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Was the old normal normal?

14 Sep

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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The intermittents of death

31 Aug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Crisis of thought and cynical reason

17 Aug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Birthing knowledge and phenomenology

12 Aug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The agnostic version of heaven’s bread

06 Aug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



From metaphysics to ontology

05 Aug

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Metaphor and speculation

03 Aug

There is nothing in philosophical discourse (or in well-structured thinking) that is free from presuppositions.

In the living metaphor, Paul Ricoeur clarifies that this is “for the simple reason that the work of thought by which a region of the thinkable is thematized brings into play operational concepts that cannot, at the same time, be thematized” (Ricoeur, 2005, p. 391).

These postulates are fundamental to understanding discourse, rhetoric and mere speculation.

Paul Ricoeur makes this study around the questions: “Which philosophy is involved in the movement that leads the investigation from rhetoric to semantics and from meaning to reference? “(idem).

It will be in the answer to these questions, and “without reaching the conception suggested by Wittgenstein of a radical heterogeneity of language games” (Ricoeur, 2005, p. 392) it is possible to recognize: “in its principle, the discontinuity that ensures the speculative discourse its autonomy” (idem).

Not explained by Ricoeur, but Edgar Morin talks about two roots of modern discourse that lead speculative discourse to a modern form of obscurantism: the closure in areas of overly specialized knowledge, which he calls hyperspecialization.

Here, metaphor can be confused with mere speculation and philosophy would be “induced by the metaphorical functioning, if it could show that it only reproduces, on the speculative level, the semantic functioning of poetic discourse” (idem).

He clarifies that the touchstone of this misunderstanding is “the Aristotelian doctrine of the analogical unity of the multiple meanings of being, ancestor of the medieval doctrine of the analogy of being” (idem) which we will return to in the next post to understand the metaphysical limitations of Aristotelian ontology.

The second, more fundamental clarification is the categorical discourse, where “there is no transition between poetic metaphor and transcendental equivocality” which is the conjunction between theology and philosophy “in a mixed discourse” that creates confusion between analogy and metaphor” (Ricoeur , 2005, p. 393), and would this imply “a sub-reption, to return a Kantian expression?” (idem), for this reason it is necessary to return to the metaphysical question and in it the ontological question.

He quotes as an epigraph Heidegger’s statement that “the metaphorical only exists within metaphysics”, this is the heart of this work by Ricoeur, and he calls it a “second navigation”, an allusion to Jacques Derridá’s “Mytologie blanche”, passing from living metaphor to dead metaphor.

Ricoeur, P. (2005) Metáfora viva. trad. Dion David Macedo. Brazil, SP: Ed. Loyola.


Spirituality and Worldview

27 Jul

Spirituality is the search for meaning in life, it can stop at the physis, which for the Greeks was nature, or it can go beyond and contemplate the meta-physis, which means μετα (metà) = after, beyond all; and Φυσις [physis], that is, beyond nature and physics.

Thus, a spirituality that stops in nature, the explanation for example of the origin of the universe, even if it is a physical worldview, lacks an eschatological worldview that explains the origin and end of everything, will at some point fall into sophistry and nihilism, as the sophist Gorgias (485-380 BC) nothing exists.

If nothing exists, the meaning of life is meaningless, much is superficially explored the meaning of life, for many it is just being happy, it is still a limited worldview, pain and suffering are part of life, so it is necessary to go through them for the life actually makes sense.

Spirituality needs a worldview, or if you prefer the more philosophical term, a worldview (Weltanschauung), used in an almost opposite way by Kant and Heidegger, while Kant uses it as idealistic transcendence (from subject to object), Heidegger it returns to the metaphysical tradition, with the purpose of distancing itself from it.

The concept of eidos (in Greek is form and essence) transformed into an idea, and the separation of the subject from the object, relegated the questions of the spirit (not even spirituality can be called) to the field of subjectivity, the starting point of the philosophical movement called German idealism it was the publication of the Critique of Pure Reason in 1781 by Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), ending fifty years later with the death of Hegel (1770-1831).

Martin Heidegger starts by questioning the meaning of being of being-there. This is because “this term does not mean only the conception of the connection between natural things, but, at the same time, an interpretation of the meaning and purpose of the human being there and, therefore, of history [Geschichte]” (HEIDEGGER, 2012, p. 13).

Much of what is called spirituality is actually just a search for meaning in life, a mental exercise that is different from the spiritual, lacks an ascesis, a true “ascension”, so it always returns to physis, nature or to the ground.

A complete worldview must go beyond the fact and reach intentionality, everything exists with an intention, to be aware is “to be aware of something”, as Husserl’s phenomenology thinks, so awareness of the “universe” therefore has an intention of the existence of the universe , which is part metaphysical and part spirituality, something or someone has (and didn’t have) a primary intention, something big, infinite, superior to nature, the universe and everything we know, something ineffable.


HEIDEGGER, Martin. (2012) O problema fundamental da fenomenologia. (The fundamental problems of phenomenology(. Trans.: Marco Antônio Casanova. Petrópolis, Brazil: Vozes.



The ineffable and the interpretation

23 Jul

Before making today’s post, we can’t fail to register the Tokyo Olympics, whose opening takes place today and some protests: five teams: United States, Sweden, Chile, New Zealand and, surprisingly, the United Kingdom, knelt before their football matches in anti-racist protest, Australia’s women’s players have embraced, remembering the Aboriginal nation that lives there and signifying national unity.

But perhaps the most important demonstration was relegated to the background, the protesters are called “ultranationalists”, which is not true, as 43% of the population was in favor of postponing the Olympics, 40% were against it and only 14% are favorable.

The Pandemic was ineffable and it is there still showing signs of resistance despite the struggle of science for vaccines and their overcoming, exactly the most resilient people did not renounce an event, and this is also of course a problem of interpretation of what actually occurs right now.

Something ineffable that is not subject to interpretation and even metaphors would be little to try to explain them are the great questions of humanity: what we are in the universe, where we are going and now more than ever: where we are going.

There are many cosmogonies that try to give an eschatological interpretation to these issues, what is certain is that we exist and not because we think (I think, therefore I am), but we exist and this allows us to think and language (I am, therefore I think) and with it interpretation is possible.

Christian cosmogony, there are many others in different cultures, is the one whose metaphor of the seed grain transforms into life: the seed that falls among thorns, that falls on shallow soil and that falls by the wayside, the good soil will make it germinate and bear fruit, is an interpretation of the ineffable.

The biblical text of the multiplication of the loaves, whose earthly interpretation only sees the distribution of goods (Mk 6,1-15), does not observe the ineffable interpretation because it is Jesus who asks Philip (Mk 6,5): “Jesus told Philip : “Where are we going to buy bread so they can eat?”, and after multiplying the 5 barley loaves and two fish.

The ineffable divine, men wanted to give him an earthly power and the reading says (Mk 6,15) : “But when he noticed that they were trying to take him to proclaim him king, Jesus withdrew again, alone, to the mountain.”, is a divine interpretation made by the Master himself.


Interiority and the social relationship

16 Jul

If today’s society “isolates” the individual, and the pandemic has done so in greater depth, this does not mean that some isolation is not necessary in an increasingly hectic urban life.

The cultural drama of our time is when “it presupposes exactly the non-satisfaction (by oppression, repression or some other means) of powerful instincts explained Freud (see the post on Civilization and its Discontents), he exposes this as a “cultural frustration ” that dominates the field of social relationships between human beings, but Byung Chul Hang goes deeper when analyzing what pain is.

Byung-Chul Han’s new book “The Palliative Society” will describe the medieval society as the society of martyrdom in the face of pain, and the current one as the Survival Society, and because of the attempt to avoid pain, as a Palliative Society, so many antidepressants, anxiolytics and “analgesics, prescribed en masse, hide relationships that lead to pain” (Han, 2021, p.29).

In a curious analysis for a Buddhist, but perhaps aware that Easter means a “passage” through pain to eternal life, the author describes: “in view of the pandemic, the survival society even prohibits the Easter Mass. Also priests practically “social distancing” and wear protective masks. They sacrifice faith entirely to survival… Virology espouses theology.” (Han, 2021, p. 35).

Everyone listens to the virologists, says the author, the beautiful narrative of the resurrection “gives place entirely to the ideology of health and survival” (Han, 2021, p. 35), it is not about life but: “Death empties life into survival”.

Using Hegel, the author explains the true meaning of pain: “Pain is the engine of the dialectical formation of the spirit” (p. 75), the formative path is “a painful life: The other, the negative, the contradiction, the split belong, therefore, to the Nature of the spirit” (p. 76) and so interiority.

Jesus, always after some intense moment of preaching or participating in some social event, would leave with the disciples, it was the moment of interiority, but often situations forced him to leave his rest aside and go back to seeing the people (Mk 6 , 31-34):

“He said to them: ‘Come alone to a desert place and rest awhile’… When he disembarked, Jesus saw a large crowd and had compassion, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” and Jesus came back and taught them other things.

He also had moments of pain prior to Easter, when he drank the cup, and little rest.

HAN, Byung-Chul. Sociedade Paliativa: a dor hoje. (Palliative society: pain today). trans. Lucas Machado, Petrópolis: RJ: Ed.Vozes, 2021.