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Zoom | Lecture 5 | International Cycle THE RIGHT TO THE CITY

From: 2020-06-15 To:2020-06-15

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  • Thematic Line

    Modern & Contemporary Philosophy
  • Research Group

    Philosophy & Public Space

    Interdisciplinary Dialogues

    15th June 2020 | 17h00 | Zoom Meeting

    Link for the Zoom meeting available by request



    Francisco Colom González

    Research Professor. Institute of Philosophy
    Spain’s National Research Council (CSIC).


    Abstract: Western philosophy was not only born in the city but the city itself has been one of its very early concerns. For Aristotle, for instance, the aim of the polis was to facilitate the pursue of the ‘good life’, that is, to fulfill the potential of human nature. Civilized life was therefore equivalent to life in the polis. The ideal size of a polis should be such that it allowed for the personal interaction of all the citizens, in order for them to garner an opinion on the civic virtue of the magistratures. Conversely, large polities were typical of barbarian, despotic societies, such as the Persians. This is just an example of how urban discourse has been, to a certain extent, a normative discourse. The discussion on the city has been a debate on the ‘good city’: the godly city in early Christianism, the ideal city during the Renaissance, and the liveable, smart or sustainable city since the industrial revolution up to our times. Urbanism has been a permanent quest for creating coherence between the physical proportions of the city and the type of human relations that it fosters. With the rise of industrialization in the nineteenth century, the concern with the esthetic and political qualities of the city was substituted by the study of the urban impact of modernity. After the Second World War, the modernist/functionalist movement in urban design finally set aside the humanist background that had accompanied it for centuries. Le Corbusier’s new notion of the ‘radiant city’, for instance, was a ‘machine for living in’. The aim of the new modernist doctrine was to respond readily to the urgent need for urban reconstruction created by the war. The alleged solution was to increase the density and efficiency of the city. Behind this idea there was also a deeper vision of modernization as a process of social homogenization induced through the geometric organisation of the built environment. This move, in turn, produced since the 1960s, a reaction against the ‘death’ of modern cities, in particular American cities, as Jane Jacobs famously denounced. This paper will try to explain the theoretical itineraries that have placed the city and the urban dimension in general at the centre stage of contemporary social and political philosophy.


    Francisco Colom González is Professor of Research (tenured) of the Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences at the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). He obtained his Ph.D. in Philosophy (1991) at the Universidad Complutense, in Madrid, and his Diploma in Political Science and Constitutional Law (1991) at the Centre for Political and Constitutional Studies, Madrid. He undertook post-graduate studies at the Free University of Berlin (Germany; 1985-86) and postdoctoral research at McGill University (Montreal, Canada; 1992). From 1992 until 1994 he was Associate Professor of Political Sociology at the Public University of Navarre (Pamplona, Spain). He has also been visiting professor and research visitor in several Latin-American, Canadian and European universities. During the years 2000-2005 he was the president of the Ibero-American Association of Political Philosophy, and between 1998 and 2006 the Vice Director of the Institute of Philosophy of the CSIC. He has also been the president of the Spanish Association for Canadian Studies/Association Espagnole d’Études Canadiennes. His work has mainly dealt with the normative relations between culture, political identity and social change. More recently, his research interests have turned towards the study of political spaces and urban theory.


    More information: https://ppscic2019-2020.wixsite.com/righttothecity

    International Cycle of Lectures | The Right to the City 2019-2020: https://ifilosofia.up.pt/activities/international-cycle-of-lectures-right-to-the-city​

    Research Group Philosophy and Public Space
    Apoio técnico, divulgação e comunicação: Irandina Afonso | Isabel Marques
    Instituto de Filosofia da Universidade do Porto - FIL/00502
    Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia

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