Symposium for Living Philosophers: Adriana Cavarero


Photograph of Adriana Cavarero at Siena College (2015)

Philosophy has long been known as the study of the fundamental knowledge, reality and existence that reaches far beyond mere logic. It does not seem too far of a stretch in assuming that everyone, at some point in their lives and especially their collegiate careers, have been exposed to some type of philosophical literature or excerpt. However, while the majority of people have read something of philosophical background, there probably are not too many that have had the opportunity to hear one speak personally. Recently, Siena College was blessed with the opportunity to do just that. On September 24th, much of the Siena community gathered in the Maloney Great Room for the Symposium on Living Philosophers in order to listen to Adriana Cavarero speak out in her presentation entitled, “Horrorist Violence from the Holocaust to our Present”. As Adriana Cavaereo originates from Italy, this exciting and noble event marks the first in which the Symposium honored an international Philosopher.

While the title “Horrorist Violence from the Holocaust to our Present” is rather vague and ominous, the topic of conversation as Adriana started to speak became extremely clear. However, the way in which Adriana went about presenting her information and philosophical findings was anything but obvious. By tying in events from both the past and present simultaneously, Adriana was able to draw serious connections and prove to the listeners that history may not repeat itself, but it is certainly not learning much from its actions either. The main focal points that Adriana seem to touch upon included violence, the dehumanization of defenseless victims through drastic actions in the 20th and 21st century and the patterns of chaos and injustice repeated throughout history. From touching on events including the Holocaust to dissecting horrors such as viral hostage videos, Cavarero was able to make a few strong and valid points pertaining to the shame humans should share in the participation of such terrible events. The response to such horrors, in Cavarero’s opinion, manifests itself in a state of paralysis of each victim. Whether this paralysis restricts the victims’ emotions, speech, or body, it is the concept of this obstruction that constitutes this notion of “horrorism” as Cavarero puts it.

Cavarero, as those who attended this event know, was able to subtly provoke the audience into reflect on their own actions as well as the actions of the human race and, in a way, take on the shame that should have been present throughout history. She goes on to explain that this lack of shame is a direct result of technology and exposure, which ultimately end up normalizing the injustices currently occurring in society. Cavarero clearly draws a lot from the works of Hannah Arendt, William Shakespeare and Plato and has the incredible ability to implement all of these renowned philosophers into a single speech in a cohesive and organized way. Siena College was beyond honored to have someone as well versed as Adriana Cavarero come and speak to the student body and will be able to share in this great honor once more in the Spring Semester as she will be returning to give another lecture.