Academic year
2022/2023 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
FT0497 (AF:357597 AR:203036)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Bachelor's Degree Programme
Educational sector code
4th Term
Course year
Go to Moodle page
The course is part of the Moral Philosophy subject field. Its objective is to enable students to acquire knowledge and to understand the historical development of Ethics, through a historical survey of some of the major figures and their teachings and through the reading and the commentary of their writings.
Regular attendance and diligent individual study will allow students to:
a. gain an in-depth knowledge of basic philosophical terminology and understand the texts in which it is used;
b. understand the discipline’s fundamental issues and paths both from a conceptual point of view and from a historical point of view, which means to study them intelligently, grasping their sense and articulation;
c. develop independent judgment for evaluating such issues;
d. be able to critically analyze the texts proposed by the teacher;
e. demonstrate good oral and written presentation skills, in order to be able to elaborate a philosophical argument using appropriate terms;
f. finally, because it is a moral discipline, students should be aware that this course is not aimed at mere acquisition of knowledge, but also at developing a philosophical practice, as was the case in antiquity. Therefore, the course focuses on the issue of the construction of the self in philosophy as a way of life and as a way of thinking.
The only prerequisite is to have a solid cultural foundation.
On the judgement of history: the myth of force, superior race and the banality of evil.

In some bold pages of "The Need for Roots: Prelude to a Declaration of Duties Towards Mankind", Simone Weil describes Adolf Hitler as a dreamy adolescent wandering about the streets of Vienna, poor, frustrated, hungry for greatness, wanting to go down in history. What inspired his dreams was the 'false' conception of greatness fueled by the culture of the society in which he lived, taught at school and university, instilled by the family through education, and embodied by the models held up as examples. In her highly lucid account, Weil asks whose fault it was if Hitler was unaware of another kind of greatness apart from that of crime. Weil openly accuses the kind of culture that promoted the values that inspired Hitler's actions, the historians who suspended any moral judgement when recounting the deeds of past victors, the philosophers who celebrated the cult of the superman and a superior race.
Thus, the first to be judged are those that feed the public ideas of greatness and the examples that illustrate this, in other words the intellectuals. Those who handle pens, writes Weil.
Exploring this judgement of history, the course will examine the cult of force, racism, totalitarianism and the banality of evil through the eyes of twentieth-century Jewish female thought.
In addition to the notes on the course, two of the following books should be studied, choosing two different authors.

Simone Weil, La prima radice. Preludio a una dichiarazione dei doveri verso l’essere umano, tr. it. di F. Fortini, con uno scritto di G. Gaeta, SE, Milano1990;
Simone Weil, Il libro del potere, di V. Abaterusso, a cura di M. Bonazzi, Chiarelletere, Milano 2016;
Simone Weil, Attesa di Dio, tr. it. di M. C. Sala, Adelphi, Milano 2008;
Hannah Arendt, La banalità del male. Eichmann a Gerusalemme, tr. it. di P. Bernardini, Feltrinelli, Milano 1992;
Etty Hillesum, Diario, tr. it. di C. Passanti e T. Montone, Adelphi, Milano 2012;
Etty Hillesum, Lettere 1941-1943, tr. it. di C. Passanti, T. Montone e A. Vigliani. Cura editoriale di R. Cazzola e di C. Di Palermo, Adelphi, Milano 2013.

Further reading:
Students who are not able to attend should also read:
Isabella Adinolfi (a cura di), Dopo la Shoah. Un nuovo inizio per il pensiero, Roma, Carocci, 2011.
Or alternatively:
Susan Neiman, Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Philosophy, Princeton University Press, Princeton - New Jersey 2002.
The evaluation will be based on a oral exam. The assessment will concern the knowledge and the clear exposition of themes and problems of the course.
The teaching is organized in a series of lectures.

Ca' Foscari applies Italian Law (Law 17/1999; Law 170/2010) regarding support services and accommodation available to students with disabilities. This includes students with mobility, visual, hearing and other disabilities (Law 17/1999), and specific learning impairments (Law 170/2010). If you have a disability or impairment that requires accommodations (i.e., alternate testing, readers, note takers or interpreters) please contact the Disability and Accessibility Offices in Student Services:

Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 21/07/2022