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


The Freedom of Others


Conference: "The Freedom of Others"

Lecturer: Prof. Gianfranco Pasquino (University of Bologna)

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

Date: October 15, 2021, 6:30pm

Place: Auditorium, Monte Verità, Ascona

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


Refreshment and meeting with the lecturer


As part of the measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic and on the basis of cantonal directives, a limited number of 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 will not be able to attend the lecture (held in Italian language) will still be able to follow the conference in real time through Zoom. The recording of the conference can be viewed on the official YouTube channel of the Eranos Foundation.


According to Aristotle, men (and women) are "political animals", i.e. they live in the polis. There, those men and women mutually recognize spaces of freedom, rights and duties, responsibilities. They create the indispensable institutions and rules. Sometimes, however, Hobbesianly, when the political order is lacking, homo homini lupus. They remain political "animals", but they put their coexistence and their freedoms in danger. The creation/imposition from above of the political order is not enough, since everything depends on the quality of that order and the freedoms that can be exercised. Freedom from the state and its interference is necessary, but it can, under certain conditions and in specific ways, be limited. Freedom of action and participation depends on criteria and opportunities, on rules that establish their scope and consequences, and on the exercise of responsibility according to the ethics outlined by Max Weber. Since the poet, John Donne, is right and captures the deepest sense of coexistence: no man is an island, the discourse on freedom must be conducted with reference to social relations. We will all be more responsible when we recognize the freedoms of others. We will be less vulnerable when we know how to associate to solve problems. We will all be freer when we are able to create social capital.


Gianfranco Pasquino, from Turin, is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Bologna. He graduated in Political Science with Norberto Bobbio and specialized in Comparative Politics with Giovanni Sartori. Among the founders of the "Rivista Italiana di Scienza Politica", he has been its Editor-in-Chief and Co-Director. He has also directed the magazine "il Mulino". He has been Visiting Professor at the School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C., at the University of California, Los Angeles, and at the Instituto Juan March in Madrid and Fulbright Distinguished Lecturer at the University of Chicago. The author of numerous volumes, he is particularly proud to have co-directed with Bobbio and Nicola Matteucci the Dizionario di Politica (2016, 4th edition). His most recent books are Italian Democracy. How It Works (Routledge, 2020), Minima Politica. Sei lezioni di democrazia (UTET, 2020), and Libertà inutile. Profilo ideologico dell’Italia repubblicana (UTET, 2021). Former President of the Italian Society of Political Science, he received four honorary degrees. From 1983 to 1992 and from 1994 to 1996, he was Senator of the Italian Republic. Since July 2005, he is Member of the Accademia dei Lincei.

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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