Democracy and the individual’s identity

1 Gustavo Zagrebelsky

Democracy and the individual’s identity

Free event
Friday 28 May 2010 5:30 pm
piazza del Duomo 3

Prof. Zagrebelsky will present to the audience a celebrated dialogue on the position of humans vis-à-vis their rulers.
It is the dialogue on human freedom between the Grand Inquisitor and Christ, which comprises the central chapter of The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The Inquisitor is the only one who talks; Christ listens silently - a questioning, penetrating silence. Readers can only hesitate in choosing between Christ, who has come to free mankind - freedom as the greatest gift - and the Inquisitor, who comes to free mankind from freedom, claiming that he is the real benefactor, for freedom is a curse, a poisonous gift. The surprising conclusion of the dialogue raises many inescapable theological, anthropological and political questions. The dialogue will be used as a starting point to go on considering what man can do to avoid being caught in the dilemma between the Inquisitor’s relentless argumentation and Christ’s silence.


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Gustavo Zagrebelsky, a former President of Italy’s Constitutional Court, is professor emeritus at Turin University. He is a member of the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. He often contributes editorials to la Repubblica news daily. Following are some of his latest books: La legge e la sua giustizia (Il Mulino, 2008); Questa Repubblica (Le Monnier, 2009); La leggenda del grande inquisitore (Morcelliana, 2009); L'esercizio della democrazia (with G. Napolitano, Codice, 2010); Principi e voti (2005), Imparare democrazia (2007), Intorno alla legge (2009), Sulla lingua del tempo presente (2010), Giuda (by G. Caramore, 2011), Simboli al potere (2012), Fondata sul lavoro (2013), Fondata sulla cultura (2014) by Einaudi; La virtù del dubbio (2007), Contro l'etica della verità (2008), Scambiarsi la veste (2010), La felicità della democrazia (with E. Mauro, 2011), Contro la dittatura del presente (2014) by Laterza.

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