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Constantin Noica was one of the leading Romanian philosophers of the 20th Century
Constantin Noica, one of the leading Romanian philosophers of the 20th Century, was born in 1909 in Teleorman County, in the south of Romania, and died on December 4, 1987 in Sibiu.
He attended the School of Philosophy and Letters of the Bucharest University, where he graduated in 1931 with a paper on the German philosopher Immanuel Kant. He was drawn to the views of Romanian existentialism, whose main promoter was Nae Ionescu, one of Noica's professors.
In the 1930s, Noica was close to the "Criterion" philosophy society. In 1940, after a one-year residency in France, he returned to Romania to present his Ph.D. thesis in philosophy. That same year, he left for Berlin, to work with the Romanian-German Institute, and stayed there until 1944, when Romania left its alliance with Nazi Germany. During his stay in Germany, Noica attended Martin Heidegger's philosophy seminar.
After the war and after the communists seized power in Romania, in 1949 Noica was placed by the authorities of the time in a forced residence in Câmpulung-Muscel. In 1958 he was arrested, prosecuted and sentenced to 25 years of forced labour together with the other participants in the informal meetings of the so-called "Noica-Pillat group".
Released in 1964, he was employed by the Logic Centre of the Romanian Academy in Bucharest. This is where he became friends with acclaimed Romanian intellectuals like the philosophers Gabriel Liiceanu, Sorin Vieru, Andrei Pleșu, Andrei Cornea. In 1975 he moved to Păltiniș, a mountain resort 15 km from the city of Sibiu, where he received the visits of those seeking answers to the philosophical questions of the time.
Noica's work comprises 32 volumes of philosophy, literary and art criticism, journalism articles, of which 20 published during his lifetime and 12 after his death.
The philosopher and essayist Andrei Pleșu was one of Noica's disciples. Pleșu made it quite clear that he owes his intellectual growth to "the jailbirds", as the Romanian intellectual elite sent to prison by the communists were dubbed. One of the "jailbirds" was Constantin Noica.
Andrei Peşu: "I was lucky to get my training next to a number of jailbirds. They were of decisive help to me, they shaped me, they made me rebuild an intellectual continuity with the previous generations, and this was tremendously important for the young man that I was. I was lucky to meet early on Alexandru Paleologu, Sergiu Al-George, Remus Nicolescu, Teodor Enescu, I. D. Sârbu even, although not in his capacity as a teacher. As a student, I was colleagues with a gentleman 10 years my senior, who had graduated from the theology institute, had also served some time in prison, and now he was an art history freshman. His name was Marin Tarangul and I had a lot of respect for him, because he was a gentleman and he had an extraordinary library, for those times. One day he came to me and said, "Listen, there is someone writing for "România literară" now, you certainly didn't hear about it. His name is Constantin Noica. Read him, Marin said, to see what the true language of philosophy sounds like."
For Andrei Pleșu, meeting Noica's philosophy, and then meeting Noica himself, meant the opening of an new existential and cultural horizon.
Andrei Pleşu: "I read it, I was in awe, it was a completely different sound from what I had heard before. It so happened that I was studying English with a lady Meri Polihroniade, the widow of a right-wing professor who had died in prison, but whose second husband had served time in prison with Mr. Noica. And this is how I was able to get to Mr. Noica. He was living in Berceni, in a two-room flat in a new apartment building. He was quite properly dressed, I remember I was surprised with his elegance. After talking with him, together with Marin, he offered us 10 ancient Greek lessons. And he was also the one who told me, if you want to take up philosophy, you absolutely need German, so start learning the language. And he also gave me 3 books to read."
Constantin Noica remains a great name in Romanian 20th Century philosophy, not only thanks to his scholarly works and translations from ancient Greek philosophers, but also as a model of professionalism and academic integrity. (AMP)
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