Academic year
2022/2023 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
FM0179 (AF:376499 AR:211940)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
1st Term
Course year
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This course is part of the Master’s Degree of Philosophical Sciences and the inter-university Master’s Degree of Religious Studies. The objective of the course is to provide an overview of the main ethical and religious issues both from a theoretical point of view and, above all, from a historical point of view. Such an overview is crucial for the development of critical thinking and for understanding the theoretical reasons within the historical and social dimensions of the ethical and political challenges of modernity; as well as for a wise and thorough evaluation of religion. Particular attention is paid to an exhaustive reading and a critical analysis of the proposed philosophical works.
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.
Knowledge of the general frameworks of history of philosophy, moral philosophy, and philosophy of religions, acquired during the Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy basic courses.
Pascal or Voltaire

The controversial confrontation with Pascal's tragic thought accompanied Voltaire throughout his life. Over the centuries this hostile criticism has risen to a paradigm of Voltaire's lightness and optimism against Pascal's gloomy pessimism. But where did this contrast arise? What provokes Voltaire's irritated reaction is the "hateful light" under which man is represented in the “Thoughts”. Referring to Pascal, the Enlightenment philosopher writes: "It seems to me on the whole that the spirit in which M. Pascal wrote these Pensées was to show man in an odious light. He is determined to paint us all as wicked and miserable. He attacks human nature much as he attacked the Jesuits: he imputes to human nature that which is true only for some men; he eloquently insults the human race. I dare to take humanity’s part against this sublime misanthrope. I dare to affirm that we are neither so wicked nor so miserable as he claims".
The purpose of the course is to compare these two concepts of man, starting from Pascal's religious anthropology.
B. Pascal, "Frammenti", tr. it. di E. Balmas, Rizzoli, Milano 1983;
or alternatively:
B. Pascal, "Pensieri" Nuova edizione a cura di Philippe Sellier
secondo l’“ordine” pascaliano, tr. it. di B. Papasogli, Città Nuova, Roma 2016.

Voltaire, "Lettere inglesi" or "Lettere filosofiche". In particular the XXV letter (a translation of this letter will be provided by the teacher during the course).

The student who has not followed the lessons of the course must prepare for the exam by reading the following introduction to Pascal's though:

J. Mesnard, Sui “Pensieri” di Pascal, trad. it. di M. Vita Romeo, Morcelliana, Brescia 2011.
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: disabilita@unive.it.
Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 22/07/2022