Philosophical Tought of Emanuele Severino
In this concise prospectus of Emanuele Severino’s thought I meant to trace only the essential lines of a philosophical argument that appears to be fundamentally solid: at its center there is the matter of the truth of being and at the center of this center there is the thesis of the eternity of the being since it is a being, and therefore of every being, which is implied by the original structure of the truth.
- The eternity of the being
The dominant theme of Severino’s argument is formulated for the first time in his 1956 essay The classical metaphysics and Aristotle (La metafisica classica e Aristotele):
The denial of the becoming emerges immediately from the authentic Parmenides’ principle: the being is. If the being becomes – if the positive arrives – the being, before arriving, was not: and this is indeed what is absurd, or this is indeed the definition of absurd: that the being is not. […]. Everything is necessary, then.Severino, The classical metaphysics and Aristotle (La metafisica classica e Aristotele), in Foundation of the contradiction (Fondamento della contraddizione), Adelphi, Milan 2005, pp. 117-118
The claim that the beings come from their nothingness and come back to it implies that we think that there is a time in which the being is nothing (when the being was not yet and when it will be no more), that is, the time in which the being is the absolutely different from itself. The impossible absurd is precisely this identification of what is not identical. The thesis of the necessity and therefore of the eternity of everything that-is is resumed and developed in The original structure (La struttura originaria –1958, 1981, 2004, 2012), a text to which Severino himself refers as the location of the most concrete presentation of the essence of the foundation. The theoretical core is summarized as follows:
The fact that the being must be resides in the meaning of the being itself, so that the principle of non-contradiction does not simply express the identity of the essence with itself (or its difference from the other essences), but the identity of essence and existence (or the otherness of the essence from the inexistence).Severino, The original structure (La struttura originaria), Adelphi, Milan 1981, p. 517
The non-separability of the essence (regardless of the essence considered) from the existence (and therefore from the not being a nothing of every essence considered) is the very affirmation of the eternity of the being since it is a being.
- The alienation of the West
a) In Returning to Parmenides (Ritornare a Parmenide – 1964) emerges the awareness that the unheard-of testament to the truth of being requires the sunset of all the forms of thinking and acting of the Western societies, guided by the belief that the existence of the “things” is not necessary:
The history of the Western philosophy is the story of the alteration and therefore of the forgetfulness of the meaning of being, initially glimpsed by the Greeks’ most ancient thought.Severino, Returning to Parmenides (Ritornare a Parmenide), in Essence of the nihilism (Essenza del nichilismo), Adelphi, Milan 1982, p. 19
In a passage of Aristotle’s De interpretatione – where the Stagirite affirms that it is necessary for the being to be “when it is” and not to be “when it is not” – Severino finds the clearest formulation of the sunset of the meaning of being. Here is his comment:
The Aristotelian argument […] by affirming that when the being is, it is, and when it is not, it is not, says then that when the being is the nothingness, then it is nothing; and it is not aware of the fact that the real danger from which we must guard against is not the statement that, when the being is nothing, it is (being) (and, when it is being, it is nothing), but is the acceptance of the fact that the being is nothing, that is, the acceptance of the fact that there is a time during which the being is not the nothingness (when it is) and a time during which the being is nothing (when it is not), that is, the acceptance of the fact that the being exists in time. This way the “principle of non-contradiction” becomes the worst form of contradiction: precisely because the contradiction is hidden in the formula itself with which we intend to avoid it and to banish it from the being.Severino, Returning to Parmenides (Ritornare a Parmenide), in Essence of nihilism (Essenza del nichilismo), Adelphi, Milan 1982, p. 22
b) In the Postscript (Poscritto) of Returning to Parmenides (Ritornare a Parmenide –1965) Severino explains that the succession of the events, of which the experience is made of, does not appear as a coming to be and a ceasing to be, but as an appearing and a disappearing of the being:
This body burns and this body is replaced by its ash: the appearing attests just a succession of events: the white piece of paper, the approaching of the flame, the flame that raises, a smaller and with a different shape piece of paper, a smaller flame, an even smaller and with another different shape piece, the ash. Every event is followed by another, in the sense that a second event starts to appear when the first one appears no more. But the fact that this, which appears no more, is also no more, is not revealed by the appearing […]. The truthful comprehension of the becoming, which is a content of the appearing, highlights […] the silence of the appearing concerning the fate of what does not appear. And if this fate is unspoken by the appearing in itself, it is revealed […] by the truth of being which […] says that the being is and cannot not be and it remains eternal within itself.Severino, Postscript (Poscritto), in Essence of nihilism (Essenza del nichilismo), Adelphi, Milan 1982, pp. 86-87
In other words, the experience does not certify an increase or a decrease of the being, but just that something – of which the logos sees the eternal being – starts to appear and ceases to appear.
- The meaning of Returning to Parmenides (Ritornare a Parmenide)
Parmenides has indeed affirmed the eternity of being, but he altered at the same time its meaning because he believed he needed to think that the multiple differences of the being (that is, the being in its concrete act of determining itself) have no true and therefore are not:
Returning to Parmenides means repeating the «parricide», without becoming guilty before the truth of being: repeating the foundation of the multiplex […] affirming of every being, and of the concrete totality of the beings, what Parmenides affirmed of the Being: «It is impossible that it is not ».Severino, Answers to the critics (Risposte ai critic)i, in Essence of nihilism (Essenza del nichilismo), Adelphi, Milan 1982, p. 315
Plato’s attempt to go beyond Parmenides missed its target: after having saved the differences, that is, the multiple determinations we experience, explaining that they do not mean “nothing” (every one of them is in fact something that is), he continued to perceive them as oscillating between the being and the non-being, letting them therefore be prey to the non-being. Plato’s act – the failed parricide – has opened the dimension inside which the entire history of the Western thought moves that is the story of the alienation of the meaning of being. It can be then understood that the “returning” to Parmenides, of which Severino speaks, must not be perceived as an imperative, but instead as an invitation to rethink the foundation of the multiplex that will not give it back to the mortal embrace of the non-being.
- The structure of the appearing and the ontological difference
a) But shouldn’t we recognize that at least the synthesis of something that arrives and disappears and of its appearing is still a nothing, and it will return to be a nothing, when what arrives has not yet appeared and when it exits from the appearing? To this aporia Severino has given this answer:
The appearing is a predicate that suits necessarily the things that appear: not in the sense that everything that appears cannot not appear but in the sense that, appearing, the appearing necessarily suits it […]. If when this lamp appears, its appearing necessarily appears (that is, its being part of the horizon of the appearing), then, if this lamp starts to appear, its appearing starts to appear too; and if this lamp does not appear anymore, its appearing does not appear either.Severino, Postscript (Poscritto), in Essence of nihilism (Essenza del nichilismo), Adelphi, Milan 1982, pp. 95-96
The appearing of the being is therefore structured in a self-reflective way (to appear is the appearing of the appearing of the being) so that what starts and ceases to appear is not only that eternal that is the something, but also that eternal that is the very appearing of the something. Severino distinguishes then between the “empirical appearing”, that is, the appearing of this or that particular being which enters and exits the context of the appearing, and the “transcendental appearing”, that is, the appearing of the totality of what appears: the horizon that includes every “before” and every “after” since in it arrives, and from it departs, everything that starts and ceases to appear.
b) Since it is impossible that the being is not, and established that experience does not attest its nullification, here is how Severino understands the ontological difference and therefore the relationship between the whole of the immutable being and the being that progressively appears in the experience:
In the ontological difference, one of the two differing things [the totality of the being] is not lacking any positivity […] hence the other differing thing [the being since it is subjected to the process of appearing and disappearing] does not add any positivity to the first one – and this is possible because this other thing is the first one as abstractly manifest, and therefore is different as a lacking of being.Severino, Postscript (Poscritto), in Essence of nihilism (Essenza del nichilismo), Adelphi, Milan 1982, pp. 95-96
The relation between the being that appears in the succession of the events and the being that does not leave anything beyond itself will therefore need to be understood in the sense of the difference between the abstract and the concrete, while every form of ontological dependence (in creationist terms) remains consigned to the history of the forgetfulness of the meaning of the being.
- The foundation and the élenchos
What is impossible is the identification of the non-identical: of the being and of the nothingness. But what hinders its affirmation?
But why this identification of the being with the nothingness cannot be affirmed? Answering to this question means operating the authentic revelation of the truth of the being, which is not a simple saying, but is a saying that has value, that is, it can remove its negation […]. The claim that the being is not non-being must certainly be denied as long as its value is not seen. In the meantime, that claim is like an invincible sword in the hands of someone who does not know he/she has in his/her hands an invincible sword: this person lets himself/herself be suppressed by the first comer. And, here, it is right that the first comer suppresses him/her: a ‘truth’ that is not able to keep itself solid is not a truth.Severino, Returning to Parmenides (Ritornare a Parmenide), in Essence of nihilism (Essenza del nichilismo), Adelphi, Milan 1982, pp. 40-41
The original structure is the appearing of being oneself/itself, that is, of the not being other from self, from every being, where this being itself appears as the thing whose negation is self-negation. It is shown determinately – and this is the meaning of the élenchos – in the paragraph 6 of Returning to Parmenides (Ritornare a Parmenide). Here we can only remind that the negation of the opposition of the positive and the negative requires that the positive and the negative (however they are established in the negation of the opposition) appear in their opposition and therefore that the difference between the positive and the negative is evident:
As long as [positive and negative] are not seen as different, we must certainly say that they are identical; but if they are seen as different, and if they must be established as different, in order for the affirmation of their identity to be the negation of the opposition of positive and negative, than this negation is founded on the affirmation of what it denies […]. Therefore, the negation is the negation of that without which it is not established as a negation, and therefore is the negation of itself, is a removing itself from the scene of the word and the thought, it is declaring its own inexistence and insignificance.Severino, Returning to Parmenides (Ritornare a Parmenide), in Essence of nihilism (Essenza del nichilismo), Adelphi, Milan 1982, p. 49
The appearing of the opposition of positive and negative – where with “positive” we mean the being, that is, everything that is, while with “negative” we mean everything that, albeit in different ways, is not the positive considered, and therefore also the nothingness – it is the foundation: it is the appearing of the difference of the differing without which no thought could be created. It also founds its negation, not in the sense that it founds its value, but in the sense that, if it would not oppose its significant positivity to its other from self, it would not even exist. Except that, founding itself on what it denies, the negation of the being itself of the being denies itself.
- The aporetic of nothingness
The theme of the semantization of the being by opposition to the nothingness implies the thinkability of the latter, the possibility to tell it, which seems to introduce the contradiction – the affirmation of the being of the not-being- precisely in the heart of the original structure. But this is not true:
The contradiction of the non-being-that-is, is not […] internal to the meaning «nothing» (or to the meaning «being» which is the being of the nothingness); but is between the meaning «nothing» and the being or the positivity of this meaning. The positivity of the signifying is therefore in contradiction with the very content of the signifying, which is indeed significant like the absolute negativity.Severino, The original structure (La struttura originaria), Adelphi, Milan 1981, p. 213
The nothingness as a meaning that contradicts itself includes then, as a semantic moment, the nothingness of which Severino notes the fact of being signifier as nothingness. And the contradiction between the nothingness – which means nothing and does not mean being – and its positive signifying is the contradiction without which the very opposition of positive and negative would be impossible:
The aporia of being of the nothingness is resolved with the act of noting that the principle of non-contradiction does not affirm the non-existence of the self-contradictory meaning [that is, the contradiction in which the meaning nothing consists] but affirms that «nothing» does not mean «being» […]. The non-being, which appears as negation of being in the formulation of the principle of non-contradiction, is indeed the non-being which counts as a moment of the non-being, understood as a self-contradictory meaning. [So], certainly the nothingness is; but not in the sense that «nothing» means «being»: in this sense, the nothingness is not, and the being is – and it is this non-being of the nothingness and being of the being, which is affirmed by the principle of non-contradiction.Severino, The original structure (La struttura originaria), Adelphi, Milan 1981, p. 215
The nothingness of which the principle of non-contradiction denies the identity with the being is then the nothingness as distinct from its positive signifying; while everything that is affirmed about nothingness belongs to the positive signifying of nothingness. It follows that the original structure is the appearing of the positive signifying of what it denies, and not of this content: it is not founded on what it denies, but it implies the positive signifying of what it denies.
- The original structure as “contradiction C”
a) Severino calls “contradiction C” the contradiction resulting from the appearing of a part of the whole without the whole appearing in its concreteness:
The contradiction C consists […] in posing S [that is, the original meaning] formally and not concretely; or in posing S in a way that does not allow the concrete semantic value or the concrete significance of what is posed to be established. Compared to the position of this semantic concreteness of S, the position of S that is actually realized when, posing S, all the constants of S are not posed, is then only the intention of posing S: this position is only demanded. […] The contradiction C is therefore understanding as S what, precisely because it is only the formal value of S, is not S.Severino, The original structure (La struttura originaria), Adelphi, Milan 1981, pp. 348-349
The “contradiction C” is the contradiction that affects the finite. Such a contradiction – which Severino distinguishes from the one he calls “normal contradiction”, that is, from the contradiction whose content is a nothing -is constituted, on one hand, from the appearing of what appears and, on the other hand, from the non-appearing of everything that is necessarily implied by what appears, so that, what appears, does not appear as what it really is.
b) The original structure implies its own finitude: the same current contrast between the original structure of the truth and the alienation of the truth prevents indeed the original to present itself as the totality of beings. If it was, the being in contradiction would be and sub eodem would not be the definitive truth: it would be because it would be the totality of beings, that is, that whose overcoming is impossible; it would not be it because the being is the uncontradictory and the contradiction is non-truth. (And the theorem of Glory – see par. 12 – excludes that the spectacle of the arrival of the eternals might stop at a certain point, which implies that the eternals destined not to arrive are infinite, but since ever included in the infinite totality of the beings). Well, given that the original structure is something finite – and therefore is “contradiction C” -, such a contradiction is overcome not by the negation of its content (as with the “normal contradiction”), but by its concrete position and then, lastly, by its appearing in the infinite totality of the beings – which Severino also calls “infinite appearing” – which since ever goes beyond the totality of the contradictions of the finite.
- The concrete meaning of the identity
In dialogue with Aristotle, Tommaso, Hegel – but also keeping in mind the developments of the modern symbolic logic: Frege, Russell –, Severino claims that the West denies the identity of the being not only concerning the content of thought, because, affirming that the being oscillates between being and not-being, it implicitly believes that the being is nothing, but also concerning the form of saying and thinking, because it thinks the elements of the sentence as originally separate, so that, connecting the subject with the predicate, the thought contradictorily identifies the differing. We instead need to understand that the subject, that suits the predicate, is not the pure subject isolated from the predicate, but is the subject-of-the-predicate; and that, in turn, the predicate is the predicate-of-the-subject:
Both the subject and the predicate of the sentence «the being is the being» are not simple noetic moments [are not, that is, “noems” or meanings still unrelated], of which the judgement, expressed by that sentence, is synthesis; but they are the judgment, the identity itself in its being posed. […] The concrete identity is therefore identity of the identity with itself. Denying this entails […] that the principle of identity is a self-contradictory claim. The «being» (B’), of which the «being» (B”) is preached, is indeed the «being-which-is-being»: B’ = B” and the «being» (B”), which is a predicate, is indeed the «being-of-the-being»: B” = B’. The formula of the concrete identity is therefore: (B’ = B’’) = (B’’ = B’).Severino, The original structure (La struttura originaria), Adelphi, Milan 1981, pp. 181-183
Which means: the elements of the synthesis are already the synthesis and the thought does not connect separate terms, but it is the appearing of the identity of the identical: be A any determination of the being, the assertion of the identity with itself of A will then need to be intended not as a simple A=A, but as (A=A)=(A=A). Similarly, the claim that a certain A is B will need to be intended as the identity with itself of the relation between A and B. In the formula: (A=B)=(A=B). In Tautótēs (1995) Severino specifies that, in this case, the “being” of “A is B” must be intended as a signifier of the identity with itself between A and its being identical to its own “being together” B:
The language continues to say that A is B; but it tells the impossible. It tells the impossible even though A=B is thought as (A=B)=(B=A). Only if under the linguistic form «A is B» we think the being together with B on the part of A, we can continue to say that (A=B)=(B=A). The adequate formula is: [A=(being together with B)]=[(being together with B)=A].Severino, Tautótēs, Adelphi, Milan 1995, p. 152
The uncontradictory saying is therefore the saying that affirms the absolute identity of the “subject” and of the “predicate”: is the original tautology which speaks of the being itself of the being, its being other from its other, its being other from nothingness, its being eternal.
- Nihilism and destiny of technique
a) The history of the West is the story of the progressive taking possession of the “things” thought as available to the being and to nothingness:
The West is the civilization that grows inside the horizon opened by the meaning that Greek thought assigns to the being-a-thing of things. This meaning progressively unifies, and by now entirely the endless multiplicity of the events we call «history of the West», and dominates by now on all the earth: the entire history of the East has then become itself prehistory of the West. Since time, my writings indicate the Western meaning – and by now planetary- of the thing: the thing (a thing, everything) is, since it is a thing, nothing; the non-nothing (a, every non-nothing) is, since it is a non-nothing, nothing. The belief that the being is nothing is nihilism. In this sense vastly different from Nietzsche’s and Heidegger’s one, nihilism is the essence of the West.Severino, ἀλήθεια in Essence of nihilism (Essenza del nichilismo), Adelphi, Milan 1982, p. 415
The becoming of things has always been understood, even in the pre-ontological dimension, as a becoming something else – and therefore, Severino notes, as a process in which something, in the result, becomes (contradictorily) the other from itself. The Greek metaphysics has brought in the language the sense of the infinite opposition of being to nothing, and it has believed that to be supremely evident is precisely that becoming something else which is, in fact, the content of a faith. Well, nihilism is, indeed, the faith in the so-called evidence of the becoming as a passage from the non-being to being and from being to non-being, on the part of the beings, which implies the thought that the being is nothing. And Severino’s thesis is that the contrast between the Greek faith in the becoming of things, and the eternals from time to time evoked by the West as the condition of the becoming – evoked by the epistéme, that is, by the form of the “stable” knowledge of the Western metaphysical tradition-, is destined to be resolved in the sunset of the traditional philosophy and civilizations: what comes from nothingness cannot indeed be submitted to rules, to laws, to immutable principles that would anticipate its content, but it starts in an absolute way and cannot have anything behind itself or above itself that can orient its development:
If everything pre-exist (and is preserved) in the god, the act of untying from nothingness and from being on the part of the beings [their original readiness to being and not-being] is impossible; but this unlinking is the «evidence»; so the «evidence» of freedom requires the inexistence of god and of every immutable thing that predetermines and anticipates the concrete historical becoming of things. […]. Since what is still a nothing […] is predestined to the truth of the being, it is not a nothing, but instead it already is, and cannot come from nothingness; and since the being comes from nothingness, it does not come from the already existing predestination to the truth of the being, and therefore is not already captured by the truth of the being. If then an incontrovertible knowledge of the being as a being exists – and therefore of the totality of the being – , the being cannot come from nothingness; if the being comes from nothingness, an incontrovertible knowledge of the totality of the being cannot exist.Severino, Destiny of the necessity (Destino della necessità), Adelphi, Milan 1980, pp. 35-47
To this coherent result – but we are talking about the coherence of Madness and therefore of the coherence of a thought that is based on the belief that the being is nothing- comes the philosophy of our time when it does not limit itself to affirming the inexistence of every absolute truth of the metaphysical tradition, leaving without a foundation this claim. Among those who gave a bright expression to this awareness, which stirs in the underground of contemporary philosophy, Severino mentions especially Nietzsche, Gentile and, before that, Leopardi, authors to whom he has dedicated important studies. Concerning Leopardi who accomplishes the first and crucial step of contemporary philosophy, showing the impossibility of the immutables of tradition, Severino establishes an important parallel with Eschilo who represents, instead, the first and crucial step of the philosophical tradition, since he, first, understood the truth – thought according to the unheard meaning that the Greek thought brought to light: the truth as incontrovertible knowledge – as supreme remedy against death.
b) The eternals make the faith in the existence of the becoming impossible and this faith destroys the eternals. In this context, Severino explains, the technological-scientific project of unlimited production-destruction of things, and its infinite strengthening, presents itself as the field in which the triumph of the metaphysics incardinated on the faith in the existence of the becoming is celebrated. And it is in such a context that the technique is imposing (in a meaning radically different from the one indicated by Heidegger, because radically different is, in the two philosophers, the meaning of nihilism) as the destiny of our time:
Avoiding that the purpose impedes and weakens the mean means adopting the mean as primary purpose, that is, subjecting to it what initially we had as a purpose. The great forces of the Western tradition have the illusion then of availing of the technique to achieve their purposes: the power of technique has become in fact, or has already started to become, their fundamental and primary purpose. And this power – which is the purpose that the technique posses for itself, regardless of those that we would like to make it adopt from the outside – is not something static, but is an indefinite enhancement, indefinite increase of the ability to achieve goals. This infinite enhancement is by now, or it has already started to be, the supreme planetary purpose.Severino, The destiny of technique (Il destino della tecnica), BUR, Milan 2009, pp. 8-9
The techno-science that is constituted in synthesis with the deep essence of the contemporary thought, excludes the existence of insurmountable limits, is destined to become, from a mean, purpose of the different powers (capitalism, democracy, Church…) that intend to use it to dominate the world.
- Destiny of the necessity
In Essence of nihilism (Essenza del nichilismo) Severino left open the possibility that what happens, even though it is an eternal, could have not appeared and other beings could have appeared in its place. In Destiny of the necessity (Destino della necessità – 1980) is presented the language that affirms the necessity that the being arrives in the way it arrives:
Every being is eternal. So, it is eternal also that being that is the very happening of the being […]. The being that happens […] and its happening is an eternal; so, it is necessary that the being happens. Not even the synthesis between the being that happens and its happening can not be (that is, being nothing).Severino, Destiny of the necessity (Destino della necessità), Adelphi, Milan 1980, p. 97
The destiny – a word that names the authentic “staying”, that “staying” that the epistéme could not be – is at the moment opposed by the faith that isolates the beings from their being, and therefore from their being immortal. But the madness of the belief in the becoming, understood as annihilation, can appear, as denied, only in the transcendental horizon of the truth of being which is the very glance of destiny in which the necessity that such a contrast is overcome appears (see par. 12).
- Destiny and language
Even the language that testifies destiny is a mistake, since it is the will that certain events are that very other that is the being sign and testimony of destiny, and that the destiny of truth is that very other that is being what is signified by such signs. This however does not mean that the truth that is indicated is a mistake. In Beyond language (Oltre il linguaggio – 1992) Severino explains – in dialogue with the philosophy of the “linguistic turn” – that destiny is the incontrovertible not since it is said, but since it is that whose negation is self-negation:
Even the destiny of the truth and of the being presents itself inside the language and the historicity [processuality] of language; but destiny stays and does not let itself be overwhelmed by the becoming of the word because in it the identity that manifests itself in the differences of language is the undeniable.Severino, Beyond language (Oltre il linguaggio), Adelphi, Milan 1992, p. 160
The language is contradiction also because it is a development, a progressive unfold, so that it is structurally precluded to it the possibility to tell, in its entirety, the original structure and its necessary implications: wanting to tell it, the language isolates the traits of destiny enclosing them in the form of the word, making the destiny itself – which is the non-arriving – something that arrives. The arrival of these traits, in the language, must therefore be distinguished from the necessity that they are present at the same time in the horizon of the appearing. It will be said then that if what the language that testifies destiny indicates is contradiction since it is enclosed in the isolating form of the word, it is instead incontrovertible since it is united to the “non-said” in which the eternal appearing of the original structure and of its implications consists:
The linguistic essence of the original structure contradicts itself – and nonetheless it is the incontrovertible. It is the incontrovertible not because of its explicit meaning, but because of its implicit meaning, that is, because of the totality of the determinations of the original structure that are originally and necessarily implied by the explicit meaning, but which appear originally, even before showing themselves in the development of language (that is, in the development of the explicit) – even before their coming and going in the language.Severino, Beyond language (Oltre il linguaggio), Adelphi, Milan 1992, p. 189
The traits of the original structure are incontrovertible since they are originally united with that “implied”, so that language which testifies them is a contradiction not because of what it affirms, but because it does not show the totality of the syntax and of the implications with which what it affirms is necessarily united.
- The cycle of Glory
The writings of the cycle of Glory – in particular, The Glory (La Gloria – 2001), Overcoming (Oltrepassare – 2007), Death and land (La morte e la terra – 2011) and the detailed studies contained in About the meaning of nothing (Intorno al senso del nulla – 2013), Dike (2015), History, joy (Storia, gioia – 2016) and Testifying destiny (Testimoniando il destino – 2019) – show that the progressive unveiling of the being is destined to lead to the “salvation” of the truth, that is, to the freedom of the truth of being from the contrast with the isolation of the land – being the “land” what starts to appear -, as well as the specific ways according to which the arrival of the “land that saves” is destined to happen. Let us recall some traits of this necessity, very briefly.
a) The Glory of the land
The original structure – the staying (being) of the destiny of the truth – is the essential predicate of every being, what cannot not appear: it is that multitude of meanings (being, nothing, being itself, being other, being eternal…) that constitutes the “persyntactic field”, that is, the syntax of every being. Severino calls “background” of the appearing the totality of the persyntactic determinations and he notes that if something that is arriving was impossible to pass (if, that is, with its happening the spectacle of the arriving of the land would stop), it would start to be necessarily united with the background. But this is impossible because it is impossible for a necessary link to start to be:
It is contradictory the fact that the necessary union starts, that is, that it is preceded by a time in which it does not exist. The union is necessary precisely because any situation in which that union is inexistent is something contradictory. And it is first of all contradictory the fact that that being, which is the necessary union, has been something that did not exist, that is, a nothing […]. If the determination that arrives is impossible to pass (that is, it does not allow the arrival of any other determination), it starts to be necessarily connected to the background and to the totality of what appears. But a connection is necessary precisely because is not something that starts. It is impossible that a connection is necessary «under certain conditions», or «inside a certain field», or «inside certain limits» – and therefore – «starting from a certain moment». Any limitation of a necessary condition is a negation of the necessity.Severino, The Glory (La Gloria), Adelphi, Milan 1980, p. 96
It is therefore necessary that everything that arrives is passed – and such overcoming is the Glory of the land: the opening to the infinite of the original circle at the arrival of spectacles always new.
b) The multiplicity of the circles of destiny
The appearing of what arrives inside the actuality of the original circle of the appearing is something that arrives too. Now, given the theorem of Glory – and therefore the impossibility that what will arrive is impossible to pass – it is necessary that to be passed is also the belonging of the appearing of what is arriving to the actuality of the original circle:
The necessity that everything that arrives is passed implies therefore that also the actuality of the arriving configurations of the land is open to the necessary arrival, in the transcendental appearing, of something that needs to appear […] according to an actuality that is different from the one that belongs to the finite circle of the present appearing […]. This different and passing actuality arrives therefore in another circle of the finite appearing of destiny, and therefore arrives […] also in another transcendental appearing.Severino, The Glory (La Gloria), Adelphi, Milan 1980, pp. 171-172
This passing is the arrival of the appearing of the beings in a circle of the appearing different from the original one. And since not even the actuality that arrives in this circle different from the original one can be impossible to pass, there will be an additional circle, and then another one, and so on…, and this implies that the land advances in what Severino himself calls the “infinite constellation of the finite circles of the appearing”.
c) The sunset of the isolation of the land
The land – what little by little arrives – is something that starts, so that the isolation of the land from the truth of being is something that starts too; now, given the theorem of Glory, the isolation of the land too – and therefore of everything that is connected to the “will” understood as principle that wants the becoming something else of things – is destined to be passed; and it is necessary that the concrete totality of the isolated land appears as something entirely accomplished:
If indeed this concreteness of the content of the isolation would not be passed and therefore would not continue to appear in its being passed, it would be anew a place the land comes across but which it cannot pass.Severino, The Glory (La Gloria), Adelphi, Milan 1980, p. 125
In order for the isolation of the land to be concretely passed it is necessary: 1) that, at a certain point of the unfolding of the land, in each of the infinite finite circles of the appearing, the isolated lands of the other circles appear, in a single event, in the totality of their determinations, as the lands of the other circles; 2) that those lands appear like that in the very act in which the isolation is passed, since in order to appear as lands of the other circles it is necessary that the persyntactic background of every one of them (and therefore the totality of the persyntactic determinations implied by the original structure, which is identical in every circle) appears as non-isolated from them, and it is impossible that it appears like this in a circle where the land is still isolated from destiny. Severino calls “holy Friday of solitude” the appearing, in each of the finite circles of the appearing, of the totality of the isolated land that appears in each of them; and calls “Easter” of the liberation from the solitude of the land, the appearing of that trait of the land – the “land that saves”- whose absence makes the isolation break in. It follows, from what precedes, that the “holy Friday” can only appear in the “Easter”, that is, in the event that passes it:
In the glance of the destiny of the truth appears […] the necessity that the «holy Friday» of the solitude of the lands of the circles does not precede but appears together with its own sunset; and therefore that the tremendum is not left by itself and its horror, but appears in the very act in which it is passed by «Easter» of the freedom of destiny […], that is, in the very act in which in the constellation of the circles appears the Place of the land that is the foundation of the freedom of destiny […]. It is then necessary that, in that single event, all the infinite isolated lands that meet in a circle appear in their being passed not only in this circle, but also in each of the other circles, that is, in each of the circles they originally belong to […]. A single event gathers then – when, across the unfolding of the Glory, arrives the destined time- the arrival, in every circle, of the totality of the isolated lands and the sunset, in that circle, of the isolation of the land, and a single event gathers in itself, in that time, this event and the sunset, in each of the infinite other circles, of the isolated lands that arrived inside them.Severino, The Glory (La Gloria), Adelphi, Milan 1980, pp. 543-549
The progressive unveiling of the being leads then to the “salvation” of the truth, that is, to the liberation of the truth from the contrast with the isolation of the land. In order to shed some more light on what is destined to appear with the sunset of the isolation, Severino uses the theme of the “trace”: since every being is in a necessary relationship with every other being, in every being is present, as denied, every other being; and the “trace” is, indeed, that presence. Well, given that the Glory is the in indefinitum gait of the eternals beyond every arriving configuration, and that the Joy is the infinite concreteness of All, the necessity that the isolation is concretely passed implies that the traces that the isolated land leaves in the All and those the All leaves in the isolated land are deciphered. It follows that we are destined to the Glory of the Joy, that is, to the gait of the All, not in the sense that the infinite Totality of the beings, absolutely considered, can appear – that is impossible because it would imply the identification of the finite and the infinite -, but in the sense that the Joy of All is destined to arrive since it is in relation with the isolated land and the subsequent infinite arriving configurations:
An infinite light is destined to arrive, followed by other infinite lights, each of which retains the lights which precede it. If there is a place, in the language that testifies the destiny, to which the expression Glory of the Joy is suited, it is this one. The Glory of the land […] is the endless passing of the isolated land and of every configuration of the very land that saves […]. The Glory of the Joy is the infinite unfolding […] of the higher and higher plateaus of the land that saves, in each of which arrives the appearing of the more and more concrete and vast forms of the Joy of All.Severino, Passing (Oltrepassare), Adelphi, Milan 2007, pp. 560-561
The Glory of the land, as well as the affirmation of the arrival of the Glory of the Joy, are necessary implications of the incontrovertible being itself of the being, that is, of that foundation of which The original structure has exposed the essential traits.
d) Death and the imminence of the Joy
In this context death cannot be the impossible nullification of the being, but instead the fulfilment of the will which is at the same time the fulfilment of the contrast between the truth of the being and the isolated land:
Precisely because of this, death is […] the extreme imminence of the land that saves. In the imminence […] time does not pass because nothing (no eternal) arrives. The first thing that arrives is then the extreme glow of the land that saves.Severino, Death and the land (La morte e la terra), Adelphi, Milan 2011, p. 412
The instant to which death leads is the one in which the last phase of the will appears, which with death, in the circle of destiny in which it dies, has had its fulfilment. To that instant corresponds, in the other circles of destiny, the unfolding of the isolated land until the sunset of the isolation of the land and therefore until, at a certain point of this unfolding, in each of the infinite finite circles of destiny arrives the splendour of the “Easter”, the more and more vast and concrete forms of the Joy of All, in respect of which the tremendum of the “holy Friday” is just a point.
- Severino and his critics
Severino’s main interlocutors have been critically confronting with him both on the phenomenological field and on the logical-ontological one of the semantization of being. Memorable has been the titanic debate with Gustavo Bontadini. Among the other critics we recall, on the Thomist side: Cornelio Fabro and Gianfranco Basti; on the Aristotelian and Aristotelian-Thomist one: Enrico Berti and Carmelo Vigna; on the Thomist-neoclassical one, intent on converging the Parmenidean point of view with the Aristotelian-Thomist one: Leonardo Messinese and Giuseppe Barzaghi; on the neo-Parmenidean one: Gennaro Sasso, Mauro Visentin and Luigi Vero Tarca. With Severino have dialogued, among others, Ines Testoni, Massimo Donà, Umberto Galimberti, Salvatore Natoli, Vincenzo Vitiello, Biagio de Giovanni, Massimo Cacciari, Gianni Vattimo, the theologians Piero Coda, Pierangelo Sequeri, Angelo Scola, Raimon Panikkar, the physicist Roger Penrose, the jurist Natalino Irti.