Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

Was the Enlightenment an enlightenment?

22 Feb

To analyze the Enlightenment in the light of Western philosophy, it is necessary to read, of course with an open mind, ontological metaphysics, from Cassirer, his criticism and analysis from the heyday of idealism in the 18th century, “who proudly called himself ‘ Century of philosophy’” (Cassirer, 1992).

This philosophy was considered to have “opened the way to that deepest order from which springs, with pure thought, all the intellectual activity of man, and where this activity must find its foundation, according to the profound conviction of the Enlightenment” (Cassirer 1992) .

The author observes that Hegel, considered “the first to take this path” as a philosopher and historian of philosophy, made a forgotten (Cassirer calls it curious) rectification, which diverges from the verdict that “the metaphysics of Hegel himself pronounced regarding the Enlightenment ” (Cassirer, 1992), recognizing its role and making a reconciliation with it (in photo, Frontispiciul for the L’Encyclopédie ou Dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, .

Having Kant as his main influence, Cassirer was also influenced by Herman Cohen (great exponent of neo-Kantianism at the beginning of the 20th century) and Paul Nartop (one of the founders of the Marburg school) and thus remained trapped in the idealism of neo-Kantianism, but there was still influences on the thoughts of Heidegger, Hans Georg Gadamer and Hartmann.

The scientific question in the 18th century was to find “a determined border between the mathematical spirit and the philosophical spirit” (Cassirer, 1992, p. 34), thus beginning a doubt that would last until the beginning of the 20th century when David Hilbert in a Mathematics Conference announced 23 problems that mathematics should solve to be considered complete, among them the second problem was the consistency of the axioms of arithmetic, that is, that arithmetic could solve any problem that was enumerable.

It was Kurt Gödel who demonstrated that this problem of the finite proof of the consistency of arithmetic is demonstrably impossible, in his second Incompleteness Theorem, which became known as Gödel’s Paradox, the system is either complete or finite, never both.

To help this collapse of scientific rationalism, quantum physics also proposed through Werner Heisenberg the uncertainty principle, which announced that it was not possible to affirm the position of an atom or an atomic particle in a given situation.

Idealism is still a strong current, even in scientific circles, but its logical, physical and mathematical bases have already been dismantled by science itself, philosophers of Science such as Karl Popper, Tomas Kuhn and Imre Lakatos have already announced new postulates.

The consensus is that human thought needs a broader vision, a worldview that is not limited to the so-called exact sciences, recovers the importance of language, the study of Being and a transdisciplinary vision that releases the narrow limits of each area of ​​knowledge. , without ceasing to admit the mysteries, beliefs and original cultures.

Cassirer, E. (1992) The philosophy of the Enlightenment. Trans. Álvaro Cabral, Campinas: Editora Unicamp.



Being, consciousness and clearing

03 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Being, Truth and Consciousness

02 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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



The idealist crisis and the ontological recovery

01 Feb

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Lights of Enlightenment

31 Jan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



The Roots of Enlightenment and the Crisis of Reason

18 Aug

Karl Popper in “The World of Parmenides: Essays on the Presocratic Enlightenment” clarifies two fundamental points of the essence of contemporary thought in its Greek roots: Parmenides’ problem with regard to truth, where there is already a certain amount of relativism and negation from ontology, where the being is not seen as having a relationship with the entity, an original separation between subject and object.

Popper describes the origin of doxa, through the poem (fragments) of Parmenides, through the revelation of the goddess Diké:

“The revelation is divided into two parts as the goddess makes clear. In the first part the goddess reveals the truth – the whole truth, about what really exists: about the world and things in themselves. In the second part, the goddess talks about the world of appearances, about the illusory world of mortal man” (Popper, 2014, p. 134).

Popper clarifies this division of revelation: “…usually differentiated as the “Via da Verdade” and the “Vay of Opinion”, it creates the first and biggest unresolved problem about the work of Parmenides” (idem), and asks why the goddess “… contained not only a true explanation of the universe, but also an untrue explanation, as she explicitly says” (idem), it is easy to explain even today with the enormous advance of Enlightenment science, little do we know.

However, the initial idealism of Parmenides, whose foundation being is and non-being is not, which is not an ontology, is also Popper who defends this contrary to many philosophers: “I do not believe that there is such a thing as an ontology or theory of being or that one can seriously attribute an ontology to Parmenides” (Popper, 2014, p. 137).

His attempt to “prove” an ontological statement is tautological, said thus “only that it is (exists) is (exists)”, but there is no way from a tautological theory to create or derive a non-tautological one, so the theory of being there is empty, as Popper explains, and I would say a dualistic view.

But it is this kind of eidos, transformed into the idea of being is or is not, that arrived at idealism, Popper even goes so far as to say that a true epistemology was born of Parmenides, and the Enlightenment vision developed in Popper’s book as “the enlightenment pre-Socratic”.

This means that we inherited from Parmenides, through the Enlightenment, the dualism of the “way of truth” and the ‘way of opinion”, and these two paths have always haunted philosophers, says Popper.

So we live today with the sophisms, in logics more and more worked, after all the power of the sophists has always been to sophisticate their arguments, but we do not leave this heritage and the Enlightenment in fact has Parmenidians roots, and the forgetfulness of being is still present today .

POPPER, K. The World of Parmenides: Essays on the Presocratic Enlightenment. trans. Roberto Leal Ferreira. 1st. ed. Brazil, São Paulo: Editora Unesp, 2014.