Contractualism and Innocence

30 Mar

The great discussion of the contractualists was about the non-innocence of the person, they are all defenders of the powers of the state and, ultimately, of in dubio pro societate (when in doubt, in favor of society and not of the defendant), Hobbes saw man as evil and the state should police it, Locke saw how it limited the powers of the state and gave the people the right to rebellion and Rousseau saw man as good, society is what corrupted him.

None of them denies the need and priority of state powers, as they were pillars of all modern country constitutions, and their update is in John Rawls and his successor Michael Sandel.

Both were Kantian idealists and utilitarians, but there is a small difference in that Sandel criticized Rawls’s voluntarism, according to which political and moral principles are legitimized from the exercise of individual will through choice or consent.

Locke’s empiricism claimed for this: “we are all, by nature, free, equal and independent, no one can be excluded from this situation and subjected to the political power of others without having given his consent” (1988, section 95).

In order to understand Sandel’s position, it is necessary to read at least the work that we indicate or clearly understand his examples, which seek to make his concepts practical and clear, in relation to belonging to groups, as a guarantee of collective interests (he rejects the term communitarianism). cites two cases: that of a French resistance pilot who during World War II refused to bomb his hometown, even though he knew that this would contribute to the liberation of France (2012, p. 279), belonging to his hometown.

The second example is that of a rescue operation organized by the government of Israel to save Ethiopian Jews from refugee camps in Sudan (2012, p. 280), belonging to the Jewish people.

However, in one of his famous lectures in which he gives other examples, and makes several dialogues with the audience, he is caught in contradiction when he gives the example of 6 patients arriving at an emergency room and 1 is in serious condition while the 5 patients who need donation of different organs to survive and the patient in serious condition requires a lot of care time, asks the question if he would let him die to help others.

Most people agreed to let him die, but a young man (in the photo) said he had another solution, out of the 5 who were about to die, the one who died first would donate his organs to the others, which left Sandel embarrassed and arrived at admit: “it’s a good idea, except for the fact that it destroyed the philosophical point of view” (see video below).

There are interpersonal and ontological relationships that go beyond mere subjectivity, it is something between beings and not just between beings and their cultures or belongings, it is in a kind of collective soul, in a noosphere where everything is more than logical, it is onto-logical.

(155) Justiça com Michael Sandel O Lado Moral do Assassinato – YouTube


LOCKE, J. (1690). “Second Treatise of Government”. In: Two Treatises of Cambridge Government: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

SANDEL, M. (2012) “Justice – what is to do the right thing”. Rio de Janeiro: Brazilian Civilization.



Political justice and innocence

29 Mar

State morality was developed together with the historical contractualist conception through Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) in particular in his Leviathan, John Locke (1632-1704), founder of empiricism and Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778), for him man is born good and society corrupts him.

In the social contract, individual rights are transferred to state power by a contract and so it can be said that it is the root of the principle in dubio pro societate (in doubt, society is defended), there is no presumption of innocence.

The transfer of powers to the state also transfers the end of innocence that implies not allowing the emotional development of children and adolescents in a family environment, and thus the discussion of criminal age starts to make sense, and the whole concept of justice becomes political .

The contemporary development of contractualism is in the philosopher John Rawls (1921-2002) for whom a metaphysical conception of morality is not possible, he develops the concept of “justice as fairness” presented in his book “A theory of Justice ”.

John Rawls profoundly influenced the thinking of Michael Sandel who is one of the most influential current thinkers in the western culture of justice and thus heir of contractualism, and both are heirs of the Kantian conception of morality.

One of the rare authors to analyze this position was Paul Ricoeur (1913-20050 in his book The Just (Vol. I), dedicating a good part of the text to the analysis of John Rawls and developing the idea of law in its peculiar position, a half way between morality and politics, without which it is utilitarian and not by chance was deeply influenced by the utilitarian thought of John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). 

Equity is not possible without a personal human relationship, Ricoeur said: “The virtue of justice is established based on a relationship of distance with the other, as original as the relationship of proximity with the other offered in his face and in his voice” and this does not it is neither exact nor pragmatic.

RAWLS, John. (1997) Uma teoria da justiça. Tradução Almiro Pisetta e Lenita M. R. Esteves. Brazil, São Paulo: Martins Fontes.

RICOEUR, P. (1995) Le Juste 1. Paris : Éditions Esprit.

SANDEL, M.J. (2013) Como fazer a coisa certa. São Paulo: Civilização Brasileira.



Innocence and right

28 Mar

In another post, we have already drawn differences between innocence, naivety and ignorance, the first being something we are unaware of, however we perceive the harm (or good) in the act, naivety is when we are unaware of the effect of an act that it can cause and ignorance it is when we are unaware that there is an evil in a practiced act.

We dealt with this situation in a post made some time ago, and in the previous post about the current war.

Violence is evil practiced intentionally, and in this case it goes beyond deceit and is usually the victim of some kind of hatred, revenge or mere distemper, there is always something of ignorance in violence.

Some authors treated this philosophically and there are those who see in innocence a “danger” in which it would be possible to adhere to some evil committed, Nietzsche saw it this way, but for current authors this is seen from the legal idea of presumption of innocence, in doubt pro reo.

The thought that opposes this is the in dubio pro societate, in this case the promoter of some illicit act must file a complaint in favor of society, the opposing arguments are in the decision of the values of dignity and the right to freedom, and here is the presumption of innocence.

For idealists like Kant, the individual is endowed with reason and dignity, so performing an action for a reason outside its causes and not because it is the right thing to do and this is in favor of freedom.

For this reason Bauman will discuss mixophobia, that is, the desire to oppose those who are different, strangers or minorities, the more the world becomes global and plural this must appear in larger doses.

In Bauman’s view this would be increasing fear in cities, if he lived through these times of pandemic and polarization perhaps he would perceive more clearly that there is a greater basic problem, one that comes from cultures and environments where the desire to isolate oneself from the different.

One of the greatest lecturers on this subject, bringing together large audiences in his lectures is Michael Sandel, we will see later, but Freud in a way anticipated this in Civilization and its Discontents: “An unrestricted satisfaction of all needs presents itself as the most tempting method of conducting our lives, however, means putting pleasure before caution, immediately incurring its own punishment.”

People live under global risks, where everything can turn into explosive and violent situations.

BAUMAN, Zygmunt.(2006) Verdade e medo na cidade.(Trust and fear in the city). Translation by Miguel Serras Pereira. Lisbon: Water Clock.

KANT, Immanuel. (1986). Fundamentação da Metafísica dos costumes (Metaphysical foundation of morals). Translated from German by Paulo Quintela. Lisbon: Editions 70.


War and Innocence

27 Mar

There are numerous political, economic, historical and even religious reasons for starting a conflict, but this is not from the perspective of the innocent thought of a child who dreams of a world without conflicts, peace and human dignity for all.

The drawing of a child, we omit the name and the police situation that later involved the case, is a generous and innocent look at the world, and reinforces the idea that there is a sincere feeling of friendship and fraternity still present in humanity.

The situation of the conflict is getting worse, with the Russian threat to send “strategic” nuclear weapons to Belarus, Russia’s allied country, on the battlefield Ukraine “stabilized” the situation in Bahkmut, the most violent front of the war and where they were the forces of the mercenaries of the Wagner group.

The possibility of a third block of negotiations with Russia, announced by China whose president made a recent visit to China and expected the visit of the Brazilian government, however the president presented a picture of pneumonia and influenza and postponed the visit.

They are ideologically closer to Russia, but this third block has this as an asset since it is visible that Putin does not listen to NATO or the UN, see the Hague condemnation of the extradition of Ukrainian children to Russia, which condemned him the prison.

The picture is delicate and requires caution and effort for a possible negotiation of peace, people who look generously at humanity cannot see the world differently, they must not seek justifications and assumptions for war, they must have the generous look of a child.



The Examined Life in Love

24 Mar

We can examine that an examined life is according to the great deeds, names that went down in history, the recent revisions show that it is not quite like that, also tyrants, colonizers and not so honest people can have earthly glories, but fleeting.

The life examined according to Socrates, and also Kurosawa’s assumption in his film Ikiru (Life) is about what was built for the love of others, and this makes a life “well lived”, for this reason Socrates will inspire the creation of the Greek polis, a society at the service of all citizens, even if the concept of citizenship was restricted.

One can always look around and see something good and fair that can be done, many men have done small or large deeds for the public good without receiving any recognition, the old man who dies in the park he helped build in Kurosawa’s film he is happy even in the face of death.

I call this type of clearing of conscience enlightenment, it cannot be made of appearances or subterfuges, it must be done in front of the mirror and of conscience itself, the phenomenon that I believe to be possible, perhaps one day for all humanity (if it is which is not done at the time of death), would make men better because they would lose the masks of their narratives.

There are two Lazarus in the Bible who are misfortunes, the miserable one who stays at the door of a rich man’s house, who waits at the door for alms and leftovers, and Lazaro, friend of Jesus, who, even knowing his death, only goes to visit him 4 days later and he resuscitates him, he doesn’t just do it out of compassion, he also does it out of a pedagogical attitude, after the feat some Jews believed in him for such an accomplishment.

The Reading of John 11: 41-42 says: “Then they took away the stone. Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and said: ‘Father, I thank you for listening to me. I know you always listen to me. But I say this for the sake of the people around me, so that they may believe that you sent me.”

The text says that Jesus wept, so evangelical love is not devoid of feeling, nor is it pure feeling, there is a reason to believe: to believe that love gives dignity to human life.



Live life

23 Mar

The film Ikiru (1952) by the Japanese Akira Kurosawa translated as Viver, could also have the translation Vivendo or Viver a Vida, since in writing in idiograms the conjugation of verbs is different, also in the Portuguese language of Portugal the gerund is little used so instead of Vivendo it would be To be living.

Works this week on the issue of death, and the phrase of the philosopher Socrates: “an unexamined life is not worth living” may seem like just an appeal to erudition, but those who watched Kurosawa’s film realize that it is not about that, either. there, the theme is the examination of the life of a “bureaucrat” in the face of the drama of death, by the character Kanji Watanabe (Takashi Shimura).

The elderly bureaucrat discovers that he has stomach cancer and the first impact is that of depression and after examining his life, his relationship with his son and his service, where he had the nickname “Sutanpu” which means stamp, an allusion to the fact what problems were archived.

Thus, the film opposes bureaucratic life, the simple routine of empty lives, to the drama of the imminent death of the old bureaucrat, who, when examining his life, reminds him of ladies who always came to his department to complain about a muddy and dirty street.

The old man decides to take the problem for himself and even the ladies who complained are amazed, he decides to act to turn that dirty place into a park for children, and everyone in the department notices that he starts to revive, changes his hat, changes his face and decides to live life to the end, as Paul Ricoeur also proposes in his book cited this week.

The comments in your section are mean, maybe it’s a young girl, something must have happened in the old man’s life who now seemed like a different person.

The final scenes show him already dead, even the mean comments, and a street guard appears who says he saw that it was very cold and the old man on the swing (photo) in the park that helped to make it, but that he looked so happy, sang such a beautiful song that I didn’t want to disturb him.

When I watched the film in my youth, already a fan of Kurosawa, I went to the film with an expectation that Kurosawa would fail to deal with such a deeply existential theme, the film is ingenious and emotional.


Between death and non-death

22 Mar

Recovering the concept of a life well lived is one that can be examined, and one must live it to the end, there is another issue that is the gaps in life or what I call the intermittents of death, in reference to what Saramago described in “The Intermittence of Death”, see the post.

If we posted there about the intermittent, here we want to talk about non-death, to address non-life, Saramago’s exercise is to think of a country or fictional place where, for a few days, no death was reported, and he goes further thinking of a situation in which people could know in advance of death, after some reflections, think:

“In theory it seemed like a good idea, but practice would not take long to demonstrate that it was not so much. Imagine a person, one of those who enjoy splendid health, those who have never had a headache, optimists by principle and for clear and objective reasons, and who, one morning, leaving home for work, finds the helpful postman from his area, who says to him, Glad to see you, Mr. So-and-so, I have a letter for you, and immediately sees a violet-colored envelope appear in his hands that perhaps he had not yet paid special attention to …” (p. .123) and receives early news of his death.

He thinks he will be able to avoid stepping on a banana peel, not receiving the letter, throwing it away, but someone will politely bring it back thinking he has forgotten it, finally at the apex of the story he finds it fatal.

If in the previous post the “intermittents” were not clear, here the card is this personification, death made Being not only points to an allegorical discourse, but one can see it as it is.

Then he writes: “Death, where was your victory, knowing, however, that you will not receive an answer, because death never answers. and it’s not because he doesn’t want to, it’s just because he doesn’t know what to say in the face of the greatest human pain” (pp. 123-124).

The speech may seem strange, but only those who follow it can understand that its pure personification brings the understanding that there is something beyond life and not just finitude, this is what bothers Saramago, but he does not give in until he reaches his opposite, which is to accept it as fatal

The personification of death letter and the narrative merge, this is an essential element to understand Saramago’s tale, although he does not refer to it when he says in the cellist’s apartment: “Then something never seen before happened, something not imaginable, death left -If she fell to her knees, she was all of her, now, a body rebuilt, that’s why she had knees, and legs, and feet, and arms, and hands, and a face that was hidden between her hands, and shoulders that trembled you don’t know why, it won’t be crying, you can’t ask so much of someone who always leaves a trail of tears wherever he goes, but none of them are yours.” (p. 152).

Even if it is, in my way of seeing the reverse of life, Saramago remakes the sensible and the finite.


SARAMAGO, Jose. (2005) Intermitências da morte ( Intermittents of death). Brazil, São Paulo: Companhia das Letras.


Philosophy and the question of death

21 Mar

Talking about death is both an instigating and terrifying topic, at least for those who believe that everything concludes in our earthly life cycle, philosophy has always addressed it.

From Socrates and Plato (428-347 BC) to Heidegger (1889-1976) passing through Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), philosophy did not shy away from addressing the theme, Schopenhauer even stated that “death is the muse of philosophy” and Socrates had already said that philosophy is like a “preparation for death”.

In Plato’s Fedón he describes the philosophical life as a “training for death”, there is in it an “ethos” of human life, for which it can be said without exaggeration that it is a “training” and this makes us reflect on the delusions contemporaries of “entertainment until death”.

It can be objected that Plato considered the soul immortal, but Schopenhauer and Heidegger did not, it is true that the latter had a brief foray into Christianity, but later abandoned it, the core of his ontological thinking is what this Being-there, this Dasein is , ex-assistential and human.

Contradicting the fleeting contemporary life, Socrates said that “there is no life well lived that cannot be examined” while Heidegger will affirm that life facing death (we cannot forget that there is the impossibility of existence) is what makes us think outside the world of the “I”, of the alienating voice of society, of the mass media, and of conceiving the world in a utilitarian and transitory way.

Heidegger will use the term “stimmung” which can be translated as “intone”, to compare a tuning instrument, with which he refers to anguish or other animic states (of affective dispositions), using his metaphor as out of tune instruments in the face of life.

Other philosophers such as Paul Ricoeur will remember human “finitude”, to remind him that it is fallible, if Heidegger speaks of Being-towards-death as finitude, Ricoeur characterizes it as an impulse towards life (being against death).

Whatever the approaches, human finitude, life “well lived and examined” is full life.


Ricoeur, P. (2007) Vivant jusqu’à la mort – suivi de Fragments. Paris: Editions Seuil.


The next strategy could be decisive

20 Mar

While Bakhmut’s battles are still bloody, apparently neither Russia nor Ukraine consider it more vital, for Ukraine it is a stalemate waiting for weapons from the West: tanks, jets and more ammunition, for Russia a deception that cost many lives, in particular of mercenaries from the so-called “Wagner command”, who criticize Russia for this.

To reinforce this Putin visited Mariupol and the Crimea, Russian rearguard positions, in points already conquered in other battles, with extreme security, but to guarantee the morale of the troop and his own, since he was condemned together with his commissioner Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belov for taking 6,000 Ukrainian children for “re-education” to Russia.

With conviction, both could be arrested, but it is unlikely that they will come to the West.

The new strategy expected by the Ukrainians is an invasion to the north by Belarus, but their army is small and would only be effective if supported by Russian forces, the Russians in turn would like to consolidate the positions in Donetsk and Mariupol, gaining a strip of territory in Ukraine.

China and Belarus continue to claim “extreme interest” in peace and an end to hostilities, as they lose a lot commercially with the war, but will certainly support Russian achievements.

The event of interception of an American drone in the Black Sea by a Russian fighter also caused strong tension, the escalation of the “spring” in Ukraine is foreseen by the sending of more weapons.

There is always some encouragement for peace, but since the beginning of the war the scenario has only evolved in the opposite way, there is a suspension of breath about the new war strategies.



Blindness, lucidity and serenity

17 Mar

What can be called blindness in the literature, almost always goes beyond the simple difficulty of visual functions, at least one must be considered, which is that of the cognitive faculties that ultimately develop and adapt thought to visual perceptions.

Thus there is a civilizing blindness, that which does not perceive the obstacles and even chasms that can open up in the contemporary civilizing process, the forces and the dominance of the forces of nature, as Heidegger thought about the techniques, which prevent reflective thinking.

Looking at blindness only as the difficulty of the visual field, the immediate reality is thus the worst of blindness, incapable of contemplating the essence of Being, what is designated by each man during his personal and social life.

Thus, by developing cognitive functions, man can gain lucidity, look with clarity at his own life and that of his society and culture, can lead him beyond this clarity to a life of serenity and peace, even if he is in a social life in conflict.

It is not comfortable or individualized peace, but one that is capable of dealing with contradictions, oppositions and misunderstandings, common in a process of civilizing crisis.

The reality we live in can lead more quickly to a rupture of lucidity and serenity and the further away from them, the more difficult it is to find paths and paths to return to peace.

One of the most enlightening passages of the Christian biblical reading on blindness is the healing of a man blind from birth, who, therefore, did not develop the cognitive apparatus to see and thus would have difficulty perceiving the objects, colors and beings around him, more than having the function of vision, he cognitively understands what he is seeing.

The passage says the Pharisees questioned the healing of the blind man (Jo 9,10-12): “Then they asked him: ‘How were your eyes opened?’ my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash’. So I went and washed and began to see.’ They asked him, ‘Where is he?’ He replied, ‘I don’t know.'”

And Jesus’ contemporaries continued in blindness without understanding the healing of the blind man.