Phenomenology and ontology of care (2020/2021)

Course code
Guido Cusinato
Teaching is organised as follows:
Unit Credits Academic sector Period Academic staff

Learning outcomes

The course of “Phenomenology and Ontology of Care” aims at providing advanced knowledge of theoretical philosophy, with particular attentions to the phenomenological discussion and ontology issues. The theme of care is assumed here as a key-category of contemporary age thanks to which it is possible to analyze and to problematize the understanding of what is existing.
Both modules will offer those conceptual, methodological and cultural elements capable of developing and increasing critical and argumentative skills as well as adequate linguistic competence in the matter. At the end of the course the student will have become familiar with the main advanced notions of theoretical philosophy and will be able to reflect on their mutual relations. In addition, the student is expected to have adequate knowledge of the texts, independent judgment and ability to master philosophical terminology. The course also aims to transmit the ability to critically establish connections between knowledge, even in an interdisciplinary form. These skills will allow the student to communicate, share and disseminate information, ideas, problems and solutions connected with the field of care, both with specialists and with non-specialists. Furthermore, also in view of the preparation of their degree thesis, the student will be encouraged to develop autonomously research paths.


Wesen und Formen der Sympathie (1913/23), one of the most important texts of twentieth-century philosophy, has been in recent years increasingly at the center of the international debate on the phenomenology of otherness and corporeity as well as on the philosophical foundations of psychiatry. In this work Scheler continues to develop the project of Bergson's Évolution créatrice (1907), aimed at rethinking philosophy with reference to categories of life, managing to open up new and unexpected perspectives to the phenomenology of emotional life, biosemiotics and the relationship between philosophy and psychiatry. The course aims to provide the indispensable and necessary bases for reading and understanding Wesen und Formen der Sympathie, a particularly complex text. To achieve this, in addition to an in-depth introduction to the text, a comparison will also be made with the original text in German to verify the correctness of the Italian translation of the central terms. Finally, the relevance of this text for the current phenomenological debate will be examined. The interpretations given by Scheler and Heidegger to Uexküll's text, Animal Environments, and Human Environments, will also be discussed. Scheler had already dealt with Uexküll’s biology since 1909 and in a much more detailed way so that he develops in Formalismus an alternative proposal to Kant's transcendental Aesthetics.
About Fear and Power 1. Baruch Spinoza, Etica, Bompiani, Milano 2007. 2. Gilles Deleuze, Che cosa può un corpo? Lezioni su Spinoza, Ombre corte, Verona 2007. 3. Michel Foucault, Preface for Gilles Deleuze – Félix Guattari, L’Anti-Edipo (american edition): 4. Andrea Cavalletti - Gianluca Solla, L'avanguardia dei nostri popoli, Cronopio, Napoli 2020. Students attending the classes will receive frontal lessons that involves the participation of students, which will address the texts in the form of a comment, an elaboration, an extension and a discussion of their content. The individual study of the texts will be also an important part of the preparation of the final exam. Meeting hours for students are scheduled during the whole academic year. Days and hours of the courses and of the meetings will be communicated in the teacher’s personal webpage. For students who will attend classes as well as for students not attending the classes, the contents of the textbooks, as well as the lessons and exercises held in the classroom, are part of the program. Any additional teaching materials will be reported by the end of the course and, where possible, made available on the online teaching platform. Students don't attending the course contact please the teacher to discuss during consultation hours about doubts and questions concerning their preparation for the exam.

Assessment methods and criteria

The next examinations are scheduled for January 18 and February 9, 2020. At the beginning the exams will take place in presence mode. Once the examinations in presence will be completed, we will continue with those via ZOOM, for which it may be necessary to continue in the following days. Those who wish to replace the oral examination with the discussion of a paper are instead invited to make an appointment directly with the lecturer at the time of delivery of the paper.

The video-recorded lessons, present on the Moodle platform, are an integral part of the program to be taken to the exam.

In order to pass the exam, students will have to demonstrate their skills of:
1) having an in-depth knowledge of the main specific themes developed during the course;
2) knowing how to develop a critical reflection, expressed in relevant and accurate language, on their theoretical implications.
The assessment of learning outcomes requires the oral exam aimed at verifying the level of knowledge of the texts in the program.

As an alternative, it is possible to conceive the oral examination as a discussion of a written paper. In this case, the theme of the paper must be agreed in advance with the lecturer. The paper must be about 20,000 characters long and submitted by email at least 7 days before the discussion as a file in Word format, named with the SURNAME and NAME of the student. The paper is to be conceived as an organized summary of the text parts in the program which have aroused the most interest. The final part of the paper is to be dedicated to a brief personal reflection a couple of pages long.

In order to pass the exam, students will show that: - they possess a deep knowledge of the main specific issues developed during the course; - they possess also the capacity to make an independent reflection on ethical implications of such issues, using a pertinent and appropriate language. The competence of all students, either those who attended the course or those who didn’t, will be valued through an oral examination about the specific topics and questions discussed during the classes. The final score will be expressed in /30s.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Jacob von Uexküll Ambienti animali e ambienti umani Quodlibet 2010
G. Cusinato Biosemiotica e psicopatologia dell'ordo amoris. In dialogo con Max Scheler FrancoAngeli 2018
Gilles Deleuze Cosa può un corpo? Lezioni su Spinoza ombre corte 2007
M. Scheler Essenza e forme della simpatia FrancoAngeli 2016
Baruch Spinoza Etica Bompiani 2007 9788845258985
Michel Foucault Introduzione alla vita non-fascista NET Editor 2012
A. Cavalletti - G.L. Solla L'avanguardia dei nostri popoli Cronopio 2020