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The word of the week is 'RESPONSIBILITY' (by Massimo Sebastiani)

2021-12-05T19:34:38.709Z

© Ansa We began this journey through words more than two years ago, just before the covid pandemic broke out which, among other things, literally occupied and, one could say, ate the public discourse. The words we used the most, and therefore inevitably the words we dealt with, were born from the discourse on the covid, from virus to immunity, from breath to normality. But some of these have a meaning, a



We began this journey through words more than two years ago, just before the covid pandemic broke out which, among other things, literally occupied and, one could say, ate the public discourse.

The words we used the most, and therefore inevitably the words we dealt with, were born from the discourse on the covid, from virus to immunity, from breath to normality.

But some of these have a meaning, a use and references that go far beyond the pandemic and have such a weight as to push us to talk about it over and over again: it was the case of freedom, to which we dedicated three episodes, or of change .

Listen to "Word of the week: responsibility (by Massimo Sebastiani)" on Spreaker. 

Among the words of weight that the most diverse protagonists of public life have used in recent months and still recently there is responsibility. It was again invoked, after the first difficult months of the pandemic in 2020, again by the Head of State who urged everyone not to escape their responsibilities. But Nicola Magrini, director general of Aifa, also talked about it, who admitted the responsibility for the delay of the third dose, Zerocalcare, according to which instead if someone considers him an intellectual reference, the responsibility is not his, and also Giorgio Chiellini, column of Juventus, calling each teammate to their own responsibility in a difficult moment for the team.

Julio Velasco, the coach of the super-winning Italian volleyball team of the 90s, in one of his tasty lectures on group dynamics, talks about how the hitter in a volleyball team always looks for an alibi for a wrong dunk by blaming the 'lifter, who has raised it badly, who in turn turns to whoever has received the opponent's serve and has put it badly. This, however, can no longer place the responsibility on anyone, because it is the first in that chain. Here, for once, although the root of the term is obviously Latin, we don't have to go back to ancient Rome or Greece to find the first rising of this expression. The beauty of the word responsibility is that it is modern. Indeed we could say that it faces the threshold of modernity:the first documented use is in a text entitled, just think, 'The Federalist'. It is a collection of articles by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison published in 1788 where the word "responsability" is used for the first time, to indicate that the United States government is responsible for its actions towards the people it has delegated his powers.


It is no coincidence that the word was born at the dawn of modernity, linked to that revolution that opened the doors to democracy as we still know it today. It is in fact a word strictly connected to the development and enhancement of the individual who, as we understand it, children of that modernity, and as Velasco also understands it, did not exist before. Individuum, that is, undivided nucleus, could also be a couple or even a family. Responsibility, on the other hand, derives from responding, that is, responding, which in turn is made up of re, back, and spur, promise. So we respond by promising something in return, for example a behavior consistent with the common rules that we have set ourselves and have accepted.Because responsibility certainly implies a call into question from the individual but as connected and interdependent from others.


For this reason, the thinker who more than any other in the twentieth century reflected on this concept, Hans Jonas, in his 'The Responsibility Principle' speaks of a rationalist ethics applied to the consequences that our behaviors can have, not only in this moment and not just on a person or a situation, but on the entire biosphere. It is therefore also a responsibility projected into the future. Jonas, a student of Martin Heidegger and fellow student of Hannah Arendt, the author of the famous The Banality of Evil, which Greta Thunberg would have liked, distinguished, along the lines of Max Weber, between ethics of belief or ethics of principles and ethics of responsibility.

The first is based on absolute principles, it is ideological and therefore much less sensitive to the consequences it can produce; the second is the ethics of complexity, based on relationship systems and is the result of a chain process (and it is the one substantially described also by Velasco in the amusing search for alibi by the hitter. It should be noted that the beautiful word alibi , which also derives from Latin, means 'elsewhere' and for this reason the exact opposite of responsibility: I was not here, I was elsewhere, I am not what you are looking for, as Francesco De Gregori would say).


The ethics of responsibility constantly reasons on the balancing of consequences and benefits, where the limit of the individual's freedom - which would not be such without limits - is precisely this responsibility. There are many types of responsibility: the most famous is of course the legal one, which can be criminal or civil, but there is also objective social responsibility (even without direct fault), and of course there is political responsibility. 'For undisciplined people who want to receive everything on a silver platter - wrote the Iranian Saeed Habibzadeh - responsibility is a weight they want to get rid of' '. Perhaps because, as Daisaku Ikede, president of Soka Gakkai, the international Buddhist association explains, responsibility implies listening: to a community by a leader, for example.This responsibility, if taken without awareness, can even drive you crazy. As happens to Jack Torrance, the protagonist of The Shining.

Source: ansa

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