18 October 1909|
9 January 2004 (aged 94)|
Norberto Bobbio (Italian: [norˈbɛrto ˈbɔbbjo]; October 18, 1909 – January 9, 2004) was an Italian philosopher of law and political sciences and a historian of political thought. He also wrote regularly for the Turin-based daily La Stampa. Bobbio was a liberal socialist in the tradition of Piero Gobetti, Carlo Rosselli, Guido Calogero, and Aldo Capitini. He was also strongly influenced by Hans Kelsen and Vilfredo Pareto.
Life and views
Bobbio was born into what his Guardian obituary described as "a relatively wealthy, middle-class Turin family" whose sympathies Bobbio would later characterize as "philo-fascist, regarding fascism as a necessary evil against the supposedly greater danger of Bolshevism". In high school he met Vittorio Foa, Leone Ginzburg and Cesare Pavese, and at university he became a friend of Alessandro Galante Garrone.
In 1942, under the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini and during World War II, Bobbio joined the then illegal radical liberal socialist party Partito d'Azione ("Party of Action") and was briefly imprisoned in 1943 and 1944. He ran unsuccessfully in the 1946 Constituent Assembly of Italy elections. With the party's failure in a post-war Italy dominated by the Christian Democrats, Bobbio left electoral politics and focused back in academia.
He was one of the major exponents of left-right political distinctions, arguing that the Left believes in attempting to eradicate social inequality, while the Right regards most social inequality as the result of ineradicable natural inequalities, and sees attempts to enforce social equality as utopian or authoritarian.
A strong advocate of the rule of law, the separation of powers, and the limitation of powers, he was a socialist, but opposed to what he perceived as the anti-democratic, authoritarian elements in most of Marxism. He was a strong partisan of the "Historic Compromise" between the Italian Communist Party and the Christian Democrats, and a fierce critic of Silvio Berlusconi. Bobbio died in Turin, the same city in which he was born and lived most of his life.
Academic career and honors
Bobbio studied philosophy of law with Gioele Solari; he later taught this curriculum in Camerino, Siena, Padua, and ultimately back in Turin as Solari's successor in 1948; from 1972 to 1984, he had a chair in the newly created faculty of political science in Turin.
He was a National Associate of the Lincean Academy and longtime director (together with Nicola Abbagnano) of the Rivista di Filosofia. He became a Corresponding Associate of the British Academy in 1966; in 1979 he was nominated as Senator-for-life by Italian President Sandro Pertini. Bobbio received, among others, the Balzan Prize in 1994 (for Law and Political Science: governments and democracy) and diplomas honoris causa from the Universities of Paris (Nanterre), Madrid (Complutense), Bologna, Chambéry, Madrid (Carlos III), Sassari, Camerino, Madrid (Autónoma), and Buenos Aires.
To celebrate the centenary of Norberto Bobbio's birth, a committee was established, constituted by more than a hundred Italian and international public institutions and intellectual figures, which formulated a wide-ranging programme of activities to promote dialogue and reflection on the thought and figure of Bobbio, and on the future of democracy, culture and civilisation. Celebrations were officially opened on 10 January 2009 at the University of Turin.
- L'indirizzo fenomenologico nella filosofia sociale e giuridica (Phenomenological Turn in Social and Legal Philosophy, 1934)
- Scienza e tecnica del diritto (The Science and Technical Aspects of Law, 1934)
- L'analogia nella logica del diritto (The Use of Analogy in Legal Logic, 1938)
- La consuetudine come fatto normativo (Custom as a Normative Fact, 1942)
- La filosofia del decadentismo (The Philosophy of Decadence, 1945)
- Teoria della scienza giuridica (Theory of Legal Science, 1950)
- Politica e cultura (Politics and Culture, 1955)
- Studi sulla teoria generale del diritto (Essays in the General Theory of Law, 1955)
- Teoria della norma giuridica (Theory of Legal Norms, 1958)
- Teoria dell'ordinamento giuridico (A Theory of Legal Order, 1960)
- Profilo ideologico del Novecento italiano (An Ideological Profile of Twentieth Century Italy, 1960)
- Il positivismo giuridico (Legal Positivism, 1961)
- Locke e il diritto naturale (Locke and Natural Law, 1963)
- Italia civile (Civil Italy, 1964)
- Giusnaturalismo e positivismo giuridico (Natural Law and Legal Positivism, 1965)
- Da Hobbes a Marx (From Hobbes to Marx, 1965)
- Saggi sulla scienza politica in Italia (Tests of Political Science in Italy, 1969)
- Diritto e Stato nel pensiero di E. Kant (Law and State in the Thought of Immanuel Kant, 1969)
- Ideological Profile of Italy In The Twentieth Century (1969)
- Una filosofia militante: studi su Carlo Cattaneo (A Militant Philosopher: Essays on Carlo Cattaneo, 1971)
- Quale socialismo (Which Socialism, 1977)
- I problemi della guerra e le vie della pace (The Problem of War and the Roads to Peace, 1979)
- Studi hegeliani (Hegelian Essays, 1981)
- Il futuro della democrazia (The Future of Democracy: A Defence Of The Rules Of The Game, 1984)
- Maestri e compagni (Teachers and Companions, 1984)
- “The Future of Democracy”. TELOS 61 (Fall 1984). New York: Telos Press
- Liberalismo e democrazia (Liberalism and democracy, 1985)
- State, Government And Society (English-language publication, 1985)
- Il terzo assente, (The Absent Third, 1988)
- Thomas Hobbes (1989)
- L'età dei diritti (The Rule of Law, 1989)
- The Age of Rights (English-language publication, 1990)
- A Just War? (1991), a defense of the Gulf War, about which he later changed his mind. ¹
- Destra e sinistra (Right and Left), Roma, 1994
- In Praise of Meekness (1994)
- De senectute (Of Old Age; the Latin title is an allusion to Cicero's Cato Maior de Senectute, 1996)
- Autobiografia (Autobiography, 1999)
- Teoria Generale della Politica (General Theory of Politics, 1999)
- Dialogo intorno alla repubblica (Dialogue about the Republic, 2001)
- Etica e politica: Scritti di impegno civile, ed. Marco Revelli. Milano: Mondadori, 2009.
- Giuseppe Leone, "Destra e Sinistra, una distinzione che non c'è più? - Un saggio appassionato per dire se l'uomo conti ancora", su "Ricorditi di me..." in "Lecco 2000", Lecco 1999.
- This article began as a translation of the corresponding article in the Italian-language Wikipedia, retrieved January 31, 2005.
Additional information from:
- Bellamy, Richard, "Norberto Bobbio", obituary in The Guardian, January 13, 2004
- Johnson, Alan "Norberto Bobbio, 1909-2004", obituary from Workers' Liberty as retrieved on Jan 23, 2005
- Maissin, Gabriel, L'égalité, étoile polaire de la gauche : à propos du livre de Noberto Bobbio « Droite et gauche » obituary in Politique (Brussels), April 2004.
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