Experimentalism and Phenomenology in Interwar Romania

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The term experimentalism (a Romanian form of existentialism) is associated in interwar Romania with Professor Nae Ionescu, the only professor ever to have founded a school of philosophy in Romania. Nae Ionescu, who took Hegel, Husserl, and Heidegger as models, is known for having educated the “young generation” in the 1930s, a generation which included more than thirty young Romanian intellectuals such as Emil Cioran, Constantin Noica, Mircea Eliade, Eugen Ionescu, Petre Comarnescu, and Mihail Sebastian. Experimentalism represents the philosophy of the “young generation.” But an important dimension of experimentalism is centered on its political connotation. Among all the intellectuals trained by Professor Nae Ionescu, only Constantin Noica continued his philosophical principles as well as the political. While Noica is also a genuine follower of Hegel, Noica’s philosophy is completed by his totalitarian ideas. Unlike Cioran, Noica never denied his anti-democratic and pro-legionarian ideas and never tried to flee the country when communism took over in 1944. This paper will focus on the political context in Europe, and more specifically in Romania, at the beginning of the 20th century, on the causes of experimentalism, on both its philosophical and political connotations, on the mission of the “young generation,” and on the philosophy of Nae Ionescu, as well as that of Constantin Noica.