The given word - from promise to wager

Maurizio Ferraris

The given word - from promise to wager

may sun 27, 2012 - 10.30 a.m.
teatro Bolognini - Via del Presto, 5
 admission euro 3.00

It is night at the castle of Elsinore. The king’s specter has told how things really went—his brother killed him to usurp the Danish throne and his wife betrayed him—then has taken leave from his son Hamlet. The latter has sworn not to forget and to avenge him, so his word is given. But what do we give when we give our word to others? A slightly paradoxical mechanism is at play: I give my word, but this word has value only inasmuch as it is no longer mine, because I have given it to someone else. It has become independent from my will since I cannot take it back, or else I will be a liar to say the least. The given word is therefore the foundation upon which we build our social realities, that is, all of those things—from promises to wagers, from money to marriage, from war to economic crises—from which the happiness or unhappiness of our lives depends. 

Maurizio Ferraris teaches Theoretical Philosophy at Turin University, where he directs the Labont (Ontology Laboratory). He is editor of the magazine Rivista di Estetica, associate editor of Critique and an editorial writer for the newspaper La Repubblica. He is Directeur d’études at the Collège International de Philosophie, a Fellow of the Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America and of the Alexander von Humboldt Stiftung Foundation, and Visiting Professor at the École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. He has written more than forty books translated in many languages, including: Storia dell’ermeneutica (Bompiani, 1988); Estetica razionale (Cortina, 1997); Dove sei? Ontologia del telefonino (Bompiani, 2005,) winner of the Filosofico Castiglioncello e Documentalità Prize; Perché è necessario lasciar tracce (Laterza, 2009); and Ricostruire la decostruzione (Bompiani, September 2010); Estetica razionale (Raffaello Cortina, 1997); Filosofia per dame (Guanda, 2011); Anima e iPad (Guanda, 2011); Documentalità. Perché è necessario lasciar tracce (Laterza, 2009); Manifesto del nuovo realismo (Laterza, 2012).