|Aesthetica Preprint, 14 (December 1986)
Among the "Hegelites" of the period 1830-40 and the "Hegelings" of the twentieth century, there arose polemics and querelles which were not always of an "academic" nature: the theistic developments (Fichte Jr., Wirth, Ulrici) inflamed the polemic ardour of the young Hegelians (Strauss, Bauer, Marx, Feuerbach) until Hegelianism was pushed to the side, with the emergence first of historic Materialism, then of NeoKantianism, and lastly of Phenomenology. The aesthetic debate was influenced by the turbulence of postHegelianism: at first the almost exclusive province of the moderates (Rosenkranz, Vischer, Weisse), slowly, through the materialists (Fechner, Ruge), it went beyond the intermediate stages (Hartmann, Lotze) to come to a naturalistic settlement and finally to have a great neoidealistic rebirth with Croce. In Italy the period 1870-90 was essentially one of stasis, a pause in the continuity of idealism; this was even more evident in the field of aesthetics, in which the heritage of people like Spaventa, De Sanctis, Vera and De Meis was arrogantly taken over by the naturalists, who inevitably threw a shadow over some interesting but rather exclusive attempts to return to idealism, on the part of Jaja and Maturi in philosophy and Nicolò Gallo in aesthetics.
Nicolò Gallo (1849-1907), a Sicilian, and an eminent scholar and politician, published in the 1880's two lengthy works on aesthetics (L'idealismo e la letteratura,1880, and La scienza dell'arte,1887) and with his Hegelianism represents an interesting link between the first and second periods of Italian idealism. Derided and ostracized by the influential exponents of naturalism, Gallo worked out his aesthetic ideas almost on the quiet, developing a system which aimed not only to glean the germ of Hegelianism but to cause it to germinate and come to fruition. His works revisit and attempt to mend the torn fabric of Hegelianism, and in this connection this essay aims to show his true value.
The Appendix contains some unpublished texts and manuscripts which are part of a large collection of Gallo's writings belonging to the International Centre for Aesthetic Studies, which is editing them.