Prof. Luigi Zanzi - Italy


Luigi Zanzi was born in Varese on the 20th of September 1938, he completed his studies in Varese (Classical high school) and in a College in Pavia, graduated in Law in 1960. He works as a lawyer, mainly in civil matters. He teaches Theory of history since 1973 at the University of Literature and Philosophy in Genova and since 1987 at the University of Literature and Philosophy in Pavia. His political engagement has been steady since 1964, with Altiero Spinelli, with the European Movement, whose Central Committee he has been a member for a long time. Today he is assessor at the Economic Program at Varese Municipality as an indipendent. He is counsellor representing Pavia University at the Center of Scientific Culture “Alessandro Volta”. He has been one of the founders, then President and today Counsellor of the Institute “Ludovico Geymonat”. He is vice-president of the International Association for the history of the Alps, with its seat in Lucern.


The field of research of Luigi Zanzi can be divided in different parts:

a) a methodological and epistemological part in which he has made researches on the historiographical working and on the different moments of history of the historical thought, from the XVI to the XX century; 

b) a part dealing with the history of alpine civilization, particularly with researches about alpine pastures high in the Central Alps (he has also made, in this field, researches on the history of migrations in a mountain environment);

c) a part dealing with the history of nature, in which he has made works about the history of “locally” natural evolution, addressing in particular to the world of forests and mainly of alpine forests;

d) a part of historical cosmology in which, in 1994, he has made researches on the epistemological aspects of the cosmological history of the universe, together with Ilya Prigogine.


For an individual “eco-ethics” of responsibility beyond the horizon of intentions

Among the multiple issues that arise when confronting the reflection on ethics in today’s world, when revising the new requests that history proposes in order to reflect on man and his environmental roots, there is that which refers to the specific “strategic” aspects of moral behaviour.

It is also retained that, at individual level, ethics is rooted in a kind of “inspiration” that intuitively guides man in his choices of actions through multiple attempts to understand in different ways what one learns to comprehend as “that which is good”.

From such consideration, the “strategic” aspect that mainly refers to the fact that no action can realise its own project without considering its interaction with the world in which it takes place is often left out.

The attention to the “strategic” aspects of ethics implies a reflection of that which, in the tradition of Western thought, has been defined as “morality of intention” (as opposed to “morality of responsability”, as in Max Weber).

In such tradition of thought, the “morality” of responsibility is considered that of political behaviour which reaches beyond the “intentional” consideration of connections between one man and another and implies the considerations of the complex context of behaviour, underlining the effects that “go beyond intentions” and which depend on links of determination that are not the effect of the will of an individual nor his or her good intentions.

We therefore usually retain that the morality that takes into account the effects of an action that go beyond intention be the task of those with political roles in our society.

Such positions should be seriously revised, claiming that in individual morality, as in the choices taken in the most immediate and free game of intuitive inspiration towards that which is good and that which is closest, we can assume a strategic behaviour that takes each individual gesture towards a choice of responsability, including the effects of such gesture which go beyond intention.

Such ‘strategic’ attention to be also given to the morality of responsability at individual level should begin with a consideration of the roots and the “environmental” conditions of one’s own daily conduct.

We can once again propose to the individual morality the task of educating ourselves in the “art” of our own conduct capable of having all “post effects” of our own actions, including those uncontrolled by our intention, find - in the environmental context - a link, a measure, a formality of expression that avoids being translated into opposing results contrary to those intentionally desired.

If each individual directs his or her own intentional morality with such “strategic” attention, he or she therefore becomes “responsible” for the construction of an “eco-history” in which transforming moral intentions of individuals into a conduct that draws effects opposed to one’s own intention is avoided, thus avoiding the risk of transforming individual ethical choices into conflicting fronts.

Such individual ethics of responsibility through such “strategic”art is the sole ethics capable of seriously and resposibly taking charge of the construction of peace through peace itself (such is the only constructive way to attain peace, as taught by Ghandi and later Martin Luther King, and taught in the present time by Lama Gangchen Rinpoche).

It is only thus that a society can be built whose political vortix is made up of men capable of an ethics of responsibility.