When Spinoza famously posed the question ‘what can a body do?’, he (re-)introduced the body into philosophy and associated the body with power. This marked the beginning of a long tradition in which the body is treated as a proper object of philosophy, but only insofar as its (virile) effects on the world are concerned. The result is a mistrust of the vulnerable body, which is suspected of being brute, necessitated matter and is characterized by the absence of all form, of all power. When philosophers address it, they usually do so in order to ‘save’ it by highlighting its hidden, forgotten powers. How can one get out of this impasse and think of a body without starting from the question of how effective its hold is on the world? Estelle Ferrarese will try to answer this question by reflecting on the phenomenon of sobbing.

Estelle Ferrarese is Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy at Picardie-Jules-Verne University in France. She is Senior Member of the Institut Universitaire de France. She has been Visiting Professor at the New School for Social Research in New York and a Humboldt Research Fellow at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, as well as a research fellow at the Centre Marc Bloch in Berlin. She is the author of several monographs: Le Marché de la Vertu (2023); Vulnerability and Critical Theory (2018), Adorno and the Fragility of Caring for Others (2020); Ethique et politique de l’espace public. Habermas et la discussion (2015). She has also published numerous articles on Critical Theory, forms of life, and vulnerability as a political category.

In English
Organized by

Natascia Tosel (ICI Berlin) and Valentina Moro (University of Verona / DePaul University)

An ICI Event in cooperation with Università di Verona. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement N° 101029336.

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Image Credit @ Claudia Peppel