Julio Cabrera

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We are not nihilistic towards life - it is life that is nihilistic towards us. It is life that denies us, expels us, and kills us. Do we not want to live intensely and forever? Are we the ones denying life? Is it not life that denies us day by day?

Julio Cabrera is an Argentine philosopher living in Brazil. He is best known for his works on "negative ethics" and cinema and philosophy.


  • In a first moment, philosophizing is, for me, the fundamental way of man's installation in the world: a way that is insecure, fearful, ignorant, unsatisfied, desirous, incomplete, and suffering. I link philosophizing with despair. Philosophizing is the very cry of finitude, whatever the scope or level where it manifests itself. These primary feelings are present in all people, so that at this first moment, and as was always said before the professionalization of philosophy, we are all philosophers for the simple and terrible fact that we are in the peculiar human way of being: finite, mortal, threatened, helpless, ignorant, and questioning beings, thrown into an unwelcoming world. In the midst of the tumult of their daily concerns and personal dramas, from time to time the essential questions arise in all people, literate or illiterate, inevitably: meaning, death, pain. These questions are immediately buried by the majority, or put aside; for long periods, one lives as if they didn't exist. In a second thought, on the contrary, almost nobody is a philosopher, not even most philosophy professors. For philosophers are those questioning and wanting beings who turn their threatened finitude into an obsessive quest for knowledge and a powerful form of sensibility (and sexuality!) that manifests total priority over any other concern; not because the philosopher sets out to do so, but because he is compulsively cast into this peculiar form of existence. It is as if the philosopher, in this second sense, exacerbates or brings to a paroxysm that which is a fleeting and dispensable moment for most people. The philosopher is the one for whom those anxious and uncomfortable questions are his permanent atmosphere, the air he breathes, the center of gravitation of his way of being. The obsession with knowledge, the susceptibility to all that is finite, incomplete and insecure, to the constant threat of the world, to despair without consolation, bring new misfortunes to the philosopher, not something like a "wisdom of life." On the contrary, humans who simply live the drama of being human without reflecting it, possess strengths, defenses, and wisdoms that the philosopher loses in the very instant he sets out to reflect. In this sense, the genuine philosopher has no wisdom to offer; on the contrary, he will spend his life trying to recover, through thought, the wisdom he believed he had when he was not a philosopher (Wittgenstein: a tragicomic example of this).
  • What is meant by "ethics" in this initial context of reflection cannot be anything too complicated or strongly committed to particular ethical theories, but rather quite a basic concept that could be accepted by them all. I propose to speak of a "Fundamental Ethical Articulation" (FEA from now on) to refer to the following concept: In decisions and actions, we must take also into account the moral and sensitive interests of others and not only our own, trying not to give systematic primacy to the latter just because they are our interests.
  • The best would have been not to be born. Not being born is, in a negative ethics, the absolute good; but it is, precisely, the good that cannot be sought. (Attention: the situation is more radical than in the case of goods that can be sought but never achieved; not being born cannot even be sought).
  • People talk about the "wonderful experience of parenthood". Have you ever wondered why it is so wonderful? It may be wonderful because it is very manipulative; manipulating gives a lot of pleasure, because you have a person in your hands. When the child is small you wear it as you want, comb as you want, cut the hair, put on the table, as I have frequently seen it. The adults play with the child, people who would have no subject of conversation or interaction, when their empty, insignificant gray lives would come to light, the child saves them.
  • The moral tradition says: we have many natural tendencies, but as ethical human beings we have to try to overcome natural impulses. For example, we are naturally violent; human beings are naturally very selfish, trying to focus their decisions on themselves, but ethics is always saying: you have to fight against these natural tendencies. You cannot be all the violent that nature commands, you cannot be everything selfish that nature asks for. So if you tell me that procreation is natural, being natural does not show it to be moral. On the contrary, forgotten Brazilian philosophers like Tobias Barreto put exactly the opposite. Tobias Barreto thought that when something is natural it is bad, and we have to fight it. (The enslavement of one people over others is natural, but it is cultural that slavery must not exist.) So do not tell me that procreation is natural and so we have to do it. All human morality is unnatural; all human morality is artificial, just as our feeding systems in our sophisticated restaurants are also artificial and unnatural. What is the animal that eats the way we eat? Even our sexuality is artificial; it is not purely instinctual, but largely symbolic. If you had that argument in your sleeve, you would still have to show that what comes from nature is moral, because there are many arguments showing that what comes from nature can be opposite of morality.
  • MV says that the rejection of life appears in later states, but that at the time of birth, and already before, everything is acceptance of life. But, is this so?? What can be said of the outcry with which children are born, of the primordial cry, of the first traumatic contact (studied by Freud) with the world? Is the child’s outcry not already his first philosophical opinion about the world? Why is he not born laughing, or at least calm? When the baby is dumped into the world at the time of childbirth, his first reaction is pessimistic, a protest against disregard and disturbance, an initial outcry that he did not have to learn, as he will have to learn to laugh in the first few weeks or even months of life (which already marks, in the very inaugural act of being, the pessimistic asymmetry: the baby learns to laugh, but is born crying); the baby is born, forced by the desires of others, in an initial desperation, in a cry of deep and abysmal helplessness, in a primordial terror that, immediately, through movements, caresses, comforts, etc., adults will try to soften; movements that will be repeated throughout his life: initial despair followed by protective comforts; but the comforts are posterior to the despair; the despair comes first, and the comforts are the reactions. They are not on the same level. Asymmetry!
  • What we notice, for example, when we get involved in ethical discussions on procreation, abortion or death penalty or in logical debates on analyticity, non-classic logics or lexical connections, is that the opposite positions are perfectly tenable, although they are not the positions that we ourselves prefer to take. We understand that our position about, for example, abortion, comes from a set of previous assumptions, preferences, dislikes, past experiences, education and so on, all elements and circumstances that oriented our choice of categories, concepts and modes of reasoning that certainly should greatly differ from the set of arguments of our interlocutors in a dialogue about the matter. Anything we can present about controversial topics like these would be normally opposed or refused by the other party through all kinds of objections. Opposition is not an anomaly, but the current form in which philosophy develops. Two human beings engaging in a discussion about philosophical questions are going naturally and per force to differ in substance and method in almost any topic at issue. What is the point in trying to impose one's own perspective?
  • Despite Singer's proud affirmative statement that he has finally discovered the definitive solution to the problem of abortion and can finally settle the issue, his "proof" depends on many possible sub-arguments (which he prefers not to "see"). His pro-abortion argument can only be established if we accept some kind of utilitarian ethics according to which the well-being of concrete human beings is above any abstract or metaphysical idea of the "human person" (something that would make them "intrinsically valuable"). It also depends on the idea that what is ethically relevant is that humans do not suffer unnecessary pain, and on the thesis that a human being can be defined by a set of well-defined relevant properties (the famous "indicators of humanity"). It also depends on a very specific definition of the terms "homicide" and "innocent" in the expression "innocent human being", and on the deactivation of the idea of "potentiality", in the sense that someone can be potentially a thing at time t + 1, which would give him rights at t. It is a large number of assumptions without which the "objective" and "definitive" conclusion would not follow. Any debater who does not accept at least one of these assumptions will not accept Singer's "indisputable results". And contrary to what he says, those who do not accept them are not "simply wrong", but they assume other perfectly plausible, sustainable and rational assumptions and Gestalten within the network of arguments. Singer drastically ignores all the questions and obstacles in his line of argument (e.g., the controversy over "indicators of humanity"), and it is only in this way that he can still feed the illusion of having "solved" the problem of abortion.
  • One of the most curious questions that I hear in discussions about philosophy in Brazil is that my approach is "markedly political," as if I were introducing politics into the aseptic and uncontaminated body of "pure philosophy" (... ) I want to say from the outset that the ideas that European philosophy is a universal philosophy, and that thoughts born in Latin America or Africa are national, are end-to-end policies; they are part of a policy that, having been instituted and enforced in a hegemonic way, hides its own ideological traits by presenting itself as if it were merely the absolute and objective truth.
    • Europeu não significa universal, brasileiro não significa nacional. Revista Nabuco, Year 1, number 2, December 2014-January 2015, p. 15.
  • It may be accepted that philosophical thoughts are universal in the sense of being of interest to humans from anywhere on the planet (...) However, if we do not want to formulate this universality in metaphysical or transcendental terms, we will have to conceive it as the result of a historical process, with a provenance, a circumstance and a perspective, which does not damage the universality of the thought (...) but situates it. What is denied is the idea that philosophical thoughts can arise directly from human reason, from a vision of nowhere. The universality of thoughts does not exempt them from having an origin (...)
    • Europeu não significa universal, brasileiro não significa nacional. Revista Nabuco, Year 1, number 2, December 2014-January 2015, p. 18.
  • The place of birth as an organizing center is part of the circumstances of thought, but does not exhaust them. The "from Brazil" is not only a national reference, but an existential-historical circumstance, linked to the particular configuration of the world that we make when we see it from South America and not from Ethiopia or Canada. Names like "Brazil," "Israel," or "Paris," do not allude to nations, but to organizational prospects of the world. While it makes some sense to state that in a globalized world the narrow idea of nation is diluted, it may be fallacious to say that globalization suppresses perspectives and circumstances from which this globalization is to be lived and thought.
    • Europeu não significa universal, brasileiro não significa nacional. Revista Nabuco, Year 1, number 2, December 2014-January 2015, p. 33.
  • Students are taught to do philosophy only in one way, in a single style and supported in a single tradition, by studying thoughts from only four or five countries on the planet. Latin American problems and authors (...) seem relevant to the future of young students of philosophy, by posing critical questions to them rather than simply inserting them as workers and consumers of philosophy within a supposedly objective system. Instead of deciding for the student in a paternalistic way, we should find a space for information and discussion where all ways of doing philosophy are presented, discussed and eventually excluded, because even to exclude philosophies they must appear.
    • Europeu não significa universal, brasileiro não significa nacional. Revista Nabuco, Year 1, number 2, December 2014-January 2015, p. 46.

Projeto de Ética Negativa

  • Killing someone and giving birth to someone are two violent actions through which, magically, man tries to put himself in God’s place. The victim of a homicide is always helpless, but never as helpless as the victim of a birth. There is as much innocent blood spilled in a childbirth as in a homicide. If procreation is a free choice, then life is fundamentally unnecessary pain.
  • If freedom, according to traditional morality itself, is a fundamental ethical value, the very basis of ethics, one must be aware that the creation of a child may be the first huge disrespect of the freedom of the human person. The issue of freedom suffers here from the same problem as the issue of pain: it is a matter of ethical value that the traditional affirmative ethics is unable to radicalize.

A critique of affirmative morality (A reflection on death, birth and the value of life)

  • In the light of natural ontology, it is not correct the argument that we do not know anything about our possible offsprings, for example, about the capacity they will have to overcome structural pain; because even we do not know, for example, whether they will enjoy traveling, working or studying classical languages, we do know they will be indigent, decadent, vacating beings who will start dying since birth, who will face and be characterized by systematic dysfunctions, who will have to constitute their own beings as beings-against-the-others – in the sense of dealing with aggressiveness and having to discharge it over others – who will lose those they love and be lost by those who love them, and time will take everything they manage to build.
  • We undoubtedly would not morally justify the behavior of someone who sent a colleague to a dangerous situation by saying: "I sent him there because I know he is strong and he will manage well". The "strengths" of the newborn do not relieve in anything the moral responsibility of the procreator. Anyone would answer: "This is irrelevant. Your role in the matter consisted of sending people to a situation you know was difficult and painful and you could avoid it. Your predictions about their reacting manners do not decrease in anything your responsibility". In the case of procreation, the reasoning could be the same, and in a notorious emphatic way, since in any intra-worldly situation with already existing people in which we send someone to a position known as painful, the other one could always run away from pain to the extent his being is already in the world and he could predict danger and try to avoid being exposed to a disregarding and manipulative maneuver. In the case of the one who is being born, by contrast, this is not possible at all because it is precisely his very being that is being manufactured and used. Concerning birth, therefore, manipulation seems to be total.
  • Thus, whoever has said to procreate for love, as others kill for hate, might have said a truth, but, no doubt, this person has not given any moral justification for procreation. Saying you have had a child "for love" is a manner of saying you have had him or her compulsively, according to the wild rhythms of life. In a similar way, we might intensely love our parents and, at the same time, consider fatherhood ethically-rationally problematic, and visualize we have been manipulated by them. I may continue to love after having detected immorality, there is nothing contradictory on that. Neither would morally justify a homicide saying we have done it for hate, nor a suicide saying we have done it "for hate against ourselves". Something can continue to be ethically problematic even when guided by love.

Porque te amo, não nascerás! Nascituri te salutant

  • People proclaim that "the experience of parenthood is extraordinary" and recommend it to all (and denigrate those who have not gone through it). But we can wonder: "Extraordinary for whom?" It is certainly extraordinary for the parents. When they say that not only they will be happy and satisfied with the experience but also their children, they do not realize the immense asymmetry and mismatch between these two experiences, the experience of creating and of being created. The created child is compelled to accept the experience, to make it good and interesting (and even extraordinary); what other option would they have? This obligation is not present in the parents, where the "extraordinary" nature of the experience is part of an engaging and unilateral project. The situations of both parties are not comparable. Thus, when some reply: "There is no sense in you wanting to show that life is bad; you cannot decide for your child; maybe they will like to live," what does that mean? Of course, in a sense, they are compelled to like life! But this "liking" will always be a desperate acceptance. The created child is not in a position of really liking life. They could like it if they had really chosen to come into being. Faced with the fait accompli, they are forced to cling desperately to life. Either they "like it" or they will be destroyed (by a mental illness, or by the hostility of others).
  • The being of human life is to have arisen as a force contrary to the internal terminality of being: the human being decays, deteriorates and dies in the sense of doing all this in an oppositional, reactive, escaping manner, as if the being given to humans could not be lived in its positivity but always negatively, reactively, creatively. But the terminality of being will eventually occupy all the creative space, swallowing the “mortal-being” that decays, deteriorates and dies. In its place will appear the hole that constituted it from the very beginning and that only now became totally evident.
  • Would a genuinely rational agent choose to be born? My argument against R. M. Hare can be reread in the "Critique of Affirmative Morality" (...). There I suggest that in the experiment where the non-being is magically consulted about their possible birth, Hare is mistaken in assuming uncritically that "they" would undoubtedly choose to be born. (This is the usual affirmative trend.) Let us suppose that we are talking about a human being, that is, a rational creature capable of pondering reasons. The information that is given to this possible being in Hare's experiment is incomplete and biased. We should also tell them that if they are born, they will have no guarantee of being born without problems; that if they manage to be born without problems, they will almost surely suffer from many intra-worldly evils; that if they manage to avoid them (and this is possible in the intra-world, even if difficult), we cannot give them any guarantee about the length of their life nor about the kind of death they will have, and they will also have to suffer the death of those they come to love and their death will be suffered by those who love them (if they are lucky enough to love someone and to be loved by someone, which is also not guaranteed). They must be told that if they manage to avoid a violent accidental death, they will decay in a few years (just as the people they love and care about), and that they have a high chance of becoming a terminally ill patient who could suffer terribly until the time of their demise. If it is still possible for the non-being, after having assimilated all this information, to choose to be born, could we not harbor well-founded doubts about their quality as a "rational agent"?

Mal-Estar e Moralidade. Situação Humana, Ética e Procriação Responsável

  • Just as we do not perceive that the earth is in motion (to all intents and purposes, it seems to be perfectly still); just as we are unable to apprehend the gradual death of the planet, even though we are convinced of it by scientific arguments; just as we do not perceive the evolution of the species, even though we know that they are changing; just as we perceive matter as still and static, even though its entire molecular structure is in permanent motion; in the same way, we do not perceive the terminality of being in ordinary human behavior, and we see everything as stable and permanent. We see old and deteriorated matter (including aged humans) as always having been that way; we fail to perceive them as becoming, as having deteriorated and become old.
    • Mal-Estar e Moralidade. Situação Humana, Ética e Procriação Responsável, (2018), p. 279 ISBN 978-8523012182
  • These are huge, even colossal, temporal modules of the transition of all things toward their end, which—from our minuscule, singular, finite, and perspectival temporal module—make us see as static and permanent what is impregnated and corroded with temporality, fluidity, and terminality. It is as if being itself appeared while already hiding its decaying nature. The human mechanisms of concealing the terminality of being follow the concealing rhythm of being itself; every human tends to hide their terminal temporality and its frightening lack of value behind a slow and reassuring temporality. If we could grasp, even for an instant, the swift temporality of the terminal nature of being—like that mad scientist in Terence Fisher's The Man Who Could Cheat Death (1959), who ages and dies in a few seconds in front of the cameras—we would be horrified. We can endure the terminal nature of being only because it is given to us little by little, in a periodic temporality.
    • Mal-Estar e Moralidade. Situação Humana, Ética e Procriação Responsável, (2018), p. 279-280 ISBN 978-8523012182
  • When someone (including philosophers) defends the alleged beauty of "having children", they refer to the pleasure of "seeing them grow up": first as children, then as adolescents, and then as graduated and independent adults (this happens not only in wealthy classes but also, in part, in more modest ones). However, it is strange that, when they speak about their children, they inexplicably stop at that point and never refer to their decline, their aging, or their decay; perhaps because they think they will not be there to contemplate this decline. The parents prefer not to see the end of this process, as if the child vanished into thin air. The residual aspect of parenthood is omitted; only the flourishing aspects of the child are visualized. The death of the child-residue is denied any visibility. The consummation of the processes is concealed as something dirty and indecent, not worthy to be shown.
    • Mal-Estar e Moralidade. Situação Humana, Ética e Procriação Responsável, (2018), p. 306 ISBN 978-8523012182
  • Our "love for life" is always, in some way, unrequited love.... Life does not care about us; it does not even know about our particular circumstances. Contrary to what is said, life gives nothing for free, and everything we manage to obtain is snatched away from us. Life does not need us, but we chase after it, we humiliate ourselves, we beg and accept everything it makes us go through, even the greatest sufferings. Many are capable of the worst moral acts just to preserve their own lives a bit more.... To those who ask, "But, do you not love life?" we should answer, in a poetic way: "Of course I love life; I always did. I always wanted to live, but it is life that does not let me live, that limits me, that hurts me, that makes me ill and destroys me. It is not me who does not want to live, because life is everything I always wanted. I wanted to build things, but life demolished everything I built; I wanted to love others, but life killed everyone I loved. Do not say that I do not love life; it is life that does not love me, that does not love anybody."
    • Mal-Estar e Moralidade: Situação Humana, Ética e Procriação Responsável, (2018), pp. 350-351 ISBN 978-8523012182
  • It is very curious that it is sometimes considered cruel or inhumane to raise the issue of the ethics of procreation, as if this showed a rejection of the unborn children, a kind of hatred for their lives. This is a total deformation of the intentions of an ethical reflection on procreation. On the contrary, this reflection is motivated by a deep concern for the possible children, due to the risk of their emergence being the consequence of a thoughtless, constraining and aggressive act towards small defenseless beings, on whom one thinks to have full right to plan everything about their lives to our full desire and satisfaction. A great part of the revolt that awakens in the adult world due to the simple mention of this issue indicates that the parents obtain a great pleasure in the procreative act, and react – sometimes angrily – against those who question this powerful source of pleasure, and consequently the immense power over the one who is going to be born. This total power over another life is intensely seductive and no one wants to give it up. But in the ethical reflection, whatever the subject matter is, it is never an issue of evaluating only the satisfaction we get from our actions, but of pondering whether what we do is right or not, whether the power we can accumulate over more defenseless beings is or is not ethically justified.
    • Mal-Estar e Moralidade. Situação Humana, Ética e Procriação Responsável, (2018), p. 463 ISBN 978-8523012182
  • What is most curious is that humans of poorer classes are usually the ones who cultivate an unlimited adoration for their mother for having raised them with so many sacrifices. They suffer all kinds of misery, extreme poverty, disease, delinquency, discrimination, exclusion and torture, never realizing that it was their parents who put them in that situation for their own pleasure or due to irresponsible carelessness. And when the child commits some harmful act driven by the despair in which they were placed, people still sympathize with the "poor mother" for having a child that is "so ungrateful". All inherited misery magically becomes the child's responsibility! The same argumentative scheme which is applied here, is also applied in the theodicies: the impeccable Parent created their child out of love, gave them something very valuable, and also made them "free", while the child, being free, sinned, thus behaved wrongly and defiled this very valuable thing which was given to them, causing dissatisfaction for their unfortunate parent. It is an almost tragicomic scheme, because it seems to be exactly the opposite: our parents gave us, for their own pleasure and benefit, something of very dubious value which we, as a result of subjection and necessity – that is, very far from any real "freedom" – have to try to improve with a lot of our effort. As long as we do not reverse this prevailing valuation in our societies, ethical issues cannot even begin to be seriously considered, because the mother's viscerally egocentric and manipulative relationship with their children will continue to be regarded as a paradigm of ethical morality, which seems, at least, to be a crucial error of appreciation, a very serious mythology, a colossal mystification.
    • Mal-Estar e Moralidade. Situação Humana, Ética e Procriação Responsável, (2018), pp. 538-539 ISBN 978-8523012182
  • The "eternal gratitude" is present not only in the early stages of life, but throughout children's long dependence upon their parents during the first ten years of life — in which they are even objects of exhibition — and in the harsh period of adolescence, in which children are endlessly treated as "ungrateful", as if they were never able to repay their immense debt; everything that is bought for them, for their future, their studies, all those things that the child never asked for, which are part of an affective and economic investment of the parents, is endlessly and for long and hard years, presented as proof of sacrifice and love, as an object of eternal gratitude, never fully repaid by the ungrateful children. The position of parenthood constitutes a powerful mechanism of domination in which even the physical violence of punishments and beatings is justified in favor of the never-requested raising of that being who was thrown into the world, with parents trying to build protections so that their child is not destroyed by the immense gift they just received.
    • Mal-estar e moralidade: situação humana, ética e procriação responsável, (2018), pp. 539-540 ISBN 978-8523012182

Discomfort and Moral Impediment: The Human Situation, Radical Bioethics and Procreation

  • Of course, the possibility of the newborn not having the strength to endure the life struggle is just a possibility, not a necessity. However, the point is that its mere possibility is enough for moral imputation. There are no strong causal relations between methods of education and raising of children to shape their destinies in life. As they say, a child is "a lottery". The precautions that progenitors take to avoid certain risks for their children could be precisely the ones that expose them to greater danger. The many human lives that end catastrophically seem to illustrate the very high price to be paid in an attempt to ethically justify the "gamble" of procreation, even if made in the most serious way by the sensitive procreator. However, it is important that even when none of these catastrophes occurs, the success of the newborn in life does not exempt the progenitors from the moral responsibility of having put him at risk of falling victim to one of these calamities. Moreover, even for the child who has "won" the gamble, his "success" will remain forever and indefinitely connected to the unilateral nature of the procreative act. The gamble will have been won, but this will never be the child's own bet. The newborn may get lucky and "win the gamble", but he was never in a position to refuse to enter into the competition.
    • Discomfort and Moral Impediment: The Human Situation, Radical Bioethics and Procreation, (2019), p. 151 ISBN 978-1527518032
  • It is shocking to see how children's desperate tears, during and after birth, are not taken seriously by adults. Quite the contrary, the baby is surrounded with immense joy, euphoria and celebration. The baby's helplessness is drowned amidst commemorations, gifts, toasts and laughter; the cheerfulness of parents, grandparents and friends totally muffles the unattended agony of the fragile and helpless baby, literally stunned by frightening and overblown attentions, cries and gestures. It is a very stark contrast indeed: the crying child surrounded by the laughter of exalted adults. How is it possible that no painter, no photographer, no cinematographer has ever focused on this moment of severe disparity of attitudes, such asymmetry of emotions and reactions?
    • Discomfort and Moral Impediment: The Human Situation, Radical Bioethics and Procreation, (2019), p. 162 ISBN 978-1527518032
  • A good deal of uncertainty and suffering will still await the baby after the primary crying stage. The baby will have to be nourished, one of the most delicious ceremonies for the two proud genitors. However, for the baby, it is still not very clear what goes in and what comes out of his small body. He does not know what it means to eat or defecate, but both things are unpleasant, so he cries bitterly at the moment of wanting to ingest and at the moment of expelling. There is not for him much difference between the two (the baby has not yet been taught to conceal this shameful proximity). All of the inescapable and tyrannical bodily necessities are already presented to the baby in the form of new cries and sufferings. Progenitors will become increasingly conscious of this and they will keep saying: “He’s crying; maybe he’s hungry”; “He’s crying; maybe he’s cold”; “He’s crying; maybe he’s tired”, without ever arriving at the ominous “He’s crying because he was born”.
    • Discomfort and Moral Impediment: The Human Situation, Radical Bioethics and Procreation, (2019), p. 162-163 ISBN 978-1527518032

Devorando Nietzsche: por um niilismo sul-americano

  • We are not nihilistic towards life - it is life that is nihilistic towards us. It is life that denies us, expels us, and kills us. Do we not want to live intensely and forever? Are we the ones denying life? Is it not life that denies us day by day?
  • It is not morality that denies life - it is life that denies itself, that kills itself by killing us. Life is suicidal. We try to live intensely, but life, intensely, kills us. Life itself is skeptical - it doesn't believe in anything it creates. It creates only to destroy what it has created. It doesn't need nihilists to deny itself, nor does it need suicides to commit suicide. We suffer because we are part of life's suicide weapon, part of what it daily kills.
  • Humans live in automatic ways, maintaining routine relationships with each other while knowing almost nothing about those other humans they deal with on a daily basis; summary knowledge about others is sufficient to work and behave. They greet each other and ask "how are you doing", but they no longer listen to the answer; they only want to know if "everything is all right" in order to be able to carry on distractedly with their epidermal relationships. And if, by chance, someone says that they are not well (that they are very ill, or in debt), the person they are talking to will remain silent, as if the other had broken a sacred rule of conviviality; after a few minutes they will say: "But other than that, things are all right, aren't they?" Humans found this relaxed, indifferent, summary, and self-centered way of "leading life" when they realized that living life, really living it and not just "leading it," would entail a huge expense in terms of suffering, loneliness, reflection, and connection with the world.
  • Those who live in a distracted way are usually extremely insensitive to the sufferings and needs of others. They harm others already "unintentionally," such as the person who obstructs the passage of others without realizing that he is bothering them. He usually excuses himself by saying that he "didn't mean to," and this is usually true. However, no one should, in this tense and increasingly crowded world, relax to the point of disturbing others "without intending to". We should concentrate more, be more attentive, not relax to the point of forgetting that others are always around, and that by moving our arms in an exaggerated and inattentive manner, we can harm someone "unintentionally."
  • This minority that remains tense, that is unable to get distracted, that cannot relax, that listens to others, that is moved by their stories, that maintains an acute sensitivity to the problems and sufferings of others - this minority is usually sick, even physically, like the Prince Myshkin in Dostoyevsky's novel "The Idiot," who was capable of a sublime surrender to others only due to suffering from epilepsy. "Normal" people are laid-back and therefore insensitive and morally inconsiderate, those who yawn while their friend is telling them about their most terrible problems.
  • Here, ordinary humans seem to teach the rare philosopher something: if you want to maintain your mental health and not be destroyed by the impacts of life, it is better to ignore than to know, to assume a callous, summary, and immoral way of living - not to take things too seriously, not to try to know anyone in depth, not to know too much about the world. Ordinary people teach the wise philosophers the true negative essence of life: a life so wretched, so miserable, so painful and so unfair, that the only way to face it is through some kind of ignorance, and not, as philosophers have always dreamed, through some wisdom that would allow one to reach a kind of "self-improvement". On the contrary, life is so hard and inconsiderate that, in order to live it, it is more convenient to be a worse human than we already are; more insensitive, more immoral, and more ignorant. In the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, paradoxically, we should preach this message: Ignore thyself! For who can guarantee that wisdom and life go hand in hand?

Margens das filosofias da linguagem

  • I start from the perspective that all that philosophers thought and developed in terms of reflection on language, whatever their perspective and methodology of access (analytic, hermeneutics, phenomenology, transcendental philosophy, critique of ideologies, psychoanalysis) should be considered as "philosophy of language" (...) My idea is that these issues are best viewed not from a single perspective, but from the confluence of several of them.
    • Margens das filosofias da linguagem, Editora da UnB, Brasilia, 2009 (1st reprint), p. 14 ISBN 978-8523007393
  • To paraphrase what Norberto Bobbio (...) once said about Marxism, "one of my favorite phrases is that today one cannot be a good Marxist being only a Marxist. But the Marxist has an irresistible tendency to be just... Marxist, "one could say that today one cannot be a good analytic philosopher being only analytical. But the analytic has an irresistible tendency to be just... analytical.
    • Margens das filosofias da linguagem, Editora da UnB, Brasília, 2009 (1st reprint), p. 15 ISBN 978-8523007393
  • It could be said (...) that language is of interest to philosophy insofar as the former is understood not only as a "vehicle" of concepts, but as a framework in which concepts are constituted, concepts that allow the articulation of the world with the intention of making it meaningful to us. In this way, concepts and meaning go together. This "meaning" will be understood in very different ways by the different philosophies of language, and consequently the constitution of concepts will also be variously understood. I call this conception, in contrast to the vehicular theory, the constitutional conception of language.
    • Margens das filosofias da linguagem, Editora da UnB, Brasília, 2009 (1st reprint), p. 17 ISBN 978-8523007393
  • Theory of knowledge, ethics and aesthetics are not only three academic disciplines, but three major human accesses to the world (...) Making the world meaningful is an epistemological-ethical-aesthetic undertaking (...) Different philosophies of language will accentuate one or other of these functions. (...) Knowing the world is not all that man does with it, and many thinkers (Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud) have already doubted that knowing it should be considered as the most basic and profound relation that man can establish with the world.
    • Margens das filosofias da linguagem, Editora da UnB, Brasília, 2009 (1st reprint), p. 21 ISBN 978-8523007393
  • (...) my approach to these possibilities of the constitution of signification will be largely negative, following the point of view that characterizes my general philosophical perspective on the world. Such a negative approach in the field of the philosophy of language will be manifested in the fact that here we focus not so much on the successful generation of signification, which (according to my perspective) seldom or never happens, but precisely on the regular obstacles to its establishment. (...) But my approach is negative in a radical sense (...) Each of the philosophies of language constitutes itself as the negation of the enlightening project of the others, each constituting itself as the formulation of the inadequacies of the others.
    • Margens das filosofias da linguagem, Editora da UnB, Brasília, 2009 (1st reprint), p. 22 ISBN 978-8523007393
  • (...) "meanings", besides having objective dimensions, are also hermeneutic and temporal-historical instances, precisely those that the analytical philosophize cannot grasp, because they are situated beyond their limits of understanding. "Meanings" are instances that can only be fully studied by other philosophies of language, capable of incorporating these experiential elements.
    • Margens das filosofias da linguagem, Editora da UnB, Brasília, 2009 (1st reprint), p. 55 ISBN 978-8523007393
  • Wittgenstein is a philosopher rich enough (or sufficiently vague and imprecise enough) to the point of multiple interpretations. Analytical, hermeneutic-transcendental, phenomenological, and Marxian-dialectical interpretations of Wittgenstein's philosophy are examined (...) as an expository resource to better characterize various types and styles of twentieth-century language philosophies. The assumed pluralism (...) makes all such interpretations as viable, so that none of them dismiss the others as "false", claiming to have presented "the true Wittgenstein." This presupposes a conception of what philosophy is and a way of producing and developing it. In each of the interpretations different aspects of the same thought are accentuated, as in a Gestalt experiment.
    • Margens das filosofias da linguagem, Editora da UnB, Brasília, 2009 (1st reprint), p. 66-67 ISBN 978-8523007393
  • Heidegger's text [On the Essence of Language] will not be indicative of an object already made, but will consist of clues about how to live an experience with speech, an experience that is not "narrated" in the text, but elicited by him. The text will try to put the reader in a kind of scope or "environment" that gives opportunity to this experience.
    • Margens das filosofias da linguagem, Editora da UnB, Brasília, 2009 (1st reprint), p. 144 ISBN 978-8523007393
  • Let us think, for example, of the experience of speaking a foreign language and what happens when one speaks "perfectly and without error", when one speaks German "as a German", and in what happens, on the contrary, when one speaks imperfectly, when, through the babble of one who "does not master a language", a vital dimension is shown that is hidden in the perfectly "dominated" language.
    • Margens das filosofias da linguagem, Editora da UnB, Brasília, 2009 (1st reprint), p. 145 ISBN 978-8523007393
  • As Wittgenstein would point out, the word "poor" does not have an absolute reference, but acquires its meaning in reference to specific language games, in which it acquires its reference to the world dynamically. The poverty to which Marx referred does not necessarily diminish by extending the benefits to the workers within the alienated society. A well-paid slave remains a slave and therefore alienated and poor in the Marxian sense. (...) the worker did not enter into a state of "non-poverty" in the relative sense of Marx (and Wittgenstein), but he remains alienated, living with the minimum (relative to the society that alienates him).
    • Margens das filosofias da linguagem, Editora da UnB, Brasília, 2009 (1st reprint), p. 196-97 ISBN 978-8523007393
  • Psychoanalysis is not science. But very few things are science. Nor is Kant's ethics a science, but it is a high-level reflection about the human being in his relation with the world, as is Freud's reflection. What seems curious is the scarce insistence about the fact that Kantian ethics is not science, while everyone seems so preoccupied with stressing the non-scientificity of psychoanalysis.
    • Margens das filosofias da linguagem, Editora da UnB, Brasília, 2009 (1st reprint), p. 224 ISBN 978-8523007393
  • Psychoanalysis's interest in discursive breakdown is not merely theoretical, but also because it is regularly marked by suffering, by some kind of emotional involvement (...) Suffering is not an external "accompaniment" to linguistic anomalies, but a constituent part of them. The discursive break is the manifestation of a psychic break. The generation of language anomalies and discontinuities is linked to the attempt to avoid displeasure. The actual compactness of the linguistic chain, that is, the correct filling of it through authentic signs would generate unbearable suffering.
    • Margens das filosofias da linguagem, Editora da UnB, Brasília, 2009 (1st reprint), p. 230 ISBN 978-8523007393
  • (...) why is it illegitimate to eliminate philosophies? Here, logical-epistemic motives and ethical motives are joined. (...) what was thought creates a way of life of thought, one of its reflective possibilities. When a worldview is established, it is indestructible as a possible form of thought, as a direction of reflection; the fact of having thought is inextinguishable, and the only thing to be done with this view is to accept it, complement it or even exclude it, but these three attitudes already imply its non-elimination: the philosophical exclusion of a philosophy by part of another presupposes the recognition of its existence, only counterexamples of its laws are presented (...) We cannot eliminate other philosophies for a motive similar to that by which we cannot eliminate people.
    • Margens das filosofias da linguagem, Editora da UnB, Brasília, 2009 (1st reprint), p. 276 ISBN 978-8523007393

Inferências lexicais e Interpretação de redes de predicados

  • The study of "lexical inferences" (if they exist) should be something that oscillates (...) between ML [Mathematical Logic] and informal logic. In historical terms, we like to say that this is a wittgensteinean undertaking of the intermediate period (...) something that has already passed beyond the deception of the one-dimensional semantics of the Tractatus, but which has not yet fallen into the dense multidimensionality of Philosophical Investigations (...)
    • Inferências lexicais e Interpretação de redes de predicados. Editora da UnB, Brasília, 2007 (co-authored by Olavo da Silva Filho), p. 15 ISBN 978-8523009502
  • We call "divergent" (...) all the systems of ML of the last century that challenge some aspect of the "classical" ML (hence its proper name "non-classical") (...) Rather, we call here as "hyperdivergent" those logical projects that present logic in a way that is incompatible, or very difficult to assimilate, with its presentation in logic systems, in such a way that it is difficult, or perhaps impossible, to define this logic in relation to classical systems of ML and, consequently, their own divergence as even a divergence. Historically, logical projects such as those presented by Hegel, Husserl and Dewey, for example, are of this nature.
    • Inferências lexicais e Interpretação de redes de predicados. Editora da UnB, Brasília, 2007 (co-authored by Olavo da Silva Filho), p. 272 ISBN 978-8523009502
  • Perhaps the lexical connections ultimately rest on the will to live, on the will to power, on pain, on mortality or sexuality, and not on pure logical structures. If our lexical logics were still considered to be linked to the "dispositional" and the technology of thought (in a Hegelian-Heideggerian line) there would be nothing to do; then it would seem that we went beyond the limits of all that could be called "logic" (...). For a convinced Heideggerian, little will have been gained by moving from the usual logic to [lexical logic]. Notwithstanding this, we feel that there is an intermediate sensitivity to be harnessed and cultivated, which would be between rigid analytical logical forms and wild "continental" existentialism, a sort of existential sensibility of logical forms.
    • Inferências lexicais e Interpretação de redes de predicados. Editora da UnB, Brasília, 2007 (co-authored by Olavo da Silva Filho), p. 276-277 ISBN 978-8523009502

Cine: 100 años de Filosofía

  • The current professionalized philosophy has been openly understood as "apathetic," without pathos, exclusively driven by the intellect and leaving aside emotions and sentimental impacts. Only a few philosophers of the last two centuries (Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Freud, Kierkegaard, Heidegger) have resisted this tradition by questioning the hegemony of intellectualist reason and the systematic exclusion of the emotional component in the task of grasping the world. In this sense, we can call these thinkers of the European tradition "cinematographic".
  • Wouldn't much of what Heidegger, for example, tries to say, almost without success, forcing the German language, forcing it to generate difficultly intelligible phrases, or Hegel's attempts to think the work of the concept "temporarily" putting it "on movement" wouldn't be much better exposed through the images arising from the calm and thoughtful displacement of a cinematic camera?
    • Cine: 100 años de Filosofía. Gedisa, Barcelona, 2015 (2nd edition), p. 19 ISBN 978-8497849203
  • Cinema does not eliminate the requirement of truth and universality, but (...) redefines them within the logopathic phenomenon (...) the universality of cinema is peculiar, it belongs more to the order of possibility than to necessity. Cinema is universal, not in the sense of "necessarily happens to everyone", but in the sense of "could happen to anyone"
    • Cine: 100 años de Filosofía. Gedisa, Barcelona, 2015 (2nd edition), p. 25 ISBN 978-8497849203
  • (...) A good movie is precisely the one in which the camera disappears, when we are no longer aware of watching a movie, while an avant-garde film tries to turn the camera to itself and show the hidden device. A jocular way of understanding this would be to compare the reaction of a human and that of a cat when we point to an object with the finger; while the human looks beyond the finger trying to discover the object to which the finger points, the cat stares at the finger; in this sense, the cat is avant-garde, it is more interested in the medium (the finger, the camera) than the object pointed.
    • Cine: 100 años de Filosofía. Gedisa, Barcelona, 2015 (2nd edition), p. 30-31 ISBN 978-8497849203
  • (...) the cinematographic image cannot show without questioning, without destructuring, repositioning, twisting, distorting. Cinema cannot be the pure "record of the real" that the photographic conception of cinema usually formulates (and which currents like Italian neorealism have tried to take advantage of).
    • Cine: 100 años de Filosofía. Gedisa, Barcelona, 2015 (2nd edition), p. 43 ISBN 978-8497849203
  • By exerting this effect of shock, visual violence, assault on sensibility, aggressiveness in the show, it is possible for the viewer to acquire acute awareness of a moral or epistemological problem as may not happen to him by reading a treatise on the subject. This "sensitization of concepts" may even question some of the traditional solutions of philosophical questions offered by the concept written throughout the history of philosophy (...)
  • By exerting this effect of shock, visual violence, assault on sensibility, aggressiveness in the activity of showing, it is possible for the viewer to acquire acute awareness of a moral or epistemological problem as may not happen to him by reading a treatise on the subject. This "sensitization of concepts" may even question some of the traditional solutions of philosophical questions offered by the concept written throughout the history of philosophy (...)
    • Cine: 100 años de Filosofía. Gedisa, Barcelona, 2015 (2nd edition), p. 47 ISBN 978-8497849203
  • Films do not "have" a meaning that has to be interpreted, but they establish with the viewer an interrelationship from which an unintended meaning arises which was nowhere waiting to be found.
    • Cine: 100 años de Filosofía. Gedisa, Barcelona, 2015, (2nd edition), p. 54 ISBN 978-8497849203
  • Blow-up [Antonioni] shows what Descartes says: our senses deceive us. However, there is no cogito in the images of this film that helps to overcome the unbearable state of doubt provoked by the ambiguity of the facts. Thomas [the young photographer of this film] cannot protect himself in any cozy subjectivity; on the contrary, it is his subjectivity that is stolen by the mysterious force of things.
    • Cine: 100 años de Filosofía. Gedisa, Barcelona, 2015, (2nd edition), p. 171 ISBN 978-8497849203
  • Pessimism seems to have an existential density that optimism - even non-naive optimism - does not have. In Bernardo Bertolucci's famous Last Tango in Paris (1972), the unknown (Marlon Brando) whose wife has just committed suicide, wanders around Paris and casually meets Jeanne (Maria Schneider), with whom he has a rich and violent physical and existential relationship, in an unfurnished apartment, where conventions and the name of things or people do not matter (...) But the moment he can get out of the pit and get back into life, dress well and resume the exercise of usual conventions, knowing her name, marrying and being happy, it becomes a conventional caricature and his relationship with Jeanne abruptly ends (...).
    • Cine: 100 años de Filosofía. Gedisa, Barcelona, 2015 (2nd edition), p. 294 ISBN 978-8497849203
  • A "quiet" movie in which "nothing happens", where people are shown looking through the windows, walking the streets, living in completely banal situations, or simply looking at each other without saying anything, does not satisfy the spectator eager for novelty ( ...) this type of spectator usually says, after watching an ontological film, that he did not like it because in it "nothing happens": precisely the kind of attitude that Heidegger intends to provoke in his writings, making the absence of pressing entities put us in touch with the being.
    • Cine: 100 años de Filosofía. Gedisa, Barcelona, 2015 (2nd edition), p. 366 ISBN 978-8497849203
  • (...) Paradoxically, the silent cinema inaugurates the act of saying, and the audio cinema the act of silencing. Saying does not need words, but silencing does. The lack of sound was not a "limitation" for silent movies, but rather the lack of silence. And this does not seem to be a strictly Wittgensteinian type of limit.
    • Cine: 100 años de Filosofía. Gedisa, Barcelona, 2015 (2nd edition), p. 426 ISBN 978-8497849203

Diálogo | Cinema

  • (...) an abstract conception of cinema opposes a photographic conception, marked by technology; because of this I do not like it when photography is talked about as a precursor or pioneer of cinema; photography is related to cinema only mechanically; the poetic predecessor of the cinema, its thinking pioneer, is literature much more than photography; there is nothing intrinsically photographic in the cinema, cinema is as abstract as literature, and so opaque; nor is photography concrete; nothing human is concrete, or transparent, every human is predicative, it shows by hiding, includes by excluding , understands by ignoring, thinks by dispensing (...)
    • Diálogo | Cinema. Edições SENAC, São Paulo, 2013 (in collaboration with Márcia Tiburi), p. 94 ISBN 978-8539604180

Diário de um Filósofo No Brasil

  • When a European philosophizes, all his problems are of essence, there is no doubt about the existence of his thought. When a Latin American philosophizes (and this could be extended, for example, to Africans and other marginalized thoughts) he has to prove that his philosophy exists, that he has the right to reflect. (...) I call this a requirement of "insurgency" of Latin American philosophizing: to come into being, the activity of philosophizing from Latin America must insurge against intellectual exclusion (...) not strictly because it "wants" to insurge but because it is not allowed to "arise" in another way (...) Philosophizing from Latin America is reactive and insurgent or it isn't; it is an imperative need for survival.
    • Diário de um filósofo no Brasil. Editora Unijuí, Ijuí, 2013 (2nd edition), p. 13 ISBN 978-8541900201
  • Helplessness is hidden or camouflaged under the professionalised forms of philosophizing, both in analytical philosophy and in the studies of the "experts on Nietzsche". The fragility intrinsic to all philosophizing (all living) is disguised as an apparently firm, secure and technical way of "mastering subjects" and constructing arguments. But even there, philosophizing cannot hide its original helplessness.
    • Diário de um filósofo no Brasil. Editora Unijuí, Ijuí, 2013 (2nd edition), p. 22 ISBN 978-8541900201
  • I am not trying here to define Philosophy, but, on the contrary, to strip it of any fixed definition, to leave it as free as possible to find its own definitions that are more fitting, provisional, celebrated or unaccepted. Just as I want to see it free of any "critical," "theoretical," or "profound" obligation, I would like to be able to experience it without the stigma of the edifying affirmativism that has haunted it throughout arduous times, as a struggle against rhetoric, relativism, skepticism, pessimism, and nihilism. I believe that philosophy has no duty to seek conceptual edification, salvation through ideas, or the construction of a just society. The less "tasks" it has, the better. I do not rule out the possibility that sophistry, rhetoric, relativism, skepticism, pessimism, or nihilism are powerful ways of thinking. It is not my task as a philosopher to "overcome skepticism," "overcome relativism," "go beyond nihilism," or "not be overwhelmed by pessimism," but to ponder whether skepticism, relativism, nihilism, or pessimism can develop as legitimate possibilities of thought. If skepticism is correct, we should be skeptical. If relativism sees important aspects of the real, we should be relativists. If our thinking leads us to see the world as nothing, we should be nihilists and pessimists. A philosopher has no apostolates or missions, and no obligation to engage in crusades. I have, therefore, no affirmative conception of philosophizing. Philosophical activity is, for me, ruthless, incisive and unforgiving, and goes as far as its categories lead it. A Philosophy may shake the values that sustain our society, or it may even destroy its own upholder. It is a dangerous task, whose outcomes cannot be predicted.
  • (...) "institutional philosophy" has transformed philosophical activity into a series of automatic and lifeless movements; in an enormous apparatus where teachers and students appear submitted to static and meaningless routines. (...) students often write their work far from what they would really like to do, works that will be read absentmindedly (and then shelved in large thesis banks that nobody consults) by professors increasingly busy with administrative and political tasks, and who also offer, absentmindedly, the classes that their students will listen for by obligation.
    • Diário de um filósofo no Brasil. Editora Unijuí, Ijuí, 2013 (2nd edition), p. 80 ISBN 978-8541900201
  • In universities, no one is expected to develop a philosophy, and if one tried to do so, they would be evaluated poorly, and considered irresponsible. (...) There is no explicit censorship against this, that is, no one who forbids doing more personal works or essays on national authors, but someone who dares to do so would be heard by a few, or worse, viewed with distanced irony, and the author considered a dilettante or a "weak philosopher". The "community" itself plays the role of censorship here, dismissing it as an external authoritarian mechanism. Authoritarianism was incorporated into the community.
    • Diário de um filósofo no Brasil. Editora Unijuí, Ijuí, 2013 (2nd edition), p. 81-82 ISBN 978-8541900201
  • In the still dominant paradigm, it seems that the possibility of being a "great philosopher" is ab initio discarded. So if this paradigm is accepted, the real alternative would seem to be: would you rather be a great commentator on philosophy or a small philosopher? A genuine philosopher never thinks while foreseeing that they will make great or small philosophy; for he simply thinks, compulsively, his own "things", his points, his obsessions, and can do nothing but think them. (...) What has to be evaluated is whether, at worst, being a small philosopher is more important than turning into a brilliant commentator or a great expert on someone.
    • Diário de um filósofo no Brasil. Publisher Unijuí, Ijuí, 2013 (2nd edition), p.87 ISBN 978-8541900201
  • At least two different ways of receiving the European legacy could be clearly formulated: (1) Continue to expose and spread the thought generated in Europe; or: (2) Try to receive this legacy in order to assume the same creative attitude that the Europeans have taken to build, value and spread their own philosophy. In option (1), Europe bequeathed us an object of study; in the alternative (2), Europe bequeaths us an attitude. Assuming the first alternative, we present the contents of European philosophy; assuming the second, we try to make philosophy as the Europeans did theirs.
    • Diário de um filósofo no Brasil. Editora Unijuí, Ijuí, 2013 (2nd edition), p. 219-220 ISBN 978-8541900201
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