Galleria dell’Arte Moderna, Palazzo Pitti, Florence
…Ridgway has been convicted of 49 murders that spanned nearly 20 years. Ridgway’s transfer to the federal prison in Florence, Colorado came to light in June but prison officials did not give a reason.
Since his conviction in 2004, the 66-year-old Ridgway has lived in virtual isolation at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, where he’s serving a life sentence without parole.
Source: Q13 FOX News
Valerio Cioli c. 1564
Tomb of Michelangelo (detail)
Samuel Moyn writes: A generation ago the political philosopher Larry Siedentop published an essay called “Two Liberal Traditions,” its title a nod to his teacher Isaiah Berlin’s celebrated lecture “Two Concepts of Liberty.” An American, Siedentop had traveled to the University of Oxford in the 1950s to study under the great Cold War liberal, and later he taught there for decades.
“How, against its original purposes, was the Gospel’s message brought down to earth?”
In his still mandatory essay, Siedentop persuasively argues that Anglo-American liberalism has never been the sole version of the tradition. There is also, Siedentop contends, a characteristically French approach, more historicist and sociological than conceptual and normative in making the case for modern liberty. Great nineteenth-century French thinkers such as Benjamin Constant, François Guizot, and Alexis de Tocqueville generally cast liberal values such as individual freedom as complex social achievements won over long periods, to be treasured and fostered precisely because they reflect collective advancement, not merely moral truth.
“There was a time before the individual, and Siedentop spends his first few chapters dwelling on it: the ancient world, in which individuals were wholly subordinated to family structures. No matter that admirers from the Renaissance and Enlightenment appealed to the classical past in order to attack Christian oppression, Siedentop says: they ignored the fact that no ancient society embraced the value of individual freedom.”
This line of thought suggests that history and experience are central to the making of liberal values and not simply the storehouses of wisdom for conservatives, better known for appealing to the past. Unlike their Anglo-American counterparts from Thomas Hobbes to John Rawls, Frenchmen did not rely on the thought experiment of the social contract to motivate allegiance to liberal norms. Thus their approach, as Siedentop describes it, is an indispensable counterpart to the usual focus in our own liberal tradition, which prizes normative justification rather than a story about how we came to defend liberal values, through what institutions and practices.
[Check out Larry Siedentop’s book “Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism” at Amazon]
Of course, a lot turns on how believable the narrative is. In his new book Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism, Siedentop tries his own hand at telling how modern freedom came about. Channeling the project of the French tradition, he leans heavily on the almost-forgotten Guizot, the political theorist and government minister whose History of Civilization in Europe (1828) Siedentop in effect revives and updates. (If readers have any recollection of Guizot, it is probably because in the opening lines of The Communist Manifesto Karl Marx denounces him as a leading statesman of a conservative entente that had brought stability but not justice to post-Napoleonic Europe.)
There are a few powerful components to Siedentop’s rehabilitation of the French tradition. The most important follows that tradition’s most promising move, which is to treat modern individualism as a historical product rather than a natural fact. There was a time before the individual, and Siedentop spends his first few chapters dwelling on it: the ancient world, in which individuals were wholly subordinated to family structures. No matter that admirers from the Renaissance and Enlightenment appealed to the classical past in order to attack Christian oppression, Siedentop says: they ignored the fact that no ancient society embraced the value of individual freedom. “They failed to notice,” Siedentop comments mordantly, “that the ancient family began as a veritable church.”
This history may be news to Anglo-Americans liberals, who routinely take the individual as a natural given. In the social contract, individuals are a premise, not a product. In economics, the satisfaction of individual preferences is the self-evident goal, but this is never explained or justified, even though it is an astonishingly rare commitment across the sweep of time. Siedentop wants to treat such first principles as the result of a history that made liberalism conceivable in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »
Mocking of Christ
Collegiata Santa Maria Assunta, San Gimignano
Andrea da Firenze c. 1366-1367
Church as Path to Salvation
The long-lost Caravaggio painting that the baroque master had with him when he died in 1610 has finally been identified, according to the world’s foremost authority on the artist.
“The creation of a body with varying tones, the intensity of the face. The strong wrists, crossed fingers and beautiful hair … the wonderful variations in light and colour – all show that it is Caravaggio.”
— Caravaggio scholar Mina Gregori
Several copies of Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy are thought to exist. But now the Caravaggio scholar Mina Gregori has said she is confident of having made a “definitive” verification of the version that she has studied in a private European collection.
After years hunting for the real thing, the eminent art expert and president of Florence’s Roberto Longhi Art History Foundation, declared: “At last, it’s you”, after finding herself seemingly gazing at the Caravaggio original. If true, the discovery would be one of rare importance in Western art. Read the rest of this entry »
Andrea del Verrocchio c. 1435 – 1488, born Andrea di Michele di Francesco de’ Cioni, was an Italian painter, sculptor, and goldsmith who was master of an important workshop in Florence. He became known by his nickname “Verrocchio” which in Italian means “true eye” a tribute given to him for his artistic achievement. Few paintings are attributed to him with certainty, but a number of important painters were trained at his workshop. His pupils included Leonardo da Vinci, Pietro Perugino and Lorenzo di Credi. His greatest importance was as a sculptor and his last work, the equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni in Venice, is universally accepted as a masterpiece…(more) Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] The Murder Trial That Never Ends: Amanda Knox Remains in Seattle as Italian Court Begins DeliberationsPosted: January 30, 2014
FLORENCE, Italy (AP) — An appeals court in Florence began deliberations Thursday in the third murder trial of U.S. student Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend as the star defendant waited far away on a separate continent.
2nd Murder Trial 3rd Murder Trial
Knox’s defense team gave their last round of rebuttals, ending four months of arguments in Knox’s and Raffaele Sollecito‘s third trial for the 2007 murder of her British roommate in the Italian university town of Perugia.
Knox’s lawyer Carlo Dalla Vedova told the court he was “serene” about the verdict because he believes the only conclusion from the files is “the innocence of Amanda Knox.”
“It is not possible to convict a person because it is probably that she is guilty,” Dalla Vedova said. “The penal code does not foresee probability. It foresees certainty.”
Dalla Vedova evoked Dante, noting that the Florentine writer reserved the lower circle of hell for those who betrayed trust, as he asserted that police had done in Knox’s case when they held her overnight for questioning without representation and without advising her that she was a suspect in Meredith Kercher’s murder.
Presiding Judge Alessandro Nencini said the court would deliberate Thursday for at least seven hours.
Martin Gayford writes: On 14 February 1564, a young Florentine living in Rome named Tiberio Calcagni heard rumours that Michelangelo Buonarroti was gravely ill. Immediately, he made his way to the great man’s home in the street of Macel de’ Corvi near Trajan’s Column and the church of Santa Maria di Loreto. When he got there he found the artist outside, wandering around in the rain. Calcagni remonstrated with him. “What do you want me to do?” Michelangelo answered. “I am ill and can find no rest anywhere.”
Somehow Calcagni persuaded him to go indoors but he was alarmed by what he saw. Later in the day, he wrote to Lionardo Buonarroti, Michelangelo’s nephew, in Florence. “The uncertainty of his speech togetherwith his look and the colour of his face makes me concerned for his life. The end may not come just now, but I fear it cannot be far away.” On that damp Monday, Michelangelo was three weeks short of his 89th birthday, a great age in any era and a remarkable one for the mid-16th century.
Later on, Michelangelo sent for other friends. He asked one of these, an artist known as Daniele da Volterra, to write a letter to Lionardo. Without quite saying that Michelangelo was dying, Daniele said it would be desirable for him to come to Rome as soon as he could. This letter was signed by Daniele and also underneath by Michelangelo himself: a weak, straggling signature, the last he ever wrote.
Linda Byron reports: For many college kids, standing out in the crowd is something to strive for — to be a star athlete, a student government leader, or even the host of the craziest parties.
But after four years in a jail in Italy, Amanda Knox would be just fine if she could blend into the crowd at the University of Washington — and so far, she tells KING 5‘s Linda Byron, her fellow students and instructors are just fine with that. [Photo Gallery]
“I don’t look at people and think, ‘You’re going to be mean to me.’ In fact, most people are very nice,” Knox said of what it’s like to be back on campus. “I’m not hiding who I am. I’m not running around in a disguise.”
Stewart Patrick writes: Of all the writers in the “realist” canon—from Thucydides and Hobbes to Morgenthau and Mearsheimer—it is Niccolo Machiavelli who retains the greatest capacity to shock. In 1513, banished from his beloved Florence, Machiavelli drafted his masterwork, The Prince. Five centuries later his primer on statecraft remains required if unsettling reading for practitioners and students of politics. Machiavelli’s originality—and the source of his enduring, if notorious, reputation—was his blatant rejection of traditional morality as a guide to political action, and his insistence that statecraft be based on a realistic view of corrupted human nature.
Although frequently damned as an amoral cynic—author of “a handbook for gangsters”, in Bertrand Russell’s words—Machiavelli in fact occupies a more complicated ethical terrain. His central claim is that politics has a moral logic of its own, at times requiring actions to preserve the state that might be regarded as reprehensible within polite society. There are times, in other words, when conventional ethics must be set aside for the pragmatic and expedient dictates of (what would later become known as) raison d’etat or “reasons of state”.
What made the Prince so daringly modern,as R.J.B. Walker writes, is that it “undermine[d] the universalistic conventions of his [Machiavelli’s] age, whether this is framed as a distinction between morality and politics” or “between two different but equally ultimate forms of morality.” This was a jarringly secular thesis to advance in the early sixteenth century. To be sure, the Catholic Church had grown vulnerable, with the rise of powerful states competing for power and widespread disgust at Papal corruption. Within four years, Martin Luther would post his 95 theses to the door of the Castle Church of Wittenburg, sparking the Reformation and ultimately the fragmentation of Western Christendom. And yet it is still striking that The Prince contains no mention of natural law or of the place of man in God’s Great Chain of Being, a common point of reference in Renaissance thinking Read the rest of this entry »