Hegel continues to be credited with the discovery of a "master-slave dialectic". Critics, however, have established that there was no "master-slave dialectic" but rather a Knecht, that is, servant or footman, with the latter a member of an abstract relationship of Herrschaft-Knechtschaft, which is central to Hegel's idea of the journey from dependence to independence. This "primitive scene" sets up a cycle for the whole paradigm, which is a reformulation of the victory over animal life and its appetites, and a (...) reformulation of the birth of nations. Hegel followed Aristotle here; those who risked their own life are given recognition as masters and those who chose to preserve it at the cost of their freedom, are servants. (shrink)
Delusion is an exceptional test case for the principal categories of common sense and philosophical thought such as ‘reason’, ‘truth’ and ‘reality’. Via an engagement with the legacy of Freud and the most remarkable results of 20th-century psychiatry, the author’s aim is to analyse the paradoxical forms of delusion and to shed light on the logics that underlie and orient its specific modalities of temporalization, conceptualization and argumentation.
From Machiavelli and Guicciardini to Gracián and Richelieu, secrecy is a defining element in the politics of reasons of state, in the art of simulation and dissimulation. These techniques were considered instrumental in order to procure the very survival of the state in situations of permanent emergency. From politics as a secret art centered on the prince’s cabinet, we move gradually along an historical and theoretical path. From English liberalism that places the parliament at the center of politics and the (...) French Enlightenment that exalted the capacity of reason to enlighten the mind and help humankind to leave the state of minority, we move toward democracy as public knowledge, as a ‘house of glass', exposed to the scrutiny and control of public opinion. It is nonetheless clear that neither the proto-liberal parliament nor the subsequent parliamentary democracies will ever become the ‘houses of glass' that democratic ideologies champion. This is true in the recent decades in which populism and demobilization of masses are changing the essence of democracy. (shrink)
The article proposes a kind of imaginary chess match in seven moves between memory and oblivion in which the construction of collective identity is at stake. Starting from the experience of unexpected changes, such as the collapse of political regimes, it aims to show how the failure to nourish established memory provokes oblivion. Memory and forgetting do not represent neutral territories, but actual battlefields in which identity – especially collective identity – is decided, molded, and legitimized. Moreover, every victorious power (...) or faith has always organized a kind of “vertical forgetting” in the sense of superimposing itself literally on old beliefs in the places where these traditionally held their celebrations. However, the defense of memory’s preciseness also has an ethical dimension, that of protecting a more conscious – and therefore, freer – identity. The final move of this game consists in understanding the conflicting complicity of the logic of forgetting and the logic of remembering. Together, they operate according to the formula of “neither with you nor without you.” And despite their mutual bitterness, forgetting is just as indispensable to memory as memory is to forgetting. (shrink)
In a period in Italy in which the fascist “Ethical State” gave way to a lesser god, the ethical party, culture was transformed into a sort of political pedagogy. Bobbio insisted on the fact that the “first task of intellectuals ought to be to prevent the monopoly of force from becoming the monopoly of truth.” Today the ethical parties have disappeared, along with political pedagogy. Bobbio was aware of the reasons that make participatory democracy difficult: In complex societies citizens are (...) poorly informed judges regarding their own interests; hidden powers condition the visible choices; pluralism borders on corporatism and even on a modern version of feudalism; and, lastly, where mass individualism prevails, perception of the general interest appears increasingly distant and difficult. Consequently, we need a different relationship between culture and politics. (shrink)
How can the European Union comprehend and receive millions of persons without losing its identity? An identity that, moreover, is itself multiple, expansive, clustered. The European Community has recently been enriched by twelve new members – ten eastern and central European and two Mediterranean states. This enlargement, on the one hand, will serve to heal a historical wound, closing the rift that divided the soil of Europe with the so-called “Iron Curtain”; on the other, it will open even more intense (...) relations with the Mediterranean. With its 470 million citizens and its extension from the Arctic Circle to Malta and from the Azores to Cyprus, the European Union now represents an economic and, potentially, a political power of the first order, also in virtue of its effort to strengthen within its borders that “meek” regime which is democracy, entering into more active relations with other parts of the world and shouldering responsibility for global crises and difficulties. (shrink)