Phenomenology and ontology of care - TEORIE DELL'ESPERIENZA AFFETTIVA (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Guido Cusinato
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Sem. 1A dal Sep 21, 2020 al Oct 31, 2020.

To show the organization of the course that includes this module, follow this link * Course organization

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

Theory of Affective Experience (Module I)
The teaching aims to provide the conceptual, methodological and cultural foundations to promote a phenomenologically oriented investigation of affective experience and the importance of emotional sharing for care-relationships, the process of individual formation and the foundation of social ontology by means of highlighting the convergence between theoretical philosophy and other disciplines (psychiatry, biosemiotic, biology). Comparison with reference texts and classroom discussions will be preparatory to the elaboration and presentation of a short written text. At the end of the teaching, students will have to demonstrate an adequate knowledge of the texts, autonomy of judgment and a good command of the philosophical terminology encountered.


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. On this theme, it is necessary to point out, especially for non-attending students, that the Introduction by Marco Mazzeo to the text of Uexküll is useful e.g. in relation to the distinction between "Umgebung" and "Umwelt", but it turns out to be incorrect, for it traces the distinction between "Welt" and "Umwelt" to Heidegger's course in 1929 (see Mazzeo, p. 18 and following), ignoring that this distinction had already been widely developed by Scheler before 1913; it is also incorrect to say that Heidegger introduced in 1929 Uexküll into the German philosophical debate: in reality, 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.

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
M. Scheler Essenza e forme della simpatia FrancoAngeli 2016

Assessment methods and criteria

The exam is in oral form and aims at verifying the adequate knowledge of the scheduled texts. In order to access the oral examination, students must submit a paper of 20000 characters. The paper must be previously agreed on with the professor during his office hours – after students have read the texts – and is to be submitted at least 7 days before the exam. The paper must be submitted via email, with a .doc document containing the student’s name, surname and identification number.