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The Great Inquisitor and the Little Grey Men: Two Ways of Thinking Political Domination

The Great Inquisitor and the Little Grey Men: Two Ways of Thinking Political Domination
93 Charles Street West, Room NF009
Time: Mar 20th, 3:00 pm End: Mar 20th, 5:00 pm
Interest Categories: Philosophy (UTSC), Philosophy (UTM), Philosophy (FAS), Italian Studies (FAS), Ethics, Critical Theory, Comparative Literature (FAS)
Talk by Simona Forti

The Department of Italian presents

The Great Inquisitor and the Little Grey Men: Two Ways of Thinking Political Domination

We are accustomed to thinking of domination as a malignant phenomenology of power: on the one hand an omnipotent subject, the bearer of coercion and violence, on the other a subject reduced to a mere object, without recourse against that violence. The same polarized view extends to the collective dimension: a cynical leader, versus the weak masses, utterly incapable of resistance.  

More than ever, we require a more complex perspective, which can draw a significant boost from linking some of the most unsettling insights on evil and power put forth by Hannah Arendt and Michel Foucault.  

Focusing on a comparison between Dostoevsky’s The Legend of the Great Inquisitor and Primo Levi’s last work, The Drowned and the Saved, powerfully illustrates the difference between two ways of thinking about domination. 

Simona Forti is an Italian philosopher and academic, whose main interests are in political philosophy and contemporary ethics. Simona Forti is widely recognized in Italy and abroad for her far-reaching studies on Hannah Arendt’s thought and the philosophical idea of Totalitarianism. In recent years she made important contributions to the debate on biopolitics by focusing on Nazi biopolitics of the souls and democratic biopolitics of the bodies. In her last volume, "New Demons: Rethinking Power and Evil Today," translated into English and published by Stanford University Press in 2015, she deals with the contemporary reshaping of the notion of Evil.

Lecture organized by Istituto Italiano di Cultura Toronto and Literature and Critical Theory - University of Toronto