Senior Fellow: January–May 2021
Research Project: Spinoza’s “Sceptical Ethics” in Twentieth-Century Italian Philosophy
This project aims to investigate the premises which led some twentieth-century Italian thinkers to interpret Spinoza’s moral philosophy as “sceptical ethics.” In this respect, it will argue that a comparison between this interpretation of a “sceptical Spinoza” and the original rationality of his philosophical system may be an interesting key to a deeper comprehension of the core of Spinoza’s ethics. In addition, this comparison will provide an original viewpoint on the specific role played by emotions in shaping the foundations of Spinoza’s morality, in both its rational and its sceptical interpretation.
This research project will benefit from the rich and unexplored collection of writings on the value of scepsis within Spinoza’s moral philosophy that were drafted by lesser-known Italian philosophers, such as Giuseppe Rensi (1871–1941), Adriano Tilgher (1887–1941), and Ernesto Buonaiuti (1881–1946). These authors are mostly remembered for their opposition to Mussolini’s dictatorship, which led them to sign the Manifesto of the Anti-Fascist Intellectuals, but their unusual interpretation of Spinoza as a sceptical and unethical thinker is less well-known.
Michela Torbidoni studied philosophy at Sapienza Università di Roma, where she earned her PhD in practical philosophy with a thesis on Spinoza’s pantheism as mysticism within twentieth-century Italian neo-idealism. She was a fellow at the Institute for Jewish Philosophy and Religion in Hamburg in 2017–2019.