An investigation of Abbagnano's attempt to raise possibility to a level of prime importance and his understanding of existence
Possibility, Necessity, and Existence
Abbagnano and His Predecessors
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In this systematic historical analysis, Nino Langiulli focuses on a key philosophical issue, possibility, as it is refracted through the thought of the Italian philosopher Nicola Abbagnano. Langiulli examines Abbagnano's attempt to raise possibility to a level of prime importance and investigates his understanding of existence. In so doing, the author offers a sustained exposition of and argument with the account of possibility in the major thinkers of the Western traditionPlato, Aristotle, Kant, and Kierkegaard. He also makes pertinent comments on such philosophers as Diodorus Cronus, William of Ockham, Spinoza, Hobbes, and Hegel, as well as such logicians as DeMorgan and Boole.
Nicola Abbagnano, who died in 1990, recently came to the attention of the general public as an influential teacher of author Umberto Eco. Creator of a dictionary of philosophy and author of a multiple-volume history of Western philosophy, Abbagnano was the only philosopher, according to Langiulli, to argue that "to be is to be possible."
Even though the concept of probability and the discipline of statistics are grounded in the concept of possibility, philosophers throughout history have grappled with the problem of defining it. Possibility has been viewed by some as an empty concept, devoid of reality, and by others as reducible to actuality or necessityconcepts which are opposite to it. Langiulli analyzes and debates Abbagnano's treatment of necessity as secondary to possibility, and he addresses the philosopher's conversation with his predecessors as well as his European and American contemporaries.
Part I: From a Positive Existentialism to a Radical Empiricism
1. The Backgrounds of and Initial Efforts Toward a Pure Conception of Possibility
2. Abbagnano's Systematic Thought: The Four Phases
3. The Program of a Positive Existentialism
Part II: Sources for the Concept of Possibility
Part III: Possibility and Existence
8. The Different Senses of Possibility
9. The First Definition: Possibility as Noncontradiction
10. The Second Definition: Possibility as Necessary Realization
11. The Third and Proper Sense of Possibility
12. Various Senses and Theories of Being
13. Some Concluding Critical Reflections
Nino Languilli is Professor of Philosophy at St. Francis College, Brooklyn, New York.
In the series
Themes in the History of Philosophy, edited by Edith Wyschogrod.
Themes in the History of Philosophy, edited by Edith Wyschogrod, will serve as a collection of outstanding work in the history of philosophy. It will include interpretations of significant themes, problems, and tendencies in the history of thought; studies of important thinkers, schools, and movements; and inquiries into the relation of previous philosophies to literature, art, and history.