Arquivo para October, 2020

Politics and religion

17 Oct

Hannah Arendt will argue against the confusion between politics and religion, and clarifies the difference between a meeting place (being public) with differences in what she calls appearance and demonstration. The author says:

“Christian politics has always been faced with the dual task of ensuring, on the one hand, by influencing secular politics, that the non-political gathering place of the faithful is protected from the outside, and, on the other hand, preventing a meeting place becomes an apparition space, and with that the Church becomes a secular-mundane power, among others. Hence, it was found that the link with the world corresponding to everything spatial and making it appear and appear, is much more difficult to fight than the secular power claim, which presents itself from the outside in. When the Reformation managed to remove from the Church all that has to do with appearance and manifestation, transforming it again into a meeting place for those who, in the sense of the Gospels, lived in the recollection, the public character of these Church spaces also disappeared. “

The author has not lived until today to see the consequences of this, that is, that the denial of the public character of these spaces of the church, turned it into the opposite, that is, in a political opportunism to win the faithful who go there to seek a divine message. , a comfort for the soul, and often the change of life (conversion).

What happened were two apostasies, the religious one which is to deny the divine power of God, “my kingdom is not of this world” and the second much worse, which is to affirm it as a human power to which public policy must submit and so make religious believers linked to some political, ideological or cultural current.

Even though Jesus knew that the Jews lived under an oppressive and unjust Roman empire, this can be seen when he says, among many passages: “the tax collectors and prostitutes will precede you in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 21,31), which brings them together as sinners, and the publicans were responsible for the province before the Roman Empire, including income and taxes.

This is necessary to understand the meaning of politics and religion in the passage where Jesus is asked about the justice of paying tribute to the emperor, to which he replies: «Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is of God. » (Mt 22,21) therefore right after the previous section, where the right (and the power) to forgive sins is questioned, what was his authority in fact and then will compare it to the temporal (and spatial power according to Arendt) of which is “outside” the meeting.

In religious specific terms, the apostasy of betting on parties and ideologies, almost always with duplicate purposes and foundations, sometimes favor life, sometimes disadvantage it (abortion and euthanasia, for example), sometimes they defend the poor, sometimes they justify corruption, and so on, must not be compared to the infinite divine power, clear to those who believe, and to those who do not believe, the search for a guideline for society and for the world implies values




Political sense and networks

16 Oct

The mistrust of politics (and politicians) is as old as the tradition of political philosophy, writes Hannah Arendt and it is through this question that one can understand the meaning of politics.

Right afterwards in the introduction to fragment 3b he writes: “Politics, as we have learned, is something like an imperative necessity for human life and, in fact, both for the life of the individual and of society”, and adds little by little to: “The task and objective of the policy is to guarantee life in the broadest sense”.

Then it will clarify an old misconception, present in all Western culture, we already said in another post from the zoon politikon, says the author that it is not: were politicians or that politics, that is, a polis, there were everywhere where men lived ”, he believed“ it is only a characteristic of man that he can live in a polis and that this organization of the polis represented the highest form of human coexistence ”, but he knew that it was far from being a society of angels and it was restricted to a group of people.

The author explains that what distinguishes the coexistence of men in politics from other forms of human coexistence was freedom, for a class of people.

The meaning of politics for the Greeks clarifies Arendt in paragraph 3c: “And the goal was not purely and simply freedom as it was realized in the polis, but pre-political liberation for freedom in the polis. The meaning of the political thing here, but not its objective, is for men to have relations with each other in freedom, beyond strength, coercion and dominance. Equals with equals that only in case of need, that is, in times of war, gave orders and obeyed each other; but, except for that, they regulated all matters by means of mutual conversation and mutual conviction. ”

Just as it emerged in the Greek polis, what is “… decisive in this context is not so much the conflict between the polis and the philosophers – in which later we will have to go into details* – but that the simple indifference of a scope in in relation to the other, in which the conflict seemed to be resolved for a moment, since the space of the minority and its freedom – although it was also a public and non-private sphere – impossible to perform both functions, just as politics included all those who were fit for freedom ”.

The note* (number 17 in text) according to the compiler of the fragments is that it may be an unwritten chapter on “The Socratic position”, what the author is dealing with here is the difference between what was deepened by many authors later between the public space and the private space, which should be able to freedom.

What happens in the contemporary world with social media, it is never too much to differentiate media from the networks themselves, which are the set of social relationships that Hannah Arendt recovers, it is of paramount importance because it will have properties different from those that are among the “privileged” politicians, as the Greeks established them and as the author says, which we often reject because we are not professional politicians.

The set of human coexistence was not possible to be thought of before global communication and social media, the Greek polis was a social experience of small city-states where a part of the population that was free could establish democracy in it, however the society as a whole was not free.

The new emerging realities create a greater space for human coexistence and denote civilizing weaknesses, and put democracy itself in check, there are still citizens who are only free to vote and politics is dominated by minorities who take power to establish their privileges.



Politics and the crisis of human thought

15 Oct

The idea that there is a judgment of taste, about which Kant also sentenced, that one cannot “argue”, but rather fight and reach an agreement, we know him well in everyday life, and Hannah Arendt already pointed this out in the 50s , in a situation still unknown, we believe that this or that would have judged the situation correctly or wrongly, so it is not a topic of today, but since relativism, the absence of values ​​and parameters was installed in society as a whole.

If the function of prejudice is to defend the man who judges both the freedom to do so and not to openly expose himself to each reality encountered and hence to have to confront it thinking, so the worldviews and ideologies seem to fulfill this task, a since they protect them from all experience, since supposedly all the real would be predicted in them in some way, but this was what defended scientific neutrality and that it is possible to find “scientific” solutions in each case.

This lack of parameter in the modern world, the impossibility of judging what happened and happens every day according to fixed and accepted criteria by everyone, of subjecting them to a known general scheme, is because there is a difficulty closely linked to this, of indicating principles of action for what will happen, is uncertain.

What’s brilliant about Hannah Arendt, and also found in many other contemporary humanists like Edgar Morin and Hans Georg Gadamer, is that she understands the world (human-social) not the natural world (of life, animals, for example) , nor of the universe (the physical world), what she is trying to define is a new “social” (intertwined, we would say in current terms in network), and for her this human, in this sense, is a social being.

The space between men that is the world would not make sense without men themselves, just as the universe or nature without men would be a contradiction in itself, without this meaning that the world and the catastrophes that occur in it would be reduced to one happening purely human, let alone that it was something that reduced to something that happened to “man” or to the nature of man.

One could easily object to being the world that is spoken of with only one world of men, this is the result of human doing and acting, as they wish, these capacities belong to the nature of man, and when they fail, nature should not be changed before man can think about changing the world?

It is from this view that Hannah Arendt will think the meaning of politics, this question is very old, much more than one thinks, Plato reproached Pericles when saying that the Athenians would not be better after they died, and this will be the subject of Hannah Arendt in fragment 3b.


The political animal: prejudice and judgment

14 Oct

Hannah Arendt’s argument about the Zoon politikon is fundamental, an argument that if the man had something political that belonged to his essence, it would not be something of the relationship between men, and thus, totally outside men, in the polis, or that is, in what Arendt calls the intra-space where the relationship is established.

Politics is thus a relationship, and it presupposes diversity among men, and thus resembles our prejudices, since most of us are not a professional politician, says in fragment 2: “such prejudices, common to all of us, they represent something political in the broadest sense of the word: they do not spring from the pride of educated people and they are not guilty of their cynicism, who have lived too long and understood less. ” However, it is evident that this justification of prejudice as a measure of judgment within everyday life has its limits, it is necessary that it does not become a judgment, so opinion (doxa) is the raw material of politics (and not philosophical, scientific knowledge) or technical, episteme e or techné) that defines democracy.

So it is necessary, as Hannah Arendt did to enter into the question of prejudice and judgment, “the danger of prejudice lies in the fact that a piece of the past always lurks in them”, and will say even further ahead: “The danger of prejudice lies in the fact that it was always anchored in the past, that is, very well anchored and, because of that, not only does it anticipate judgment and avoid it, but it also makes a true experience of the present with judgment impossible. ”

What happens if a prejudice becomes something imperative: “But it is a prejudice in itself that something imperative fits the judgment; the criteria, while they last, can never be forcedly demonstrated; they only serve, always, the limited evidence of the judgments on which everyone agreed and on which it is no longer necessary to fight or argue ”, and thus democracy must establish the limits between the judgment and the prejudices.

The fact is that prejudice anticipates judgment, so phenomenology establishes the need for epoché, precisely the suspension of judgment in recognition that we always have our preconceptions (philosophical hermeneutics uses it in a positive sense), in general we resort to the past, as explained by Arendt, because reason is temporal and limited to historical periods, forming in quantitative terms only many aspects of History, in which the new is rare and the old dominates politics.



What is politics?

13 Oct

Politics has become an absolute imperative, even in pandemic times when health and sanitary issues should occupy the top of the concerns, they do not subside, and the polarization that has been serious for a few years becomes even more dramatic, polarizing even topics that should be unanimous, such as health.

Hannan Arendt has a thought-provoking essay, published as posthumous works, and organized and compiled by Ursula Lutz, and dating from 1950, had a publication in Brazil in 1998.

Concerned with the dramas of its time, two wars, it also seems to point to our current scenario: “the positive sense of the” political thing “starts from two basic experiences of our century, which overshadowed this sense and transformed it into its opposite: the emergence of totalitarian systems in the form of Nazism and Communism, and the fact that today politics has technical means, in the form of the atomic bomb, to exterminate Humanity and, with it, all kinds of politics ”, described the preface Kurt Sontheimer, from the German version of 1992.

Arendt in Fragment 1, elaborates seven assumptions and discusses them: 1. The policy is based on the plurality of men, 2. The policy deals with the coexistence between different, 3. When one sees more than participation in the family, that is , active participation in plurality, you start to play God, that is, to act as if you could leave, in a natural way, the principle of diversity. Rather than generating a man, we try to create man in the image of himself (I stretched this on purpose), 4. Man, as philosophy and theology know him, exists – or is realized – in politics only with regard to the equal rights that the most different guarantee themselves.

I would say that these are almost proto-principles, but it is in the following 3 that he bases his thinking on philosophy.

The fifth will have subtopics. Philosophy has two good reasons for not limiting itself to just finding the place where politics arises. The first is: a) Zoon politikon: * as if in man there was something political that belonged to his essence, in this the author disputes Aristotle saying that politics is “among men”, b) The monotheistic conception of God, in whose image man must have been created.

The sixth: it is difficult to understand that we must actually be free in a field, that is, neither moved by ourselves nor dependent on the given material. Freedom exists only within the particular scope of the intra-political concept. We are saved from this freedom just in the “necessity” of history. An abominable absurdity.

The seventh: It may be that the task of politics is to build a world as transparent to the truth as God’s creation. In the sense of the Judeo-Christian myth, this would mean: man, created in the image of God, was given the genetic capacity to organize men in the image of divine creation. Probably absurd – but it would be the only possible demonstration and justification for the idea of ​​the law of Nature.

It is only from there that the author begins her introduction on the question of what is politics, in times of polarization the theme is urgent.


Arendt, Hannah, (1998) “O que é política” (1950), obras póstumas 1992, compiladas por Ursula Ludz. Rio de Janeiro: Bertrand Brasil.



Pandemic fatigue and vaccine rush

12 Oct

WHO in its Europe office has released a document explaining a “pandemic fatigue” estimating that 60% of the population is already at this stage.

Hans Henri Kluge, WHO´s regional director for Europe, says tiredness was already expected at this stage of the crisis: “since the virus arrived on the European continent eight months ago, citizens have made enormous sacrifices to contain the covid-19 , the cost was very high, something that exhausted us all, regardless of what we live or what we do. In these circunstancies it is easy and natural to feel listless, unmotivated, to feel tired”, he said to BBC News.

The measures that aim to continue the efforts to obtain a common center to seek common sense in the solution of the issue: understand the people who are doing it regularly and involve communities in debates and decisions, allow people to live their lives, but risks and seeking creative solutions, as it has been like virtual meetings, such as deliveries of food and consumer products, especially to vulnerable people.

The other worrying issue is a race for the vaccine, which should follow exclusively medical routes, but already point to a specific formation of profit with people, so the first vaccine to arrive on the market will not necessarily be the best, and to make politicians worse try to take advantage of this race.

Brazilian doctors are cautious, like Dr. Álvaro Furtado costa, infectious disease physician at HC-FMUSP: “everyone is very optimistic, but the study of the vaccine is very complicated, most of them stop in phase 3 of clinical tests, due to the problems that appear. It is important to discuss this possibility (of not having a vaccine) ”, and reaching stage 3 does not mean that it is nearing the end, as most vaccines stop at this stage, as are the cases of HIV and chikungunya.

What should be done in this case is to continue the search for medications that decrease the mortality rate and, therefore, recover those infected, for example, by the SARS-Cov-2 virus, and the clinical trial is also developed in Brazil by FioCruz , which partners with Solidarity International, from WHO, and in the country are in 18 hospitals in 12 states, with research on different medications.

The final stage of phase 3 is much more difficult to reach and it is not the political propaganda that solves it, but the health control agencies of the drugs.




The party and the guests

09 Oct

Babette’s party is an allegory to a divine party, and the mysterious cook who humbly works for a long time in a house until she can announce and hold the party, although suspicious guests accept and feel their lives renewed.

What we live in pandemic times is the absence of the party, but the real party to which we have all been invited is that of fraternity for all and a greater balance in the distribution of incomes, in the treatment of different cultures and respect for human dignity. far from being a party.

Who were the guests, primarily those who claim to have these principles and who are not always practiced, that is, they participate more in the parties of wealth, power and their benefits than promote the party that everyone could participate.

The pandemic should be an awareness, deprived of the party, we should think about those who have always been deprived, and not try to promote even in the pandemic our private party where friends participate.

The biblical parable (Mt, 22,1-14) of the wedding feast in which a king calls the guests and they make excuses for not attending, is a good explanation for what happens to those who were invited and who were not and the excluded who are called to the party and they go, we would say one last awareness.

The guests, we would say in biblical terms the elect, were not, so the king sends his servants to go to the squares, at the crossroads of the paths and call as many as they find for the party, but at the party he still notices someone who is not wearing the right clothes (picture is engraved of Jan Luyken).

The biblical allegory is to say that among those who are not invited there are also those who are not worthy to participate in the divine feast


Babette’s feast

08 Oct

Babette´s feast is one of Karen Blixen’s most celebrated tales (1885–1962), tells the story of two puritanical ladies, daughters of a Protestant pastor, who live a very oppressive life until her father dies, the tale became famous after being filmed by the Danish director, being the first Blixen film to be filmed by the Danish Film Institute , and the first to win an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

The script was adapted by Just Betzer, Bo Christensen and Benni Korzen, in it Filippa (Bodil Kjer) and Martine (Birgitte Federspiel) are daughters of the strict Lutheran shepherd, who after his death, appears in the village Babette (Stéphane Audran), a Parisian who offers to be the cook and cleaning lady of the family.

Many years after working in the house, she receives the news that she won a big lottery prize and offers to prepare a French gala dinner in celebration of the pastor’s 100th birthday, the parishioners initially fearful, accept babette’s banquet.

The symbolism of the film is strong, the shades of blue slightly contrasted, are on the border between heaven and earth is almost imperceptible, amid the gray landscape of Denmark, a first image foreshadows a different communion in a place between earthly and heavenly things.

Another aspect of symbology is the fish, very influential in early Christianity, but it is the table that was able to re-connect those people with a true self, and awaken them again a sense for the life they had lost some time ago.

The dance of the participants around the people (photo), also a religious symbology, is a high point of this resumption of meaning of the lives of those people.

What Babette’s art, the food made with love and art, was to create on the table a “kind of loving involvement”, but “in a loving involvement of that noble and romantic category in which the person no longer distinguishes between appetite or satiety, bodily and spiritual!”, as the author of the original play herself describes, Blixen thus expresses the deepest of his expression in this tale.



Eça de Queirós and the eating table

06 Oct

Being in Portugal in 2018, and the Uab (Universidade Aberta) being very close to Confeitaria Cister, where Eça de Queiroz attended, there is even a drawing of the song he liked to stay and write there (photo), I remember the Portuguese table remembering this corner of Lisbon, and Eça’s writings on the dining table.

One of the most common texts on the subject is an article known as “Archaeological cuisine”, published in 1893, in Gazeta de Notícias, Lisbon, Portugal. In it Eça stated: “the table has always been one of the strongest, if not the strongest foundation of human societies” and also “the character of a race can be deduced simply from its method of roasting the meat” (III, p. 1226)

Eça anticipated the reflections of historians such as Jean François-Revel (1996) and Massimo Montanari (2004), for whom the values ​​of the food system are the result of the representation of cultural processes and relationships develop according to economic, nutritional and symbolic criteria.

The author not only proposed observations of cuisine in classical societies, but also considered that gastronomy has an arché, a basic element of the representations of Portuguese society, which was noticed by several of its readers and critics, the food awoke, for example, Machado de Assis’s attention as early as 1878.

The Brazilian fashion, Machado de Assis saw there in Eça an unnecessary abundance, the argument about this type of excess is opposed to the gastronomic coherence that is constituted throughout the work, the food is related to the excess of this literary school, if Eça had not continued to be careful with this theme, care should increase both in quantity and in quality in the following works and versions, reinforcing for example that the author of “Os Maias” may have found in the kitchen the fundamental elements of his project of represent Portugal through its most characteristic features.

What is certain is that the table expands to cultural and social values, as well as literary schools,  the times of development of societies and cultures reflect them.

ASSIS, Machado. Eça de Queirós: O Primo Basílio. In: Obra Completa. V. III. Rio de Janeiro: Aguillar, 1997.


Plato’s banquet

06 Oct

At banquets, tables and food sharing celebrate many things, including dialogue on essential topics.

Occurring around 380 BC it is a dialogue, and there are some who prefer the translation of Greek as Symposium (in ancient Greek sympotein means “to drink together”), and the central theme is Love, between eros and agape, and the central character as in most of his dialogues are Socrates.

Also in the dialogue Aristophanes and Ágaton (or Agatão), in his house there had been a previous banquet in celebration of the literary prize he had won, in this banquet Socrates and other participants spoke about “love”, Apolodoro and Glaucon, Aristodemo and Agaton himself.

Glaucon considers Apolodoro as crazy because he despises the material, Ágaton means “good” in Greek, good things and love lead to the practice of good and beautiful, and if we knew the practice of love the good it does, men would make an army of lovers, reminiscent of the army of banos, whose front was Pelopidas and Epaminondas in 371 BC

Phaedrus’ speech is that the love worshiped by men reveals them to be more virtuous and happier during life and after death, but it is in cosmogony that the speeches will oppose, while Phaedrus sees the origin of Eros as a very ancient god, without mention of parents, he was born next to Geia (land) after Chaos.

Pausanias the second to speak, contrary to Phaedrus, there are several Eros, he was the son of Aphrodite, and two Aphrodites, a daughter of Uranus and another of Zeus, that of Zeus generates vulgar eros and that of Uranus a heavenly Eros.

Eriximaco approves the distinction of Pausânias on the duplicity of Love and, universalist, extends it to every cosmos: “great and admirable, and it extends to everything, both in the order of human and divine things”, being a doctor says that the love and concord provide harmony, combining opposites (the healthy and the morbid) that extend throughout the universe: “one must keep one love and the other…”.

Aristophanes will insist on the power that love has over historical nature, using the myth of the androgens, legitimizing homo-affection and the unbridled search for what we now call “soul mates”, which is a search for perfectionism and in a way narcissism . Socrates praises the fact that Agaton began to show nature and what are the works of Love, but then follows his classic Question method: “Is Love such that it is Love of something or nothing?”, Ágaton confirms that Love is Love of something. Which “something” is Love from and continues with the question: “Does Love, what it is love, does it want it or not?” and the banquet follows the fashion of the Greek classics.

The banquet, the table at which everyone sits is the important part of this dialogue, seems so classic and so present, but we would add a question and Francisco de Assis, remembered these days, he said with conviction: “Love is not loved”, so before to be an instrument as stated by Agaton is itself something to be used as an instrument, at a time of so much pain in humanity, or else the Socratic way of asking: “Is Love loved?”

Plato, (2003). The Symposium, trans. by Christopher Gill. London: Penguin.