Vincenzo Fano, Le lettere immaginarie di Democrito alla figlia. Un invito alla filosofia, Carocci, Roma, 2018, pp. 141
Vincenzo Fano, in this very brief, brilliant (and short ) twenty-two-chapters book, tries to introduce readers to the apparently “odd” world of philosophical questions. The author starts from some very important pre-philosophical and pre-theoretical premises, which could enable us to break and to open the borders between philosophy and the technologically labelled “common sense” everyday life. These premises are (a) the common ground of scientific naturalism (b) the capacity of amazement and the desire of astonishment and amusement in any sort of research, with particular respect to the study concerning physical world (c) the pre-theoretical disposition to tolerance for other’s point of view and open-mindedness (d) the total refuse of any sort of fanaticism and dogmatism. These aims push the author to imagine a bizarre return of Democritus from past to contemporary world. The “Neo-Democritus” of today is a little bit different from the ancient, pre-classical greek philosopher; he is a very ill, elderly man, suffering from a most probably fatal disease, and he writes a letter to his imaginary daughter, a Italian girl with an Italian boy-friend, discussing about a lot of problems: the meaning and the ultimate sense of human existence and of death, as well as [of] the importance of liberal democracy in our very troubled historical age, without overlooking other fundamental questions as the significance of quantum mechanics for scientific realism, as well as the urgency to fill the gap between biology and psychology touching very ancient and terrible problems like free will and human agency and responsibility. The result is a book with big provisions of credits and values, one among all: a neo-democritean, but not specialized or grandiloquent apologetic of physical reductionism able to set very stimulating links between apparently far or antipodal areas of philosophy and human culture, as economics, sociology, social sciences and epistemology, physics, chemistry. A direct and natural basis of comparison is naturally provided by a book as What Does It All Mean?A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy by Thomas Nagel, but there are a lot of differences between these two marvelous books, and the most important is the very (political, liberal and libertarian) “militant” nature of the inspiration of Fano’s work.
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Stefano Vaselli, "Vincenzo Fano, "Le lettere immaginarie di Democrito alla figlia. Un invito alla filosofia, Carocci, Roma, 2018, pp. 141", in "APhEx 19", 2019, pp. 35