The fact that this year is dedicated to the 2.400th anniversary since Aristotle’s birth is living proof that his thought and work did not die with him. How do you evaluate, at the distance time provides, the influence of the thought and work of Aristotle from classical Greece and Alexander the Great until Rome, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the modern world?
Different times are not viewed in the same way. There was a time in Byzantium, when Plato was considered to be very important. Then came Aristotle etc. In Medieval Europe, Thomistic philosophy prevails. Saint Thomas Aquinas was a follower of Aristotle and influenced the values of Catholicism. Subsequently, during the Renaissance, other philosophers were prevalent, but they were not always of the same intensity. Today, with humans tending to democratic systems of government and while their value and rights are being evaluated, Aristotle is ever present. Not in the American sense of an individual right. For Aristotle, this has no meaning. You do not live alone, but along with others. Aristotle himself says that the “city” comes first and then come the inalienable rights of individuals. There must be education and dignity. There must be mutual support among humans and they should progress in virtue, which is not possible to exist, if there is no organized education. Today there are quite a few movements trying to bring Aristotle again into the light, such as that of the Neo-Aristotelians.
What is, in your opinion, his influence specifically on contemporary world philosophical thought?
It depends on the content. Philosophical contemplation concerns several areas, such as politics, ethics, metaphysics, ontology, theory of knowledge etc. From the viewpoint of science, Aristotle produced very important works, considering, of course, the tools of his time. This specific philosopher carried out genuine research in politics and ethics. His influence on modern times depends on the particular subject you have in mind. There are important views on politics, metaphysics, worldview etc. In medicine or nuclear research, Aristotle himself made original discoveries. Of course, things have evolved significantly since then. Therefore, we are not returning to Aristotle’s initial discoveries. However, without him, one does not get the knowledge that is necessary to proceed. This is the way in which his philosophy continues to affect today philosophical thought worldwide.
The European Union faces many problems and there are many who are pessimistic about its prospects. Brexit is such an indication of this crisis. Some consider Greece as another example of inadequacy and a problematic case of European policies. Could perhaps the crucial error of the European Union be aiming at unification on the basis of a common economic market? The market produces, because of its very nature, inequality and cannot serve as a basis of parity. Could this perhaps be considered as a vindication of Aristotle’s view, that there is no larger inequality than equality between unequals?
This is a very important matter. The European Union started with solidarity and equality among states. However, European leaders did not take into account the existence of “higher” states and “lower” states. Are there citizens who are free and others that are not? In this way, problems arise that overturn completely the initial plan of the E.U. Initially, the Union started as a common market, as an economic community. The states participating had a larger presence and intensity. But everything was overturned, when globalization prevailed. Free markets have changed the course of things, as it had been before. We now see the results and the huge problems all these changes have led us to. What is certain, in any case, is that the European Union cannot function properly, if the economy is ignored. Aristotelian wisdom says that there must be a means to protect the rights of all humans. Nevertheless, those rights should be of the economically active citizens, not the idle ones. For Aristotle, there are no classes such that one turns against the other. This is exactly the error of modern political history. According to Aristotle, we have the citizens, where the voted ruler of the state must take care of the rights of all citizens, so that no injustice is done to anyone. Even when some injustice is done, it should be rectified immediately. I believe that, concerning our country, an important role has been played by our self-destructive character. Nobody is to blame. The blame belongs to the bad managers of the ruling class, who did not take care of our country. We should have foreseen and we should have been self-sufficient as a country. We do not produce and we do not export enough, so as to be able to cover our financial obligations and counterbalance our costs. We now see the great powers coming to ravage us. Anyway, Europe is challenged to follow the middle way so that its citizens are not led to extreme poverty. This is exactly the Aristotelian point of view. There should not exist rich people, owning villas and helicopters, about whom people wonder, when they see them, how they acquired all this money, without having really worked for it. In the Aristotelian philosophy, there are no economic trusts, funds and corruption through bribes.
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