The article considers the attitudes of the Church regarding homosexuality in the Middle Ages and the early Modern period, against the background of the anthropological concepts of those times. In the light of several important documents of those periods, it examines critically the interpretations most popular today in the area of gay-his- tory - that of the homophobia of the Church, that of early tolerance, that of the late development of the homosexual identity - and it demonstrates the unilateral nature (...) of these interpretations. Through a Thomistic reading of the Aristotelian texts on homosexuality, the article considers the significance of the categories of homosexual condition and homosexual person used in moral theology, introducing a reflection on the relationship between natural condition and sinfulness in the homosexual orientation. (shrink)
Nationalism and patriotism are two of the most powerful forces shaping world history. In this paperback edition of a highly successful, wide-ranging study, Maurizio Viroli shows exactly why patriotism is a political virtue and nationalism a political vice.
The debtor-creditor relation, which is at the heart of this book, sharpens mechanisms of exploitation and domination indiscriminately, since, in it, there is no distinction between workers and the unemployed, consumers and producers, working and non-working populations, between retirees and welfare recipients. They are all "debtors," guilty and responsible in the eyes of capital, which has become the Great, the Universal, Creditor.--from The Making of the Indebted Man Debt -- both public debt and private debt Has become a major concern (...) of economic and political leaders. In The Making of the Indebted Man, Maurizio Lazzarato shows that, far from being a threat to the capitalist economy, debt lies at the very core of the neoliberal project. Through a reading of Karl Marx's lesser-known youthful writings on John Mill, and a rereading of writings by Friedrich Nietzsche, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, and Michel Foucault, Lazzarato demonstrates that debt is above all a political construction, and that the creditor/debtor relation is the fundamental social relation of Western societies.Debt cannot be reduced to a simple economic mechanism, for it is also a technique of "public safety" through which individual and collective subjectivities are governed and controlled. Its aim is to minimize the uncertainty of the time and behavior of the governed. We are forever sinking further into debt to the State, to private insurance, and, on a more general level, to corporations. To insure that we honor our debts, we are at once encouraged and compelled to become the "entrepreneurs" of our lives, of our "human capital." In this way, our entire material, psychological, and affective horizon is upended and reconfigured. How do we extricate ourselves from this impossible situation? How do we escape the neoliberal condition of the indebted man? Lazzarato argues that we will have to recognize that there is no simple technical, economic, or financial solution. We must instead radically challenge the fundamental social relation structuring capitalism: the system of debt. (shrink)
Cognitive pragmatics is concerned with the mental processes involved in intentional communication. I discuss a few issues that may help clarify the relationship between this area and the broader cognitive science and the contribution that they give, or might give, to each other. Rather than dwelling on the many technicalities of the various theories of communication that have been advanced, I focus on the different conceptions of the nature and the architecture of the mind/brain that underlie them. My aims are, (...) first, to introduce and defend mentalist views of communication in general; second, to defend one such view, namely that communication is a cognitive competence, that is, a faculty, and the underlying idea that the architecture of the mind/brain is domain-specific; and, third, to review the (scarce) neuropsychological evidence that bears on these issues. (shrink)
This book studies a central but hitherto neglected aspect of Rousseau's political thought: the concept of social order and its implications for the ideal society which he envisages. The antithesis between order and disorder is a fundamental theme in Rousseau's work, and the author takes it as the basis for this study. In contrast with a widely held interpretation of Rousseau's philosophy, Professor Viroli argues that natural and political order are by no means the same for Rousseau. He explores the (...) differences and interrelations between the different types of order which Rousseau describes, and shows how the philosopher constructed his final doctrine of the just society, which can be based only on every citizen's voluntary and knowing acceptance of the social contract and on the promotion of virtue above ambition. The author also shows the extent of Rousseau's debt to the republican tradition, and above all to Machiavelli, and revises the image of Rousseau as a disciple of the natural-law school. (shrink)
We propose a mentalistic and nativist view of human early mental and social life and of the ontogeny of mindreading. We define the mental state of sharedness as the primitive, one-sided capability to take one's own mental states as mutually known to an i nteractant. We argue that this capability is an innate feature of the human mind, which the child uses to make a subjective sense of the world and of her actions. We argue that the child takes all (...) of her mental states as shared with her caregivers. This a llows her to interact with her caregivers in a mentalistic way from the very beginning and provides the grounds on which the later maturation of mindreading will build. As the latter process occurs, the child begins to understand the mental world in terms of differences between the mental states of different agents; subjectively, this also corresponds to the birth of privateness. ? (shrink)
This book presents a critical examination of Machiavelli's thought, combining an accessible, historically-informed account of his work with a reassessment of his central ideas and arguments. Viroli challenges the accepted interpretations of Machiavelli's work, insisting that his republicanism was based not on a commitment to virtue, greatness, and expansion, but to the ideal of civic life protected by the shield of fair laws. His detailed study of how Machiavelli composed The Prince offers a number of new interpretations and he further (...) contends that the most challenging--and underestimated--aspect of Machiavelli's thought is his philosophy of life, in particular his conceptions of love, women, irony, God, and the human condition. (shrink)
We outline a theory of human agency and communication and discuss the role that the capability to share (that is, intersubjectivity) plays in it. All the notions discussed are cast in a mentalistic and radically constructivist framework. We also introduce and discuss the relevant literature.
This research is concerned with the innate predispositions underlying human intentional communication. Human communication is currently defined as a circular and overt attempt to modify a partner's mental states. This requires each party involved to posse ss the ability to represent and understand the other's mental states, a capability which is commonly referred to as mindreading, or theory of mind (ToM). The relevant experimental literature agrees that no such capability is to be found in the human speci es at least (...) during the first year of life, and possibly later. This paper aims at advancing a solution to this theoretical problem. We propose to consider sharedness as the basis for intentional communication in the infant and to view it as a primitive, i nnate component of her cognitive architecture. Communication can then build upon the mental grounds that the infant takes as shared with her caregivers. We view this capability as a theory of mind in a weak sense.›. (shrink)
In this paper I first offer a systematic outline of a series of conceptual novelties in the life-sciences that have favoured, over the last three decades, the emergence of a more social view of biology. I focus in particular on three areas of investigation: (1) technical changes in evolutionary literature that have provoked a rethinking of the possibility of altruism, morality and prosocial behaviours in evolution; (2) changes in neuroscience, from an understanding of the brain as an isolated data processor (...) to the ultrasocial and multiply connected social brain of contemporary neuroscience; and (3) changes in molecular biology, from the view of the gene as an autonomous master of development to the ‘reactive genome’ of the new emerging field of molecular epigenetics. In the second section I reflect on the possible implications for the social sciences of this novel biosocial terrain and argue that the postgenomic language of extended epigenetic inheritance and blurring of the nature/nurture boundaries will be as provocative for neo-Darwinism as it is for the social sciences as we have known them. Signs of a new biosocial language are emerging in several social-science disciplines and this may represent an exciting theoretical novelty for twenty-first social theory. (shrink)
Chapter 1st of the book. This chapter explores the fundamental ambiguity of the concept of plasticity – between openness and determination, change and stabilization of forms. This pluralism of meanings is used to unpack different instantiations of corporeal plasticity across various epochs, starting from ancient and early modern medicine, particularly humouralism. A genealogical approach displaces the notion that plasticity is a unitary phenomenon, coming in the abstract, and illuminates the unequal distribution of different forms of plasticities across social, gender, and (...) ethnic groups. Taking a longer view of the plastic body as a ubiquitous belief in traditions predating and coexisting with modern medicine will help contextualize the seeming radicalism of today’s turn to permeability and the exceptionalism of Western findings. By highlighting the complex biopolitical usages of plasticity in the past, the chapter warns against simplistic appropriations of the term in contemporary body/world configurations driven by findings in neuroscience, epigenetics and microbiomics. (shrink)
In these seven letters, practising psychiatrist Vincenzo Di Nicola offers wisdom to a young therapist from 25 years of experience conducting relational therapy. Ranging from what to read and how to begin therapy, the letters cover therapeutic temperaments and technique, how to create a relational dialogue, the myths of individual psychology and the need for relational psychology, the evolution of therapy in the past century and when therapy is over-all the while looking forward to the relational practices of the coming (...) community. This book complements Di Nicola's model of working with families presented in A Stranger in the Family: Culture, Families, and Therapy (New York and London: W.W. Norton). -/- Awarded the prestigious Prix Camille-Laurin of the Association des médecins psychiatres du Québec - the Camille Laurin Prize of the Quebec Psychiatric Association. -/- From the Foreword: -/- "It's a beautiful idea, this project of turning to young people... The relational dialogue offers an important new direction of study to discover the deep basis of the therapeutic alliance, in order to understand the still too-little known phenomenon of 'change'... This is what you have brought together in your book: the search for the whole regarding the person and, at the same time, the network of primary affective relationships that we call the family and of social relationships ..." --from the Foreword by Maurizio Andolfi, M.D. Director of the Academy of Family Psychotherapy Professor of Psychology, University of Rome -/- Advance Review: -/- "Di Nicola is a true master of constructive inquiry, synthesis, and brilliant creativity. Memorable aphorisms leap from every page of this very wise, thoughtful, and beautifully written book in which the healing process of discovering and making meaning to help reorder the lives of troubled persons is clarified. I highly recommend this book for all who are or would be therapists!" --Armando Favazza, M.D., M.P.H. Emeritus Professor of Psychiatry University of Missouri-Columbia Author of Bodies Under Siege. (shrink)
The rise of molecular epigenetics over the last few years promises to bring the discourse about the sociality and susceptibility to environmental influences of the brain to an entirely new level. Epigenetics deals with molecular mechanisms such as gene expression, which may embed in the organism “memories” of social experiences and environmental exposures. These changes in gene expression may be transmitted across generations without changes in the DNA sequence. Epigenetics is the most advanced example of the new postgenomic and context-dependent (...) view of the gene that is making its way into contemporary biology. In my article I will use the current emergence of epigenetics and its link with neuroscience research as an example of the new, and in a way unprecedented sociality of contemporary biology. After a review of the most important developments of epigenetic research, and some of its links with neuroscience, in the second part I reflect on the novel challenges that epigenetics presents for the social sciences for a re-conceptualization of the link between the biological and the social in a postgenomic age. Although epigenetics remains a contested, hyped, and often uncritical terrain, I claim that especially when conceptualized in broader non-genecentric frameworks,. (shrink)
In this paper, I analyze the disruptive impact of Darwinian selectionism for the century-long tradition in which the environment had a direct causative role in shaping an organism’s traits. In the case of humans, the surrounding environment often determined not only the physical, but also the mental and moral features of individuals and whole populations. With its apparatus of indirect effects, random variations, and a much less harmonious view of nature and adaptation, Darwinian selectionism severed the deep imbrication of organism (...) and milieu posited by these traditional environmentalist models. This move had radical implications well beyond strictly biological debates. In my essay, I discuss the problematization of the moral idiom of environmentalism by William James and August Weismann who adopted a selectionist view of the development of mental faculties. These debates show the complex moral discourse associated with the environmentalist-selectionist dilemma. They also well illustrate how the moral reverberations of selectionism went well beyond the stereotyped associations with biological fatalism or passivity of the organism. Rereading them today may be helpful as a genealogical guide to the complex ethical quandaries unfolding in the current postgenomic scenario in which a revival of new environmentalist themes is taking place. (shrink)
Gold & Stoljar's characterization of the trivial doctrine and of its relationships with the radical one misses some differences that may be crucial. The radical doctrine can be read as a derivative of the computational version of functionalism that provides the backbone of current cognitive science and is fundamentally uninterested in biology: both doctrines are fundamentally wrong. The synthesis between neurobiology and psychology requires instead that minds be viewed as ontologically primitive, that is, as material properties of functioning bodies. G&S's (...) characterization of the trivial doctrine should therefore be correspondingly modified. (shrink)
We argue that the locomotion of organisms is better understood as a form of interaction with a subjective environment, rather than as a set of behaviors allegedly amenable to objective descriptions. An organism's interactions with its subjective environment are in turn understandable in terms of its cognitive architecture. We propose a large-scale classification of the possible types of cognitive architectures, giving a sketch of the subjective structure that each of them superimposes on space and of the relevant consequences on locomotion. (...) The classification comprises a main division between nonrepresentational and representational architectures and further subdivisions. (shrink)
En este artículo Maurizio Viroli muestra que aunque el patriotismo republicano tiene una dimensión cultural es, sobre todo, una pasión política basada en la experiencia de la ciudadanía. Patriotismo es el amor por una república libre y por su forma de vida: il vivere libero. En este sentido, el patriotismo es casi lo opuesto al nacionalismo. Para los nacionalistas el patriotismo es el amor por una libertad más modesta: la libertad de disfrutar a la sombra del trono, y en (...) paz, de la casita y el majuelo. Para los patriotas republicanos el amor por la patria es una pasión artificial, para los nacionalistas es natural. Como conclusión, Viroli sugiere que el patriotismo republicano es capaz de responder a los dilemas de la democracia moderna al ir más allá de la elección entre el mito del nacionalismo cívico y el horror del nacionalismo étnico. (shrink)
Biopower agregates no longer families distributed on land but mobile individuals. How can power count forces and take energy from them, if they differ from each other, if they are free? Power comes from beneath, from strategic relations between subjects.
Maurizio Ferraris | : L’une des réponses au paradoxe de la fiction consiste à dire que les émotions que nous éprouvons face aux oeuvres de fiction ne sont pas véritables. Mais qu’est-ce que pleurer ou rire pour de vrai ? En fait, presque toutes les formes de rire ou de larmes, et de réactions émotionnelles, sont compatibles avec la fiction, y compris celles qui sont des émotions vraies. Ce qui pose problème dans le paradoxe est la prémisse selon laquelle (...) nos croyances au sujet de la fiction doivent être vraies ou fausses. | : One of the answers to the paradox of fiction consists in claiming that the emotions that we feel about fictions are not genuine emotions. But what is it to laugh or to cry genuinely? In fact, almost all kinds of laughter and of cry are compatible with fictions, including genuine ones. What is wrong in the paradox of fiction is the premise according to which our beliefs about fictions have to be true or false. (shrink)
In this article I defend two theses. The first is that the centrality of recording in the social world is manifested through the production of documents, a phenomenon which has been present since the earliest phases of society and which has undergone an exponential growth through the technological developments of the last decades. The second is that the centrality of documents leads to a view of normativity according to which human beings are primarily passive receptors of rules manifested through documents. (...) We are not intentional producers of values. The latter, as I shall suggest in my conclusion, should be viewed as being ‘socially dependent’ rather than ‘socially constructed’. (shrink)
Abstract Current debates about patriotism and nationalism have so far failed adequately to take into account the historical meaning of republican patriotism. For classical and modern republican theorists, love of country is a charitable love of the republic and of its citizens. It is an attachment to the political values of republican liberty and to the culture based upon them. As such, it is a theoretical alternative to both civic and ethnic nationalism, and it is not at all confined within (...) the bygone experience of city?states. (shrink)
ABSTRACTIn this paper, I assume that, if knowledge does not refer to something other than itself, the words ‘subject’, ‘object’, ‘epistemology’, ‘ontology’, ‘knowledge’ and ‘reflection’ would be meaningless. I define the transcendental fallacy as involving faith in the existence of a spirit independent from matter, capable of producing representations and things. In terms of matter and memory, the fact that the past is repeated by matter is even more important than the fact that it is recalled by memory, because without (...) matter there would be no memory and no ability to remember. I remind the reader that only individuals exist and that the first character of individuals is that they are external with respect to others. Finally, I consider how epistemology should be considered in terms of Pentecostal meaning and emergent meaning: Pentecostal meaning follows the path Meaning → Expression → Inscription. Emergent meaning goes from Inscription → Expression → Meaning. (shrink)
In recent years, a proliferation of books about empathy, cooperation and pro-social behaviours (Brooks, 2011a) has significantly influenced the discourse of the life-sciences and reversed consolidated views of nature as a place only for competition and aggression. In this article I describe the recent contribution of three disciplines – moral psychology (Jonathan Haidt), primatology (Frans de Waal) and the neuroscience of morality – to the present transformation of biology and evolution into direct sources of moral phenomena, a process here named (...) the ‘moralization of biology’. I conclude by addressing the ambivalent status of this constellation of authors, for whom today ‘morality comes naturally’: I explore both the attractiveness of their message, and the problematic epistemological assumptions of their research programmes in the light of new discoveries in developmental and molecular biology. (shrink)
In this paper I address the conflict of interest (CoI) issue from a legal point of view at a European level. We will see that the regulatory framework that exists in Europe does state the need for the independence of ethics committee involved in authorisation of research and clinical trials. We will see that CoI is an element that has to be closely monitored at National and International level. Therefore, Member States and Newly Associated States do have to address CoI (...) in the authorisation process of research and clinical protocols of biomedicine. (shrink)
>Engelhardt’s After God gives a comprehensive perspective on the deepest and hardest issues in both moral philosophy and bioethics of our time. Although the book is an intelligent critique of contemporary moral philosophy in favor of a kind of traditionalism rooted in the perspective of the Orthodox Church, containing numerous forceful arguments, I ultimately disagree with Engelhardt on several main points stemming from his pessimistic view of our current culture and society. I have neither the pretense to open new perspectives, (...) nor to put forward new arguments, and I am aware that I might be wrong. I simply want to present a different position on the quest for meaning. (shrink)
Building on Bringsjord's (1992, 1994) and Searle's (1992) work, I take it for granted that computational systems cannot be conscious. In order to discuss the possibility that they might be able to pass refined versions of the Turing Test, I consider three possible relationships between consciousness and control systems in human-level adaptive agents.