From “The Nietzsche of Recanti,” David Bentley Hart’s review of Giacomo Leopardi’s “Zibaldone”

“The modern pursuit of truth in the abstract, no matter what the moral or cultural consequences, was for Leopardi an essentially inhumane and remorselessly destructive fanaticism. Since this kind of rationalism is thoroughly unnatural, he predicted (correctly, as it turned out) that it would ultimately lead to acts of utter barbarity; in abstraction from familial, autocthonous, and ritual allegiances, reason can and will find motives and justifications for anything, no matter how depraved, violent, or pitiliess. And, inasmuch as modernity involves a deracination of men and women from the world of the senses, it has supplanted antiquity’s healthy devotion to the flesh with the withering interiority of modern individualism and its attendant obsession with that pallid ghost, the self; and this has made modern men at once sicklier than their ancient forbears and possessed of a far larger capacity for cruelty.”

In First Things May 2014 issue.

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