Learning outcomes of the course unit
By the end of the class the student will (in accordance with the Dublin indicators):
1. Read and master the basic vocabulary of anthropological and philosophical reflection on topics such as human personhood, animality and humanity, origin, structure, and diversity of cultures, technology and the transformation of the human being.
2. Apply the concepts learned in class on events and problems characterizing contemporary society.
3. Take a stance lucidly and on the basis of arguments on anthropological issues pertaining to the topics examined in class.
4. Converse and debate on the topics discussed in class making explicit references to the vocabulary and the argumentative strategies of the philosophical tradition.
5. Read and understanding autonomously complex philosophical texts on philosophical anthropology.
Course contents summary
Philosophical anthropology emerged as a tradition of thought in early twentieth century Germany. In the wake of a pluralization of disciplinary perspectives on the human being and parallel to the demise of religious and secular certainties, philosophical anthropology aimed at a renewal of fundamental questions about the human being with the aid of both scientific discoveries and specifically philosophical methods, such as phenomenology. The class will introduce students to the key figures and questions of philosophical anthropology with particular attention to the image of the human being delivered by the natural sciences and its limits, the difference and continuity between human and non-human animals, interpersonal relations in both its natural and cultural dimensions, the advent of technology and its impact on the transformation of the human being.
During the first part of the class we will introduce the discipline of philosophical anthropology by reference to classical figures such as Max Scheler and Ernst Cassirer. We will focus on the insufficiency of a naturalistic image of the human being and on the possibility to determine what makes humans unique within the natural universe. During the second part of the class we will discuss so-called "anthropological difference", i.e., the difference between human and non-human animals. The third part will be devoted to the nature of interpersonal relations and empathy, with a particular focus on issues in evolutionary psychology and the philosophy of intersubjectivity.
The examination program is as follows:
A. CHOOSE ONE OF THE FOLLOWING TWO BOOKS:
1) Max Scheler, La posizione dell'uomo nel cosmo (Franco Angeli: Milano 2000)
2) Ernst Cassirer, Saggio sull'uomo. Una introduzione alla filosofia della cultura umana (Armando Editore: Milano 1996)
B. THE FOLLOWING TWO BOOKS:
1) Michael Tomasello, Storia naturale della morale umana (Cortina: Milano 2016)
2) Michael Tomasello, Altruisti nati (Bollati Boringhieri: Milano 2010)
C. THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE:
Dan Zahavi, "Tu, io e noi: La condivisione delle esperienze emozionali" In: La Società degli individui 57/XIX (2006). Available on Elly.
Students are also expected to be familiar with the discussions and explanations held in class by listening to the recordings available on Elly.
Students who are not able to attend, as well as those who would like to get a more comprehensive perspective on philosophical anthropology may benefit from reading the following volume (which is, in any case, non mandatory):
1) Riccardo Martinelli, Uomo, natura, mondo. Il problema antropologico in filosofia. Bologna: Il Mulino 2004.
The class will include (1) frontal lectures devoted to the reading and interpretation of key texts; (2) discussion sessions focusing on current problems and concrete cases; (3) seminars featuring invited international scholars specializing on the topics under scrutiny.
Assessment methods and criteria
The oral or written examination (depending on the number of students) aims to verify knowledge of philosophical anthropology acquired through class attendance, the study of texts and bibliography, the ability to contextualize them in historical and philosophical tradition; the level of critical assimilation of conceptual contents; the property and the adequacy of linguistic expression; skills in autonomous argumentation.
Assessment criteria and assessment thresholds:
30 cum laude: Excellent, excellent solidity of knowledge, excellent expressive properties, excellent understanding of the concepts
30: Very good. Complete and adequate knowledge, well-articulated and correctly expressed
27-29: Good, satisfactory knowledge, essentially correct expression.
24-26: Fairly good knowledge, but not complete and not always correct.
22-23: Generally sufficient knowledge but superficial. Expression is often not appropriate and confused.
18-21: Sufficient. The expression and articulation of the speech show important gaps.
<18: insufficient knowledge or very incomplete, lack of guidance in discipline, expression seriously deficient. Exam failed.