Ieri ho pubblicato su Gli Stati Generali un pezzo che prende spunto da questa ricerca dell’Open Society European Policy Institute per trarre delle conclusioni sul tipo di visione della società italiana che hanno molti di noi e su una possibile alternativa, più aperta a ciò che è diverso da quello che percepiamo come normale.
Robert H. Frank, Success and Luck. Good Fortune and the Myth of Meritocracy. Princeton University Press, 2016
This morning I came across the comments section of an Italian online newspaper, under an article discussing Italy’s system of taxation and criteria of fiscal progression. One comment has struck me, one in which the author argued that he feels that a high rate of income tax is profoundly unjust.
As evidence, he mentioned his own experience: last year he spent 20 weeks travelling abroad for his company and worked hard, and at the end of the year he received a substantial (though unexpected) bonus. He ended up in a higher tax bracket and almost half of his bonus went to the tax office, despite his hard work and, allegedly, his good professional results. I suspect his disappointment is not unique.
Daniele Giglioli, Critica della vittima. Un esperimento con l’etica, Nottetempo, 2014.
“Perché lo dico io”: così si intitola uno dei paragrafi di Critica della vittima, un breve volumetto di Daniele Giglioli, docente di Letterature Comparate, pubblicato da Nottetempo nel 2014. E’ un frase che esemplifica sia l’atteggiamento dell’intellettuale escluso o che si presenta come tale, sia delle masse ai tempi del web 2.0. Non si possono mettere in discussione lo status di vittima, l’emarginazione sociale o culturale, il torto subito e l’assoluta rivendicazione che da questa ha origine.
Non è, questo, un libro che critica la vittima in sé o che si lancia solamente in una distinzione tra vittima reale e vittima presunta o immaginaria – come ricorda l’autore, «(d)alle vittime reali alle vittime immaginario il tragitto è lungo e accidentato» (p. 11). E’ piuttosto un testo che esamina un’antropologia e un’etica negative, che fondano su un’ingiustizia la propria potenza, la propria autorità, o semplicemente il proprio diritto a un’indiscutibile opinione, soddisfacendo così anche un certo desiderio di identità, di innocenza originaria (la vittima è innocente per definizione) e di una narrazione fondata sulla verità. Quest’etica negativa, così, richiede una riparazione dall’ingiustizia che non avverrà mai e che richiede uomini forti e soluzioni decise. Da qui, quindi, la crisi dell’analisi complessa, la ricerca di una soluzione semplice o semplicistica, del rifiuto della complessità in nome della parola incriticabile della vittima. Continue reading “Daniele Giglioli, Critica della vittima, 2014”
Descartes’ explanation of pain and motion
Between the two Philosophy buildings in Durham.
This morning I had my PhD progress review. I am writing this post in order to share some thoughts, because – of course – of a bit exhibitionism (otherwise I would keep these things for myself), and also because writing will help me to organize ideas and, perhaps, getting some feedback from readers (hello!).
A couple of things: my reviewers were a historian of ideas and a philosopher in the field of environmental ethics (can I mention them?). They had read a summary of my thesis and a timeline for completion. My thesis is on John Stuart Mill’s democratic theory and, if you could look at it, you would probably notice it starts from a quite general view (chapter II is currently titled «A note on utilitarian political philosophy») and then, eventually, it adopts a narrower and narrower focus on more and more specific topics: education, then democracy, then political representation, with a final turn on political ethics. The final chapter, though, has a sort of unexpected twist: I have been reading some of Zygmunt Bauman’s works lately, and at one point I thought they may fit into my thesis. The basic idea is that I want to theoretically ‘test’ Millian democracy, totally changing the social context and see how it could work and whether it could result strengthened or weakened.
Chapter VII is the final chapter of the thesis, showing my conclusions. I use Zygmunt Bauman’s theory of liquid modernity in order to ‘test’ Mill’s political and social philosophy in a XXI century scenario. I argue that, on one side, the weakening of a sort of common class sentiment and the possibility, over one’s life, to be in a different position in the social ladder, and the increasing power of multinational/supranational economic and/or financial powers, may somehow reduce the strength of Mill’s argument; on the other side, the ever-increasing availability of information – both in quantity and in quality – may help the role of the intellectuals and of the well-educated and foster their moral obligation in political participation – for which I make the case in chapter VI.
Another thing you should know is that, when I started my PhD in October 2010, my intention was mainly to make a contribution on the history of Mill’s political and philosophical ideas. Eventually, I thought that some aspects may be addressed more critically.
During our meeting, we have raised and discussed two points.
1) In the thesis summary, I mainly used verbs or expressions such us “deals with”, “shows”, “provides a description”, “discusses”, “presents” and so on. In my opinion, this reflects the genesis of my thesis. I have been suggested that it may be the case to rather use expressions – in the thesis – such as (I am copying from my notes, they may not exactly reflect the examples I have been told): “I argue that the way history of this ideas can be framed is this…”, “This is how I have been interpreting this…”, etcetera. The point was that I still can just expound on others’ views or just describe things in large sections of my thesis, but that I may also still argue and comment on the way I show these views. I think that in such a way I show I am aware of the literature and the way I use it (or not use it) is still a case I have to make and somehow justify: mere description does not imply neutrality. Furthermore, what I may really need in these circumstances is crafting an elevator pitch (thanks to the reviewer who let me know this expression) in order to shortly explain why I am writing this, why I am concluding this, why I am relying on this interpretation and so on. The direction I am heading for is important.
2) The final chapter may be a too big task for a single chapter and at this stage of my PhD (I am expected to submit by the end of September). One of my reviewers was under the impression that, actually, what I was planning could definitely be something one could research on during a postdoc, and not just in the short time of the very final stage of a PhD. I agree with him, and I have received some good suggestions: first, I should not give a definitive account (indeed, I want just to pick a couple of issues and use them to ‘test’ Mill): second, I should suggest the next direction I intend to go.
|Newcastle vs Liverpool in the 2010/2011 Premier League season|
This is a thing to which I have been giving some thought from time to time, but I have never been able to give it a proper structure – or even, sometimes, to consider it a serious reflexion, as it is related to football.
I have been wondering for a while whether there are any moral implications in the choice of a specific tactical system or not. It seems to me that catenaccio, for example, is a sort of generic, probably naïve, application of consequentialism: the final score is important, and we are using at their maximum the means we have to get it. It doesn’t matter if you have a specific talent, just do your best, and if you exceed or are too aggressive, the rules will punish you (red card!) – but always keep in your mind that victory is good, nothing else, and that what you do is good as long as it paves the way to final victory. Tiki-taka, instead, would stress he process through which you go before achieving what you want. You need to possess or have developed some individual and team features, some virtues to play tiki-taka and win.
What I’m trying to suggest here is that, perhaps, tactics in sports can be interpreted or described in terms of ethical choices, as tactical systems are a choice of the mores we use in order to achieve the Good (victory).
Do you think this may make sense?
Feel free to reply negatively, of course.
In his examination of John Stuart Mill’s thought on Europe in Mill’s works Bentham, On Liberty and Utilitarianism, Simon Glendinning has shown why, according to Mill, we are Europeans because we are not one. He also states that European greatness stems from cultural and national diversities across the continent and that the danger of stationariness (in Mill’s own words) comes from uniformity of thought. As a lesson for today, Glendinning argues that the European Union can be successful only if it preserves diversity and prevents intolerance.
However, through an investigation of what is probably Mill’s main work in the field of political theory, Considerations on Representative Government, we may find further hints on why European federalists should consider a plurality of nationalities as positive and how a proper federation should be built. (Read the full article on EUROPP)