Paolo Parrini - Biography#

Paolo Parrini has taught since 1969 at the Florence University, where he served as Full Professor from 1983 until 2011 when he anticipated his retirement for devoting himself entirely to research. His scientific publications are about 220.

His research addresses epistemology, ontology, hermeneutics, and metaphilosophy. Because of his strong historical interests he also worked on the history of epistemology and the methodological aspects of philosophical historiography. In his 1976 book, Linguaggio e teoria, Parrini proposed the idea of the relativized (or contexualized) a priori arguing its synthetic and not only analytic character against Carnap and the linguistic turn in philosophy. In the subsequent years he developed this idea in two main directions. At an historical level, he gave a new interpretation of Logical Positivism and its relations with Kant’s philosophy and the conventionalistic tradition. Afterwards he broadened such an interpretation by studying in depth the relations between Neo-Empiricism and Husserl’s phenomenology which he considers an autonomous ‘fourth way’ in addition to the three ‘ways’ of the famous 1929 Davos meeting. At a systematic level, in the first half of the Nineties Parrini proposed a renewed conception of the ideals of the 'esprit positif' (empiricism, moderate epistemic relativism, anti-metaphysical objectivism) and a liberalised view of rationality. The core of this position is an explicative re-interpretation of truth as a primitive concept that works as a purely formal, or empty, regulative ideal. Afterwards he tried to show that such a ‘positive philosophy’ can possibly favour the overcoming of the analytic/continental divide. In the last years Parrini dealt with the metaphilosophical issues concerning the nature and aims of philosophy and the reasons of its current crisis. He is presently working at a book on values and the theory of judgement.

In the last years Parrini's philosophical positions have been presented and recognised in international publications dedicated to eminent figures in the Italian philosophy of 20th Century; see, in particular,:

  • 1. Viva Voce. Conversations with Italian Philosophers, ed. by S. Benso, Suny Press, Albany, 2017, pp. 185-199,
  • 2. Phenomenology in Italy, ed. by F. Buogiorno, V. Costa, R. Lanfredini, Springer, 2020, ch. 12, "Phenomenology, Empiricism, and Constructivism in Paolo Parrini’s Positive Philosophy" by A. Pace Giannotta, pp. 161-178.

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