Rethinking Life

Italian Philosophy in Precarious Times

Edited by Silvia Benso

Subjects: Philosophy, Continental Philosophy, Italian Studies, History
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Italian Philosophy
Hardcover : 9781438488158, 250 pages, July 2022
Paperback : 9781438488165, 250 pages, January 2023

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Table of contents


Epidemics, Precariousness, and Vulnerability: Introductory Remarks toward a Rethinking of Life
Silvia Benso

Part I: Confronting Disaster

1. Cassandra's Details: Coronavirus and the Course of Globalization
Luisa Bonesio

2. Improvising Self-Expression in the Time of a Contingency that Has Eliminated Contingency
Alessandro Bertinetto

3. Out of the Choir: Bodies Inclined on the Playboy
Lorenzo Bernini

4. Metaphor as Illness? Life, War, and a Linguistic Pharmakon
Alberto Martinengo

Part II: Vulnerability, Care, and Responsibility

5. "The Lungs that We All Are": Rethinking Life in the Times of a Pandemic
Olivia Guaraldo

6. Necropolitics, Care, and the Common
Elia Zaru

7. Lacking Beings
Luca Illetterati

8. Vulnerable Existences
Caterina Resta

9. Life and Useless Suffering: Responsibility for Others and the Impossible Theodicy
Rita Fulco

Part III: Rethinking Life

10. Greek Zèn: Living Starting from the Origin
Alessandra Cislaghi

11. Life and the "Black Swan"
Enrica Lisciani-Petrini

12. What Finitude Does Not Say: Rethinking Life beyond Nihilism
Roberto Mancini

13. Writing Life: Biography, Autobiography, and the Remainder
Claudia Baracchi

14. With the Finitude of Life beyond the Phenomenon: Phenomenology, Hermeneutics, and a Metaphysics of the Finite
Ugo Perone


Fourteen Italian philosophers reflect on how the global experience of vulnerability and precariousness—of which the Covid-19 pandemic is but one example—compels us to rethink life and collective living.


This volume gathers fourteen contributions written by Italian philosophers within the context of the precariousness and vulnerability revealed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic compels us to rethink what is affected most by this global occurrence yet does not end with it—that is, life. Beyond the geographical, socio-political, and medical contexts in which the reflections originate, Rethinking Life is deeply utopian, presenting aspirations toward a different configuration of life and collective living centered on relational subjectivities, interconnectedness, interdependence, and, ultimately, solidarity. How does the pandemic—what it represents and exposes—call us to rethink our notion of life? How does an episode of morbidity affect a fuller understanding of life? Can such a hermeneutic shift be dared and sustained? The sobriety of the reflections yields elegant, incisive, and direct prose of profound effect and immediacy—and a captivating, lucid, and thought-provoking narrative.

Silvia Benso is Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She is the author and editor of many books, including coeditor (with Elvira Roncalli) of Contemporary Italian Women Philosophers: Stretching the Art of Thinking, also published by SUNY Press.


"This volume represents the best that philosophy has to offer the contemporary world: deeply probing, reflective responses to a world in crisis. The reader will find in these essays precisely the kind of original thought and sensitivity to present and future uncertainty demanded by a global pandemic. Most impressively, they will find a refusal to flee the vulnerability that is our human condition." — Diane Enns, Ryerson University

"An extraordinary, timely, provocative, and engrossing volume. Benso collects an exceptional range of Italian voices, all of whom are rooted in their own cultural points of reference yet widely conversant with global thought in a Continental idiom, as they confront philosophically an experience with which we are all grappling." — Jason M. Wirth, Seattle University