The meridian thought, an undoubtedly fascinating text, will remain as the book of the life and work of Franco Cassano, the sociologist who died on Tuesday 23 February at the age of 78 after having struggled for a long time with the disease. He was born in Ancona in 1943 and began his academic career in Messina and then became full professor at the University of Bari teaching Sociology of knowledge.
However, despite his career, Cassano’s profile not that of an academic but the other of a committed intellectual who believes he can influence society by proposing a new model of thought that he finds in the Mediterranean as a culture or civilization of the Measure.
When, in fact, in 1996 he left with Laterza The meridian thought – quickly translated into several languages, English, French and German but also into Japanese – the sociologist’s aim was twofold: on the one hand the critique of modernity and on the other the proposal of a new southernism in which the South (not only the South of Italy but the South itself in the world) had its own identity of thought and action that cannot be reduced to unique logics of development
Franco Cassano was at the University of Bari, together with Beppe Vacca and Biagio De Giovanni, among the greatest exponents of the so-called cole barisienne which criticized the PCI’s entrenchment on rearguard position. In more recent times, Cassano had founded and animated with other Bari intellectuals the Citt Plurale association, a fundamental civic laboratory for the construction of that political season called the “Apulian spring” which paved the way for Michele Emiliano’s political experiences as mayor of Bari and Nichi Vendola as governor of Puglia.
But these are strictly political aspects, while what is destined to survive is his idea of the South as a subject of thought in which the geographical and cultural character of the Mediterranean – the sea between the lands – could be that limit without which there is no capacity for critical judgment, no possibility of action. Themes that were taken up by the same sociologist also in his last work The humility of evil, of 2011, which proposed a reinterpretation of Dostoevsky’s great inquisitor to induce the left to leave behind a sort of ethical aristocracy or, more simply, of alleged moral superiority, in which the tradition of the former Communists is self-contained.
At stake, once again, in the beautiful prose of Cassano, who was a columnist for the Unit and for Avvenire, there was a Mediterranean dimension of the human that questions the hubris or the will to power which is typical of Modernity and which modern science itself must learn to know and prevent. The sense of meridian thought, net of a feeling of nostalgia, in this critique or deconstruction of the excesses of the modern.
February 23, 2021 (change February 23, 2021 | 15:44)