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


The Future We don't Want


Conference: "The Future We don't Want"

Speaker: Prof. Fabio Merlini (Eranos Foundation, Ascona, and Swiss Federal University for Vocational Education and Training SFUVET, Lugano)

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

Date: December 10, 2021, 6:30pm

Place: Auditorium, Monte Verità, Ascona

Chairman: Prof. Sandro Rusconi (Eranos Foundation, Ascona)


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.


Life in the era of the uncertain future manifests its inevitable depressive tone. It is as if time could no longer mobilize any hope. The sense is shortened on the present, deserting the long term and, in this way, finds itself without a horizon. It lives only on immediacy. The effects of this phenomenon are felt at every level: in politics, in culture, in consumption, and in relationships. Is there a way out? Knowing what you don't want to encounter is already a first step. Above all, if this knowledge turns its attention to the present, with a clear project of amendment. The future we do not want is the present to which we learn to say no, in its pseudo-political, pseudo-cultural, pseudo-relational, and hyper-consumerist manifestations. This means that only from the present is it possible to give birth to an emancipated image of the future, since it is the present itself that must be emancipated, here and now, from the regressive forces to which it gives itself up at the moment in which it sees no other prospect than the unilateral one of technological innovation.


Fabio Merlini, Regional Director of the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (SFIVET) in Lugano, Switlerland, serves since 2010 as the President of the Eranos Foundation. From 2012 to 2019, he has served as President of the Cultural Commission of the Canton of Ticino. In 1998, he was nominated privat-docent at the Université de Lausanne, Switzerland, where he taught Philosophy of Culture. Subsequently, from 1999 to 2003, he taught Systemic Philosophy and was appointed Professor of Epistemology of the Human Sciences at the Université de Lausanne. In 2003, he was nominated adjunct Professor of Communication Ethics at the Università degli Studi dell’Insubria in Varese, Italy, where he taught until 2011. From 1996 to 2000, he co-directed the ‘Groupe de Recherche sur l’Ontologie de l’Histoire’ at the Hussler Archives of the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, whose seminar works, Après la fin de l’histoire (1998), Historicité et spatialité (2001), and Une histoire de l’avenir (2004), were published by J. Vrin. His publications include Miseria dell’ecologia. Una risposta territoriale ai conflitti dello sviluppo (with C. Del Don and L. Bonoli, 2004), La comunicazione interrotta. Etica e politica nel tempo della “rete” (2004), L’efficienza insignificante. Saggio sul disorientamento (2009, translated into French as L’époque de la performance insignifiante. Réflexions sur la vie désorientée, 2011), Schizotopies : Essai sur l’espace de la mobilisation (2013, translated into Italian as Ubicumque. Saggio sul tempo e lo spazio della mobilitazione, 2015), L’architettura inefficiente (with L. Snozzi, 2014, translated into French as L’architecture inefficiente, 2016), Catastrofi dell’immediatezza (with S. Tagliagambe, 2016), and Triste esthétique. Essais sur les catastrophes de l’immédiateté (2018, published also in Italian as L’estetica triste. Seduzione e ipocrisia dell'innovazione, 2019). He also served as editor of the volumes Nuove tecnologie e nuove sensibilità. Comunicazione, identità, formazione (2005), Identità e alterità. Tredici esercizi di comprensione (written with E. Boldrini, 2006), Per una cultura della formazione al lavoro. Studi e analisi sulla crisi dell’identità professionale (with L. Bonoli, 2010), and Semi ad usum praesentis. Un incontro sul pensiero di Jean-Jacques Rousseau (2013). He is co-author of the Cahier de l’Herne dedicated to Friedrich Nietzsche on the 100th anniversary of his death (2000) and of the volume La philosophie au risque de la promesse (2004), along with J. Derrida, P. Ricoeur, M. Crépon, and other authors. Among his poetry works, we mention here Filo di perle. Poesie liriche in tre tempi (2015). For the "Eranos Classics" series, he recently co-edited Carl Gustav Jung’s Rebirth. Text and Notes of the Lecture held at Eranos in 1939 (with R. Bernardini, 2020).

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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