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O falhanço do Projecto Iluminista

por Samuel de Paiva Pires, em 16.01.12

Um excelente artigo de Brandon Harnish, "Alasdair MacIntyre and F. A. Hayek on the Abuse of Reason", para o qual chamo em especial a atenção dos interessados nas temáticas do racionalismo, tradicionalismo, modernidade, epistemologia, filosofia da ciência e Iluminismo:


«Hayek likewise expresses concern over the division between the humanities and the social sciences and the new approach to which this division gave rise. He quotes Albert Einstein to illustrate his point that science without epistemology—insofar as it is thinkable at all—is primitive and muddled (1956, 131). This approach is epitomized by the German sociologist Torgny T. Segerstedt, whom Hayek quotes: “‘The most important goal that sociology has set for itself is to predict the future development and to shape the future, or, if one prefers to express it in that manner, to create the future of mankind’” (in Hayek 1970, 6).

MacIntyre expresses this search for a formula of social development as, tellingly, a hunt for the position of God. “[O]mniscience excludes the making of decisions. If God knows everything that will occur, he confronts no as yet unmade decision. He has a single will. It is precisely insofar as we differ from God that unpredictability invades our lives. This way of putting the point has one particular merit: it suggests precisely what project those who seek to eliminate unpredictability from the social world or to deny it may be engaging in” (2007, 97). How the Enlightenment shift toward constructivist rationalism profoundly affected the social sciences or, perhaps more fundamentally, how the shift in the way man confronted questions of value and questions of fact changed his approach to the study of human action begins to become clear. MacIntyre and Hayek see utilitarianism and emotivism as two results of the Enlightenment shift (Hayek 1970, 14; MacIntyre 2007, 62). As manifestations of rationalism, these philosophies fostered the new social science ideology and made mankind feel the full and practical consequences of the Enlightenment Project’s failure.»

publicado às 23:08

John Gray e a natureza humana

por Samuel de Paiva Pires, em 19.07.10


Retirado da introdução, que podem encontrar aqui:


Contemporary humanism is a religion that lacks the insight into human frailty of traditional faiths. In envisioning the universe as the work of a divine person Western monotheism has always been anthropocentric, but it has preserved a sense of mystery, the insight that the nature of things is finally unknowable. In contrast secular rationalists have promoted a type of solipsism. Like the Tlonists of Borges’s fable, examined in Chapter 5, they think the real world and their intellectual constructions are — or can be made to be — identical. Hence the ornate theories of justice devised by credulous philosophers, the elaborate systems of incentives designed by bien-pensant economists and the recondite schemes for taxing emissions advanced by Greens — just the latest of many attempts to reorder human life by the use of reason.

Humankind is not a collective agent that can decide its destiny. If humans are different from other animals it is chiefly in being governed by myths, which are not creations of the will but creatures of the imagination. Emerging unbidden from subterranean regions, they rule the lives of those they possess. Many of the worst crimes of the last century were the work of people possessed by what they believed to be reason. Science is believed to confer a superior rationality on its initiates, but science cannot make us into a rational animal of the kind imagined by humanist philosophers. Humans can anthropomorphize anything, except themselves.

A little realism would surely be useful. Accepting that we are flawed and our problems not fully soluble need not be paralysing; it could make us more flexible and resourceful. But no realist will try to convert the world. The myth-free civilization of secular rationalism is itself the stuff of myth. Myths are fictions, which cannot be true or false; but fictions can be more or less truthful depending on how they capture human experience. No traditional myth is as untruthful as the modern myth of progress. All prevailing philosophies embody the fiction that human life can be altered at will. Better aim for the impossible, they say, than submit to fate. Invariably, the result is a cult of human self-assertion that soon ends in farce.

publicado às 23:03

O sempre controverso John Gray, conclui brilhantemente uma pequena obra de introdução ao liberalismo, publicada já há alguns anos, intitulada simplesmente Liberalism - a conclusão é a que o autor incluiu na edição de 1994:




"The world-historical transformations of the past decade afford no support for the Whiggish philosophy of history that the liberal variant of the Enlightenment project incorporates and depends upon. The Soviet collapse and the Chinese project of market reform do not, as contemporary classical liberal thinkers and I myself once supposed, augur the global spread of Western-style civil societies: the exemplify the global reach of market institutions - a very different matter. It may be that market institutions are functionally indispensable in any well-functioning market economy; there is nothing to show that the institutions of a liberal civil society are similarly indispensable. The rebirth, in the Eighties, of a species of classical or fundamentalist liberalism, has proved to be transitory, an epiphenomenom of political victories that were themselves ephemeral. Far from being a precursor of the universal triumph of Western liberal ideas and institutions, the events unfolding from the Soviet collapse are likely to appear, in a somewhat longer historical perspective than that adopted by Francis Fukuyama, to be the prelude to an epoch of Western decline. The ruin of Soviet Marxism was, after all, the failure of a universalist Western ideology, of a a species of the Enlightenment project; it was not the end, but the resumption of history, in forms as little likely to be liberal as they are to be ever again Marxist. I see no reason t alter the statement I made in October 1989: "If it comes to pass, the fall o Soviet totalitarianism is most likely to occur as an incident in the decline of the Occidental cultures that gave it birth, as they are shaken the Malthusian, ethnic and fundamentalist conflicts which - far more than any European ideology - seem set to dominate the coming century.

In this new historical context of early postmodernity, in which the Soviet collapse is only the most dramatic and incontrovertible evidence of the foundering of the Enlightenment project throughout the world, the liberal problematic recurs in a form that resembles in many ways that which it assumed in the early modern period in which Hobbes theorized. The task of postliberal political thought is to seek terms of peaceful coexistence among different cultural forms without the benefit - dubious as it proved to be - of the universalist perspective and the conception of rational choice that Hobbes was able to deploy as an early Enlightenment thinker. In the postmodern age, liberal cultures and liberal states must renounce any claim to universal authority, and learn to live in harmony with other, non-liberal cultures and polities. Finding institutions which can harbour cultural diversity in peace, both in the relations between states and within states, is the pluralist challenge to postliberal thought. It is in th development of a postliberal political theory that addresses this challenge that the best hope lies for salvaging and renewing what remains of value in liberal thought and practice."

publicado às 21:59


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