Project Outputs:

1. “Aporetic State and Extended Emotions: the Shameful Recognition of Contradictions in the Socratic Elenchus”, Ethics & Politics, XVII, 2015(2), special issue on “The Legacy of Bernard Williams’s Shame and Necessity”, ed. A. Fussi, pp. 233-248.


The Socratic elenchus is a procedure which tests out the consistency of the interlocutors’ beliefs. To this end, it is necessary to carry out, alongside the renowned Socratic strategies (questioning, examples, definitions, etc.), also an emotional process acting inside reasoning and where shame has a leading role. The aporetic state is a good example of the collaboration of emotions and reasoning, growing from the shameful recognition of contradictions. It is a cognitive and emotional acknowledgement of errors that pushes the subject to transform his/her behaviour. The use of emotions is not merely a rhetorical strategy for argumentation; emotions are the elements that embody knowledge into a practice capable of transforming life into a good life thereby determining the rational way of living for flourishing.

The recognition of mistakes does not happen just “in the head” but is “extended” in the public environment that permits the generation of shame. This is the case, not only because shame is a “collective emotion” but because the audience is a necessary component of the catharsis.

My main thesis concerns what I call the “extended elenchus”, a process based on the extended nature of the aporetic state. The first section highlights the “necessity thesis”, or the role of emotions in reasoning; the second focuses on shame as an epistemic emotion and on the cognitive role played by the audience in the implementation of the “system of shame”; the third addresses the role of cathartic and zetetic aporia.

KEYWORDS Socrates, elenchus, aporetic state, shame, extended mind, extended emotions


2. Nous e phren: conoscenza intellettuale, razionalità discorsiva e saggezza erotica in Socrate e Platone”, Methodos, 16 | 2016, special issue on “The notion of Intelligence (nous-noein) in Ancient Greece”, edited by Fabio Stella.


Nous and phren: intellectual knowledge, reasoning, and erotic wisdom in Socrates and Plato.

The word nous, which is crucial for the epistemology of the Phaedo and the Republic, despite their evident differences, occurs rarely in the Socratic dialogues and in the testimonies of the first generation of Socratics. My claim is that the study of the notion of nous is of great interest for understanding the difference between the epistemologies of Socrates and Plato, and, in particular, that it is possible to catch their differences exactly throught the distinction between noein and phronein. If for Plato knowledge is intellectual, for Socrates it is practical; if the dialectics brings us to the vision of the ideas, the Socratic method of definitions brings us to aporia; if vision is crucial for the nous, listening and feeling are so for the phronesis.
After having clarified the use of the terminology of nous and phronesis in the tradition precedent and posterior to Socrates and Plato (ch. 1), I analyse the specificities of the two methods through the interpretations of some key passages belonging not only to Plato but also to Xenophon and Aristophanes. In chapter 2 I discuss the Socratic phronesis, underlying the cognitive valence of aporia as the “non-seeing” paths of escape in the elenchus (in contrast to the Platonic paradigm of knowledge as vision) and emphasizing the notion of listening to the daimonion as practical reasoning. In ch. 3 I treat the Platonic nous in particular regarding its relations with the dianoia in the dialectic process and with eros. Eros allows the successful attainment of knowledge, overcoming the Socratic and aporetic outcome and attaining the notion of knowledge as the enlightening of vision. In the conclusion I claim that Socrates pursued a negative outcome in order to bring his interlocutors face to face with the aporia and, therefore, that is a purely Platonic goal to wish to resolve the Socratic impasse. The novelty of Platonic  epistemology lies exactly in the invention of the intellectual object – the ideas – that realizes from an ontological point of view the Socratic notion of universal, and giving to the nous the central role in the epistemology, since it is the capacity to grasp these objects. Platonic epistrophe is a katharsis of the “second level” which wishes to resolve positively the Socratic purification of errors, as being that of the “first level”. The necessity of negation, “not seeing” and silence that belongs to the Socratic method acquires in Plato the character of a positive generation of knowledge through the overabundance of the nous.
Despite these important differences that should be underlined to grasp the specificities of the Socratic and Platonic methods, the role of eros in the acquisition of knowledge highlights a line of continuity between the two and, therefore, between phronesis and nous. Noetic contemplation represents, therefore, the Platonic passion for knowledge and his faith in its practical efficacy, exactly as does the Socratic erotic wisdom.

KEYWORDS : nous, phronesis, eros, Socrates, Plato, Socratic method, Plato’s epistemology.


3. (2016), Emotions”, in M. Peters (ed.), Encyclopedia of Educational Philosophy and Theory, Springer Singapore. DOI 10.1007/978-981-287-532-7_311-1


Cognitive science has shown that emotions are a sine qua non for cognition, and nowadays emotions are not anymore understood as irrational or “nonintellectual” feelings. The debate regarding the nature of emotions is still ongoing; however, it would be possible to provide a general definition of emotions as complex states of mind and body, which have an active power – they are not characterized only as receptivity – that impacts human’s intentionality towards the environment. The goal of this entry is to highlight the role of emotions in reasoning, focusing on their meaningfulness in learning environments and in those educational practices where emotions work together with rationality to enhance understanding and learning. Following the description of the three main ways to understand emotions in the contemporary philosophy of emotions, this entry will discuss the differences between the standard cognitivist approach and other approaches grounded in the embodied cognition in education.

KEYWORDS: Emotions, emotions in reasoning, emotions in education, emotions as judgments, emotions as perceptions, emotions as body feelings


4. (2016). (with Sara De Vido) “The Persuasive Force of Ancient and Contemporary Preambles. From Plato to International Law”, Rivista di Filosofia del diritto/Journal of Legal Studies, 1/2016, pp. 127-150.


The purpose of this article is to compare contemporary preambles, especially those to multilateral treaties, with the preambles theorized by Plato in the Laws. Our thesis is that preambles actually “persuade” states to implement treaty provisions and to justify the adoption of international legal instruments to their people, precisely as was argued by Plato in the Laws. In order to demonstrate this thesis, we will describe the main characteristics of Plato’s preambles and will provide textual evidence so as to point out their significance for an understanding of contemporary preambles. The article stresses the persuasive force that moral emotions may have if introduced in contemporary preambles.

KEYWORDS: Preambles, Plato, International Law, Persuasion, Rhetoric.


5. (2016). “Extended affectivity as the cognition of the primary intersubjectivity”, Phenomenology and Mind 11, special issue “Emotions, Normativity, and Social Life”, eds. Francesca Forlè and Sarah Songhorian, pp. 232-241.

I discuss the primordial affectivity approach (Colombetti 2014) and the extended emotions theory (Krueger 2014, Slaby 2014, Candiotto 2015, Carter et al. 2016) in order to propose a novel account of “extended affectivity” (EA) as the cognition of primary intersubjectivity (EACPI). I explain why the distributed cognition model is the more convenient to understand the collective and the subjective dimension of EA. The novelty of EACPI consists in the recognition of the protocognitive valence of the affectivity, referring to the work of Colwin Trevarthen (Trevarthen 1979; Trevarthen 2011), who has demonstrated the leading role of affectivity in the neonatal intersubjectivity in neurobiology.

KEYWORDS: affectivity, primary intersubjectivity, distributed cognition, extended emotions, enactivism.