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The night of culture and humanism

19 Oct

Edgar Morin considers contemporary culture something broader than what is considered and was theorized as mass culture, for him it goes beyond media culture, which is in full decline, despite reactions from the art world in some segments, in general it deals with death, the dark and contempt for symbols, values, myths and images related to everyday life and the collective imagination, but regional, religious and humanist cultures persist in an act of resistance.

The industrial process and the success of performance and productivist values ​​hide what is processed in the spirit, something Morin calls “industrialization of the spirit”, this second colonization is not processed horizontally conquering territories, but vertically penetrating the human soul and obscuring it.

The cultural industry has set in motion a third culture (in addition to classical and natural, I would call original), but there is a human resistance that comes from the original culture of each people and each specific culture, but the idea of ​​colonizing is alive.

The multicultural realities present in mass culture are not autonomous, so the idea is to demolish (or erase) the institutions that can resist this new “colonization”, and resistance can only arise from the cultures of peoples, from their original development of culture and its religions and beliefs.

Although one can criticize the current media culture, social networks are a ties between actors that can be made through them, it does not find a society devoid of culture to be omnipresent, it contains social values ​​and symbols, beliefs and ideologies , and in them the transcendental factors are still impregnated, it is not a separate culture.

In Morin’s view, mass culture integrates and disintegrates at the same time in a polycultural reality, it makes contain, control, censor (also in many cases by the state and by the churches) tending to corrode and disintegrate other cultures.

It is now a cosmopolitan and planetary culture, and it will constitute the first truly universal culture in the history of mankind, while conservative thought considers it plebeian barbarism, left-wing critics consider it an opiate of the people and deliberate mystification , and so the only perspective seems to be the authoritarian one.

In the authoritarian case, the state must control the production and distribution of “cultural goods”, while in the democratic case the large cultural groups must dictate the media controlling the production and distribution of content, here digital media is present.

Both currents agree in the criticism of mass culture, classifying it as a poor cultural product, of low aesthetic quality and without originality (kitsch).

The great solution pointed out by Morin is in the structure of the imaginary: the use of archetypes that order dreams, without the standardization of mythical and romance themes, art is a great reaction in this field, the cultural industry was reduced to archetypes and stereotypes, who outside of these there is no cultural “insertion”, and her prisons are individualized products.

It’s not about accepting diversity, but increasing consumption, just as it did with the pop culture of the 60s, movies, radio or TV shows (now lives and stories) are solely aimed at maximizing profit and audience (likes and fanpages).

In religious terms, syncretism is the most suitable word to translate the tendency to homogenize culture and dictate values ​​and the comicity used to these themes plays the role of destroying its essence and originality, everything is similar or equal.

Children’s cultural content is invaded by themes of adult consumption: they are presented in a simplification that takes them (to adult viewers too) as children.

Even leisure is not just a way of allowing a balance of life, but it is invaded by mass culture, the so-called “resorts”, the beaches and leisure places are invaded by the “cultural industry”, everything within reach, just by an app.

This crisis is neither temporary nor fleeting, a great civilizing crisis may emerge from it, but it is necessary to have hope despite the public blindness.

MORIN, Edgar. (1997) Cultura de massas do século XX. (20th century mass culture). trad. Maura Ribeiro Sardinha. 9ª. edição. Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, Ed. Forense. 




Symmetry and diversity

13 Oct

Every relationship of power is asymmetrical, discussing the power of the [media] of social networks, in his essay book “No Swarm” said the Korean-German Byung Chul Han: “power is an asymmetrical relationship. It fundamentals a hierarchical relationship. The power of communication is not dialogic. Unlike power, respect is not necessarily an asymmetrical relationship” (p. 18), so the question remains how power could be symmetrical and how dialogic communication.

Collective, communal and original societies always have some form of hierarchy and most of them have developed forms of dialogical communication, modernity is perhaps the historical moment of greatest hierarchy and where communication becomes more problematic, it is necessary to return to basic concepts about who is the other and what form of power is lawful”?

The worst of the scenarios come true, this is the point that Byung Chul Han is right: the swarm, but it is necessary to understand the process of development that comes from the Cartesian-Kantian rationalism-idealism, where the center is the objective truth, without space for subjectivity, it is not by chance that ethical and moral concepts have lost value, said the Kantian categorical imperative: age in such a way that its conduct is a universal model, but who is this “ideal”, “rational” being?

We know that in nature there is always some asymmetry, for example, the sides of the human body.

The answer is not so difficult if we understand diversity, there is no “individual” model that is a standard for everyone, nor is there an objective way to express power, but one that induces an entire collectivity to loving solidarity, protecting the weakest and negotiation in disputes.

It took us two thousand years, if we consider the Christian model of brotherhood, to understand that the only possible model of dialogue is respect for the Other (in Chul Han’s concept, respect is symmetrical, but it cannot cancel out diversity, a perfect symmetry is not Natural).

We are so trained and conditioned to a standard model that we call it “straight”, in analogy to an ideal line, since any object in nature that is straight will have some imperfection, and so Kant’s categorical imperative is only possible in the idealistic imagination.

Society, in its various forms of “bubbles”, did not institute and develop trust, but control, a form of power for everyone to conform to the ideal model of a certain ideal group.




Volcanoes, between science and superstitions

28 Sep

The volcano in the Canary Islands, which has been burning for more than a week, and for the time being just increasing the volume and quantity of glowing lavas have raised questions and fears, not everything is really right, volcanologists and geologists have no forecast for the volcano to cool down and not all superstitions came only from prophecies and apocalyptics.

The possibility of a megatsunami, starting from the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean has more volcanoes and earthquakes in the so-called circle of fire (photo) than the Atlantic was studied after the Indonesia tsunami that gained notoriety, but it was Japan, which affected the Fukushima Plant the most amazing.

The warning came not from superstitious, but from British researchers in a 2001 article (Ward & Day, 2002), the article gained notoriety for directly citing the Canary Islands (see photo above), and was published in the scientific journal Yearbook of Science and Technology , carried out other studies in cases that have already happened, such as the 1st. April 1946 in the Aleutian Islands where there was a landslide similar to the one off the coast of Papua New Guinea.

Cited that the largest land displacement, which caused megatsunami, was the landslide in 1929 due to an earthquake in Newfoundland National Park, Canada, on the Burin peninsula, which reached the coast of Scotland and Holland, but only was noticed because of fragments that were deposited on the coasts of these countries.

The article carried out experiments by computer simulation, which shows that the efficiency of tsunami generation increases with the speed and volume of the landslide, and made a simulation precisely with the Cumbre Vieja volcano (fig. 3 above), on the island of La Palma (one of the Gran Canary Islands), and wrote verbatim: “continuous and recent movements of the flanks of a number of oceanic island volcanoes including Kilauea in Hawaii and Cumbre Vieja in La Palma in the Canary Islands are possibilities that these can break [the flanks] during an eruption in the not-too-distant future” (Ward & Day, 2001).

T he volume has increased since last Sunday (19/09) and one of the flanks opened, but it did not collapse and the lavas had not reached the sea until the present day yesterday.

We had other volcanoes during the year, in Italy Etna, in Russia the Ebeko volcano in the Kuril Islands and in Iceland the Fagradalsfjall, but these do not pose any danger, in the case of Iceland there was a period of interruption of air traffic in the region.

Other volcanoes in the world have manifested this year, in Africa the Nyiragongo in early June, in Indonesia the Sinabung in early March, in Guatemala the Fire Volcano, but the eruption has already ceased, there are others around the world, active volcanoes ( but not in eruption) there are more than a thousand altogether, Brazil is far from the tectonic plates that, in addition to volcanoes, cause earthquakes.

For a few hours the Cumbre Vieja Volcano stopped spouting lava, but it returned, whether the duration and volume of material will be sufficient for a tsunami depends on the intensity and duration, neither volcanologists nor geologists who follow the volcano can say with certainty.

Ward, N. and Day, Simon. Suboceanic Landslides. Steven Yearbook of Science and Technology,

Ward, N. and Day, Simon. (2001). Suboceanic Landslides. Steven Yearbook of Science and Technology, McGraw-Hill, Available in: ward&day.pdf (


The finality of beings and machines

23 Sep

Edgar Morin says that “we are therefore in the prehistory of finality”, using the Hegelian discourse he will say “the whole ‘itself’ becomes almost a for-itself” (Morin, 1977, p. 242), and so the machine living (to differentiate from artificial ones) from soft cells to the most complex living organisms “are almost specialized in function of quasi-programmed tasks that aim to achieve ends, and all these ends are united in the global end: to live” (idem).

It can be said then, in the author’s expression, that “this living being that self-finalizes is the product is the finished product of the reproductive act that originated it” (ibid.), and “retracing” this to the origin of life, the question remains “how is the purpose born of the non-purpose?” (MORIN, 1977, P. 243).

You will then ask what kind of “information” is capable of reproducing and controlling proteins with which they were not yet associated? The idea of ​​information, and therefore of program, and therefore of purpose, cannot be prior to the constitution of a first protocellular ring” (idem), it will conclude from there that “the idea of ​​a final process before the appearance of the life”, perhaps here we separate artificial machines from living beings, its beginning.

He will say in a categorical and essential way that “the biological, and evidently anthropo-sociological, purpose is immersed in a recurrent process of self-generation of which it is a part. It is the immersed and informational face of this generation-of-itself” (ibidem), for those who believe, I say that this is what I think is “God’s image and likeness”, being in an original vital process.

Living and artificial machines will have in common, according to the author, “purposes of the origins of life have repercussions and are reflected in the global purposes of living machines, and even of artificial machines” (MORIN, 1977, p. 243).

It will further differentiate the artificial machine from the live, quoting Paul Valéry: “Artificial means that it tends towards a defined end and, therefore, it opposes live”, for example, the purpose “of a manufacturing is to manufacture cars, whose purpose it is displacement, which serves for constructive activities of the individual’s life in society and of society in the individual” (Morin, 1977, p. 244).

So while the machine has an extrinsic purpose of life, and this purpose should have the intrinsic purpose of biological life, these “complementary purposes can become concurrent and antagonistic, as happens with the purposes of individual existence and reproduction…” (Morin , 1977, p. 245), if they become antagonistic, they can lead to the exclusion of one purpose for the other.

And so, concludes this topic Edgar Morin> “in Homo sapiens, gastronomic pleasures and erotic enjoyments become ends to the detriment of feeding and reproductive purposes; knowledge, a means of surviving in an environment, becomes, in the thinker turned thinker, to which his own existence subordinates” (MORIN, 1977, pp. 245-246).

Thus ends shift, degenerate and become uncertain, like the future of civilization.





Was the old normal normal?

14 Sep

In his book “A Change Path: Coronavirus Lessons Needed”, Edgar Morin elaborates 15 lessons of the pandemic and the challenges that will come when we overcome it, and it must be said that we are still close to halfway through immunization.

He points out in his book: “Isolation was a reclusion, but also an inner liberation from timed time, the workers’ driving-work-bed rhythm, the workload of the liberal professions (…) Ending the isolation, let’s go resume the infernal race?” asks the centenary thinker.

A more sustainable world, with greater global cooperation (and fewer centralizations), harsh social isolation has shown that some of these changes are possible.

The regeneration of nature, the small respite we gave showed that nature can still recover, but with less transport, with more sustainable industries, with more solidary actions and emergency relief for the poor in vulnerable situations, with little circulation of planes and ships through the world gave some positive signs of nature.

The unpredictability of the Pandemic, the proximity of death and the halt to the force of humanity put in check old “truths” and laws that seemed solid were not, in this moment of crisis it is possible to think of a new direction, the time to “change lanes” as the sociologist wants.

In addition to a great social reform, a personal reform that takes into account all human complexity (not the man focused only on the conquest and domination of nature), the change in ethical values, and a new regenerated humanism, can be a utopia , but perhaps it is a last chance for a civilization in crisis.

Morin wrote: “Solidarity and responsibility are not only political and social, but personal imperatives. We should already understand that social reform and personal reform are inseparable. Ghandi wrote: Let’s be the change we want to see in the world”, without changing course we will arrive at the same dilemmas of modernity: injustices and tiredness.

MORIN, E. It’s time to change course – Coronavirus lessons. Bertrand of Brazil, 2020.


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The intermittents of death

31 Aug

José Saramago (1922-2010), in addition to his famous bookEssay on Blindness, written in 1995 and which later became a film directed by Brazilian Fernando Meirelles and scripted by Don McKellar, wrote many other novels: O memorial do convento (adapted from an opera), The Gospel According to Jesus Christ, Essay on lucidity, and many others, I highlight here As Intermitências da Morte (2005).

In 1998, he received the Nobel Prize for Literature, but two works seem prophetic for today: The essay on blindness, which we have already posted, and the Intermitências da Morte.

Skeptical and ironic, Saramago did not fail to notice the dramas of our time, but the unexpected way it ends. Lucidity, I would say using the Heideggerian metaphor that clearing is possible if we penetrate the existential drama of life.

In The Intermittencies of Death, he penetrates into the existential dramas of life, as a religious skeptic, he will also mock the outputs with an answer “from above”, that is, transfer to “another world” our permanently mundane dramas, among them, what it’s life itself.

He says in a passage on page 123: “It is possible that only a painstaking education, one of those that is already becoming rare, along, perhaps, with the more or less superstitious respect that in timid souls the written word usually instills, has led readers, although they were not lacking in reasons to manifest explicit signs of ill contained impatience, not to interrupt what we have been reporting so profusely and to want to be told what it is that, in the meantime, death has been doing since the fatal night when it announced the your return.” (in the photo a picture of Gustav Klimt’s painting).

After inquiring in every book about life, something unusual these days, because all you want is a return to frivolity, the normality of emptiness, the absence of life, consumption and false joys, the author will say in end of the book that death is normality, said like this:

“He stayed in his room all day, had lunch and dinner at the hotel. Watched television until late. Then he got into bed and turned off the light. Didn’t sleep. Death never sleeps.” (Saramago, 2005, p. 189).

And he concludes that his common irony in times when the pandemic was not even dreamed of (his pandemic was The Essay on Blindness), he says about death: “(…) I don’t understand anything, talking to you is the same as having fallen into a labyrinth without doors, Now that’s an excellent definition of life, You’re not life, I’m much less complicated than it, (…)” (Saramago, 2005, p. 198). Oh what a pity, a pity even that Saramago had never believed in a true life, this disbelief is also in all his work, especially “The Gospel According to Jesus Christ” (1991), but at least he was not indifferent to the theme, something “bothered him”.

SARAMAGO, José. (2005) The intermittence of death. Brazil, São Paulo: Companhia das Letras.


Crisis of thought and cynical reason

17 Aug

Modern thought is still strongly linked to idealism, there are several points to question Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, two points that I consider central: the subject and object dualism (called the infernal dichotomy by Bruno Latour) and the transformation of eidos Greek in an abstract idea, almost all contemporary Western philosophy is heir to Kant.

The crisis of Greek “democracy” (questionable because slaves and women did not participate) happened amidst the crisis of sophistic thinking, founded on relativism and the justification of power, the art of rhetoric and oratory and the power of argumentation was worth more than the truth.

There, too, another infernal dichotomy is born: between nature (phýsis) and culture (nómos), after all, what is nature and what we mean by culture when we distance it from experience and techné.

Sloteridjk is one of the rare Western philosophers who will question without losing the rationalist and progressive slant, both the classic current models of argumentation and Adorno and Horkheimer, Sartre and Foucault, neither escapes nor Heidegger, who in a way is also heir, by questioning his Charter on Humanism, and thinking about what humanism actually is today.

What you call culture, for example, can show the contradiction, giving the example of China where you can eat dog meat and in India you can’t eat beef, which is a sacred animal.

The point that I consider most central is the explanation of modern relativism, since this was also the foundation of the Greek sophists, there everything that referred to practical life could be changed, so both religion and politics were considered cultural factors and could be modified is convergent, according to Sloterdijk with modern thought, according to his analysis of the concepts of cynicism and kynisms, its founder Antisthenes of Athens (445-365 BC) preached a simple life as a wild life (in nature, the word kynós means dog), the figure of Diogenes in his barrel is the most emblematic (in the painting above, Jean Leon Gerome).

Although a disciple of Socrates, unlike Plato, he opted only for the stereotype of the master, as opposed to educating and organizing an “episteme”, he will make everything simple and relative.

The context of these sophists was the city-state and the democracy of Athens which was in crisis.

The second part of Sloterdijk’s book is a critique of applied cynicism, structured in four parts: physiognomic, phenomenological, logical and historical.

Sloterdijk, P. Critique of Cynic Reason, trans. Marco Casanova et al., Brazil, SP: Estação Liberdade, 2012.


Birthing knowledge and phenomenology

12 Aug

The definition of the phenomenology method as a form of knowledge is according to the philosophy dictionary (Abbagnano, 2000, p. 437) as “description of what appears or science that has as its objective or project this description”, with the phenomenon being “what appears or manifests itself” (idem).

The German philosopher Edmund Husserl (1859-1938) developed it as a radical way to review methodologies and concepts of science with logical and positivist assumptions, starting from how things (the concept of object is also surpassed here, it is linked to the subject) have its appearance to consciousness, and from there “going towards things in themselves” (HUSSERL, 2008, p. 17).

Intentionality is the fundamental mark in phenomenological consciousness, it is always turned outwards, towards something, but it is neither substance nor envelope, it is an intuition, an apodictic evidence, and this is the birth of phenomenology.

The first step of this method to “search” the phenomenon is the phenomenological reduction (epoché), a suspension of our concepts or preconceptions, placing them in parentheses, since it is impossible to separate the subject from the object, when something appears will manifest itself now.

Starting from this “suspension of judgment” (it is used by other currents of thought), scrutinize the phenomenon in its “purity” and avoid what would be a “natural attitude” in the apprehension and analysis of the phenomenon, then carry out an eidetic reduction or variation ( the idea in the Greek sense is an image rather than a concept), it passes through a psychological level and a transcendental level.

Here, becoming something like “pure consciousness”, Husserl calls it “phenomenological attitude”, it allows new perspectives (Abschattungen) and several profile variations (Abschatung), the German roots are important, because it is perceived that one is a “variation” of the other is eidos.

It is precisely in this eidetic variation that something takes place in consciousness that goes from the perceived object (noesis) to the noema, a complex of predicates and modes to be given by experience.

The thing that presents itself to my consciousness is not only abstract, it does not have its existence denied, what Husserl defends is that we have a perception of something (object for idealism), which is only supported by the possibility of different profiles (abschatung) that he is apprehended. We are left with two questions whether this is separate from its materiality (hylé for the Greeks) and whether it is possible to think of this consciousness as consciousness of the world, transcendence in history.

HUSSERL, E.(2008) The crisis of European humanity and philosophy. Brasil, Porto Alegre: EDIPUCRS.


The agnostic version of heaven’s bread

06 Aug

Ignoring poetic language is not just ignoring metaphor, analogies do have a metaphysical limitation, but metaphor goes beyond analogy and there are assumptions in it that have yet to be verified by science as truth.

Paul Ricoeur clarifies: “what remains remarkable for us who come after the Kantian critique of this type of ontology is the way in which the thinker behaves in relation to the difficulties internal to his own solution…. of the categorical problem is resumed in its broad lines” (Ricoeur, 2005, p. 419).

This is not only linked to the idea of ​​the analogy that was re-elaborated by Thomism, but the main source of all the difficulties “is due to the need to support the analogical predication by an ontology of participation” (p. 420), this analogy is in the level of names and predicates, thus “it is of the conceptual order” (p. 421).

The attack on metaphor and metaphysics reached modernity, he stated “Thought looks listening and listens while looking” (Heidegger apud Ricoeur, 2005, p. 436), and Jean Greisch says that this “leap” places language in “the ´there is´ es gibt [has], there is no possible transition” and this would be the deviation.

Ricoeur himself replies that what makes this enunciation as a metaphor is the harmony (einklang) between ist and Grund in the “nothing is without reason”, it is necessary to understand the metaphor-statement.

Remember the biblical passage about Pharisaism unable to understand the divine transcendence (Jn 6:42), “Is not this Jesus the son of Joseph? Don’t we know your father and mother? How then can you say that you came down from heaven?”, and that is why they cannot understand the bread of heaven, the divine food, because they are trapped in material food alone.

There is indeed a metaphor-statement that links material food to divine food, but harmony is not being tied to one by submitting it to another, as explained in the previous post, this was the great Thomist argument to overcome the Aristotelian analogy: science divine is to God, what human science is to the created” (Ricoeur, 2005, p. 423), quoting Aquino’s De Veritate.

Of course, the problem of metaphor and poetics is not limited to divine knowledge, but it does not prevent it.



From metaphysics to ontology

05 Aug

There is no dishonorable resource of using metaphor toaffirm metaphysics, as Ricoeur asked, the Thomist resource “did not stop at the solution closest to the Platonic exemplary adopted in the commentary on Book I of the Sentences, still under the influence of Alberto the Great” (Ricoeur, 2005, p . 421).

Aquinas, when working on being, potency and act (his great categories), conceives an order of descent “in the series being, substance and accident” observes Ricoeur, “according to which one receives the other esse et rationem”, and thus establishes another analogy as described in Distintio XXXV (q. 1, ar. 4):

“There is another analogy [besides the order of priority] when a term imitates another as much as it can, but does not match it perfectly, and this analogy is found between God and creatures” (Aquino apud Ricoeur, 2005, p. 421), and explains Ricoeur it is necessary to understand this feature of a common term between God and creatures, and this can be explained thus:

“Between God and creatures there is no similarity through something common, but through imitation, from which it is said that the creature is similar to God, but not the other way around, as Pseudo-Dionysius says” (idem).

This participation by similarity means that “it is God himself who communicates his likeness: the diminished image ensures an imperfect and inadequate representation of the divine exemplar” (Ricoeur, 2005, p. 422), and this has a weakness: “the total disjunction between attribution of names and categorical attribution” (idem), thus the theological discourse “loses all support in the categorical discourse of being”.

The resource already pointed out above being as an act and power, direct similarity is still close to univocity, so Aquino observes that exemplary causality, due to its formal character, must be subordinated to efficient causality, the only one that founds the communication of underlying being analog assignment. The discovery of being as an act then becomes the ontological foundation of the theory of analogy” (RICOEUR, 2005, p. 422).

The discourse is too philosophical, and I simplify it here: God is pure being in act and potency, the creature is being in act and can be in potency, so Thomas Aquinas develops this.

Aquinate in De Veritate distinguishes two types of analogy, one proportional (proportio), for example a number and its double, and another one of proportional relation (proportionalitas) which is a similarity of relation, in numbers, for example, 6 is to 3 as 4 is to 2.

Of course this is not just mathematics, Ricoeur does this as a didactic resource, the infinite and the finite are disproportionate, but it can be said (divine science is for God, what human science is for the created” (Ricoeur, 2005, p. 423) and which is a quotation from Thomas Aquinas’ De veritate.

Ricoeur, P. (2005) Metáfora viva. trad. Dion David Macedo. BR, São Paulo: Edições Loyola.