Emanuele Severino (1929-2020) was an Italian philosopher and one of the most important thinkers of the 20th century. His work is characterized by a sustained critique of Western metaphysics, which he argues is grounded in a fundamental error of thinking. Severino’s philosophy is a radical and comprehensive critique of Western thought, from Plato to Heidegger, and seeks to reorient our understanding of reality and existence.
At the heart of Severino’s philosophy is his claim that Western metaphysics has committed a fundamental error by positing the concept of “being” as the ultimate reality. According to Severino, being is an empty concept that has no basis in reality, and our entire metaphysical tradition is founded on a false presupposition. He argues that being is an illusion, a concept that has arisen due to the limitations of human understanding, and that we must abandon this concept in order to understand the true nature of existence.
Severino’s critique of being is closely linked to his concept of “eternity.” For Severino, eternity is not an abstract or transcendent concept, but rather refers to the unchanging, immutable nature of existence itself. In contrast to being, which is subject to change and flux, eternity is the permanent reality that underlies all existence. Severino argues that our understanding of reality is distorted by the illusion of time, which is a product of our limited human perspective. He suggests that we must overcome this illusion of time in order to perceive the eternal nature of existence.
Severino’s philosophy also has important implications for ethics and politics. He argues that Western thought has been characterized by a focus on the individual self, which has led to a narrow, egoistic conception of morality. Instead, Severino suggests that we must recognize the fundamental interconnectedness of all existence and develop a morality based on the recognition of our shared humanity. In politics, Severino advocates for a new form of democracy that is grounded in the recognition of the eternal nature of existence and the interconnectedness of all beings.
Severino’s philosophy has been both influential and controversial. His radical critique of Western metaphysics has been seen by some as a necessary corrective to a tradition that has become stagnant and dogmatic. However, others have criticized Severino’s rejection of being as a radical departure from the philosophical tradition that leaves us without a foundation for knowledge or understanding. Despite these controversies, Severino’s work continues to be an important and provocative contribution to contemporary philosophy.