Philosophy responds to the need to form us a unitary and total conception of the world and of life



Homo sum; nihil humani a me alienum puto , said the Latin comedian. And I would say rather, nullum hominem a me alienum puto ; I am a man, to no other man I think strange. Because the adjective humanus is as suspect to me as its abstract noun humanitas , humanity. Neither the human nor the humanity, neither the simple adjective, nor the noun noun, but the concrete noun: man. The man of flesh and bone, the one who is born, suffers and dies -especially dies-, the one who eats and drinks and plays and sleeps and thinks and wants, the man who is seen and who is heard, the brother, the true brother .

Because there is something else, which they also call man, and is the subject of not a few more or less scientific ramblings. And it is the biped implume of the legend, the ζῷον πολιτικόν of Aristotle, the social contractor of Rousseau, the homo oeconomicus of the Manchesterians, the homo sapiens , of Linnaeus, or, if you will, the vertical mammal. A man who is not from here or there, or from this time or the other, who has neither sex nor country, an idea, anyway. That is, a non-man.

Ours is the other, the flesh and blood; I, you, my reader; that other one from beyond, how many we weigh on the earth.

And this concrete man, flesh and blood, is the subject and the supreme object at the same time of all philosophy, whether or not certain philosophical philosophers like it.

In the most of the histories of philosophy that I know, systems are presented as originating from one another, and their authors, the philosophers, hardly appear except as mere pretexts. The intimate biography of the philosophers, of the men who philosophized occupies a secondary place. And it is her, however, that intimate biography, which explains the most things to us.

Let us say, first of all, that philosophy is based more on poetry than on science. How many philosophical systems have been forged as the supreme concoction of the final results of the particular sciences, in any period have had much less consistency and less life than those others that represented the integral yearning of the spirit of its author.

And it is that the sciences, importing us so much and being indispensable for our life and our thought, are, in a certain sense, stranger than philosophy. They fulfill a more objective goal, that is, more outside of us. They are, in the end, a matter of economy. A new scientific discovery, of what we call theorists, is like a mechanical discovery, that of the steam engine, the telephone, the phonograph, the airplane, a thing that is useful for something. Thus, the telephone can serve us to communicate remotely with the beloved woman. But what is this for? Take one the electric tram to go to hear an opera, and ask yourself: which is in this case more useful, the tram or the opera?

Philosophy responds to the need to form us [p. 7] a unitary and total conception of the world and of life, and as a consequence of that conception, a feeling that engenders an intimate attitude and even an action. But it turns out that this feeling, instead of being a consequence of that conception, is the cause of it. Our philosophy, that is, our way of understanding or not understanding the world and life springs from our feeling about life itself. And this, like all the affective, has subconscious roots, perhaps unconscious.

It is not usually our ideas that make us optimistic or pessimistic, but it is our optimism or our pessimism, of physiological or pathological origin perhaps, both the one and the other, the one that makes our ideas.

Man, they say, is a rational animal. I do not know why it was not said that it is an affective or sentimental animal. And perhaps what differentiates you from other animals is more the feeling than the reason. More times I’ve seen a cat reasoning than not laughing or crying. Perhaps I cry or laugh inside, but inside the crab may also solve equations of the second degree.

And so, what in a philosopher we should be more important is man.

Take Kant, the man Manuel Kant, who was born and lived in Koenigsberg, at the end of the 18th century and even step on the threshold of the 19th century. There is in the philosophy of this man Kant, man of heart and head, that is, man, a significant leap, as Kierkegaard would have said, another man – and so man! -, the leap from the Critique of Pure Reason to the Critique of Practical Reason . Rebuild in it, say what you want those who do not see man, what he collapsed in it. After having examined and pulverized with his analysis the traditional proofs of the existence of God, of the Aristotelian God, who is the God [p. 8] that corresponds to ζῷον πολιτικόνof the abstract God, of the first immobile motor, he reconstructs God again, but the God of conscience, the Author of the moral order, the Lutheran God, in short. That leap of Kant is already in germ in the Lutheran notion of faith.

The one God, the rational god, is the projection to the infinite outside of man by definition, that is, of the abstract man, of the man not man, and the other God, the sentimental or volitional god, is the projection to infinity from within of man for life, of concrete man, of flesh and bone.

Kant reconstructed with his heart what he had knocked down with his head. And we know, by testimony of those who knew him and by his own testimony, in his letters and private statements, that the man Kant, the bachelor a yes is not selfish, who professed philosophy in Koenigsberg at the end of the century of the Encyclopedia and of the goddess Reason, he was a man very concerned about the problem. I mean the only true vital problem, from the one that most reaches us, from the problem of our individual and personal destiny, of the immortality of the soul. The man Kant was not resigned to die at all. And because he did not resign himself to die at all, he took the leap, the immortal leap, from one critic to another.

Whoever reads the Critique of Practical Reason with attention and without blinders , will see that, strictly speaking, the existence of God of the immortality of the soul, and not the latter, is deduced from it. The categorical imperative leads us to a moral postulate that in turn demands, in the teleological or rather eschatological order, the immortality of the soul, and to sustain this immortality God appears. Everything else is a professional philosopher’s retreat.

The Kant man felt morality as the basis of eschatology, but the philosophy professor reversed the terms.

[p. 9] He already said I do not know where another professor, the teacher and man Guillermo James, that God for the generality of men is the producer of immortality. Yes, for the generality of men, including the man Kant, the man James and the man who traces these lines that you are, reader, reading.

One day, speaking with a peasant, I proposed the hypothesis that there was, in effect, a God who rules heaven and earth, Consciousness of the Universe, but that is not the soul of every immortal man in the traditional and concrete sense. And he answered me: “Then, why God?” And so they answered in the recondite forum of their conscience the man Kant and the man James. Only that acting as teachers had to justify rationally that attitude so unreasonable. What does not mean, of course, that it is absurd.

Hegel made famous his aphorism that everything rational is real and everything rational real; but we are many who, not convinced by Hegel, we continue to believe that the real, the really real, is irrational; that reason builds on irrationalities. Hegel, great definidor, tried to reconstruct the universe with definitions, as that Artillery sergeant said that the cannons are built by taking a hole and covering it with iron.

Another man, the man Joseph Butler, Anglican bishop, who lived at the beginning of the eighteenth century, and of whom the Catholic cardinal Newman says is the greatest name of the Anglican Church, at the end of the first chapter of his great work on analogy of religion ( The Analogy of Religion ), chapter that deals with the future life, wrote these pregnant words: “This credibility in a future life, on what so much has been insisted here, however little it satisfies our curiosity, seems to respond to the all purposes of religion as much as it responds [p. 10]It was a demonstration test. In reality, a test, even demonstrative, of a future life, would not be a test of religion. Because the one we have to live after death is something that sympathizes so well with atheism, and that it may be because of it as taken into account as the one we are now alive, and nothing can be, therefore, more absurd than to argue from atheism that it could not have been future. ”

The man Butler, whose works perhaps knew the man Kant, wanted to save the faith in the immortality of the soul, and for it it made independent of the faith in God. The first chapter of his Analogy deals, as I say, of the future life, and the second, of the government of God for rewards and punishments. And it is that, deep down, the good Anglican bishop deduces the existence of God from the immortality of the soul. And as the good Anglican bishop left here, he did not have to make the leap that the good Lutheran philosopher had to give at the end of his century. It was a man Bishop Butler, and another man was Professor Kant.

And to be a man is to be something concrete, unitary and substantive, is to be thing, res . And we already know what another man, the man Benito Spinoza, that Portuguese Jew who was born and lived in Holland in the middle of the seventeenth century, wrote about everything. Proposition 6 of part III of his Ethics says: unaquaeque res, quatenus in se est, in suo esse perseverare conatur ; that is, each thing, insofar as it is in itself, strives to persevere in its being. Each thing, insofar as it is in itself, that is, as a substance, since, according to him, substance is id quod in se est et per se concipitur , what is by itself and by itself is conceived. And in the next proposition, the 7th, from the same part adds:conatus, quo unaquaeque rei in suo esse perserverare conatur, nihil est praeter ipsius rei actualem essentiam ; that is, the effort with which each thing tries to persevere in its being is only the current essence of the thing itself. It means [p. 11] I know that your essence, reader, mine, Spinoza’s man, Butler man, Kant man’s and every man who is a man, is nothing but the conatus, the effort he puts into remaining a man, in not dying And the other proposition that follows these two, the 8th, says: conatus, quo unaquaeque res in suo esse perserverare conatur, nullum tempus finitum, thirst indefinitum involvit, that is: the effort with which each thing strives to persevere in its being, does not imply finite time, but indefinite. That is to say, that you, me and Spinoza want never to die and that our longing to never die is our current essence. And yet, this poor Portuguese Jew, banished in the Dutch mists, could never come to believe in his own personal immortality, and all his philosophy was nothing but a consolation that forged his lack of faith. Like others hurt a hand or a foot or the heart or the head, Spinoza hurt God. Poor man! And poor men, others!

And the man, this thing, is it a thing? As absurd as the question may seem, there are those who have proposed it. There was not much in the world for a certain doctrine that we called positivism, which did much good and much evil. And among other evils he did, was to bring us such a genre of analysis that the facts were pulverized with it, reducing to dust of facts. The most of what positivism called facts were only fragments of facts. In psychology its action was deleterious. There were even scholastics involved with literati – I do not say philosophers involved in poets, because poet and philosopher are twin brothers, if not the same thing – that led the positivist psychological analysis to the novel and the drama, where men must be put on foot concrete, flesh and blood, and in strength of states of consciousness, consciences disappeared.[p. 12] that they say happens frequently when examining and testing certain complicated living organic chemical compounds, and that the reagents destroy the very body that is being examined, and what we get are no more than products of their composition.

Starting from the obvious fact that contradictory states parade through our conscience, came to not clear conscience, the self. Asking one for his self is like asking him about his body. And it tells that when speaking of the I, I speak of the concrete and personal I; not of Fichte’s self, but of Fichte himself, of Fichte man.

And what determines a man, what makes him a man, one and not another, who is and not who is not, is a principle of unity and a principle of continuity. A principle of unity first in space, thanks to the body, and then in action and in purpose. When we walk, one foot does not go forward and the other back: nor when we look, look one eye to the North and the other to the South, as we are healthy. At every moment of our life we ​​have a purpose, and he conspires the synergy of our actions. Although the next moment we change our purpose. And in a certain sense a man is more man, the more unitary his action. There are those who, in their whole lives, do not pursue but one purpose, whatever it may be.

And a principle of continuity over time. Without going into a discussion – idle discussion – whether or not I was twenty years ago, it is indisputable, it seems to me, the fact that what I am today comes, through a continuous series of states of consciousness, from what was in my body. twenty years. Memory is the basis of the individual personality, just as tradition is of the collective personality of a people. We live in remembrance and memory, and our spiritual life is not, in the end, but the effort of our [p. 13] I remember to persevere, to become hopeful, the effort of our past to become a future.

All this is a shrieking platitude, well I know; but it is that, rolling around the world, one meets men who do not seem to feel themselves. One of my best friends, with whom I have walked daily for many years, every time I spoke to him about this feeling of his own personality, he said to me: “Well, I do not feel myself; I do not know what that is. ”

On one occasion, this friend whom I allude to told me: “I would like to be so-and-so” (here a name), and I said: that is what I never understand, that one wants to be anybody else. Wanting to be another is wanting to stop being one who is. I explain that one wants to have what another has, its riches or its knowledge; but being another is something that I do not explain. More than once it has been said that every unhappy man prefers to be the one who is, even with his misfortunes, to be another without them. And it is that unhappy men, when they keep healing in their misery, that is, when they strive to persevere in their being, prefer disgrace to non-existence. I can say that when I was a boy, and even as a child, they did not manage to touch me with the pathetic paintings that were made of hell, because since then nothing appeared to me as horrible as nothing itself. It was a furious hunger to be, an appetite for divinity, as our ascetic said.

Going to one with the embassy to be someone else, to become another, is to go with the embassy to stop being him. Each defends his personality, and only accepts a change in his way of thinking or feeling as soon as this change can enter into the unity of his spirit and engage in his continuity; as soon as that change can be harmonized and integrated with all the rest of his way of being, thinking and feeling, [p. 14] and can at the same time link to their memories. Neither a man nor a people – who is, in a certain sense, a man – can be required to make a change that will break the unity and continuity of their person. It can be changed a lot, almost completely; but within continuity.

It is true that there is in certain individuals what is called a personality change; but this is a pathological case, and as such the alienists study it. In these personality changes, memory, the basis of consciousness, is completely ruined, and only the poor patient remains, as a subtraction of individual continuity -alre not personal- the physical organism. Such a disease is equivalent to death for the subject who suffers it; for those who do not equate to his death, it is for those who will inherit him, if he has property of fortune. And that disease is nothing but a revolution, a true revolution.

A disease is, in a certain respect, an organic dissociation; it is an organ or any element of the living body that rebels, breaks the vital synergy and conspires to an end different from that conspired by the other elements coordinated with it. Its end can be, considered in itself, that is, in the abstract, higher, nobler, more … all that is wanted, but it is another. It may be better to fly and breathe in the air than to swim and breathe in the water; but if the fins of a fish would turn into wings, the fish, like a fish, would perish. And it is not good to say that it would end up becoming a bird, if there was not a process of continuity in it. I do not know it well, but perhaps a fish can be generated by a bird, or another fish that is closer to the bird than it is; but a fish, this fish, can not itself, and during its life, become a bird.

Everything that conspires in me to break the unity and continuity of my life, conspires to destroy me and, [p. fifteen]therefore, to be destroyed. Every individual that in a town conspires to break the spiritual unity and continuity of that people tends to destroy it and destroy itself as part of that people. How about another town is better? Perfectly, even if we do not understand well what is better or worse. What is richer? Granted. What is more cultured? Granted too. Who lives happier? This already … but, anyway, come in! What wins, what they call winning, while we are defeated? Congratulations. All that is fine, but it is another. Enough. Because for me, to become another, breaking the unity and continuity of my life, is to stop being what I am, that is, it is simply to stop being. And this not; Everything before this!

What other would fill the paper I fill so well or better than I? What other would fulfill my social function? Yes, but not me.

«Me, me, me, always me! -Say some reader-; and who are you? “I could answer him here with Obermann, with the enormous man Obermann,” for the universe nothing, for me everything “; but no, I prefer to remind you of a doctrine of Kant man, and that is that we should consider our neighbors, other men, not as means, but as ends. Well, it’s not about me alone; it’s about you, reader, that you grumble like that; it’s about the other, it’s about everyone and everyone. Singular judgments have the value of universals, say logicians. The singular is not particular, it is universal.

Man is an end, not a means. The whole civilization straightens man, every man, every self. Or what is that idol, call it Humanity or whatever it is called, to which each and every man is to be sacrificed? Because I sacrifice myself for my neighbors, for my compatriots, for my children, and these in turn for their own, and theirs for theirs, [p. 16] and thus in endless series of generations. And who receives the fruit of that sacrifice?

The same ones who tell us about that fantastic sacrifice, that dedication without an object, usually also tell us about the right to life. And what is the right to life? They tell me that I have come to realize I do not know what social purpose; but I feel that I, as well as each one of my brothers, have come to realize myself, to live.

Yes, yes, I see it; an enormous social activity, a powerful civilization, a lot of science, a lot of art, a lot of industry, a lot of morality, and then, when we have filled the world with industrial wonders, big factories, roads, museums, libraries, we will fall exhausted at the foot of all that, and will remain for whom? Was man made for science or was science made for man?

“Ea,” the same reader will exclaim again, “we return to that of the Catechism: Q. For whom did God make the world? R. For man. “Well, yes, that’s the way a man must respond. The ant, if she realized this, and was a person, aware of herself, would answer that for the ant, and would answer well. The world is made for consciousness, for every conscience.

A human soul is worth all over the universe, he has said I do not know who, but he has said egregiously. A human soul, huh? Not a life Life, not this one. And it happens that as less is believed in the soul, that is, in its conscious, personal and concrete immortality, the value of the poor passing life will be more exaggerated. This is where all the effeminate women against war begin. Yes, one should not want to die, but the other death. “He who wants to save his life will lose it,” says the Gospel; but he does not say who wants to save his soul, the immortal soul. Or that we believe and we want it to be.

And all the definers of objectivism are not fixed, [p. 17] or rather, do not want to notice that by affirming a man his self, his personal conscience, affirms man, the concrete and real man, affirms the true humanism -which is not that of the things of man, but of man -, and by affirming man, affirms consciousness. Because the only consciousness that we have consciousness is that of man.

The world is for consciousness. Or, rather, this for , this notion of finality, and better than sentiment notion, this teleological feeling is born only where there is consciousness. Awareness and purpose are the same thing in the background.

If the sun were conscious, it would think to live to give light to the worlds, without a doubt; but I would also think, and above all, that the worlds exist so that he can shine them and enjoy himself in enlightening them and thus live. And I would think fine.

And all this tragic battle of man to save himself, that immortal longing for immortality that made the man Kant make that immortal leap that I told you, all that is just a battle for conscience. If consciousness is not, as some inhuman thinker has said, nothing more than a flash between two eternities of darkness, then there is nothing more execrable than existence.

Someone will be able to see a background of contradiction in everything I am saying, yearning sometimes for endless life, and saying that this life does not have the value that gives it. Contradiction? I think so! The one with my heart, that says yes, and my head, that says no! Contradiction, naturally. Who does not remember those words of the Gospel: “Lord, I believe; help my disbelief! »? Contradiction! Naturally! As we only live of contradictions, and by them; like life is tragedy, and tragedy is perpetual struggle, without victory or hope of it; It is contradiction.

[p. 18] It is, as you see, an affective value, and against the affective values ​​are not valid. Because the reasons are nothing more than reasons, that is, they are not even truths. There are definers of those pedants by nature and by grace, who make me the effect of that gentleman who is going to console a father who has just lost a son who died suddenly in the flower of his years, and they say to him: “Patience, friend, we all have to die! “Would you be shocked that this father was irritated against such impertinence? Because it is an impertinence. Even an axiom can in some cases become an impertinence. How many times can not say that

to think which you, it is only necessary

have nothing but intelligence

There are people, in fact, who seem to think only with the brain, or with any other organ that is specific to think; while others think with the whole body and all the soul, with the blood, with the marrow of the bones, with the heart, with the lungs, with the stomach, with life. And the people who do not think more than with the brain, give in definitors; they become professionals of thought. And you know what a professional is? Do you know what a product of work differentiation is?

Here you have a boxing professional. He has learned to punch with such an economy, which concentrates his strength in the punch, and hardly puts at stake but the precise muscles to obtain the immediate and concrete end of his action: to demolish the adversary. A boleo given by a non-professional, may not have such immediate objective effectiveness; but it vitalizes much more to the one who gives it, making him put into play almost his whole body. The one is a punch of [p. 19] boxer, the other man. And it is known that the circus hercules, that the fair athletes, are not usually healthy. They demolish the adversaries, lift enormous weights, but die, or of consumption or dyspepsia.

If a philosopher is not a man, he is anything but a philosopher; it is, above all, a pedant, that is, a man’s imitation. The cultivation of any science, of chemistry, of physics, of geometry, of philology, can be, and even this very narrowly and within very narrow limits, a work of differentiated specialization; but philosophy, like poetry, is a work of integration, of concination, or it is nothing but philosophizing, pseudo-philosophical erudition.

All knowledge has a purpose. What to know to know, is not, say what you want, but a gloomy request for principle. You learn something, or for an immediate practical purpose, or to complete our other knowledge. Even the doctrine that appears to us more theoretical, that is, of less immediate application to the non-intellectual necessities of life, responds to a need -which is also intellectual-, to a reason of economy in thinking, to a principle of unity and continuity of consciousness. But just as a scientific knowledge has its purpose in other knowledge, the philosophy that one has to embrace has another extrinsic purpose, it refers to our entire destiny, to our attitude towards life and the universe. And the most tragic problem of philosophy is to reconcile intellectual needs with affective needs and with volitional needs. As that there fails all philosophy that seeks to undo the eternal and tragic contradiction, the basis of our existence. But do all face this contradiction?

Little can be expected, v. gr., of a ruler who once, even in a dark way, has not been concerned with the first principle and the ultimate goal [p. 20] of all things, and above all of men, of their first why and their last for what.

And this supreme concern can not be purely rational, it has to be affective. It is not enough to think, we have to feel our destiny. And he who, pretending to direct his fellows, says and proclaims that he has no care about the things of tiles above, does not deserve to direct them. Without this saying, of course, that a certain solution must be asked of him. Solution! Is there any?

For what it does to me, I will never give myself willingly, and giving my trust, to any driver of peoples who is not penetrated that, when driving a town, leads men, men of flesh and blood, men who are born, suffer , and although they do not want to die, they die; men who are ends in themselves, not only means; men who must be what they are and not others; men, in short, looking for what we call happiness. It is inhuman, for example, to sacrifice a generation of men to the generation that follows him when there is no feeling of the fate of the sacrificed. Not their memory, not their names, but themselves.

All that one lives in their children, or in their works, or in the universe, are vague speculations with which only those suffering from affective stupidity are satisfied, who may be, for the rest, persons of a certain cerebral eminence. Because you can have a great talent, what we call a great talent, and be a fool of feeling and even a moral imbecile. There have been cases.

These stupid affectionate with talent often say that it does not serve to want to zahondar in the unknowable or kick against the sting. It is as if one were told that they had to amputate a leg, that it is useless to think about it. And we all lack something; only some feel it and others do not. Or do [p. 21] like they do not feel it, and then they are hypocrites.

A pedant who saw Solon mourn the death of a son, said: “Why do you cry like this, if that does not work?” And the wise man replied: “That’s precisely why it does not work.” Of course, the crying serves something, even if it is only relief; but one can see the profound meaning of Solon’s response to the impertinent. And I am convinced that we would solve many things if we all went out to the street, and by bringing our sorrows to light, that perhaps they would result in a single common sorrow, we would share in mourning them and shouting to the heavens and calling God. Even if he did not hear us, he would hear us. The most holy thing in a temple is that it is the place to be cried in common. A Miserere, sung in common by a crowd whipped of fate, is worth as much as a philosophy. It is not enough to cure the plague, you have to know how to cry it. Yes, you have to know how to cry! And perhaps this is the supreme wisdom. For what? Ask Solon.

There is something that, for want of another name, we will call the tragic feeling of life, which carries with it a whole conception of life itself and of the universe, a whole more or less formulated philosophy, more or less conscious. And that feeling can have it, and they have it, not only individual men, but entire peoples. And that feeling, rather than sprouting from ideas, determines them, even though then, of course, these ideas react on it, corroborating it. Sometimes it can come from an adventitious disease, from a dyspepsia, v. gr .; but other times it is constitutional. And it does not help to speak, as we shall see, of healthy and insane men. Apart from not having a normative notion of health, nobody has proven that man has to be naturally happy. It is more: the man, to be a man, to have conscience, is [p. 22]already, regarding the donkey or a crab, a sick animal. The conscience is a disease.

There have been among the men of flesh and bone typical examples of those who have the tragic feeling of life. Now I remember Marco Aurelio, San Agustin, Pascal, Rousseau, Rene , Obermann , Thomson, Leopardi, Vigny, Lenau, Kleist, Amiel, Quental, Kierkegaard, men laden with wisdom rather than science.

There will be those who believe that any of these men adopted their attitude – as if attitudes could adopt, as one adopts a position – to attract attention or perhaps to ingratiate themselves with the powerful, with their bosses perhaps, because there is nothing else Less than men when they put themselves to suppose other people’s intentions; but honni soit qui mal and I thought . And this not to stamp now and here another proverb, this Spanish, much more energetic, but that perhaps scratches in rudeness.

And there are, I believe, also peoples that have the tragic feeling of life.

It is what we have to see now, starting with that of health and illness.

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