A short description of Ţuţea's writings
"Philosophy is not a particular body of knowledge; it is the vigilance which does not let us forget the source of all knowledge" (Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Signs, "The Philosopher and Sociology")
Petre Ţuţea is a profound thinker, with a consistent philosophical outlook. Many have written about his work, but very few have thoroughly understood it. His books pressupose a constant effort of concentration and comprehension, as is always the case with philosophical thinking. Moreover, all of Ţuţea's writings are characterized by an unusual tension, manifested through his typical recurring invocations (as quotes) and substanti(viz)ations, i.e. the purposeful treatment of verbs as nouns, and descriptive sentences without verbs - and by formulations of rare stylistical beauty. Commentators who consequently write about his supposed "incoherence" or lack of "inspiration" and "value" do not understand the method and purpose of Ţuţea's philosophy, which is reflected by his unusual style and his explicit rejection of systems.
As a matter of fact, what we call "philosophy", like love, is a multitude of individual, unitary acts (i.e. philosophies, or styles of philosophizing), even when their acknowledged purpose is the same. Creators of philosophical systems bear a striking similarity to the forlorn admirers who attempt to conquer the object of their affection with expensive gifts. Without any doubt, any gift can make an impression, that will eventually fade away. The only sure "method" of living is to be openly available to those we love, to know them as much as possible. The purpose of philosophy is therefore knowledge of reality through participation.
Although he was neither a master nor a scholar, Petre Ţuţea did not come out of a cultural void, and left a rich legacy behind. He was blessed with good friends and intelligent partners in dialogue, who understood and appreciated him. One of them was the influential Nae Ionescu (Mircea Eliade's professor). In his generation, we have to mention Emil Cioran, Petre Pandrea and Oscar Lemnaru. In the infamous Aiud prison he met Marcel Petrişor, who later became a respected writer and essayist, and his closest friend. One of the distinguished young intellectuals who started to write during the relatively open cultural atmosphere of the late '60s described him as follows:
The specific characteristics of Petre Ţuţea's philosophy - first of all, an examplary stylistic integrity This preocupation for the strict determination of "thought as thinking" as Heidegger would say, is for the romanian philosopher the thrust of an advance into the substance of things. He is neither a seeker, because constant searching doesn't lead anywhere, nor an observer, since the eye, even in the service of a brilliant mind, is a source of error. The truth is given, but reason determines its content through an interplay of hypotheses offered by the various styles and systems of thought, i.e. it discriminates the right terms we should use to understand reality. This is the source of his fascinating substantival writing style, that gave so much trouble to superficial commentators, who lack a thorough philosophical education. Whole registers of defining terms, entire pages without verbs, an outstanding display of rigorous thinking that culminates in an optimistic vision of humankind. (Aurel-Dragoş Munteanu, A philosopher of nuances, Luceafărul, 1982)
Therefore, Petre Ţuţea is a philosopher p a r e x c e l l e n c e. An overview of his writings reveals an attempt to contemplate and evaluate history and man's place in nature. The major dimensions of this vision can be found in all of his projects, that culminated with Man - Treatise of Christian anthropology. First of all, Theatre as Seminar, presented in the Prologue, later developed in an essay titled The Styles of Theatre as Seminar contains a play called Common Events (1968), and two dialogues, Bios and Eros. Among other things, these dialogues show his preoccupation with avantgarde literature (for example, Marin Sorescu's poetry). The manifesto entitled The Philosophy of Nuances (1969) examines the relationships between philosophy, art and science in a historical framework.
In the new decade that started immediately after, Ţuţea wrote a few short portraits, followed by a dialogue-essay on European culture, titled Aurel-Dragoş Munteanu (1972). The same kind of preoccupation continued in the Prometheus manuscript and its continuation (1975-77), an overview of ancient and modern cultures, of which he wrote only the chapters on Chinese Spirituality and Indian Philosophy.
Around 1980, Ţuţea's "theologal" manner of thinking takes definite shape in Religious Reflections upon Human Knowledge, a book on Plato's philosophy. His portrait-essay of the well-known scholar Mircea Eliade belongs to the same late period. During the '80s, Ţuţea conceives the project of his Treatise of Christian Anthropology, of which he completes just two books in their entirety, Problems and Systems, and only part of Styles and Dogmas. This important project that would have contained an additional book, Sciences, described in letter to Cioran (< link) , has been the philosopher's main preoccupation during the last years of his life. The Treatise could be regarded as an unfinished attempt to deconstruct the assumptions behind Kant's three questions of philosophy, culminating with the fourth - which, as Ţuţea also emphasized, summarizes the other three: What can I know? What ought I to do? What may I hope? and finally, What is man? (Immanuel Kant, Logik, ein Handbuch zu Vorlesungen, zusammengestellt von Jäsche). The approach of Plato's Dialogues, and Ţuţea's Treatise is more organic, than Kant's architectonic, closely following the structure of the human soul and its rational, moral-spiritual and emotional dimensions, as they are reflected in all forms of culture: art, science, politics, religion and philosophy. A complete personality must acknowledge everything essentially human, and a Christian philosopher like Ţuţea cannot ignore divine presence and its role in human history and culture.
We are not going to enumerate all the writings found among the submenus. In time, we will quote from all of Ţuţea's known portraits, essays, dialogues and books, and some of his articles, even though his published articles are not as relevant from a philosophical point of view. Finally, a few amazing fragments from his much-quoted interviews. Some documents and illustrations can be found in the Archive, and essays and commentaries on Ţuţea's philosophy will be added soon to the References and Links sections. We have also started a small Glossary of terms, insisting on the style practiced by the great philosopher, in an attempt to clarify the numerous misunderstandings and confusions encountered in various articles and commentaries on Ţuţea's work.