Metabasis N. 34
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Biopolitics and Imaginaries of Power: Past, Present, and Future Perspectives 2.

Biopolitics and Imaginaries of Power: Past, Present, and Future Perspectives 2.

November 2022 - Year XVII - Number 34

Political reflections

Observation, Surveillance and Control

Paolo Bellini

DOI: 10.7413/18281567239

The obsession with monitoring and control permeating contemporary civilization seems to be motivated by the need to mitigate the uneasiness of a time marked by constant social and technological changes. Surveillance and control fit well into Tocqueville's previously projected propensity to induce individuals to only indulge in the enjoyment of petty pleasures, in which Plato's definition of the concupiscible component of the soul predominates. In this context, the idea of freedom itself suffers from an anomalous compression, which this essay sets out to investigate.

On death in literary studies. Crisis of humanism, a theoretical or a human issue?

Corin Braga

DOI: 10.7413/18281567235

One of the most controversial and hotly debated concepts in contemporary literary theory is that of “crisis.” Philosophers and theorists speak about the “death of the author,” the “death of literature,” post-humanism and trans-humanism (which also imply, in a way, the “death of man”), and so on. However, these “alarmist” claims seem to point to internal changes and evolutions of paradigms and models rather than to the actual ends of domains and concepts. Moreover, they are also successful devices for drawing public attention and critical acclaim, for conferring prestige to their proponents. Engaging with Theodor Adorno’s dictum that “to write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric,” my point is that the latest global calamities of the pandemic and of the war in Ukraine demand a more moral use of the term “death.” The metaphorical and abstract grand-narrative of the “end of man” fades away when we are confronted with the tragic and concrete realities of people suffering and dying in horrible conditions. Without ignoring the failures of anthropocentrism and the valid criticisms concerning the attitude and position of the human species within the planetary ecosystem, this paper engages with the possibility of ideologically-driven ethics giving way to a “humanism” tout court (not new-, not after‑, not non-humanism), predicated on the imperative of caring about actual individuals in pain.

Machine-body and vitalist body. Reflections on the Western collective imaginary.

Alessandra Micol Caprioli

DOI: 10.7413/18281567240

Starting from the two great philosophical traditions on the theme of the body, the one of the Körper and the one of the Leib, which face the innovations introduced by the contemporary biotechnological knowledge, the paradigms of the machine-body and the vitalist body develop within the Western collective imaginary. This contribution aims to clarify the symbolic features that distinguish both archetypes and, in the light of the syncretism to which they give rise, to highlight any possible points of contact between two models of the body, generally thought as divergent, from a philosophical-political point of view.

Marc Bloch’s Rois thaumaturges and consensus building in the Middle ages: at the roots of the legitimacy of power

Andrea Germani

DOI: 10.7413/18281567234

In his work written in 1924 Les rois thaumaturges, Marc Bloch highlighted an important issue that contributes to our understanding of power and royalty in the Middle Ages. Scholars have been deepening research in the field since then, looking for the reasons behind the “royal touch” and for an eventual quest for legitimacy for those kings who strive to see their authority recognized. Should we reduce the touch to a mere strategy to gain consensus? Or should we look for deeper reasons by “questioning” the kings and their hypothetical belief in touch, along with the trust in their healing powers? It must be acknowledged that subjects were loyal to the body of the king first, and the body was the very center of the political realm throughout the Middle Ages. In this paper we are going to try to look for a different path analyzing Bloch’s findings and proposing research questions that should be taken into consideration in both studies on royalty in the Middle Ages, and on the origins of the legitimization of power.

Biopolitics and Inclusion: the Universal Design for Learning Perspective.

Nicoletta Guatelli

DOI: 10.7413/18281567226

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) represents an avant-garde conceptual and operational model to universally guarantee the right to a fully inclusive education system. In the context of education, for an effective full inclusion in school, both a theoretical and methodological change of perspective in approaching the issues of diversity and individual capacity are mandatory. From the confrontation with diversity – diversities – arise paradigms of political action (segregation, separation / integration and inclusion) which are declinable according to each type of diversity, with consequent implications regarding the protection of the fundamental individual rights, despite their disadvantage or diversity in relation to the so-called normality. School must support each student in his/her overall growing process and must offer the same services to each one according to personal needs. Besides mobilizing the educational potential of families and  communities – which is above all an action of social justice – is the prerequisite for a truly inclusive education system.

Inventing Biodiversity: a Nature to manage, surveil and protect.

Federica Riva

DOI: 10.7413/18281567231

“Biodiversity” is a neologism that has born in the late ‘80s from the interconnection between biological science and politics of environmental conservation and that has quickly spread to everyday language becoming a socially powerful concept. Referring to Foucaultian notions of “dispositive” and “biopolitics”, I analyse how the idea of biodiversity has worked in order to change the collective imaginary about nature and the perception of humans’ role in it.

The Covid-19 epidemic, a new stage of politics of life.

Jean-Jacques Wunenburger

DOI: 10.7413/18281567225

The question of biopower, brought up by Michel Foucault, does not only concern a historical stage in the development of neo-liberal political rationality, but concerns the very question of the essence of politics, which has generated various responses since Greek thought. The laws underpinning the Kallipolis, outlined by Plato, in fact represent an early biopolitical model, which extends and develops in modernity, enshrining the priority of public health and consequently implementing an ever tighter politicisation of life. The handling of the Covid-19 epidemic in Europe and around the world opens up a new picture of biopower, fostered by the current socio-economic conditions, which reveals in democratic societies an ultimate transformation of public health and medical anthropology with unexpected outcomes.

Philosophical Horizons

Gandhi’s non-violence: a concept with a variable geometry.

Claudio Giulio Anta

DOI: 10.7413/18281567236

Pacifist thinking has generally identified the concept of ahimsa (non-violence) as a sort of panacea. However, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi supported war on several occasions, although he morally condemned violence: indeed, in 1899 he took part in the Boer War alongside the English and in 1906 participated in an action aimed at quelling the Zulu revolt in Natal. Moreover, at two different times during the First World War when, in 1914 and in 1918, respectively, he was in England and in India, he urged his fellow countrymen to enlist in support of the King’s Army. The article examines the grounds on which Gandhi rejected the use of violence a priori, comparing them with those used to justify support for war; just think about the difference, in his thinking, between ‘non-violence as a creed’ and ‘non-violence as a policy’. Despite his extraordinary humanitarian inspiration, Gandhi was also a skilful politician capable of understanding, and taking advantage of, favourable opportunities for his people. From the 1960s, the theme of non-violence would be explored in depth by prestigious intellectuals such as Herbert Marcuse, Frantz Fanon, Keith Hancock and Malcolm X, who highlighted above all the weak points and, sometimes, the ineffectiveness of ahimsa.

Intimacy and distance among individuals. Systematics of duties in Johann Adam Bergk’s philosophical Jacobinism.

Vanda Fiorillo

DOI: 10.7413/18281567238

The theory of duties by Johann Adam Bergk, Kant’s Jacobin critic, arises within the “unpolitish” culture of the German Enlightment. Within this framework, the aim of this study is to analyze, more specifically, Bergk’s bipartition of duties in obligations to oneself and obligations to others, that he elaborates, referring to the analogous division we find in Kant’s “Metaphysics of Morals” and modifying it.

Power, authority, and the future of mankind rereading William Golding’s Lord of the flies.

Michele Olzi

DOI: 10.7413/18281567237

This paper aims to consider a series of politico-symbolic aspects in a specific politicized dystopia of the twentieth century: Lord of the Flies (1954) by William Golding (1911–1993). This analysis is paired with a brief overview of the relationship between utopian fictions and politics.

Plato banished Homer from his Republic and we will tolerate Moliere in ours? The role the theatre in Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s political theory.

Luca Daris

DOI: 10.7413/18281567241

The purpose of the contribution is to highlight the relevance the “The Letter on spectacles” which was written in response to the Geneva entry in the Encyclopedie and to contextualize it within the political theory of Jean Jacques Rousseau. The extreme importance of the Letter also lies in the accurate analysis proposed by the Genevan on the different specificities of comedy and tragedy but, above all, in the political results that such evaluations produce on the construction of a new community. In line with what was previously argued in the two Speeches and in preparation for the theories of Emilio and the Contract, the role of the state in the organization and control of intellectual property and leisure becomes central even at the risk of jeopardizing its artistic independence.

The jus-personalistic perspective as a symbolic-political limit to authority

Giuseppe Maria Ambrosio

DOI: 10.7413/18281567242

The article focuses on some analytical profiles concerning difference between the terms of “power” and “authority” as outlined by the Neapolitan philosopher Giuseppe Limone, focusing on the symbolic implications of the relationship between political power and legal right(s). Limone’s theories are also compared with those of some well-known authors (Hart, Kelsen, Rousseau, Dworkin) in order to brief-ly outline theoretical differences and similarities between juspersonalism and legal positivism; the sixth and final paragraph draws a possible operational – namely from a legal standpoint – implementation of personalism, here conceived as a hermeneutical tool, in order to ensure the protection of fundamental rights as stated in different sources of international and supranational Law.

Metabasis N. 34
digital edition

peer review

Each essay of this journal is reviewed by two anonymous referees and their comments are sent to the authors .

Evaluation Form

Editorial Criteria