Data: 26 Ago a 4 Set 2024
Horário: 10h00 to 13h00 | 27 and 28 of august from 10h00 to 13h30
Duração: 25h | 2 ECTS
Morada: NOVA FCSH |
Área: Comunicação, Política, Linguagem e Filosofia
Docente responsável: Libera Pisano
Docente: Libera Pisano
Acreditação pelo CCPFC: Não
Face to face classes
This course will be taught face to face classes



The course aims to explore the multifaceted nature of violence and its theoretical implications within 20th-century philosophical thought. Beyond its mere political dimensions, violence raises a wide array of questions spanning from human rights to divine authority, from revolution to governance, and from metaphysics to the philosophy of history. The course will consider Walter Benjamin’s pivotal fragment on violence, Hannah Arendt’s reflection on violence and power; Judith Butler’s assertive form of non-violence; and Elsa Dorlin’s study on self-defence as a means of resistance for marginalized bodies.




The course will be structured into 8 classes, each lasting 3 hours, except for one session which will be 4 hours long. In the first three sessions, we will introduce the topic of the course by examining the multifaceted role of violence in 20th-century thought. We will then proceed to read and analyze Walter Benjamin’s “Critique of Violence,” exploring the distinctions between legitimate and illegitimate violence, law-making and law-preserving violence, as well as his attempt to transcend legal theory by viewing violence not merely as a justified means for just ends, but also in terms of mythic and divine violence. Subsequent sessions will focus on the analysis of three female philosophers who provide intriguing insights into violence. Sessions four and five will be dedicated to examining Hannah Arendt’s “On Violence,” which engages with Benjamin’s essay despite being written in the 1960s. Here, we will analyze the divergence between power as a collective force of creation and violence as an instrumental medium antithetical to power. In sessions six and seven, we will delve into Judith Butler’s “The Force of Nonviolence,” where she advocates for a reinterpretation of violence and imagines nonviolence as a collective form of political action. Finally, the eighth session will explore Elsa Dorlin’s book “Self-Defense: A Philosophy of Violence,” which examines the politics, philosophy, and ethics of self-defense for those bodies that have been disarmed and rendered defenseless throughout global history. Through engagement with these diverse voices, the course aims to critically analyze the intricate dynamics of violence, shedding light on its ethical, political, and existential dimensions within contemporary philosophical discourse. Students will be encouraged to actively participate in discussions and offer critical analyses of the readings. Ultimately, by examining philosophical perspectives on violence, students will be prompted to reflect on their own values, beliefs, and societal norms.




  • Arendt,Hannah, “Reflections on Violence,” in Journal of international affairs (New York), 1969-01, Vol. 23 (1), 1-35.
  • Benjamin,Walter,“Critique of Violence,” in Id., Selected Writings, Volume 1, 1913-1926, ed. by M. Bullock and M. W. Jennings, Cambridge/ London: Harvard University Press 1996, 236-252.
  • Butler,Judith, The Force of Non-violence: The Ethical in the Political, London/New York: Verso 2020.
  • Dorlin,Elsa, Self-Defense: A Philosophy of Violence, London/New York: Verso 2022.




The course will be conducted in English. A good knowledge of English is required.




Libera Pisano is currently Assistant Researcher at Universidade Nova de Lisboa (FCT Stimulus of Scientific Employment, Individual Support). She received her PhD in Theoretical Philosophy from La Sapienza (Rome) in 2014 with a dissertation entitled Lo spirito manifesto. Percorsi linguistici nella filosofia hegeliana (ETS 2016). She has been Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow at University Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Research Associate at University of Hamburg, and Research Fellow, at the Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies, at the University of Calabria and at the Humboldt University of Berlin. She is the author of several essays on the role of language and politics in contemporary German and German-Jewish thought.

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