Remembering Elena Pulcini, philosopher of care

A few days ago Maurice Hamington sent a mail to the members of the Carework Network in which he informed us about the passing away of the Italian philosopher Elena Pulcini. Complications of Covid-19 caused her too early death, she was only 71. 

Elena Pulcini died at the Santa di Maria Nuova Hospital in Florence.
She studied at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris and obtained her doctorate at the University Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle, where she then began her academic career as a professor. Since 1991 she has been Professor of Social Philosophy at the University of Florence and recently retired last November 1st.

In 2013 this website published an interview with her. Her thinking about modern individualism from the perspective of the role of passions and the idea of difference made her a fellow-traveller of care ethicists. Ethics of care, she said, had given her a precious viewpoint from which to take her own work further. The human being’s constitutive vulnerability and people’s reciprocal dependence on each other were care ethical concepts she felt to be of great importance.

In her book Care of the World; fear, responsibility and justice in the global age (2012), Elena Pulcini proposes a philosophy of care in a global age. She discusses the distinguishing and opposing pathologies produced by globalization: unlimited individualism or self-obsession, manifested as (Promethean) omnipotence and (narcissistic) indifference, and endogamous communitarianism or an “us”-obsession that results in conflict and violence. A book, without doubt, of great importance to the ethics of care.

In 2019 she co-edited with Sophie Bourgault Emotions and Care: Interdisciplinary Perspectives. This sixth volume in the Ethics of Care Series published by Peeters Publishers, Louvain (B) explores the connections between emotions and care – understood here as a practice, an ethical ideal, and a moral disposition.

The editorial board of ethicsofcare.org is saddened and wishes her family and friends the strength to bear the loss caused by her death.

Maurice Hamington wrote the following words about Elena Pulcini in his mail: “She was a wonderful scholar and human being who will be truly missed.” He sent a link to the newspaper La Nazione. We have translated the text, following here:

Florence, April 10, 2021 – Philosopher Elena Pulcini, a scholar of passions in individual life and the social pathologies of modernity, died yesterday at the age of 71 from complications of Covid at the Santa di Maria Nuova Hospital in Florence. She taught social philosophy as a full professor at the Department of Philosophy, University of Florence, retired last November 1st.
The announcement of her death was made by her university, which remembers her as a “cultured and refined intellectual,” who was “an intelligent and sensitive protagonist of the cultural life and public debate of our country.”

She was born on March 10, 1950 in L’Aquila and graduated in History of Political Doctrines in 1974 at the University of Florence. She then studied at the École des Hautes Études and Sciences Sociales in Paris and obtained her doctorate at the University Paris III – Sorbonne Nouvelle, where she then began her academic career as a professor.

Since 1991 she has been a professor at the University of Florence. Pulcini has placed at the center of her research the theme of modern individualism and the forms of social ties, also developing reflections on the identity of the female subject, on the philosophy of globalization, up to the themes of care, vulnerability, and responsibility.

In the last decade she has passionately dedicated herself to the themes of the ecological crisis and global challenges, interweaving scientific rigor and civil commitment. In this context she proposed a philosophy of care for the global age.

Among her most recent works, some of which have been translated into the main European languages, are “The individual without passions. Modern Individualism and the Loss of the Social Bond” (2001), “The Power to Unite. Feminine, Desire, Care” (2003), “Caring for the World. Fear and Responsibility in the Global Age” (2009, first Philosophy Prize ‘Journey to Syracuse’), and “Between Care and Justice. Passions as a social resource” (2020), all published with Bollati Boringhieri.

About the author: Webteam

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