Arquivo para January, 2023

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.



What is artificial intelligence and what ethics is needed

25 Jan

Usually AI has been characterized as “doing the kind of things the mind is capable of doing” (Boden, 2020, p. 13), but this dimension does not have a single dimension and we can approach “a structured space with different abilities to process information” (idem).

Current development adds “virtual reality avatars and the promising emotional pattern development for robots ‘for personal accompaniment’” (Boden, pg. 14), what has been called personal assistants such as Siri, Cortana and ChatGTP dialog which is open source and already requires special regulation, for example, the City of New York prohibited its use in the initial levels of schooling.

Chatbots have been known for some time, but they are much simpler, ChatGPT (Generative pre-Trained Transformer) is a simple and intuitive tool, which the user uses and trains from the AI concepts of Machine Learning, machine learning and therefore grows in complexity and user interaction capabilities as it is used.

The influence in philosophy is also sensitive, especially in the cognitive areas where attempts are made to explain the human mind, in this field a recent controversy was the fact that a Google engineer stated that the AI platform LAMBDA (Language Model for Dialogue Applications), was sentient (which is different from conscious), we already published a post and did not develop it here due to the complexity of the topic.

The topic has already begun to be discussed in the Federal Chamber of Brazil and is about to be discussed in the Federal Senate, through bill Law Project PL 20/21, which, among other things, establishes a legal framework for the development and use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) by government, companies, various entities and individuals, renowned jurists and specialists in the area are being heard.

Another worrying area that should be taken care of is the use of AI in the creation of “artificial life”, “which develops computational models of the different characteristics of living organisms”, in this area the development of genetic algorithms (GA) stands out. (Boden, 2020, p. 15).

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



Artificial intelligence and its ethical limits

24 Jan

In a society in which all ethical limits have already been exceeded, even that of no longer preying on our fundamental good for life, the evolution of Artificial Intelligence, even with countless ethical agreements in which large companies have participated (Amazon, HP, IBM, Google , etc.), for example, in order not to produce smart weapons, we have seen the indiscriminate use of drones in the Ukraine-Russia war, in which the powers and their companies are involved.

The evolution of AI took a leap with the internet, the ease of information that runs through the veins of electronic networks (these are networks) and encourages electronic media (which are only means available to men) is as abundant as it is impactful, overnight for the day, illustrious strangers become influencers and gain notoriety, among them fortune tellers, prophets, politicians and artists not always with a lot of morals and ethics.

This should be as or more worrying than the development of AI (artificial intelligence), but the use of “media” by these influencers is indeed very worrying, and it is not just about fake news, but all kinds of barbarism ranging from from vocabulary to political impact, this is where our readings of Dalrymple and Zizek from previous weeks are inserted, more linked to cultural and political aspects, which are undoubtedly more delicate.

As the subject is also delicate, now in the intellectual sense of knowing its potentialities and dangers not yet clearly analyzed, such as, for example, the use of genetic algorithms (GA) pointed out by Margaret A. Boden, in her book “artificial intelligence: a very brief introduction ” (Editora Unesp, 2020).

It explores, among many other things, with the clarity of an expert in the field, the problem of cyborgs and transhumans, as suggested by Kurzweil, who was preparing his own body to become a transhuman.

Unlike cyborgs, the medical implants of various prostheses are already clearly possible, for the transhuman, “instead of considering prostheses as useful accessories for the human body, they will be considered as parts of the (trans-)human body” (Boden, 2020, p. 206), where human strength and beauty could go beyond genetic limits and this would become “natural” characteristics.

Just like Jean Gabriel Ganascia (the Frenchman who wrote The Myth of Singularity), Margaret Boden also does not believe in the overtaking of the machine above human intelligence, this is the point of singularity, and so also the “transcendent” human consciousness, as we discussed, is not subjected to an “intuitive implausibility” of post-singularity (p. 207).

Undoubtedly, the machine will be able to perform incredible tasks and at a speed never dreamed of by man, in fact it already does, but “transcendence” is not this.


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



One year of war and three of pandemic

23 Jan

On December 31, 2019, the World Health Organization (WHO) was alerted about cases of pneumonia in the city of Wuhan in China, in Brazil although there were cases without a precise diagnosis, I remember a case that was reported in Minas Gerais, only in On March 11th, when the WHO characterized the situation as a “pandemic”, it started a combat process in Brazil.

Accurate data is lacking, however WHO continues to talk about advancing numbers and the Kraken variant (other is Othrus, CH.1.1, appear in England) and China has had records of infections.

For those who don’t remember, March 11, 2011 was also the date of a tsunami that affected the Fukushima plant (in the photo the tsunami in Minamisoma, Japan), just to remind you that both natural disasters and those of a war can affect the 447 reactors nuclear weapons in operation in 30 countries (according to data from the WNA, World Nuclear Association), in addition to the nuclear weapons that are growing all over the world.

In a meeting at the Ramstein military air base in Germany, members of the EU, Canada, Japan, USA, and among Latin American countries, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, signed their support for Ukraine. Brazil did not sign.

The request for sending Leopard tanks, the most advanced and manufactured in Germany, has not been decided, Finland will be able to send 200 units that it has of this type of military vehicle, the next meeting will include the sending of 4th fighters. Generation, Russia has the powerful MIg-31 with strike and aircraft intercept capability in combat.

The warnings should be seriously discussed by those who claim to fight for life and peace, the use of rhetoric no longer works due to social media, at all times election campaign lies and populist statements are confronted with an increasingly warlike reality.



New way for civilization

20 Jan

Both Zizek and Dalrymple advance in the diagnosis of a Western culture in crisis, they only struggle with what secularization and the Western ideological struggle have destroyed, they refute any possibility of a new moral and ethical level, but Zizek’s question remains: “How can we find a way out of this confusing situation? “ (p. 41), it will certainly no longer be the tried and tested models gestated at the center of European culture, to appeal to Descartes (Darlymple in his chapter on Relativism and the epistemological problem, “come back Descartes we need you”) or Hegel which occupies a central role in Zizek’s readings along with the New Hegelianism of “Marx” about which Zizek himself points out contradictions.

They blame the moral values ​​of Christianity or Islam, which have little or no influence on contemporary European society, even though because of immigration there are more Arabs or Christians coming from countries with less development, they will always be inferior and subordinate layers in European thought, there is no space for the new, it has to resemble the old theories of European development, culture and morality, the crisis scenario evolves into one of confrontation and hatred.

At all times there were minorities who pointed out ways out, the group of philosophers around Plato did not enjoy great prestige, and as we say this week, Western culture is just a “footnote” of classical culture, Aristotle gained notoriety for being a tutor of Alexander, but it must be said that he taught him and his companions not the art of war, but teachings on medicine, philosophy, morals, logical religion and art, and gave him a copy that Alexander took on his campaigns of conquest.

A new thought will not be anything like what has already aged, and even if it must be read and analyzed, the new one will sprout from poorly explored and forgotten paths, from clearings that can open new poles of real humanism in the midst of the culture of war and hatred, there can be no hope in it and all that is expected is a civilizing crisis, whose heavy clouds can already be seen on the horizon.

In biblical reading, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Bethany are always remembered where Jesus rested, but Capernaum is the real place where Jesus took his first steps in his mission, near there was Peter’s house and as it was close to the Sea, in fact the edge of the lake of Gennesaret, is remembered as the “way to the sea” and the path where he found his first disciples, his preaching and his miracles.

In biblical reading, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Bethany are always remembered where Jesus rested, but Capernaum is the real place where Jesus took his first steps in his mission, near there was Peter’s house and as it was close to the Sea, in fact the edge of the Lake of Gennesaret, is remembered as the “way to the sea”, where Zabulon and Nefatali are located, and it was the path where Jesus met his first disciples, his preaching and his miracles.

Capernaum is close to Zabulon and Naphtali, of which the prophet Isaiah said: “Land of Zabulon, land of Naphtali, way of the sea, region across the river Jordan, Galilee of the heathen” (Mt 4,15), so it is likely that a new Capernaum will not be a “religious” land in the sense of dominating Christian or Islamic culture, but a hidden place where a new civilization will emerge.

Waiting for a modern Capernaum, or an Athens, where a new conception of citizenship will sprout, the beginning of Plato’s book “The Republic” is about the just and the unjust and their reputations in society.



Multiculturalism and diversity

19 Jan

As we outlined in previous posts, there is no way to talk about conflict and peace these days without addressing the cultural background issue and in them the philosophical ideas that are a background and how it could not be otherwise is also discussed by Zizek.

The discourse of cultural diversity, politically translated into multiculturalism, has not solved the problems of the contemporary world, Angela Merkel speaking on October 17, 2010 to a youth meeting of the Christian Democratic Union declared: “This multicultural approach, which says that we simply have to live side by side side by side and be happy with each other, was a complete failure” (p. 51), and there introduced the Leitkultur (dominant culture) debate which insisted “that every state is based on a predominant cultural space that must be respected by members of other cultures who live in the same space” (idem).

What was found is that “the conflict over multiculturalism is already a conflict over Leitkultur: it is not a conflict between cultures, but a conflict between different visions about how different cultures can and should coexist, about the rules and practices that these cultures must share if they want to coexist” (idem), and what happened was that the dominant culture wanted to dictate its vision of particular diversity.

I was once in a dialogue between Christians and non-believers full of spirit and curiosity and what I saw was an attempt to impose a particular vision of Christianity on atheism, double betrayal and no dialogue.

Clarifies Zizek, when speaking of gays: “At this level, of course, we are never tolerant enough, or we are always too tolerant, neglecting women’s rights, etc. The only way out of this impasse is to propose a universal positive project, shared by all interested parties, and to fight for it” (ibidem), this is the end of Chap. 3 “The return of the bad ethnic thing” that I purposely avoid to just listen and shut up, since as a white person of European descent, I am part of Leitkultur.

Just as many European thinkers want, Edgar Morin in his defense of a global citizenship, Peter Sloterdijk who asks Europe to wake up, in his own way Zizek asks for a positive emancipating Leitkultur, “not just respecting others, offering a common struggle, because today our problems are common” (Zizek, 2012, p. 52).

Chapter 4 could now be rewritten, since “the desert of post-ideology” has given way to the return of the ideological struggle of the beginning of the last century, we are going in circles and going backwards.

The rest of the book talks about the Arab spring, the “occupy” movements and ends with “beyond envy and resentment”, the one that Nietzsche drew so well, but just look at the current discourses and they are nothing but resentments and hatred distilled and Unsuccessful envy and “the signs of the future” of conclusion now seem obscured by a lack of subtleties, clarity and sane policies interested in the common good.

ZIZEK, Slavoj. (2012). O ano que pensamos perigosamente (The year we dream dangerously). Trans. Rogerio Bettoni. Brazil, São Paulo: Boitempo.




Political economy and morals

18 Jan

The confrontation of these ideas will be present in most of the texts that intend to analyze the world social conjuncture, the decline of the great nations and empires, the return of nationalism and socialism at the beginning of the last century and their main theses are, as explained by Slavoj Zizek: the political economy and the Party of Order (Zizek, 2012, pg. 28), which was the beginning of the polarization that is now worldwide and went beyond patriotic limits.

His whole discussion is between the “doxa” (only to understand that of the ortho-doxa) of the Marxist Frederic Jameson (Valences of the Dialetic) and the neo-Marxists Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri (Multitude) for whom the evolution of work called immaterial (Marx’s nomenclature for intellectual work) or symbolic work (nomenclature for linguists and semioticians) and which is at bottom what Kant and later Hegel called “subjective”, which is trapped in objective x subjective dualism, even if transcendence is incorrectly used for the subjective, there is nothing supernatural in any of them.

What Marx differs from Zizek points out: “the ‘objective’ determinations of social reality are at the same time ‘subjective’ determinations of thought (determinations of the subjects trapped in this reality) and, at this point of indistinction (where the limits of our thought, their impasses and contradictions, are at the same time the antagonisms of objective social reality itself)…” (Zizek, p. 10), to summarize and make it clearer, in Marx’s view it is the “mode of production”, that is, the way in which material goods are produced that determines subjectivity, thus unites them, but eliminates any “transcendence”.

The important analysis of the precedence of political economy over any morality, which is submitted to it as explained above, makes this field the object of moral and also political relativism, where the ends come to justify the means, even if morally unjust, it matters little, but the analysis that a large part of intellectual subjectivity has become public (I prefer transcendence that is not or even immaterial work, because the fruit in the last instance is always a physical product, even if it is a book or a text), so for this reason the Hardt’s and Negri’s analysis make sense, even if they are all somehow linked to the subjective of Hegel or Kant, and are ultimately footnotes to Plato and Aristotle, as several philosophers have said.

After reviewing several Marxist concepts, such as added value (I remember that in Portugal it is common to use it as a synonym for adding value to products), he sentences the difficulties of communism in our time, such as the reforms in China by Deng Xiao Ping: “ introduce capitalism without the bourgeoisie (as the new ruling class); now, however, Chinese leaders are painfully discovering that capitalism without a stable hierarchy … breeds permanent instability” (Zizek, 2012,  p. 21), this was said long before the real estate giant Evergrande went bankrupt, and was taken over by the state. Chinese contracting this crisis.

The author skips the so-called “Cultural Industry” discovered by the Frankfurtian Marxists in contact with the American marketing machine, but does not fail to note the cultural war in post-socialist countries, when he asks himself whether the economy continues to be the great reference for the analysis political and social, in the case of Eastern European countries: “in which the tension between pseudofolk and rock in the field of popular music functioned as a displacement of tension between the conservative nationalist right and the liberal left” (Zizek, p. 33 ), however, the idea “that the cultural struggle is not a secondary phenomenon…” (idem) is folded.

Although he recognizes, quoting Thomas Frank, that there is a “gap between economic interests and moral questions” (p. 36), he treats the theme with irony and outside the cultural question, of which it is an inseparable part.

ZIZEK, Slavoj. (2012). O ano que pensamos perigosamente (The year we dream dangerously). Trans. Rogerio Bettoni. Brazil, São Paulo: Boitempo.