The fair and the legal

08 Feb

Legality is evidently based on laws, even if strange or questionable, it is a kind of “social contract” for living in society, which is why the topic of the previous post is relevant, even more so if one considers that the highest point of what is legal today is neocontractualism.

Paul Ricoeur wrote in two volumes on the subject, done in the form of essays, in the third essay he deals with John Rawls’s Theory of Justice, not only attests to its relevance but also he claims what almost all of us said at a time in our childhood : “this is unjust” and then this precedes the sense of the Just as they also concern not only the law, but all people.

Ricoeur in the preface of Justo 1 already pays attention to the detail that the theme is connected to the idea of ​​what is ethical, in classical philosophy, is “the desire for a ‘good life’ with and for others in just institutions”, and here he situates A good part of the civilizing crisis has emerged: the mistrust that exists in democratic institutions.

The expression “good life” taken up from Aristotle is a qualifier of good in a strict ethical sense, so the good is inseparable from the good of the other, under the penalty of being nothing more than a reprehensible selfishness, which degrades the subject in the sense of moral plane.

Put more clearly, the relationship with the other is constitutive of self-awareness, and it is, to a certain extent, ethical beyond the legal and merely moral.

Where only obedience is decisive, even with an inner conformity to the moral Law, which can be unavoidable in every ethical life, this has something beyond the Law, in it man desires the Good, aspires to the Good for himself and for others, in a sense that also becomes consciousness for the other.

It is obvious that this finds a barrier in our faults, the bad feelings, the bad actions, the violence that mark society since the most primitive times, in this sense it is necessary to awaken the conscience of guilt, which contains in it the very conception of judgment, this means to limit yourself.

For this reason, the theme of freedom is relevant, what kind of freedom is desired and under the pretext of what conception of justice, thus “fair institutions” are needed.

So this is Ricoeur’s formula: “: « the desire for a good life with and for others in just institutions », without them the legal becomes revolting.

However, it must be said that “institutions” are not limited to the legal aspect, in the same way that what is fair cannot be reduced to what is legal, it is necessary to analyze it in depth.

To explain this, Ricoeur says what is awareness of the Law: “Applying a norm to a particular case is an extremely complex operation, which implies a style of interpretation irreducible to the mechanics of practical syllogism”, that is, simple logical rules, there is not one subjectivity, but a transcendence.

When giving a lecture to the L’Arche Association (founded by Jean Vanier) that cares for exceptional people, he addressed the theme and spoke of respect when dealing with the difference between the normal and the pathological, relying on the works of Georges Canguilhem, who discusses the epistemology of biology.




What is fair, how did this concept develop

07 Feb

All contemporary tension involves something beyond politics and economics, the tension over the conception of social contract and power.

The concept of justice is linked to modernity by Contractualism, through construction from the thought of Thomas Hobbes through John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, they take man out of his natural state and exercise him to live in society, they will differ in this way on the concept of who man is: evil by nature and must live under guardianship, he is influenced by society and develops in it, or he is a “noble savage” that society corrupts.

The set of natural rights and the theory of the state of nature is what is called jusnaturalism, whose problem is that the state of equal rights generates conflicts and the state must arbitrate, but in modern society it is together with the liberal utilitarian thought .

Thus, they are all linked to a social contract established by the state, and the first major criticism is made by Hegel, which he will understand by general will is a pure, idealistic concept, maintained in a rational instance, above any agreement or contract.

Max Weber will make a deeper reform by differentiating domination from power, since domination is the acceptance of power that can be given in three ways: legal, traditional and charismatic. However, in none of them the use of force is dispensed with and the social question is not always remembered.

John Rawls develops and re-elaborates a Theory of Justice based on classical contractualism, determining the rights and duties that must be carried out in order to carry out the so-called “cooperation of peoples” and offers contributions to the social issue that is a source of conflicts.

However, current theorists such as Emmanuel Levinas and Martha Nussbaum, question each one in their own way, if the social contract does not have a serious limitation, Nussbaum points out, for example, the problem of people with mental or physical disabilities, the problem on the issue of animals and forests.

Levinas starts from the ethical requirement that exists in Rawls’s work to elaborate the idea that we must refuse the temptation to impose our will and strive to establish peaceful compromises, and thus rejects the idea of ​​the state as having a monopoly on violence and power, in a certain way. sense, it also re-elaborates the issue of domination and power, central to Max Weber.

Lévinas, E., Humanisme de l’Autre Homme, (1973) (Montpellier : Fata Morgana, 1972).



New tensions and pandemic

06 Feb

In addition to the war between Russia and Ukraine, where tensions are growing, tensions between the United States and China have increased due to an alleged spy balloon that entered the American sky and a new tension between Azerbaijan and Armenia where there are 130 thousand Armenians isolated in substandard conditions. -human activities in the region of Nagorno-Kabarakh, claimed by both countries (map) and with a history of conflicts.

In the war after the delivery of German tanks to Ukraine and American aid, Russia reacted with fury promising a devastating offensive, February 24th will complete a year of war and a strong Russian offensive is expected by then, in addition there are threats to the West and an offensive in Moldavia, which borders Ukraine in the south, and thus create a new combat front.

The balloon that invaded American territory, coming from Canada and according to China was lost, since it will be taken over by the Americans (the overthrow could be dangerous), entered the Montana region, northern USA and with possible nuclear weapons, which led to suspicious, but China claims that the American measure was hasty and that it is just an atmospheric balloon, but tension has risen.

Beijing’s leaders declared that they “would not accept any conjecture or unfounded exaggeration” and accused “some US politicians and media” of using the incident “as a pretext to attack and defame China”, despite the tension the climate is not one of a war and the Taiwan question is a backdrop.

Covid-19 follows a roadmap of uncertainties, now there are indications that Japan is facing a growth of the pandemic, isolated during the previous stages, the country has opened up to tourism and this seems to be one of the indications of this unexpected growth, the use of masks there, for example, it predates the Pandemic.

According to the BBC website, the country reached a historic record on January 20 with 425 deaths in a single day, proportionally higher than Latin America, the United States and South Korea, among others, data is from Our World in Data, which is compiled by the University of Oxford.

There are also fears about side effects of Pfizer’s bivalent vaccine (immunizes the initial variant and new strains), according to the American health control body, the FDA, the analysis carried out on millions of elderly people did not identify a risk of stroke, but experts ask more in-depth study.


Being, consciousness and clearing

03 Feb

The clearing of Being was an important theme in Heidegger’s ontological resumption, it is inseparable from the phenomenological methodology which his teacher Husserl was the main modern developer, but it remains an aporia, as stated in Adorno’s and Horkheimer’s Dialectics of Enlightenment, if there is in fact a self-destruction of enlightenment in modernity and why this happened.

Therefore, it is not simply a matter of resuming the Being, but as this can happen from the phenomenological method, then two questions must be raised: placing our preconceptions in parentheses as a result of enlightenment, which is called by Husserl the epoché phenomenological, and the question of the intentionality of consciousness, in it the Being is unveiled, there reside most of our problems and dissatisfaction.

Contemporary culture (or what’s left of it, as Dalrymple says, we’ve already posted here) goes against the grain in this sense, what some authors call an excess of positivity, that logic described even as “mystery”, affirmation of desires and needs, summarizing life seen as utility only and not as essence or fullness.

In this way, we must make an “emptiness”, a silence in the soul so that we have the fullness of the being, remove the immediate desires and needs in order to be able to understand in fact the true needs and nourishment of the Being that lead to joy and fullness, the simple impulse leads to temporary compulsions and as such satisfy only the immediate need, what is proper to the Being remains hidden.

It is possible with these two measures: to make a void (epoché) by putting in parentheses what our preconceptions are, re-elaborating them in a hermeneutic circle that actually allows a new “concept”, after the fusion of horizons.

This is why ontology says that the Being remains hidden, it is beyond what is immediate and apparent, it should not be sought “Outside”, but “Inside”, true interiority is needed, without manipulations and barriers, many thinkers, mystics and spiritualities manage to this, and reach a fullness, even if temporary, will be food for a true asceticism.

For Christian philosophy and theology, it is not possible to reach true fullness without announcing and living its values, says the reading (Mt 5:14): “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. Nobody lights a lamp and puts it under a bowl, but on a lamp, where it shines for everyone in the house”, but this must be done with respect and fraternity and never with proselytism and judgments.



Being, Truth and Consciousness

02 Feb

It is not by chance that when we are faced with the greatest technical development of humanity, the current development of Artificial Intelligence that threatens to invade the universe of all things (the IoT is just a detail of this), we are also faced with the question of what it is consciousness.

From the truth of classical antiquity, Alethéia (a-létheia) is to reveal what is hidden, passing through countless authors until arriving at the Frankfurt School where Adorno and Horkheimer who speaks of the aporia of enlightenment, the one who at the beginning of modernity seeks to obtain a “objective” truth that conceals being.

In this question of truth, Heidegger, who develops the question of the forgetfulness of Being and the concealment of truth, developed it as: “in the following sentence where one writes about ‘truth’, it is evident that the representation of the essence of truth dictated by some modern manual of epistemology, leaving unchanged and untouched the essence of aletheia” (Heidegger, 1998, p. 115), says the author about authors who are trapped only in the etymology of the word.

The Frankfurtians, on the other hand, describe the issue of enlightenment as follows: “The aporia we face in our work thus reveals itself as the first object to be investigated: the self-destruction of enlightenment. We have no doubt – and this is where our petitio principii lies – that freedom in society is inseparable from enlightening thought” (Adorno & Horkeimer, 1947) which they reduce to a small principle, since they do not see the question of Being as central.

When questioning what is consciousness, or what is sentience in the matter of Artificial Intelligence, we are not questioning anything other than what separates us from things, ultimately what is Being and if in fact it only has meaning of “object” that modern enlightenment wanted to give us.

We are also faced with ethical and moral principles when “unveiling” (a-lethéia, non-hidden) the question of Being, resuming it is not just an exercise in the etymology of the word truth or a philosophical exercise, it is first of all to do an essential question, a lato principii: “what is being” and what is hidden.

The possibility of the clearing is none other than the one that puts us not before the truth logically development, for onto-logically, and from there to define what is conscience, developed by Heidegger in the following way: “consciousness is the appeal of the preoccupation from the estrangement of being in the world that awakens Dasein to its own power to be guilty” (Heidegger, 2012, p. 791).

The question remains if it is possible for all beings, and for the current modern man, a “awareness” that reveals within itself as an enlightenment of consciousness, beyond hatred, polarization, intolerance and the narratives that hide the truth of Being.

Turning to fortune tellers, self-help, does not make the wheel of history and truth go backwards, we walk in the dark, in concealment and not in the awareness of Being.


ADORNO, T. W. T. W. & Horkheimer, M. Dialética do Esclarecimento, 1947.

HEIDEGGER, Martin. Heráclito. Trad. Marcia Sá Cavalcante Schuback. Rio de Janeiro: Relume Dumará, 1998.

______, Ser e Tempo (edição em alemão e português). Trad. de Fausto Castilho. Campinas: Unicamp; Petrópolis: Rio de Janeiro, 2012.



The idealist crisis and the ontological recovery

01 Feb

The evolution of the Enlightenment in both politics and economics culminated in Hegelianism, after passing through Kant’s critique of reason, it is the last great theory that seeks to realize an “integrated” totality, subject to “dialectical” contradictions (it is different from the dialectic of classical antiquity) and, according to his model, the ultimate aim would be to reach the full spiritual essence, which has little or nothing to do with religiosity.

It was thus the dialectical materialist asceticism that ended in an enormous void and in the “forgetfulness of being”, a term used by Heidegger to contradict the theories that since Descartes have emptied and criticized the metaphysical reading of reality, in the etymology of the word meta-physis, in this case the Greek, since its origin is from there, according to Aristotle it was the first science, it gave solid knowledge about things, and the study is confused with ontology, the “being as being”.

For Kant this study is confused with that of customs, it is a non-empirical or rational knowledge, his study on morality and “subjectivity” will start from this relationship with cultural customs and here there is already a strong dose of relativism, and deepens the dualism between Subject x Object, forgetting the “Being”.

So that which is subjective, theoretical or metaphysical is falling into disrepute and theories of objectivity, practicality and empirical realism grow, this will not be done without contradiction, but the very definition of idealist dialectic is this, the development of this concept from from yourself.

Plato defined dialectics as the art of thinking, questioning and organizing ideas (Greek eidos – image, we already posted something), so neither theory is out of the question (idealism is also a theory, by the way, not very practical) , neither metaphysics nor “being”.

The theo-ontology of the end of the measured age will establish the relations between the entity and the being, according to Thomas Aquinas he “is infinite. Therefore, if it becomes finite, it must be limited by something, which has the capacity to receive it, that is, by the essence”, present in his thesis “The entity and the essence”.

Amidst the crisis of idealist thought, see the previous post, a new current emerges from Franz-Brentano in the mid-nineteenth century, which resumes phenomenology and ontology working on the intentionality of human consciousness, which was a specific study in Thomas Aquinas, to try to describe, understand and interpret the phenomena as they appear to perception.

Brentano was Husserl’s teacher, who rereads Descartes and Kant, and elaborates phenomenology with a different meaning given by his teacher Brentano, seeks to separate what is empirical, so the phenomenon of the mental act is not something that appears instantly in the mind, but depends on the memory and elaborates from there the concepts of protension and retension, the discussion about what is consciousness today reaches the objects of Artificial Intelligence.

Heidegger was a student of Husserl, and from him one can consider both the linguistic turn (not all authors agree) and the ontological resumption.


The Lights of Enlightenment

31 Jan

We still live under the aegis of the Enlightenment, the strong movement of 18th century Europe, its principles seemed to lead to a perfect society speaking of freedom and equality among human beings, wishing to abolish both the powers of realization and the influence of Christian religiosity, Voltaire and Diderot were the most radical thinkers, but you can’t help but feel the influences of Immanuel Kant, Adam Smith, David Hume and Montesquieu.

Ernest Cassirer makes one of the important treatises on the Enlightenment, quotes Diderot: “The Author of nature, who will not reward me for having been a man of spirit, will not condemn me to eternal punishment for having been a fool” (apud Cassirer, 1992, p. 224), but the author corrects both the aspect of tolerance, it is necessary to remember the wars between Lutherans and Catholics involving different reigns and the peace of Westphalia, and the aspect now of a free religiosity that “is no longer a gift of a supernatural power, of divine grace; it must spring from the action itself and receive its essential determinations from the action” (Cassirer, p. 225).

The idea also developed by Cassirer of a “pure” intellectualism, on the one hand puts a primacy of thought over pure theoretical speculation and on the other hand seeks to found a religion “in the pure limits of simple reason”, of course without faith, without the mystery (which is part of nature) is no longer religion.

Cartesian insufficiency and reductionism, a strong argument of Cassirer to the Enlightenment, made several philosophers seek roots in Eastern philosophy, Cassirer reminds Leibniz that he had already “quoted Chinese civilization” and in the Persian Letters, Montesquieu makes a comparison between East and West, but it will be Schopenhauer (Upanishad) and Nietzsche (Zaratrusta) who, under these eastern influences, will break with Enlightenment philosophy.

Leibniz is not directly contested, but his disciple Wilhelm Wolff, who “celebrates Confucius as a prophet of great moral purity and places him on a par with Christ” (Cassirer, p.226), will be the target of Voltaire’s irony in his famous “Candido, or optimism” (1759), criticizes the idea of “the best of all possible worlds”.

In the economic aspect, it was important to overcome the philosophy of mercantilism and develop liberal theory (especially Ada, m Smith) on the concept of the economy of nations, but liberalism will develop more broadly with the idea of financial capital by David Ricardo (1772-1823).

The civilizational crisis that we pointed out in last week’s posts (and previous ones, of course), has its roots in the Enlightenment and its ideas of state, religion and freedom, but as Cassirer points out, it is important to “reject the literal meaning of the Bible every time it is mentioned. finds expressed the obligation of an act that contradicts the elementary principles of morality” (p. 228), but in his Treatise on Tolerance (1763), a law of the intellectual world is traced “that reason only exists and subsists if it is recreated day after day” (p. 229).

Cassirer’s development however is that “one cannot decide on their point value apart from their moral efficacy. This is Lessing’s meaning of the apologue of the ring: the ultimate and profound truth of religion is only proved from within” (p. 230).

For these philosophers, only objectivity (the relationship with the external object) is knowledge, and this is achieved in a “transcendence” of the subject in relation to the object, thus there is no sense or value in a moral asceticism, thus for them religion is religion. natural, although they do not have a good relationship with nature.

CASSIRER, Ernest.  (1992) A filosofia do Iluminismo (The Philosophy of the Enlightenment). Trans. Alvaro Cabral. Brazil, Campinas, SP: Editora da Unicamp.



War at the crossroads and pandemic under review

30 Jan

Analyzing these two themes of great global relevance, complicating elements of the great civilizing crisis, which we have already analyzed the political and cultural aspect that is its background, we see a war on a global scale and a pandemic under analysis by the WHO, regarding the use of the term.

These are two euphemisms, as the war already has global proportions with the sending of Leopard tanks by Germany and Poland, while Russia sends its ship called “the end of the world” to international waters in the North Atlantic, there is no prospect of Peace, the pandemic continues what is being discussed is whether the word should continue to be used, the kraker variant infection is already seen worldwide as fast and easy to transmit.

After the announcement of the delivery of Leopard tanks to Ukraine, Russia has already bombed the country with hypersonic missiles that are out of radar range and announced the development in scale of the Poseidon nuclear weapon (image), an Autonomous Nuclear torpedo with intercontinental capacity, as relies on submarines can reach coastal cities in practically all continents.

Vice-President of Security Council and ex-president of Russia Dmitri Medvedev said that whoever has nuclear weapons does not lose a war, and the declaration is seen as a threat to the involvement of European countries and the United States, now seen as direct involvement by the declared shipment of weapons.

Analysts from all over the world, including the so-called symbolic “Doomsday clock”, which began after the end of World War II, advanced the “clock” to 90 seconds from midnight, due to the war in Ukraine and the escalation of threats between the West and Russia.

In 1945, created by biophysicist Eugene Rabinovitch and organized by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the Doomsday Clock featured scientists such as Albert Einstein, J. Robbert Oppencheimer and Marx Born, who are still renowned scientists who maintain this analysis, the 23:58 time: 30 is the closest since its inception.

The WHO is also considering suspending the state of “public health emergency of international interest”, a euphemism for declaring the end of the pandemic, which is worrying because more than 170,000 deaths have resulted in China alone in recent weeks, and the kraken variant continues expanding, with this the help of nations with health difficulties and a global policy to combat the virus is weakened.

I do not believe that the current crisis, which includes and is based on cultural values, can dissipate, but attitudes of peace and care for life can give us some warning, the authorities must bear this in mind.


After the publication of this post, came the official WHO statement: “We cannot control the covid-19 virus, but we can do more to deal with the vulnerabilities of populations and health systems”, said its Director General Tedros Adhanom this Monday. -Friday (01/30/2023).



Human consciousness and machinic sentience

27 Jan

Consciousness involves human spiritual aspects (in the idealist philosophy called subjectivity) and that which makes man have a true ascesis that elevates his character, his attitudes and his morals in a progressive learning scale, where the error is admitted, but corrected in a humane way .

Sentience is the fact that we have a conscious perception of our feelings, it is the ability of beings (humans, because we do not believe that even a sophisticated machine can have this asceticism), and in beings it begins to feel sensations and feelings consciously.

The less we manage to be aware of our feelings, the less we have sentience and the less ability to understand our feelings, the attempt to translate sensations (types of laughter, happiness, sadness, etc. to the machine), will always be subject to algorithms, even that are very sophisticated, and that is why I call it machinic sentience, since machinic consciousness is described in different ways by different authors.

The picture representation in XVII century, um dos primeiros estudos foi do matemático inglês Robert Fludd (1574–1637).

True human consciousness is thus that which allows us to reach levels of asceticism in different ways: altruism, putting ourselves in the other’s shoes, living a just life and appreciating justice, in short, a true spirituality that elevates us as humans, and is also that which is within reach of those who suffer from human injustice and barbarism.

For Christians, what makes us achieve true asceticism is described in the so-called beatitudes (Mt 5,1-12) which speak of the poor, the afflicted, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for justice, those who have the capacity of forgiving and deceitful with the clarity of the desire for peace: “Blessed are those who promote peace, for they will be called children of God”, so in all circumstances that one lives in dark days, it is necessary to promote peace.

The contours of intolerance and violence, not only in the war in Ukraine, but in almost the entire planet should worry those who defend peace.



Artificial intelligence and planning

26 Jan

We all want ideal and perfect situations, as Margaret Boden says, obviously this is not restricted to AI, our daily lives, our travels and the future depend on this planning, simple voluntarism, or simple desire (it is fashionable to mentalize desires) do not solve any problem and most of the time cause anxiety and frustration.

In the case of computing, “planning enables the program – and/or the human user – to find out what actions have already been taken and why. The ‘why’ refers to the goal hierarchy: this action was performed to satisfy that prerequisite, to achieve such and such secondary goals” (Boden, 2020, p. 44), this in some computer program designs is called “requirements engineering”.

In the case of AI, there is both a “forward thread” and a “backward thread”, which explain and help the program to find solutions, for this there is also a hierarchy, there is also a hierarchy of tasks and the author adds that both planning as hierarchy was rejected by “roboticists” in the 1980s, and today it has been incorporated into the field.

There are several AI constraints that are not clearly exposed and that better explain what AI is, for example, “there are a lot of simplifying non-mathematical assumptions in AI that are generally not mentioned. One of them is the (tacit) hypothesis that problems can be defined without taking emotions into account” (Boden, 2020, p. 46) which is addressed in the next topic and whose subject is just initialized.

The artificial neural networks that greatly helped the development of AI are very different from semantic networks, since the latter are already developed from experience and human interaction and only after these topics is that Chapter 6 does the author ask the question about what is real Artificial Intelligence, like the key questions “Do they have egos, moral stance and free will? Would they be aware?” (Boden, 2020, p. 165), and this question we cannot escape without presenting some philosophical, theological or anthropological insight, perhaps an in-depth synthesis of the three would be more interesting.

The question in times of serious civilizing crisis is necessary a previous question: the human conscience what would it be? How do we treat it? The dictatorship of the same, the insensitive and the standardization of even thought leads us to a false impression that the machine can overtake us (the point of singularity).

BODEN, Margaret A. (2020) Inteligência Artificial: uma brevíssima introdução (Artificial Intelligence: a very brief introduction). Brazil, SP: Ed. UNESP.