segunda-feira, 9 de maio de 2011


I do not intend to make here a description of what actually has been the philosophical activity over time, but a personal account, and somehow, programmatic and inviting about how I take philosophy and philosophizing.

I do this in two reflective moments. First, philosophizing is, for me, the fundamental way of settling the man into the world in an insecure, fearful, ignorant, unsatisfied, desiring, incomplete and suffering way. I frequently associate philosophizing with helplessness. Philosophizing is the very cry of mortality, whatever the scope or level where it arises from. This ignorant and suffering helplessness leads to a powerful desire for clarification, permeated by a well-living and well-dying desire: all humans want to understand more things to try to live and die better.

These primary desires are present in all people, so that, at this moment of my reflection, and as it was always said before the professionalizing of philosophy, we are all philosophers, due to the simple and terrible fact of being human in this peculiar way of being, finite and mortal, threatened, full of questions, thrown into an inhospitable world. Amid the tumult of their daily concerns and personal dramas, arise from time to time in every person, literate or illiterate, inevitably, the key issues: the meaning, the death, the pain. These issues are immediately buried by the majority, or set aside for long periods; people live as if these questions never existed.

In a second thought on philosophy, by contrast, almost no one is a philosopher, not even the majority of philosophy professors. For genuine philosophers are beings full of questions and absences who process their threatened finitude into an obsessive search for clarification - even when it is dangerous and unstable - and a powerful form of sensitivity that expresses total priority over any other concern, not because the philosopher proposes so, but because he is thrown so compelling for this particular form of existence.

It is as if the philosopher, in this second sense, exacerbated or took to paroxysm what is fleeting and unnecessary for most people. If they bury their philosophical desires (to clarify, to live well and to die well), the philosopher is someone who cannot bury or hide, and for whom these anxious and uncomfortable issues are permanent atmosphere, the air they breathe, the center of gravity and organization of their particular mode of existence.

The obsession for clarity, the susceptible sensitivity to everything that is finite, incomplete and insecure, brings new misery to the philosopher, and not something like a “wisdom of life”. On the contrary, humans that simply face the drama of being human without reflecting it have strength, wisdom and defenses that the philosopher loses in the very moment he starts to think. In this sense, the philosopher has no wisdom to offer, instead, he spends his life trying to recover by the thought, the wisdom that he believed he had when he was not a philosopher (Wittgenstein: a tragicomic example of this).

The professional philosophy banned the existential motive present in these two conceptions of philosophizing. The philosophical activity is now an institutionalized task more than one way of existing. The professional philosophy invigorated the means of questioning the subjects and, in some way, led them to a great improvement from the point of view of their instrumental technicality. It also turned them into a powerful mechanism of domination. But the professional philosophy has not created anything; it just processed and interpreted the finiteness in a particular way. The helplessness is hidden or camouflaged beneath the professionalized forms of philosophizing, both in the analytical philosophy as, for example, in studies from “experts in Nietzsche”. The weakness inherent to all philosophizing (to all living) is disguised in a seemingly strong, safe and technical way of “mastering the subjects” and “constructing arguments”. But even there, philosophizing cannot hide its original fragility.

The professionalized philosophy is lost in the charms of the commentary, exegesis, quotation, authority and learning, where philosophy becomes a job like any other, being exerted by all kinds of people, even those without a high sensitivity, obsession or existential involvement in radical questions. Philosophy represents the lives of most of its practitioners just an institutional insertion, along with the family, the working groups and the state. This is a kind of productivity as any other. The philosophy becomes a “sector of the real” on the side of dentistry, law and gardening, and a professional philosopher is someone who can devote part of his forces to the functional study of this sector of the real.

In none of the two conceptions of philosophizing, the acquiring of information is vital. On the contrary, in a sense, philosophizing is a way to misinform, to discard information, to turn up with what we have, to make minimum reflections without stunning with the excess of data. As philosophers, it is not a matter of “knowing more”, but “being more” through questions about the world. Instead, from the view of the professional perspective, philosophizing existentialistically guided will always seem “not too serious”, irresponsible and amateurish, because it openly shows its weakness and insecure character. (From a functional point of view, living is definitely not serious).

But nothing prevents a philosopher from being also a professor of philosophy, like Kant, Hegel, Fichte, Heidegger and Wittgenstein were. For many think that holding a professorship at the university is a sign of not being a genuine philosopher, that genuine philosophers are those who never taught in universities, like Spinoza, Hume and Schopenhauer. In fact, for the philosopher, whether or not to occupy a university chair is irrelevant. He may bend before the professionalized philosophy or may try to make his philosophy inside it.

Within the scope of my second view of philosophy, my idea is that philosophy has a multiple nature and that many types of texts come from it (oral or written) that may be regarded as philosophical: from texts of logical analysis to existential and autobiographical texts. Philosophy, as I understand it, goes from Carnap to Kierkegaard quite naturally. I never spent my time trying to show that some of these authors “does not make philosophy” or "is not a philosopher”. I do not take any attitude of scandal before the multiplicity or chaos of the term “philosophy”, or anxious exasperation before its “lack of definition”, because I see the multiplicity of philosophizing as an unfold of its own nature, as I understand it, not as a painful historical accident to be regretted and resolved.

Philosophy, like life itself, unfolds in a vital continuum of thoughts, since the maximum logical-analytical articulation up to the existential diving into the flow of living. Analysis and existence are polarities, and philosophies develop a rich and varied range within these extremes. In all countries, there were fluctuations from one extreme to another, and always the temptation to mark the place of “true philosophy” in one of them excluding all others.

I myself made a philosophy of logic that tends to the articulated (see PHILOSOPHY OF LOGIC), and a fluid and existential philosophy of ethics (see NEGATIVE ETHICS). Nevertheless, in the dynamics of my work, both tend to their opposites: my ethics tends to logical argument, and my logic has Nietzschean bases. The existence tends to analysis, the analysis to existence. The two polarities of philosophy pervade the totality of my thinking.



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