Between immortality and eternity

05 Dec

It is not just a spiritual theme as it seems, Hannah Arendt’s Vita Activa cited by Byung-Chul is a course correction, to remove us from simple mortal temporality, to the “time that is proper to the gods, who do not die and do not age , and the immortal cosmos” (Han, 2023, p. 145), where he differentiates immortality from eternity.

The search for immortality is, again Han quoting Arendt, “the source and center of the vita activa”. According to the author, “human beings achieve their immortality on the political stage. On the other hand, the objective of the vita contemplativa is not, according to Arendt, to persist and last in time, but the experience of the eternal, which transcends both time and the surrounding world” (Han, 2023, p. 145), in other words, immortality is the senseless search for the political stage, while eternity is the search for the experience of eternity already here and now.

But the author warns that the human being cannot linger on the experience of the eternal, “he needs to return to his surrounding world” (idem), when comparing it with the thinker, as soon as he starts writing he abandons the experience of the eternal , this is how one dedicates oneself to active life, and it is in this that one hopes to achieve immortality, Arendt admires Socrates who does not write, although Arendt herself thought and recorded her thoughts with the intention of immortality (Han, 2023, p. 146), but the Writing can be a contemplation, says the author.

In Byung-Chul’s view, the way Arendt sees Plato’s myth of the cave is actually a completely different story, it is of a philosopher who frees his companions from the chain of the shadows that waver before them, which they consider the only reality (page 147-8), Plato asks Glaucon to imagine: what would happen to philosophers if, after having seen the truth, they returned to it and tried to free prices from illusions? (page 148).

“Parehesia” (opening of the truth) is a risky situation, “the philosopher acts, when despite the danger of death, returns to the cave” in order to convince them of the truth, thus the action precedes the knowledge of the truth, while contemplation is the path from knowledge to truth, which precedes action (page 149).

After all, the Greek polis itself and Plato’s thought originated in the dialogues of Socrates written by Plato himself, this is a contemplative and discursive truth (I would say dialogical, but the term can have dubious interpretations), so action precedes thought in Plato.

According to Hans’ criticism, the idea that the loss of contemplative capacity led to the victory of the “animal laborans” that subjects everything to work with the consequent loss of contemplative capacity and its reintegration into nature and the planet.

Han quotes Saint Gregory, a master of the vita contemplativa: “when a good life program demands that one pass from the active to the contemplative life, it is often useful for the soul to return from the contemplative to the active life, in such a way that the flame of contemplation awakens in the heart surrender all its fullness of activity” (page 151), this is how eternity on earth is lived.

HAN, B.C. (2023). Vita Contemplativa: In Praise of Inactivity, transl. Daniel Steuer, USA, ed. Polity (the page numbers is in brazilian text).




Palestine, Winter General and Essequibo

04 Dec

The truce unfortunately ended because Hamas committed an attack on the last day of the truce, killing a rabbi and two women, according to the Israeli press, and the Al-Qassan militia, the armed wing of Hamas, claimed responsibility for the attack.

According to the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) 200 Hamas targets have already been hit, one of them a sumptuous building that housed the Hamas Supreme Court, the scale of the war returns.

Winter General is the name given to the Russian winter during the wars because both in the Napoleonic invasion (1812) when the army of a set of alliances (it is important to remember that some European nations supported it) lost the war due to the winter, also in the second war Worldwide, the winter was decisive for Germany to lose the war.

What to think now about the winter in Ukraine, where Russia has made advances on several fronts, however it has problems in Crimea where there is a large part of Russian ammunition, the winter there lasts until March and Ukraine shows signs of weakness and loses part of its support, now countries like Finland and Poland are already mobilizing in their own defense against a possible invasion.

Finally, a front may appear on the Brazilian border, the army has already sent troops to the region due to the possibility of an invasion of Brazilian territory, which would be strategic for an invasion of Venezuela against the fragile military strength of Guyana (formerly British Guiana).

A referendum held in Venezuela these days, it is good to remember that Maduro controls the entire State apparatus, gave a favorable opinion to 5 questions about a possible invasion of Guyana from Essequibo as the region that today belongs to Guyana is called, one of the questions challenges the International Court of Justice that prohibited Venezuela from any invasion.

Ultimately, a disastrous scenario of civilizational crisis is getting worse, but we believe in Peace.



The society that comes

01 Dec

This is the title of the last chapter of Chul Han’s book “Vita contemplativa”, in which he analyzes the religious crisis and its consequences for culture, being and current society.

It begins by stating: “the current crisis of religion cannot be reduced simply to the fact that we have lost faith in God or become suspicious of certain dogmas” (page 153), it resides in the fact that we have lost the capacity to contemplate, a growing coercion Both communication and production make “contemplative time” difficult, there is no way to “stop”.

He quotes Malebrance who said that attention is like a “natural prayer of the soul”, our hyperactivity can be blamed on religion, “the crisis of religion is a crisis of attention” (page 154), and the worst thing is that the author does not points out, fanaticism dominates “attention”.

The author says “listening is the verb for religion” (page 155), but it is also for meditation, study, contemplation and reflection, whatever the threshold principle of a thought, it requires a stop, an inactivity.

In the current thought of romanticism, “freedom is decoupled from the self”, action gives way to listening: “only the tendency to intuition, when directed towards infinity, puts unlimited freedom in mind” (page 159) says the author now quoting Schleiermacher.

Still quoting Schleiermacher, he writes that tears interrupt the “spell that the subject places on nature” (page 160), dissolved in tears, the subject surrenders to the Earth.

Now quoting Agamben in “The Coming Community” he states about the coming kingdom of the Messiah that Walter Benjamin would have told Ernest Block and is quoting in Han:

“a rabbi, a true Kabbalist, once said: to establish the kingdom of peace, it is not necessary to destroy everything and start a completely new world; it would be enough to move that cup or that bush or that stone a little bit, and all things in the same way. But this little bit is so difficult to achieve and its measure so difficult to find that, as far as the world is concerned, men cannot achieve it and the messiah must arrive” (Aganbem apud Han, 2023, pg. 171).

It is this arrival, called parousia (a new coming for Christians) that is also celebrated at Christmas.

HAN, B.C. (2023). Vita Contemplativa: In Praise of Inactivity, transl. Daniel Steuer, USA, ed. Polity.




Contemplation and the polis

30 Nov

The fifth chapter of the book “Vita Comtemplativa” is The pathos of action, it begins by describing the two sacred concepts of the Jewish tradition: God and Sheba, for Jewish culture God is Sheba, that is, he is redemption, the immortal (page. 107), yesterday time is suspended, that is, compared to Han’s concept, it is inactivity.

The creation of the human being is not the last act of Creation, only the Sabbath rest completes it, the world is similar to the bridal chamber: “but the bride is missing. Only with the Sabbath does the bride arrive” (Han, 2023, p. 108), which is a quote from “Der sabbat” by Heschel.

The analogy with the bride will also be used in the parables of the brides, the arrival of “that day” when the groom comes to look for her and must find the lamps lit (developing around the theme of prudence), Arendt will modify the idea of ​​rest divine complementing it with the principle freedom for a new beginning (or a fresh start, necessary in many stages of life), says Han’s quote:

“with the creation of the human being, the principle of the beginning (which in the creation of the world was in the hands of God and, therefore, outside the world) appears in the world itself and will remain immanent in it as long as there are human beings; which, of course, naturally, ultimately, means nothing other than that the creation of the human being as a ‘someone’ coincides with the creation of freedom” (apud Arendt, Han, 2023, p. 109).

“The “feeling of reality” that is due only to action; that is, when acting and producing an effect, it completely represses the feeling of being. The feeling of festivity, in which it is possible to experience a superior reality, is foreign to Arendt” (Han, 2023, p. 112).

This concept is the temenos of the Greek polis, which means the sacred space cut off from the public space that is reserved for deities; a peribolos (literally a playpen or enclosure), that is, a fenced space, an area of ​​the temple delimited by walls. Temenos is a templum, a consecrated and sacred place, the word contemplation goes back to the templum (in picture the acropolis).

Thus the templum is part of the polis, on his trip to Greece, Heidegger has the acropolis in mind when he writes about the polis: “… this polis did not know, therefore, subjectivity as a measure of all objectivity. She submitted to the yoke of the gods, who, in turn, were subjected to destiny, to Moirá” (apud Heidegger, Han, 2023, p. 113-4).

By presenting it only as freedom and action, Han criticizes Arendt, the cultural dimension of parties, rituals and games has no place in her thinking and they were members of the polis.

HAN, B.C. (2023). Vita Contemplativa: In Praise of Inactivity, transl. Daniel Steuer, USA, ed. Polity.


Contemplation and the Self

29 Nov

The third chapter on Byung-Chul’s “Vita Contemplativa” begins with a text by Walter Benjamin on the painting Angelus Novus in ink, pastel chalk and watercolor on paper by Paul Klee from 1920, which is currently in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, in the Christian collection.

Describe Benjamin’s quote: “an angel is represented there who appears as if he were moving away from something he is facing. His eyes are wide, his mouth is open, and his wings are outstretched. The angel in the story must look like this. He turned his face to the past. Where a chain of events appears to us, there he sees a catastrophe that incessantly piles rubble upon rubble, sliding before his feet. He would very much like to linger, awaken the dead and bring the fallen together” (apud Han, 2023, p. 57) and continues.

Benjamin’s text ends with a sentence: “What we call progress is a storm” and thus begins the chapter “From action to being”.

Hannah Arendt was the first to understand the 20th century as a time of action, says the author, later in the text the author will remember that the anthropocene was the result (I would say the attempt, since nature rebels) of the submission of nature to human action, losing our autonomy and dignity, we “make” history by acting, he states.

What can we do about this catastrophic action on nature, Arendt confesses that she cannot offer any solution, cited by Han: “address the essence and possibilities of the action, which had never been shown so openly and revealed in their greatness and at their peril” (apud Han, 2023, p. 59).

She points out a path in thought that would be a type of “philosophy of politics” that would bring a reflection on the problematic of human action, in “Vita activa” she exposes (I think recovers) human action in its grandeur and dignity (page. 60).

Reflecting further on the figure of Angelus novus (above), “his wide eyes reflect his impotence, his horror. Human history is an advancing apocalypse. This is an apocalypse without an event”, the relationship with current events is remarkable.

Years before Arendt published Vita Activa, Heidegger had given a lecture on Science and Reflection where he said that as opposed to action that moves us forward, reflection brings us back to where we always already are. It opens up to us a being-there (Da-Sein) that precedes every doing, every action and that takes time (Han, 2023, pg. 62).

The same Heidegger will write in Black Notebooks: “What would happen if the presentiment of the silent power of inactive reflection disappeared?” and Han reflects: “the presentiment is not deficient knowledge. Rather, it opens up to us the being, the there, which escapes proportional knowledge. Only through presentiment do we have access to that place in which human beings always find themselves…” (page 63).

HAN, B.C. (2023). Vita Contemplativa: In Praise of Inactivity, transl. Daniel Steuer, USA, ed. Polity.


Life and contemplation

28 Nov

No, it is not about the art of observing nature or the universe, as the act of observing is also an “active life” as there will certainly not be any interpretation or detail that catches our attention.

It is about other meanings: listening without interpreting, looking with a purified gaze and understanding what is incomprehensible to human reason, so it is not a rational attitude, nor a madness or sensitive delirium, it is an exercise of “inactivity” writes Byung- Chul Han.

The author writes in Vita Contemplativa: ou sobre a inativa (Han, 2023, p. 11): “Inactivity constitutes the Humanum. What makes doing genuinely human is the amount of inactivity in it. Without a moment of hesitation or restraint, acting degenerates into blind action and reaction. Without rest, a new barbarism emerges.”

Therefore, contemplative inactivity is not to be confused with laziness, absence of action, but a rest for clairvoyant action and deep speech, says the author: “It is silence that gives depth to speech. Without silence there is no music, but only noise and noise. Play is the essence of beauty. Where only the scheme of stimulus and reaction, of lack and satisfaction, of problem and solution, of objective and action, prevails, life is reduced to survival, to naked animal life” (idem) and it is not by chance that it is confused with current modern life.

We are not machines always destined to function, the true life of conscious action begins when the concern for survival ceases and the need for raw life is born.

The confusion appeared because of the confusion between history and culture, not the history of ideas (in the sense of the Greek eidos), but that which ignores culture and deals only with the power and oppression of peoples, says the author: “action is, in fact, constitutive for history, but it is not the formative force of culture” (Han, 2023, p. 12) (paint: Contemplation of philosopher, Rembrandt, 1632).

And he adds in the same passage: “Not war, but celebration, not weapons, but jewelry, are the origin of culture. History and cultural do not coincide” (Han, idem).

“Jewelry” may seem strange, but the core of our culture is ornamental. It is situated beyond functionality and utility. With the ornamental that is emancipated from any purpose or utility, life insists on being more than survival” (idem).

The great religions have established the sacred in inactivity: Christian Sunday, the Jewish Sabbath, Islamic Ramadan, these are not just about inactivity, but a day of “contemplation”.

The “active” man searching for an “intense” and unbridled life of stimuli and responses falls into a void of meaning and into merely fighting for survival, little or nothing human resists, and if we want to return to the civilizing process, culture, the ornamental and the party must return to everyday life, time for Christmas and end-of-year celebrations, time to stop.

HAN, B.C. (2023). Vita Contemplativa: In Praise of Inactivity, transl. Daniel Steuer, USA, ed. Polity.


Intense war and freed hostages

27 Nov

Russia stated this Sunday (26/11) that it shot down drones in the four regions at war, including some near Moscow and two missiles were also intercepted, while Ukraine claims to have eliminated more than a thousand soldiers and 30 Russian tanks in the war regions.

On Saturday there was a strong drone attack against Kiev, according to Moscow the biggest since 2022.

War negotiations continue, but the sanctions imposed by Moldova have created a new zone of conflict between Moscow and the West, Moldova fears being Russia’s next target.

The most serious thing about the Hamas and Israel conflict is the use of civilians as hostages (photo).

In the Gaza strip, the truce between Hamas and Israel continues, the exchange of hostages by Hamas soldiers continues, yesterday was the third day, in total | Hamas released 58 hostages while Israel released 117 Palestinians, in order these were the numbers of hostages released.

First day of truce 24 hostages, second day (Saturday) 17 hostages and third day (Sunday) 17 hostages, although the agreement is only for 4 days, and would end today, the expectation is that it can progress until Wednesday. fair.

Pope Francis, always optimistic, said in his last reference to war that humanity (of course those who make political decisions) chose war instead of peace.

Conflicts are already a major humanitarian tragedy and could become a serious humanitarian and civilizational crisis.


The final  examination of conscience

24 Nov

We can be (illusory) building personal happiness (good life in philosophy) without caring about the Other, society today lives the denial of the Other and pain, but this is the path to disputes, rivalries and in the last stage the wars.

The contemporary world lives with disbelief, a lack of individual and collective awareness, what matters is solving one’s own problem, there is no shortage of literature for this, either for easy success or for individual consolation with self-help books, there are no shortage of recipes considered “spiritual”, but in the exercise society, it is a despiritualized asceticism.

How we treat pain means how we see poverty, neglect of health (not even medical plans can solve it anymore), lack of basic sanitation, public abuses of immorality, not to mention prison systems, the destruction of drugs and the various social marginalizations.

The examination of conscience, as good literature says, is that awareness of something, not that of the comfort of gated communities, of social isolation in refuges, but that awareness of oneself and the Other, which is other than the social group and its illnesses, not forgetting the morals, which seem to have lost all references.

There is no shortage of literature and thought on these issues, but the final question is how do we reverse these issues, how do we avoid growing hatred, fanatical polarization and, at the end of it all, the tendency towards increasingly cruel wars involving diverse peoples?

The examination of conscience is what side we are on, not of public and even political irrationality, but on the side of those who suffer, those who have lost hope, those who, for a certain reason, whether justifiable or not, look at life as a burden. .

The final Examination of Conscience is the one, which is also biblical (Mt 25:34-35): “‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father! Receive as your inheritance the Kingdom that my Father prepared for you since the creation of the world! For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a foreigner and you welcomed me into your home; 36 I was naked and you clothed me; I was sick and you took care of me; I was in prison and you came to visit me’ “.

So it’s about doing this personal and social examination of conscience, which side are you on?




Illness, health systems and abandonment

23 Nov

Illness is part of the human experience, it is not specific to this or that class, race or ethnicity, however the way we treat different types of humans is often disrespectful and a symptom that something is wrong in the social structure.

First, of course, there must be a system that allows access to treatments as widely as possible and safely, then comes the issue of proximity to family, friends and especially the system itself that must treat the patient and not just the disease.

The experience of human fragility in different situations, and also in a serious illness, is what should awaken greater solidarity and harmony between the people who are close to us and the health systems. The pandemic revealed great fragility, although the systems worked, the degree of solidarity and responsibility remained at sordid levels.

We did not improve humanly with such a huge scourge that shook the entire planet, the expectation that we would emerge more supportive of this experience was not confirmed.

The Korean-German philosopher expressed in a lecture at the university…., he expressed his post-pandemic feeling like this: “it is dramatic that we are not able to touch another person, as this transmits incredible energy”, “we no longer touch each other, we don’t even tell stories among ourselves” (a reference to his latest book “The Narration Crisis”), and he said: “we are more alone than ever”.

In the book “The palliative society”, Byung-Chul, quoting Ernest Jünger, writes: “Tell me your relationship with pain, and I will tell you who you are!”, our relationship with pain in society shows how we live today, those who speak of peace, many Sometimes they support and even desire war, not all of them of course.

HAN, B.C. The Palliative Society: Pain Today , transl. Daniel Steuer, NY: Polity Press, 2021.


The water problem

22 Nov

One of the serious differences between developed and developing countries is the serious global crisis in water resources, which has a direct correlation with social inequalities.

In regions where water shortages are at critical levels, such as some Arab countries and even Latin America and mainly on the African continent, where the average water consumption per person is nineteen cubic meters/day, or fifteen liters/person may seem exaggerated, but baths and washing utensils and clothes should be considered.

Just for comparison purposes, in New York there is a consumption of clean and drinkable fresh water of two thousand liters/day per person, of course this is an exaggeration, clothes and utensils are washed with drinking water.

According to Unicef, less than half of the world’s population has access to drinking water, irrigation accounts for 73% of water consumption and 21% goes to industry, only 6% is for domestic consumption while one billion and 200 million people ( 35% of the world’s population) do not have access to treated water.

One billion and 800 million people do not have adequate basic sanitation services and thus the realization that ten million people die as a result of intestinal diseases transmitted by water, a basic resource for life, water is neglected.

Giving drink to those who are thirsty is not a catchphrase, it is a vital necessity