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Raffaello Cortina Editore

The Many Faces of Empathy

Empathic Experience in the Conflict Society

di Laura Boella

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 212

Empathy is the experience that brings us face to face with the existence of others, their uniqueness and diversity. It is by no means a sentiment of liking or sympathy. It does not produce similarity or connection, rather it gives rise to sudden, unexpected and varied movements towards new lines of thought and desires generated by the meeting of twohuman beings. The differences in the quality of the relations brings to the forefront the modalities of the empathic experience, such as empathy without sympathy and negativeempathy that up till now have remained on the fringes of reflection. They are essential for identifying and defining the role of empathy in wider narrative, cultural and institutionalcontexts such as literary imagination and judicial matters.

Sound

The Auditory Experience and its Objects

di Elvira Di Bona, Vincenzo Santarcangelo

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 138

What are sounds? Should we interpret them as messengers carrying information that is crucial for recognizing the objects that surround us, or as evanescent entities that haveno relation whatsoever to these objects? We are bombarded by sounds of which we are not aware, so why do we immediately perceive their absence when there is total silence?How do we perceive sounds? Where are they? What is their temporal dimension? These are just a few of the questions to which the book provides an answer; it is an unprecedented introduction to a subject that will be of interest to specialists of the sector and the curious alike. Discovering what lies behind auditory perception reveals the fascination of a surprising sensorial modality that is the key to the mysterious world of sound and music.

Faceless Bodies

Giving Back Identity to the Victims of the Mediterranean

di Cristina Cattaneo

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 200

The body of a boy with a little boundle of earth from his homeland, Eritrea, in his pocket; the body of another, from Ghana, with his library card; a report card in Arabic and French thatsomeone had carefully sewn into the lining of a jacket, found on the remains of a child.These bodies are victims of the Mediterranean, victims who met their death on the run-down vessels that cross the sea in an attempt to reach Italy, bodies that explain how it is possible to “die of hope”. Many are even denied an identity.This humanitarian emergency of migrants crossing the Mediterranean has returned to the European shores thousands of bodies, more than half of these have not been identified.Written from the personal point of view of a forensic pathologist, this book recounts the attempt to give a name to these anonymous victims, and explains how these bodies,by far more eloquent than the living, bear witness to the violence and desperation of our times.

The USSR

70 Years of Soviet Cultural History

di G. Piero Piretto

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 632

For approximately 70 years the Soviet Union was the source of strong passions and antipathies. Using a chronology that avoids the banality of division into decades, the book analyzes historical events, enterprises, campaigns both promotional and deterrent that harassed the citizens of the Soviets, with a particular focus on the common people’s perception of daily events.Bill-boards, magazines, cinema, architecture, art and news reports offer material to study propaganda, rhetoric, passions. The author guides the reader from the powerful investmentsof the early years to the euphoria-terror binomial that characterized the Stalinist era, through the sub-cultures of the young in the Fifties and Sixties to the first steps of rock in the Seventies, finally reaching the fateful Christmas of 1991 and the lowering of the red flag on the Kremlin.The book is richly illustrated with works of designers and artists of the period.

The Basic Reality and the Human Reality

di John R. Searle

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 220

There is a single overriding question in contemporary philosophy, and John Searle addresses it in this book. Given what we know from physics, chemistry, and the other natural sciences--that the universe consists entirely of mindless, meaningless physical particles in fields of force, and these are organized into systems--how do we account for the human reality of mind, meaning, consciousness, intentionality, society, science, aesthetics, morality, and all social organization, including money, property, government, and marriage?Our philosophical tradition evades the problem by postulating two worlds--the mental and the physical--and in some versions even three worlds, with the social world added on. Searle shows how we live in one world whose various higher-level features are natural consequences of the basic world. He begins with how consciousness can be caused by, and at the same time realized in, the brain as a higher level--or system--feature. Given consciousness, it is not difficult to get to intentionality, the property by which the mind is directed at objects and states of affairs typically apart from itself. With consciousness and intentionality, including collective intentionality, in place, we can explain language. And from an account of language we can see how humans use it to construct a social reality of money, nation states, private property, universities, and businesses. His approach avoids the traditional mistakes of materialism, dualism, and idealism.The Basic Reality and the Human Reality includes a discussion of free will, as well as notions of power and human rights.

The Natural History of Imperfection

di Telmo Pievani

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 220

In his Notebook B (September 1837), a young Charles Darwin wrote: “When one sees nipple on man’s breast, one does not say some use. So with useless wings under elytra of beetles, born from beetles with wings and modified. If simple creation, surely would have been born without them”. Where there is perfection, there is no history.Where there is perfection, everything has already happened. When we look at nature, our goal is not perfection. We should be interested in imperfections, because they are a promise of change, something is happening there and not everything has already been written. Evolution feeds on imperfections. Acclaimed Italian science writer and evolutionist Telmo Pievani, in the wake of the work of his masters like Stephen J. Gould and Luigi Luca Cavalli Sforza, traces the history and the role of imperfection in natural history, starting with the tiny imperfection into the primordial quantum vacuum that gave birth to our universe from an infinitesimal and random physical anomaly, from a contingent fluctuation.The story continues with the evolution of our planet, randomly in the right place at the right time, the origin of life, the Great Oxygenation Event, the Cambrian explosion and its oddities,the evolution of terrestrial tetrapods and their anatomical imperfect adjustments. And again, other frozen accidents on the scene, like the lucky evolution of mammals, the imperfectionsof bipedalism in our family tree, the risky adaptations of human language and neoteny. Homo sapiens is the son of successful imperfections. And now, such an imperfect species is the master of the ecological world. Our body, our brain, our DNA are repositories of imperfections, and therefore they are so creative systems. Evolution works on existing constrained material and it does what it can, not the best. Tinkering is the right metaphor, not optimal engineering. In this brilliant book, Lucrezio’s clinamen is revisited for the first time through the lenses of contemporary science. Imperfection, like diversity, is seen as our major ally, not enemy. But imperfection associated with power could be dangerous. The title of the final chapter is: Would you buy a used car from Homo sapiens?

Foliage

Autumnal Wanderings

di Duccio Demetrio

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 256

The book is motivated by the philosophical themes of sunset and fugacity, ascribable to deeply poetic existential metaphors. Not to be interpreted as an ode to melancholy, sadness for the imminent farewell from this earthly life, but rather to the desire to continue existing in different ways, inspired by the soft glow of the autumn light. The use of the term foliage encourages the reader to wander in search of autumnal leaves gradually assuming sun-kissed hues, and then to take the time to admire them.The pursuit of foliage, searching for the changing leaves in the woods, quietens fears of the arriving winter. Meandering through the woods in autumn, in valleys, on hillsides and mountainsides, offers moments of immense beauty and comfort.   A journey of discovery, searching for the light that transience too emanates, illustrated by works of art of the great masters, from Monet to Gauguin, from Van Gogh to Schiele, dedicated to autumn.

The Fragile Mind

The Alzheimer Enigma

di Arnaldo Benini

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 136

Alzheimer strikes fear into the heart even before its symptoms become apparent. It is feared because there is no known cure and the appearance of normal cognitive deficits are enough to cause worry that the disease is in the offing. But it is not true that Alzheimer is inevitable: more than 50% of people who are older than eighty are not affected by it.The book analyzes the normal decline of our cognitive faculties with the passage of time; it presents the general profile and progression of the disease and offers solidly grounded opinionson its nature, promising forms of prevention and palliative measures. In particular, it examines the only form of prevention that, according to convincing data, seems to work, and whichis recommended for a longer and better life: no tobacco, no or a little alcohol, a healthy diet, weight kept under control, physical activity. A third of dementia cases seem to be attributable to midlife hypertension, cardiovascular disturbances, midlife obesity, diabetes or depression. All these are potentially modificable risk factors. The book also deals with the ethical dilemmas in the care of dementia. Alzheimer is dramatic for those affected and for their families and is a threat to the survival of the species. To know what has been discovered up to now in this field contributes to rational dealing with a real danger.

The Architect of the Invisible

Or how does a chemist think

di Marco Malvaldi

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 220

What is the difference between heat and temperature? If you put your hand in an oven at 180 degrees or on a frying pan at the same temperature, it will be immediately clear to you. And why is it possible to read a newspaper if the combustion of paper is an energetically-favoured reaction? The reason is that, although the outcome is known, the speed of reaction to ordinary temperatures is very slow. Welcome to the fabulous world of chemistry where, with a wonderful storyteller like Marco Malvaldi, you will enjoy finding out what a molecule is, why the properties of an atom in a molecule change and why a molecule changes according to different environments. All this through analogies taken from economy and literature. But you will also understand why water is unique and why steel is supple. It will be clear to you that we should not be afraid of synthetic pesticides and that homeopathy is nonsense. Chemistry is this, it is the most efficient description of nature’s behaviour. So why does a chemist define himself as an architect? Because, while he/she considers strictly physical properties (such as charges and masses), he/she also considers aesthetic qualities (such as symmetry and colour). A chemist thinks in terms of numbers, but also in terms of beauty.

Against Sacrifice

Beyond the Sacrificial Phantasm

di Massimo Recalcati

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 140

Humans alone have a passion for sacrifice. They have not only sacrificed animals upon an altar as an offering to their Gods, but upon the same altar they have sacrificed their own life. That’s the case with the hypermoral man who sacrifices his desire, or with the martyr of terrorism, who gives his life for a cause. Sacrifice is an underlying phantasm that has spread across the Western world: living in sacrifice means obtaining an unlimited redemption (by God, by one’s own family, by the Other). In psychoanalysis, this is the paradoxical law of the Superego: sacrifice is not just renunciation of gratification. It is a phantasm stemming from the guilt-creating mindset of Christianity. Psychoanalysis, following the deepest message of Jesus, is committed to setting our lives free from the burden of sacrifice. This entails a different understanding of Law: man is not a slave of Law, because Law – as maintained by the Christian teachings – is made for man and not man for Law.

Mirroring Brains

How we Understand Others from the Inside

di Giacomo Rizzolatti, Corrado Sinigaglia

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 180

"Since their discovery in the mid-1990’s, mirror neurons have been one of the most intriguing and hotly debated topic in an amazing variety of disciplines, ranging from cognitive neuroscience and psychology to philosophy and anthropology. For this reason, we decided 10 years ago to write a book together in order to describe the functional properties of these apparently ‘magic’ neurons. The book had a great and long lasting success, with several translations in other languages. However, over the last few years a great deal of findings provided a much more detailed picture about the extent of mirror neurons and their properties. Indeed, mirror neurons have been found in very different species and in very different brain structures. And several studies suggested that they may function in a much more complex way than previously thought. This lead some scholars to advance doubts about the actual role of these neurons in cognition. Thus, a great challenge seems to urge anyone who is interested in the mirror story today, that is, providing a unitary account of the mirror mechanism and demonstrating whether and to what extent it might be involved in social cognition. Tackling this challenge is the main aim of this book. In doing this, we explore the properties of the mirror mechanism in both the action and emotion domains, by introducing and discussing some of the more recent and relevant findings. We also take in consideration what psychologists and psychiatrics variously labelled as vitality affects or forms.  Our main claim is that the mirror mechanism may provide an understanding of others’ actions, emotions and affects which can be mainly exploited just in ways that depend one’s own processes and representations involved in those actions, emotions and affects. What we think about others’ minds would be different if it were not for our abilities to represent our own actions, emotions and affects. The lack of these abilities may result in social impairment. This is the reason why we define the mirror-based understanding as an understanding from the inside. Such an understanding is not without consequences for our experiencing others. Indeed, it suggests that there are plausible aspects of phenomenal character that are common to experiences of our own and others’ actions, emotions and vitality forms, given that both experiences are shaped by the same processes and representations, or so we argue and provide evidence for".The Authors

Digital Populism

The Web and the New Right Wing in Times of Crisis

di Alessandro Dal Lago

publisher: Raffaello Cortina Editore

pages: 170

The world which we think is real is maybe not a Truman Show, a great digital illusion, a computer simulation sketched out by a superior intelligence, as some fun-loving or paranoid philosophers have held for years. However, there is no doubt that the sharp rise of the web as a global environment has transformed the political picture. On the one hand, the web creates a deceptive perception of an uncontrolled communication domain in which the citizens’ freedom may find  full right of expression. On the other hand, the web has enabled unscrupulous leaders to make direct contact with single citizens through social networks like Facebook or Twitter, or by organizing political consultations online. This is a way to manipulate them and to cultivate their illusion of being free. But in the triumphal era of web fake news, uncontrolled information, uncontrolled hoaxes, half-truths, content and context distortions, message transmission alterations are daily occurrences in visual, print and digital media.The central thesis of this book is that only the new authoritarian leaders take advantage of all that – Trump, Erdogan, Putin, Orban - or the aspirant leaders – Le Pen, Grillo, Salvini, Farage, Petry, Wilders. All of these people want to dismantle political parties and pursue a course of action toward a direct economic protectionismThis is the reason why the rise of the new right wing may be defined as digital populism. Populism, because the people is conceived as a herd to adapt to, and digital, because all this would simply be unthinkable without the almighty web.

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