Corbin, and Florenskij, or artists like the Italian painter Giuseppe Billoni. What connects all these authors and topics is that they offer the possibility of understanding the experience of dreaming as a peculiar form of vision and as a way to foster an intercultural dialogue in which aesthetics and ethics can combine and enhance each other. The advaita vision, so carefully analyzed and developed by Panikkar, springs from the pages of Cappellini’s essay in order to create the theoretical pivot around which every chapter is constructed...