Alle radici della cura


  • Luigina Mortari



primacy of care, epimeleia, therapeia, merimna, Luigina Mortari, Mortari


At the roots of care

The paper aims to 1) demonstrate the ontological primacy of care and 2) distinguish the different modalities in which this phenomenon manifests itself in our life.

A phenomenological analysis of the human condition reveals that we are lacking of being, without any permanent sovereignty over our becoming, but at the same time we have the responsibility to realize our existential possibilities. This paradox is connected with the evidence that our being is constitutively relational: our flourishing takes place only in the relationship with other people, even if the need of the others makes us vulnerable. Because the human being is ontologically incomplete, care is a necessity for human life. Caring for the existence manifests itself through three different modalities: a) first, it is the concern to get what allows us to conserve our lives (merimna); b) second, it is the answer to the need of transcendence allowing us to live with purpose (epimeleia); c) third, it is the cure that heals the wounds of our body and soul (therapeia).

In conclusion, we can say that the phenomenon of care, in its essence, responds to a vital necessity, which also includes an ontogenetic, an ethical and a therapeutic necessity.

The paper examines some authors of the 20th century, such as Stein, Weil, Winnicott, Arendt, Heidegger, Zambrano, Lévinas and Murdoch, and also comes back to the classical literature, especially the Platonic dialogues. Contemporary authors mentioned are Carse, Nancy and Pulcini.