Philosophical Anthropology (PREFIT - AREA C)
cod. 1007651

Academic year 2021/22
1° year of course - First semester
Academic discipline
Filosofia morale (M-FIL/03)
Ambito aggregato per crediti di sede
Type of training activity
36 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

By the end of the class the student will (in accordance with the Dublin indicators):

1. Read and master the basic vocabulary of anthropological and philosophical reflection on topics such as human personhood, animality and humanity, origin, structure, and diversity of cultures, technology and the transformation of the human being.
2. Apply the concepts learned in class on events and problems characterizing contemporary society.
3. Take a stance lucidly and on the basis of arguments on anthropological issues pertaining to the topics examined in class.
4. Converse and debate on the topics discussed in class making explicit references to the vocabulary and the argumentative strategies of the philosophical tradition.
5. Read and understanding autonomously complex philosophical texts on philosophical anthropology.



Course unit content

Philosophical anthropology emerged as a tradition of thought in early twentieth century Germany. In the wake of a pluralization of disciplinary perspectives on the human being and parallel to the demise of religious and secular certainties, philosophical anthropology aimed at a renewal of fundamental questions about the human being with the aid of both scientific discoveries and specifically philosophical methods, such as phenomenology. The class will introduce students to the key figures and questions of philosophical anthropology with particular attention to the image of the human being delivered by the natural sciences and its limits, the difference and continuity between human and non-human animals, interpersonal relations in both its natural and cultural dimensions, the advent of technology and its impact on the transformation of the human being.

Full programme

This class will be devoted to the dyad nature/culture, which is of fundamental importance for philosophical anthropology. In the first part of the class we will read French anthropologist Philippe Descola's classic book "Beyond nature and culture". In this book Descola questions the general validity of the dyad nature/culture with reference to a variety of empirical examples. In the second part of the class we will examine Edmund Husserl's lectures on nature and spirit (culture) and raise the question as to whether his attempt to ground this distinction in experience can withstand Descola's criticism.


The examination program is as follows:


1. Philippe Descola, Diversità di Natura - Diversità di Cultura (Book Time: Milano 2011)

2. Philippe Descola, Oltre Natura e Cultura (Raffaello Cortina: Milano 2021), PARTE I - Cap. 1, 2 e 3; Parte II - Cap. 5; Parte III - Cap. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

3. Edmund Husserl, Natura e spirito. Lezioni del semestre estivo 1927 (Aracne: Roma 2020)

Students are also expected to be familiar with the discussions and explanations held in class by listening to the recordings available on Elly.

Students who are not able to attend, as well as those who would like to get a more comprehensive perspective on philosophical anthropology may benefit from reading the following volume (which is, in any case, non mandatory):

1) Riccardo Martinelli, Uomo, natura, mondo. Il problema antropologico in filosofia. Bologna: Il Mulino 2004.

Students who are interested in deepening their understanding of the Husserlian approach to the topics addressed in class are encouraged to read the following book (non-mandatory):

1) Andrea Staiti, Husserl's Transcendental Phenomenology: Nature, Spirit, and Life (Cambridge University Press 2014)

Teaching methods

The class will include (1) frontal lectures devoted to the reading and interpretation of key texts; (2) discussion sessions focusing on current problems and concrete cases; (3) seminars featuring invited international scholars specializing on the topics under scrutiny.

Assessment methods and criteria

The oral or written examination (depending on the number of students) aims to verify knowledge of philosophical anthropology acquired through class attendance, the study of texts and bibliography, the ability to contextualize them in historical and philosophical tradition; the level of critical assimilation of conceptual contents; the property and the adequacy of linguistic expression; skills in autonomous argumentation.
Assessment criteria and assessment thresholds:
30 cum laude: Excellent, excellent solidity of knowledge, excellent expressive properties, excellent understanding of the concepts
30: Very good. Complete and adequate knowledge, well-articulated and correctly expressed
27-29: Good, satisfactory knowledge, essentially correct expression.
24-26: Fairly good knowledge, but not complete and not always correct.
22-23: Generally sufficient knowledge but superficial. Expression is often not appropriate and confused.
18-21: Sufficient. The expression and articulation of the speech show important gaps.
<18: insufficient knowledge or very incomplete, lack of guidance in discipline, expression seriously deficient. Exam failed.

Other information

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