History of Contemporary Philosophy (p) (2019/2020)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Wanda Tommasi
Wanda Tommasi
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Sem. 1A dal Sep 23, 2019 al Oct 31, 2019.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The course aims to present the lines of development and the main currents of contemporary philosophy. The most general study is accompanied by the appropriate insights of the major figures of contemporary thought, also through the analysis of one or more of their fundamental works.


Simone Weil and Hannah Arendt against totalitarianism
The course aims to analyze the critique of totalitarianism in the thought of two twentieth-century authors: Simone Weil and Hannah Arendt. Weil defines totalitarianism as idolatry and counts an authentic religious inspiration. Arendt exposes in two successive texts a radical critique of totalitarian regimes: in The origins of totalitarianism he defines the latter as an ideology and identifies it with "radical evil". In The banality of evil, giving an account of the trial of the nazi criminal Eichmann, Arendt instead considers adherence to nazism as a "trivial evil", in which anyone can fall if he renounces to think for himself, for personal responsibility, and is incapable to put yourself in the point of view of others with his imagination. While Weil believes that totalitarianism is the re-proposition of authoritarian and dictatorial political forms already present in the past, Arendt instead thinks that totalitarianism is an unprecedented form of regime, which has no precedent in past history. In common between the two authors, however, there is the fact that both date back to the origin of violence in the history of the West, that is to say the Trojan war narrated by Homer in the Iliad. Weil explicitly refers to this war in the Iliad or the poem of strength. I believe that the theme, although historically linked to the period between the two wars and the Second World War, is still relevant today, because authoritarian forms of government can always recur, with respect to which it is good to be vigilant.

WEIL SIMONE, Sulla Germania totalitaria, Adelphi, Milano 1990
WEIL SIMONE, L’Iliade o il poema della forza, in La rivelazione greca, Adelphi, Milano 2014, pp. 31-64
ARENDT HANNAH, Le origini del totalitarismo, Comunità, Milano 1996
ARENDT HANNAH, La banalità del male. Eichmann a Gerusalemme, Feltrinelli, Milano 1995

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Arendt La banalità del male. Eichmann a Gerusalemme Feltrinelli 1995
Weil La rivelazione greca Adelphi 2014 Da portare all'esame solo il saggio "L'Iliade o il poema della forza", pp. 31-64
Arendt Le origini del totalitarismo Comunità 1996
Weil Sulla Germania totalitaria Adelphi 1990

Assessment methods and criteria

Evaluation method: oral exam. The vote will be expressed in thirtieths. The difference between attending and non-attending students will be taken into account.