Philosophy Today

Volume 60, Issue 1, Winter 2016

The Power of the Monstrous

Fabio Frosini
Pages 107-123

Absolute and Relative Perfection of the "Monsters"
Politics and History in Giacomo Leopardi

In Leopardi’s writings the idea of the monster/monstrous means a deviation from nature or a consequence of something that is considered monstrous because it belongs to, or reflects a taste or a set of criteria of evaluation belonging to another time or place. There is therefore both an absolute and a relative meaning of monster/monstrous, according to whether it refers to the real history of mankind, which progressively diverged from nature, or to the imaginary foundation of taste and judgement. Nonetheless, these two moments are intertwined and refer one to the other reciprocally. In fact, the real difference between humanity and nature is the source of every imagination about monstrosity. One might even say that the notion of the monster/monstrous is the chain that links the ‘real’ and the ‘imaginary’ because it is the result of a miscalculation that makes a mere partial viewpoint absolute.