Posts Tagged ‘philosophy’

NEW YEAR: Si vis pacem, para bellum!!!

15 de janeiro de 2016
História da Rússia. Império Russo. Guerra Patriótico contra Napoleão. F. Robeau. Batalha de Borodino

History of Russia War against Napoleon. F. Robeau. Battle of Borodino

The end of the year is marked by exchanges of greetings and good wishes: Happy New Year!  Good health, peace, happiness, etc.   Not to mention the achievement or renewal of pledges: “-In 2016, I will finally stop smoking!”.   “-In the coming year I will pass the contest for justice!”   Thus, everything that seemed impossible before, has its hopes renewed thanks to the “magic gateway” of change from one year to another.  Some even resort to mystical strategems like jumping seven waves on New Year’s Eve, dressing in white, making offerings to Yemanjá, etc.   But is this gateway really magical?   We all have practical experience in what, in fact, it is not.   Perhaps on the very night of New Year’s we have already broken some of our promises, despite good intentions.   But how can we really achieve the goals that we set, be they dietary, professional, or related to human and personal growth and improvement?   Once, while visiting the Fort of Copacabana, in Rio de Janeiro, I read the following Latin phrase on the gateway of the entrance: “Si vis pacem, para bellum”, which means, “if you want peace, prepare for war”.   In other words, peace, true peace is the result of war…against ourselves…against our vices, weaknesses and flaws, which limit us and lead us to defeat in the quest to achieve our ideals.   Thus, as with all war, it is necessary that we have a strategy and, above all, determination.   In the book The Way of Perfection, Saint Teresa teaches her spiritual daughters, saying that “most important, above all, is a great and firm determination to not stop until you arrive at the source of living water… whatever the cost… Although the world falls down we will proceed” (21,2).   The real enemy of our ideals is often ourselves.   Therefore, if we really want to win and achieve our goals, it is necessary to declare war against ourselves and have the “determined determination” that Saint Teresa spoke to us about.   With that, our greetings, good wishes and promises for 2016 will become reality.   HAPPY 2016!  

philosophy, everyday philosophy  

Conservative vs Liberal

6 de julho de 2015

Liberal-Conservative_KOnce, in a discussion at work about legal theory, I defended a position that was later branded “conservative” by my colleagues.   I was left scratching my head (but I merely tried to rationally justify the defended thesis …).   I began to notice, from then on, how relative and biased is the classification that makes something “conservative” or “liberal”.

Generally, when someone is called conservative, they want it to be given the pejorative connotation of a reactionary and outdated person who resists the “new times” and the “new thinking”.   On the other hand, the liberal is someone “modern” who upsets taboos for the sake of the progress of humanity.

I don’t know if this has to do with the 60s, Woodstock and the hippie movement, whose preachers proclaimed “It’s forbidden to forbid” and advocated a complete turnaround in the customs and values of society.   It’s certain that we are harvesting the fruits of this mindset. The modern world is a frightful, violent, individualistic and hedonistic place.

But I don’t intend to say here like a friend who claims to have been born in the wrong period (according to him, 200 years late), or talk like certain nostalgic grannies (“This world is upside down!   In my time it was good!).   Without a shadow of a doubt the world has evolved in many ways, as in the progress of the sciences and technology, in the almost universal recognition of human rights etc.   But one need not reject the past, or ancient traditions and values, for the simple fact of being “old” and reflecting a “conservative” mentality.

We must indeed welcome rationally what is traditional , improving it with the achievements of modern times through the filter of truth and reason.

Étienne Gilson says that “There is an ethical problem at the root of our philosophical difficulties. We humans are very inclined to search for the truth, but reluctant to accept it.   We do not like it that rational evidence has us in a corner, and even when the truth is there, in its impersonal and imperious objectivity, our greatest difficulty remains standing – for me, submitting myself to it, in spite of it not being exclusively mine …   The greatest philosophers are those who do not waver in the presence of truth, but welcome it with these simple words, ‘Yes, amen'” (Philosophy in the Middle Ages, São Paulo.   Martins Fontes, 1998).

It is not, therefore, about being “conservative” or “liberal”.   We should be philosophers, in the full sense of the word, that is, friends of wisdom, and therefore of truth, even if it has been revealed by medieval people or the nostalgic grannies.

Nietzsche and Nazism

4 de maio de 2015

51EhzxMbJhL._SL300_During the holidays, one of my favorite pastimes has been reading the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, by William L. Shirer, journalist and eyewitness to the Second World War and its background. The chapter which has drawn my attention most, so far, deals with the intellectual roots of the Third Reich, especially with the influence of much-celebrated Nietzsche’s thought.

Nazi writers never got tired of praising him. Hitler often visited the Nietzsche Archive in Weimar, and would openly show his admiration for the philosopher, posing for the photographers in an ecstatic attitude before the bust of the great man.

Any Nazi could quote him while discussing almost every imaginable topic. About Christianity, for instance, Nitzsche said that is was “a terrible curse, excessive and deep perversion”. And exalted the superman, animal of prey, “the magnificent blond brute, aggressively thirsting for plunder and victory.” In “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” the philosopher shouted: “I don’t recommend you peace, but victory (…) You say that good cause justifies even war? I tell you: the good war is one which justifies any cause. War and courage have done grander things than love for neighbor”. Finally, there was the prophecy of Nietzsche that there would emerge an elite to rule the world and from which the superman would arise. In Will to Power, he slogans: “A fearless race and leader is being created (…). The objective will be to prepare a transposition of values ​​by a kind of particularly strong man, the most highly endowed with intelligence and will. This man, and the elite around him, will become the ‘lords of the earth’ “. There’s no doubt that, in the end, Hitler considers himself the super-man of Nietzsche’s prophecy.
That said, there’s a need to think over the importance and weight bestowed on Nietzsche’s thought to this day. Nazism fell, but some of its philosophical foundations are still present in modern mentality and culture, which maybe accounts, to a great extent, for the roots of our civilization’s evils, such as the exacerbation of violence, eugenics, currently expressed in the defense of abortion of human beings regarded as “inviable”, the disappearance of charitable acts, justice and personal virtue, annihilated by individualism and social Darwinism, etc.
Undoubtedly, today’s world has technology and speed, it just needs to be clarified where we are going (and accelerating!)?


4 de abril de 2015
Sunrise at Niterói, RJ, Brazil

Sunrise at Niterói, RJ, Brazil

No wonder that modern man feels a special attraction to the morbid, the freaks, the ugly.   The synthesis of this reality is, in my view, the Funk, erected the “cultural heritage” of Rio de Janeiro.   Honestly, I do not know which is worse in Funk, whether it is the “melody” from hell, or is the letter, a kind of “mantra” of sex and violence.  

The modern man lost the sense of beauty from the moment that he used it either a form of domination or a social and ideologic transformation.   Beauty begins to be destroyed with Nietzsche, emptying it of its ontological sense when he says that beauty is not in things, as the man himself produces it to give things and so impoverish themselves.   It is a self-deception of men.  
Some thinkers are known that wanted to use as the beautiful as a form of social revolution, as Gramsci, who proposed the use of the arts to communism deployment.  
The Modern Art, from the time when, in an almost teenage revolt, wanted to get rid of any “rule” or proportion of aesthetics, fell into the abyss of chaos and non sense.   In various fields of art (music, painting, sculpture, etc.) abstractions that mark the triumph of shapeless and formless are regarded as masterpieces by experts.   But the simple man, devoid of the “wisdom of the intellectuals of the city” realize that this is true ugliness, somewhat as in the fable in which a boy cries that the king was naked.  
What happened Is that beauty has an ontological dimension.   Thus, a structural element of beauty is as classicall consists in the form.   The artwork is always and only one demiurgic work, printing form to the shapeless, taking from the chaos the cosmos where logos shines.   For the Greeks, the architecture, sculpture and pottery were based on canons that were an essential perfection rule and could be expressed accurately by numbers and proportions.  
The Greeks considered beauty and goodness as inseparable, which is summarized by the word “Kalokagathia” (καλοκαγαθία), a Greek concept derived from the expression “kalos kai agathos” (καλός καi αγαθός), which literally means beauty and goodness, or beauty and virtuous. On the other hand, Konrad Lorenz claims that “the familiarity with beauty is an optimal antidote against the mistaken opinion (…) that it is only real something that can be defined with exactness and quantified”.  


14 de fevereiro de 2015
02Much is said about the escalation of violence in the world.   In relation of its causes, in the case of Brazil, the generally accepted opinion is that would be basically two: impunity and the existence of large sectors of poverty in the country, fertile soil for the growth of crime  
Regarding impunity, without doubt, the three state powers have their share of responsibility: the dubious behavior, several times by the judiciary in the punishment of offenders; the criminal legal entanglement and criminal procedure, where you can always find a loophole; the unpreparedness of the police, the lack of political will of governments to address the problem and solve it once and for all are important factors for the normalization of violence in the country.  
However, we note that all the above mentioned causes are “extrinsic to man” and in conformity with law and politics.  They are measures which prevent or repress violence, but which do not act on the origin of the wickedness.  
Poverty and socioeconomic marginalization also cannot be diagnosed as a reason for excessive violence, seeing as the problem affects all socioeconomic classes without distinction.   In this respect, we cite as an example the case of Suzane von Richthofen, a beautiful girl from São Paulo´s upper middle class who studied law in one of the country´s best colleges and who murdered her parents in cold blood and in the cruelest of ways, helped by her boyfriend and her brother; the Pitt boys, etc.   Besides this, we recall that it became an international drama.   Now and then we come across in the news the story of a child murderer, a serial killer who announces his action on YouTube, and, after killing innocent people, commits suicide, etc.  
Thus, in my view, the root of the current normalization of violence is not to be found in the bad distribution of income or in the failure of the state apparatus to combat it.  It can be seen as an evil of modern society, one being suffered at the global level.   The normalization of violence is the externalization, the symptom of a civilization that is wasting away.  
The modern person finds him or herself submersed in nihilism which, in Nietzsche´s understanding, “is not just the contemplation of the uselessness of everything, not just the conviction that everything deserve to fall into ruin; putting hands to work, let them help lead things to ruin… That is, if you will, illogic; but nihilism does not believe in the obligation to be logical.. It is the state of strong spirits and wills, and they are not able to cope with the “no” of personal judgment – the “no” of action is then part of their nature.   The annihilation with the hand accompanies the annihilation done with personal judgment.”  
The contemporary cultural amalgam has as its main victim the young, where the scant moral and ethical education received in the family and in community life, allied with the fact that they are more susceptible to absorbing prevailing values, has as a consequence the appearance of a “juventude transviada” (youth lead astray), as sociologists call them.  
The poorest communities also end up suffering more intensely: “And what results from that right to the multiplication of needs? For the rich, the spiritual isolation and suicide, for the poor, the envy and the murder, while those rights were conceded but still don´t show the ways to satisfy the needs.”   (Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov).   We remind here the tragic case of the bus 174, in Rio de Janeiro in 2000, which was held in the neighborhood of the Botanical Garden for nearly five hours, at the point of a gun, by Sandro do Nascimento Barbosa, a victim of the old Slaughter of Candelaria.   This young man, thirst to be socially recognized and saying he wanted to be famous – something envied and desired by so many people – chose the path of crime to achieve this dream.  
So it seems to me mistaken the solution proposed by some of the poor birth control as a way to contain the violence, because it would be the same as social castration, turning those who are victims of violence in guilty.  
Thus, beyond the necessary and indispensable reforms in our state apparatus of repression violence, a cultural change is made essential, so to provide a solid human formation to all members of society, as well as the proposal of “new values “for the peaceful coexistence of man in society, especially the respect that every person should have for others and for justice, otherwise the society of men devour itself.  
However, respect for mankind and justice as key pivots for life in society are not a new idea.   In the myth of Protagoras, Plato shows us which is the only base on which human society can be maintained.   The myth tells us that it is not enough to have refined technical skills and fire, that is, the powerful energy freed up by technique and labour, if humanity does not retrieve the other divine gifts ( given by Zeus), i.e. respecting others and abiding by the laws, two qualities that the king of Olympus wished bestowed upon all without exception.  
Moreover, in the passage about Crito, Plato explains very clearly the second principle, according to which one should never cause injury or injustice to men, even when we ourselves are victims of evil or unfair actions.   We must never commit evil actions and we should not repay evil actions with vengeance.  
However, often justice is not enough to assuage tempers and reestablish peace.   In this sense, Cicero used to say: “summum ius, summa injuria”.   [Cícero, De Officiis 1.10.33].  Sometimes, extreme justice is the greater injustice of all.  Therefore, it is necessary to drastically change love, the love of giving, the desire of wanting the best for others for themselves, and to act in a selfless way to find a solution to the problem of violence.   About charity as a foundation for society, Pope Benedict XVI, in his encyclical “Deus Caritas Est” (God is Love) recounts an interesting episode that took place in the early times of Christianity: “the emperor Juliano The Apostate († 363) deserves to be quoted.because he demonstrated, once more, just how essential it was, for the church in those early centuries of its existence, to rely on charity that was organized and practised.   Six year old, Julian witnessed the assassination of his father, his brother and other family members by the guards of the imperial palace; he attributed this brutality to – rightly or wrongly – the Emperor Constantius, who posed as a great christian.  As a result, the Christian faith was discredited in his eyes once and for all.   Upon becoming emperor, Julian decided to restore paganism, the ancient Roman religion, but at the same time reforming it to make it the driving force of the empire.   For this, he was amply inspired by Christianity.   He established a hierarchy of metropolitans and priests.   They had to promte love of God and any people.   In one of his letters, [16] wrote that the sole aspect of Christianity which had impressed him was the Church’s charitable activity.  For that reason, he considered essential for his new pagan religion that, alongside the Church’s charity system, an equivalent activity of its own.   The “Galileans” – he said – had just won its popularity.   Had to imitate them, if not overcome them.   In that way, the Emperor confirmed that charity was a decisive feature of the Christian community, the Church.  
So it is not the technique that will restore the earthly paradise.   Faith in technical progress, in the words of Theodore W. Adorno, led to progress from the sling to the atom bomb.   If humanity does not recover the other divine gifts – from Zeus – that is, respect and justice, and not based on love, is doomed to self-destruction, as it was on the verge of happening in our recent past with the second World War II and the Cold War.  

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