Meditations on Freedom. Autonomy in the Mirror of Vulnerability, between Paranoia and Responsibility


Freedom and Equal Exchange among Differences


Conference: "Freedom and Equal Exchange among Differences"

Lecturer: Dr. Sarantis Thanopulos (Società Psicoanalitica Italiana, Naples)

Cycle: Eranos-Jung Lectures: "Meditations on Freedom. Autonomy in the Mirror of Vulnerability, between Paranoia and Responsibility"

Date: June 4, 2021, 6:30pm

Place: Auditorium, Monte Verità, Ascona and Zoom online streaming

Chairman: Prof. Fabio Merlini (Eranos Foundation, Ascona, and SFIVET, Lugano)

Discussion and aperitif

As part of the measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and on the basis of cantonal directives, a maximum of 33 listeners will be allowed in the Auditorium. The registrations will be accepted in chronological order of adhesion. Registration, to be done by email, is thus mandatory. Those who can not be present will still be able to follow the conference in real time via Zoom. The recording of the conference will then be available on the official YouTube channel of the Eranos Foundation.


Aristotle defined democracy as a political contract among citizens who are different from each other, but equal. He thus also gave a good definition of freedom. One is free only if she or he has the right to one's own diversity, difference. This also implies respect for the difference of others. Whoever overrides the difference of the other, cancelling his freedom, loses his own difference, which has remained without dialogue and has become a norm. The freedom of others is a condition of our freedom: he who exercises authoritarian power is his first slave. Political freedom and individual freedom are inseparable and both are founded on Eros. A child of poverty (Penia) and the ability to find openings (Poros), Eros does not own his object, but is resourceful in seeking it. Not being owners of what is desired allows us to remain desirous. Ownership debases the freedom of the desired object, makes it inert, manipulable, and kills the desire that is addressed to it. The poverty of desire is also the absence of calculation and vulnerability, exposure to the other that is openness to the world.


Sarantis Thanopulos is an Ordinary Member with Training functions of the Società Psicoanalitica Italiana (SPI), of which he has recently become President. He lives and works in Naples. He is a contributor to the newspaper il Manifesto with the weekly column "Verità Nascoste". His fields of clinical and theoretical interest are psychosis, the transgenerational transmission of psychic pain, the oneiric space of experience, Greek tragedy, the declinations of sexuality, the relationship between psychoanalysis and femininity, and the relationship between psychoanalysis and society. Among his publications, we mention L'eredità della tragedia (with A. Giannakoulas, Borla, 2006), Ipotesi Gay. Materiali per un confronto (with O. Pozzi, Borla, 2006), Lo spazio dell'interpretazione (Borla, 2009), Desiderio e Legge (with F. Ciaramelli, Mursia, 2016), Verità nascoste. Riflessioni inattuali sulla vita comune (Grenelle, 2016), Il desiderio che ama il lutto (Quodlibet, 2016), Il diavolo veste Isis. Lo straniero di casa nostra (Asterios, 2018), La solitudine della donna (Quodlibet, 2018), and the more recent La Città e le sue emozioni (ETS, 2019). He also edited Metapsicologia oggi (with O. Pozzi, Quaderni del Centro Napoletano di Psicoanalisi, 2005) and Psicoanalisi delle psicosi. Prospettive attuali (with R. Lombardi and L. Rinaldi, Raffaello Cortina, 2016).

The 2021 edition of the Eranos-Jung Lectures is dedicated to the topic, “Meditations on Freedom. Autonomy in the Mirror of Vulnerability, between Paranoia and Responsibility.” Abandoned to its sole desire for affirmation, freedom runs the risk of becoming an instrument of oppression. For this reason, freedom must be protected from itself. And the only way to do this is to associate the exercise of freedom with a sense of responsibility. Faced with our vulnerability, in the complication of the multiple crises to which we are exposed today (economic, health, ecological, interior...), we must learn to rethink the idea of freedom in the light of the obligations that make each of us a "being of relationships". Committing ourselves to this path means giving a chance to our unassailable fragility, so that it can consciously resist the temptation of paranoid behavior: a temptation, after all, always lurking, whose final outcome is tyranny.

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