James Wakefield
Cardiff University
In this article I examine the metaphysical foundations of Guido de Ruggiero’s liberalism and ask what these can tell us about his changing view of Giovanni Gentile's actualism, which was such an influence on de Ruggiero before the First World War. I argue that de Ruggiero’s ‘actualism’ was never the same as Gentile’s, but was drawn from the same intellectual sources; that the actualist conception of free and self-conscious agency runs through both versions of the doctrine, though interpreted in different ways; and finally that the contrasts between de Ruggiero’s and Gentile’s political allegiances result from something other than their differing interpretations of actualism, which serves, in the end, not so much as a theory as a set of basic principles, images and ideals that each philosopher tried to modify and match to the political circumstances in which he found himself.
Keywords idealism  Italian philosophy  liberalism  political theory
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