Brooklyn Existentialism

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Brooklyn Existentialism.jpg

Brooklyn Existentialism


Immortalized by some of the greatest Hollywood films of the 20th Century, Italian Brooklyn became one of the icons of American culture. Brooklyn Existentialism shows that the culture of that time and place was more than just an icon. The oxymoronic combination of uprootedness and ethnic solidarity that were found in Brooklyn during the middle years of the 20th century provide an opening that takes the reader not just back to Italy, not just back to Europe, but back to the sources of philosophical realism that made Europe, Italy, and America possible in the first place. Brooklyn Existentialism is ethnophilosophy with a vengeance. It is a takeno-prisoners attack on the bad ideas which have corrupted the academy over the course of the last century combined with an equally frank discussion of the moral mischief these bad ideas have caused. Why Existentialism? Because existentialism derives from being and not thought. Because existentialism is a voice that describes the theme of human mortality and its counterpoint, moral imperfectability. Why Brooklyn? Because it is a particular place with a particular attitude, an attitude that can prove especially salutary to the inanities and mendacities that the dominant culture has imposed on all of us. Think of what Matthew Broderick learned about the politically correct America of his stepfather in The Freshman, you have some idea of how the brash and dismissive ridicule so common to Brooklyn is the best antidote to bad “ruling” ideas! In the end, it turns out that ethnophilosphy is not only not an oxymoron, it turns out to be the only philosophy worth doing. What were Socrates, Plato and Aristotle if not residents of an ethnic neighborhood, who became skeptical of the ruling ideas of their day and decided to do something about it by speaking out. DiClementi and Langiulli have provided the same service to humanity in our day and age.

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Brooklyn Existentialism: Voices from the Stoop explaining how Philosophical Realism can bring about the Restoration of Character, Intelligence and Taste by Arthur DiClementi and Nino Langiulli. Immortalized by Hollywood in the 20th century, Italian Brooklyn became an icon of American culture. Brooklyn Existentialism shows it was more than an icon: the oxymoronic combination of uprootedness and ethnic solidarity in mid 20th century Brooklyn takes us not just back to Italy, not just back to Europe, but back to the sources of philosophical realism that made Europe, Italy, and America possible. Brooklyn Existentialism is ethnophilosophy with a vengeance: a take-no-prisoners attack on the bad ideas that corrupted the academy and an equally frank discussion of the moral mischief those ideas caused. Ethnophilosphy is not an oxymoron, it is the only philosophy worth doing. What were Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle if not residents of an ethnic neighborhood who became skeptical of the ruling ideas of their day and decided to speak out?


“two St. Francis College Professors, Arthur DiClementi (Mathematics) and Nino Langiulli (Philosophy - Retired) place the blame squarely on some of the most famous thinkers in history.” 

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Brooklyn Existentialism combats the cultural shift towards selfishness and the end of common sense and explains how to restore character, intelligence and taste.” 

St. Francis College News.

Brooklyn Existentialism is not so much an expose of bad policies as a vade mecum for students who need an antidote to the bad ideas they will contract during their four over-priced years in college. In over a half-century in front of students, Langiulli and DiClementi have witnessed ‘The long march of radical democratization and the accompanying decline of manners in speech, courtesy, in behavior, and propriety in dress … together with the rise of vulgarity has led the seduced to imagine themselves as independent and unique.’ The main bad idea the authors confront is the primacy of knowing over being that has dethroned ontology or metaphysics and put epistemology, a dwarf in a king’s robes, in its place. Cut off from being, students wander through an intellectual world that is nothing more than a hall of mirrors. Constantly told that whatever they have to say is an opinion, the students succumb to sullen withdrawal when they realize that ultimately power is the ultimate criterion of which opinions matter. …  Existentialism, as Langiulli and DiClementi use the term, should not be confused with the school of nihilism advanced in France after World War II by people like Sartre and Camus, and popularized in the cafes of Greenwich Village. Just as Greenwich Village is the polar opposite of Brooklyn, so Langiulli and DiClementi’s existentialism is the opposite of Sartre’s. Theirs affirms the primacy of being over thought, whereas Sartre’s uses existence as a way to attack the notion of essence. Being, according to Langiulli and DiClementi, is above all else rooted, which means being rooted in a particular place, hence the Brooklyn part of the title. But that’s not all of it. Brooklyn, by which we mean ethnic Brooklyn from, let’s say, 1890 to 1990, … had a specific content because the largely Italian and Jewish ethnics who came from Southern and Eastern Europe to settle there did not cease to be who they were when they left Ellis Island. They carried with them the household gods of Sicily and Calabria, which could trace their lineage back to the cradle of classical civilization. What Langiulli and DiClementi call Brooklyn Existentialism is both particular and universal in the same way that ancient Athens was when Socrates, Plato and Aristotle lived there. … Brooklyn Existentialism is the mortal enemy of fads like ‘multiculturalism’ … In proposing Brooklyn Existentialism as the antidote to our educational and intellectual malaise, Langiulli and DiClementi deconstruct the deconstructors, exposing the innate ontological contradictions in statements like “we can’t be sure of anything,” and its more sophisticated variants. … Having been assigned their place in the vast machine known as education, Langiulli and DiClementi demur, opining ‘We just don’t know our place!’ That the WASP ruling class had a place assigned for Italian immigrants like Langiulli and DiClementi is a matter of the historical record.” 

E. Michael Jones, Culture Wars

“unbridled glee at saying exactly what they want. … for more adventuresome readers, the book is an acerbic delight. … The charm of this is that Arthur and Nino generally know what they are talking about. They have read a great deal, and not just in philosophy; and they happily sit on their Brooklyn stoop serving up their pithy judgments.”

Peter Wood, Academic Questions

“Aquinas with Attitude. Two Brooklyn wiseguys who happen to be college profs take on the perverse ideas that have infected modern culture. Brash, witty, and grounded.”

James G. Bruen, Jr., Culture Wars

“Brooklyn Existentialism offers an alternative, traditional outlook on life that opposes the current Culture of Death. … Brooklyn Existentialism challenges educational theory, calling it ideological manipulation … . DiClementi and Langiulli are unapologetically pro tradition because of the West's historic search for the truth. … Instead of spending the book examining the high-falutin' philosophy of [] theorists, the authors make practical connections to their Brooklyn neighborhood and therefore to everyday living. They condemn the current vulgarity and lack of manners, and see its roots in the philosophy of individualism and the need to accomplish great things in life. The result, when people don't know their limitations, is bitterness and a sense of victimhood. DiClementi and Langiulli offer a sense of tradition, family, and community instead.”

Brian Welter, theologia perennis