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Napoli: Francesco Perrella, [1917]. Pp. 221. 1

The International Journal of Ethics, 28 (Apr 1918) 444-45

Professor Aliotta’s book has a topical title, but except for a patriotic passage at the end he confines himself to philosophical issues. 2 His task is a popular presentation of a species of Humanism. Sig. Aliotta comes out of the idealistic tradition, and has developed a relative idealism, with a strong propension toward Pure Experience. His Empiricism stops at the subject-object relation, beyond which he believes we can penetrate no further. He begins by an assault upon naturalism and positivism (“freedom is an inner experience”); 3 and no less forcibly attacks absolute idealism (e.g. Royce’s absolute will, 43), 4 and the “Spirit” of neo-Hegelians (a “spirit” which is not the spirit of any concrete person). 5 “The primitive fact” in his own words “is the experience of an individual subject in time.” 6 From experience “it is impossible for us to escape; we must not grieve thereat, because this is the concrete reality, the living model of any and every conceivable form of existence” (58). 7 “The object is only real in its relation to the subject, and vice versa . . . outside of this relationship the two terms are mere abstractions.” 8

I have not been able to trace the links between this thesis and the doctrine of the immortality of the soul, which Professor Aliotta holds with equal emphasis. 9 Nor is the theory of Evil–as a conflict of wills which is disappearing in the “progressive co-ordination” of the world–altogether satisfactory. 10 Is the ideal of civilisation merelyorganisation? Professor Aliotta seems to think so (163, 185). 11 And there is perhaps a little trick of passe-passein his argument for vitalism versus mechanism (187). 12 But the book is vigorous and entertaining, and is not intended as a technical treatise of the bulletproof sort. It is pleasant to find that Croce and Gentile are spoken of as “polluting (at least contaminando) Hegel with Bergson.” 13

t. s. e.

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