The Italian Almanac


Wisdom in Modena

The wisdom, imagination and insight of philosophers past and present is to infuse Modena, as the central Italian city gears up for its famous philosophy festival. The three-day event, which pulled over 130,000 visitors in 2008, kicks off at 40 locations across Modena, and in the nearby towns of Carpi and Sassuolo.The central topic of this year`s festival is the relationship between the individual and the community, with nearly 200 events planned, most of which free.

The festival will include an array of different initiatives but the focal point will be a series of open, debating classes conducted by over 50 philosophers from around the world. Among those leading the classes are top Italian names, such as Roberto Esposito, Massimo Cacciari and Stefano Rodota`, as well as famous international thinkers, who account for around a third of the event`s special guests. France`s Jean-Luc Nancy, Spain`s Fernando Savater, Richard Sennett of the US, Norwegian Jon Elster, Israeli Avishai Margalit, Germany`s Bernhard Waldenfels and India`s Vandana Shiva are among those on the list.

In response to public demand, a new section has been added to the festival this year, devoted to introducing visitors to the central ideas of some of philosophy`s greatest names. Key texts by Jacques Derrida, Thomas Hobbes, Karl Marx, Hannah Arendt and Carl Schmitt are among those set for consideration. In addition to the main philosophical program, a host of collateral initiatives have been lined up, such as literature readings, theatre, cinema and music. Gourmands will also be catered to, with a series of ``philosophy meals`` at 50 restaurants and wine bars designed to incorporate and promote discussion on symbolic ideas into delicious local specialty menus.

Launched in 2000, the Philosophy Festival has been more successful than anyone imagined possible. Now in its ninth edition, the festival has also been a major cultural boost for Modena, a city more famous abroad for its balsamic vinegar, tortellini and the nearby Ferrari headquarters.