Politics and Theories of the Human (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Olivia Guaraldo
Olivia Guaraldo
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Other available courses
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Sem. 2A dal Feb 15, 2021 al Apr 1, 2021.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

Politics and Theories of the Human The course aims at an in-depth analysis - through an analytical readings of texts – of relevant themes in modern and contemporary political philosophy. Main focus of the analysis will be the relationship between modes of configuring subjectivity (of thinking the subject) and modes of political organization (of thinking the political). This investigation, which is at once political, epistemological and ontological, will put its focus on the relationship modern and contemporary philosophy establishes between concepts and experiences. Expected results will be: - capacity to carry out an analytical and critical reading of complex philosophical texts; - ability to individually elaborate an oral critical-argumentative parcours on the specific issues discussed; - ability to individually elaborate a written critical-argumentative text based on the mandatory readings, discussion in class, personal original elaboration; - conceptual ability to autonomously face philosophico-political problems and dilemmas of our present (i.e.: equality/difference, subjects/power, individual freedom/political order).


From polemos to the polis: atmospheres of democracy
The course will deal with the origin of politics in ancient Greece - a radically different origin with respect to the modern one - in its relation to the spatial dimension. Following some insights of historical anthropologists and urbanists, we will attempt a connection between the origin of politics and the 'empty space' of both the agora and the theatre. Such empty space, which in Homeric epic is also the space that is 'in the middle' of the warriors when they share the spoils of war, inside the polis it becomes the space of the agora, or the empty space (choros) of the theatre, a void in which human actions can be represented in order to reflect upon them.
Moving from this spatial intuition, we will ask if there is a link between poles and polis, and in which way was, as a form of relation among different people on one side (friend/enemy) and as aristocratic form of egalitarian collaboration on the other (the partition of the spoils),c an be considered the precedent of democratic politics. What kind of relation can subsist between the empty space in the middle and the symmetry at its borders? The course will analyze both ancient (Homer, Aeschylus, Herodotus, Thucydides) and contemporary sources (Weil, Arendt, Bespaloff) in order to investigate the issue of democracy understood not as a form of government but as an originally dimension of human relationality.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Arendt, Hannah Che cos'è la politica Einaudi 2006
Bespaloff, Rachel Dell'Iliade Adelphi 2018
Domenico Musti Demokratìa. Origini di un'idea (solo Introduzione) Laterza 1995
Vernant, Jean-Pierre Le origni del pensiero greco (1967) Feltrinelli 2011
Weil, Simone L'Iliade, poema della forza Farinaeditore 2016 esistono anche altre edizioni: Borla, Roma (in una edizione più apia intitolata La Grecia e le intuizioni precristiane); Asterios, Roma; Adelphi, Milano (in una raccolta più ampia intitolata La rivelazione greca)

Assessment methods and criteria

Final examination will consist in an oral discussion on the themes of the course. Students will be asked to start with a presentation of a topic individually chosen from those discussed in class (or present in the texts). After this individual presentation the student will be asked about the major theoretical problems dealt with during the course (class discussion and texts). Final evaluation will consider historical-philosophical and historical-political knowledge of the context treated in the course as well as ability to autonomously face philosophical-political dilemmas related to the reality of public life (public debates, public emergencies, public opinion).
The program is the same for attending and non-attending students.
Yet attending students will be asked to participate actively in the course through oral presentations in class of topics and texts relevant for the program: such presentations, together with active and regular attendance of classes, will constitute 40% of the final evaluation.