The «Critical Journal of the History of Ideas», founded in 2009 by Andrea Tagliapietra and Sebastiano Ghisu, is an international journal of philosophy, with a six-monthly frequency, actively engaged in the fields of Cultural-philosophical studies and the History of ideas.
The editorial line is oriented towards an audience of scientific users whose interests are of a philosophical matrix but, because of the characteristic organization in thematic issues, the publication lends itself to being widely used as an instrument of precious cultural integration for scholars also interested in the literary, artistic, historical and anthropological disciplines.
The theoretical aim of the publication is to give a fundamental contribution to studies concerning the various symbolic forms of human action (art, politics, science, mythology, technology, language, etc.) analyzed through a philosophy capable of making use, such as his robust analytical background, the contribution of disciplines such as historical studies (History of philosophy, Social history, History of Art, History of Economics, History of mentalities), literary studies (with particular regard to Literary criticism and Comparative literature) and psychological and demo-ethno-anthropological studies. The object at the center of the analysis is therefore outlined as that unstable and protean historical-creative and ordering compound of human experience which is the idea captured in its constant metamorphosis of meaning.
The journal also avails itself of the advice of a prestigious international scientific committee as well as of an adequate number of anonymous referees, belonging to the national and international scientific community, who, on the basis of their expertise in the sector, are responsible for formulating an expert judgment regarding quality of the contributions sent by the aspiring authors. The "Giornale Critico" in fact makes use of a rigorous method of reviewing the writings received, the double blind peer review, and directs its editorial project through an ethical code ordered according to the standards indicated by the COPE (Committee on Publication Ethics) in the Code of Conduct and Best Practice Guidelines for Journal Editors (regarding the work of the journal's Co-editors, members of editorial staff and peer-reviewers).
2. Theoretical mission
The theoretical approach of the Journal looks at the program promoted by the members of the History of Ideas Club founded in 1922 by Arthur O. Lovejoy together with some of his close collaborators (George Boas, Gilbert Chinard). The purpose, futuristic for the time, was to concentrate research efforts on single ideas - understood by Lovejoy in the classic The Great Chain of Being (1936) as "persistent or recurrent dynamic units" in a more or less explicit way in cultural universe, leaving in the background the philosophical systems to which they pertained. The goal was to reconstruct the path of these formations as well as, of course, in the philosophical field, also in the history of art, religions, literary, scientific and socio-political fields.
In addition to keeping the American-based History of Ideas as methodological director, the Journal aims to intercept and place itself in the wake of the most recent research on the history of ideas that have arisen, in particular, in the Anglo-Saxon area (stimulated by scholars of the caliber of Peter Burke and Mark Bevir), American (Robert Darnton, Donald R. Kelley) and French areas (for example the recent L'Histoire des idées by Marc Angenot, published in 2014). Such research never ceases to testify, among other things, to the exponential increase of interest of the international scientific community in the History of Ideas.
As far as the strictly Italian panorama is concerned, the "Giornale Critico" is part of the study experience that a renowned publication such as "Intersezioni" inaugurated at the beginning of the 1980s and, in an attempt to enrich it, is accompanied by both the interpretative line promoted by the school of Paolo Rossi, and to that undertaken by the Lessico Intellettuale Europeo e Storia delle Idee (ILIESI) of the CNR having as its organ the review «Lexikon Philosophicum».
Of particular interest for the research conducted and promoted by the "Giornale Critico" is the study, as well as the thought systems of the great canonical authors - the so-called “classics” -, also of the concepts held by authors considered minor and widespread in the Weltanschauung of common sense. The History of Ideas has the task of investigating, in fact, as Lovejoy wrote, also on the “specific manifestations of ideas-unity in the collective thought of large groups of people, and not only [on] the doctrines of a small group of profound thinkers or eminent writers”. The "Giornale Critico di Storia delle Idee" therefore endeavors to link this traditional structure of the History of Anglo-American ideas with the perspective outlined by Michel Foucault in the Archeology of knowledge (1969) according to which it is necessary to draw the profile also, and above all, of "those shadowy philosophies that clutter up literature, art, science, law, morality and even the daily life of men", without failing to question obsolete or marginal sources such as "sub-literatures" and "almanacs" .
From a thematic and methodological point of view, then, the magazine does not fail to be inspired by that current, born within the twentieth-century historiographic revolution of the Annales School and alchemically intertwined with the History of material culture, which saw in Marc Bloch and Lucien Febvre its founders and which was brought to full maturity by authors such as Michel Vovelle, Carlo Ginsburg and Jacques Le Goff: the History of collective mentalities. It finds its interest and its character in focusing particular attention on those symbolic-cultural plexuses where the boundaries between learned and popular culture tend to blur and organize themselves in a circular and de-hierarchical manner, as the studies of Robert Darnton, Natalie Zemon Davis and Roger Chartier amply show. But also the aesthetic-iconological researches of the "Warburgian school" (Saxl, Klibansky, Panofsky), those of material history, conducted by scholars such as Wolfgang Schivelbusch, Alain Corbin and Piero Camporesi, the researches of Intellectual history and Anglo-Saxon cultural studies, they are rightly included in the magazine's “family album”.
Another cardinal reference of the "Giornale Critico", together with the Philosophie der symbolischen Formen of Cassirer, is obviously the History of concepts, a historical-philosophical orientation that arose in Germany in the 1950s around Erich Rothacker's Journal, the «Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte», in the wake of which intellectuals such as Werner Conze, Odo Marquard, Joachim Ritter, Reinhart Koselleck and Karlfried Gründer will operate. Begriffsgeschichte's approach is of great interest as it is able to fruitfully complete that of the American History of Ideas: if in fact the latter, as Lovejoy teaches, tended to favor the continuous and unfracted giving of the idea within culturally, the History of concepts rather values the multiple faults and discontinuities that that same idea is capable of producing (the metaphorological investigation of Hans Blumenberg, developed in the shadow of the «Archiv für Begriffsgeschichte», is particularly instructive in this regard).
In conclusion, the Journal, far from presenting itself as an expression of an academic research substantially internal to philosophy understood as a rigid scientific-disciplinary fence, intends to propose, through the tools of contamination and interdisciplinarity, a critical paradigm capable of probing the cultural fact without indulge in those ideological affiliations that often characterize the perspectives, even self-styled "critical" ones, of the philosophical approach.