Avere

The verb to have resides at the heart of our language. We continually say that human beings have thoughts, desires, pains, experiences, goods, fears. But what do we mean? What implications do these familiar phrases hide? Paolo Virno explains this to us, starting from the verb to have guides us on a dense and evocative journey within the nature of language, a privileged key to then understand that of man. Starting from a fundamental truth: whoever owns something is never one with the thing owned. If indeed we can have something, it is precisely because we are not that thing. The human animal never completely coincides with the set of faculties, dispositions and experiences it possesses, and which distinguish it from other living beings. This "split" allows us to reflect on ourselves, on what we think and do, and therefore to have a conscience. But also to be free: not being one with our life, nor with any of our abilities, we can decide what to do with it. Abandoning what we no longer recognize, and wanting what we don't yet have - a close friend, a more rewarding job, a community to feel part of. Precisely because man participates in many things (thoughts, projects, relationships) without coinciding with any of these, the verb to have is the term that perfectly embodies his relational nature, always in communication with the other by himself. And Virno is a master in telling the many voices of this dialogue.

Author
Paolo Virno
Year of Publication
2020
Translations
Translated in:
French
With the title:
Avoir
Editori associati (tassonomia)