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The 'Futurist Sensibility': An Anti-philosophy for the Age of Technology

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It was a salient and original feature of Italian Futurism that it sought to modernize the form and content of arts and literature and to make them suitable vehicles of expression in the Age of Technology. Futurist theorists considered this desire to be an inevitable and necessary consequence of the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution. But Futurism did not restrict itself to seeking a renewal of the arts; it aimed at nothing less than a 'Re-fashioning of the Universe', as they put it, that is: a complete renewal of human society and its physical environment. The two complementary aspects of art changing life and life changing art, which at first glance may appear like a circular argument, have been elaborated in many manifestos and articles, particularly those of F.T. Marinetti and Umberto Boccioni. They tried to solve the apparent paradox by taking recourse to the romantic notion of sensibility (sensibilità) and by assigning it a central role in the movement's propaganda concerned with a new artistic system and the birth of a new humankind. In this chapter I should like to demonstrate how the highly ambiguous notion of sensibilità was elaborated by the Futurist avant-garde in order to overcome a fixation on the faculties of reason, memory and perception, Рfaculties that have been defining European philosophical discourses from Plato to Descartes. I shall also show how this notion of sensibilità allowed the first avant-garde movement to establish conceptual links between its aesthetics and gnoseology, physiology and ethics, and in doing so, to propose a broad and Utopian anthropological project.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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