The contribution of Human Sciences and Humanities to the development of Brazil

Image: Caroline Cagnin


Proposals for the cycle of debates organized by the Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science (SBPC)

The specific themes of the human sciences, and to a certain extent also of the Humanities, have dominated much of the political scene, with proposals for social inclusion and combating inequalities and injustices. For this reason, it is necessary to emphasize the importance of research in these areas, which is precisely what can provide the basis for the very policies that many in our society have considered priorities in our time. As Max Weber rightly stated in his seminal conferences on the vocation of the scientist and that of the politician, these are complementary but different missions. The focus of this Conference, therefore, will be on issues crucial to the momentum we are experiencing, which need to be addressed in a scientific way.

By human (and social) sciences, we understand that scientific knowledge – which, therefore, follows criteria of scientificity close to those of other sciences, perhaps first and foremost that of Karl Popper's “falsifiability” – that advances towards something we call truth . This truth, it is clear, is neither dogmatic nor definitive; is always in sursis, in progress.

By humanities, we understand those areas of rigorous knowledge, such as literature, art and philosophy, which are distinguished by (i) not seeking the truth, (ii) not knowing the idea of ​​progress. In them, as Jorge Luis Borges says in a short story, we don't talk about the world: we add something to it. The idea of ​​work, of creation, is essential here. But it is clear that these works, whether philosophical, artistic or literary, dialogue with human beings.

The first panel will deal with the destruction of the social bond, which has occurred in recent years around the world, asking what caused it (a panorama of society in almost lethal conflict), what facilitated it (the instrument of social networks, possibly) and how to face it. la (how to recover the conviction that we have common references to share, which thus allow dialogue to return).

The second table will focus on a topic that is rarely discussed, which is the following: it seems that technological advancement throughout history is faster than the human psyche learning how to deal with these achievements. The most recent cases are nuclear energy, which made its triumphant entry into the world in the form of the atomic bomb, with the death of more than 200 thousand people in August 1945, and still looms as a threat to human life; and that of the internet and social networks, which would allow unprecedented closeness between human beings, but have been used for hate and crime, more than for friendship and love.

The third table, in turn, will address the issue of social inclusion, both for minorities and for the silenced majority (to use Fernando Morais's term, in the 1980s) and poor, discussing the effectiveness of public policies in this direction, as well as the lessons that can be learned from them to achieve the ideal of equality and equity in the treatment of those who are different.

Finally, the fourth table will focus on a possible utopia. Technological advances allow for a better standard of living than ever before, the end of hunger and poverty, more than that, a prosperous life for everyone. We have today or will soon have the means for real equality between human beings, added to a freeing up of free time that can make the dream of creative leisure, presented by Domenico De Masi in the 1980s, viable. To achieve this, we need to know how to connect knowledge from different areas, so that the technical possibilities mentioned in the 2nd table, as well as the social inclusion defended in the 3rd, come together around a proposal for a new and enriching humanity.


9h/11h30 – MR 1 – Social networks, hate culture, polarization: the social fabric under threat: Wilson Gomes (UFBA), Marilene Correa (UFAM).

(i) What are the social and economic reasons that have led to extreme polarization in our society?

(ii) What is the role of the Internet and social networks in this phenomenon?

(iii) How to (re)build social bonds in a polarized society?

11:30am-13:2pm – MR XNUMX – Is your head behind in relation to technology? Renato Janine Ribeiro (USP/SBPC), Christian Dunker (USP), Tatiana Roque (UFRJ).

Throughout history, it is noted that many inventions appear, which can be positive for humanity, but whose harmful effects are the first to appear. This applies to weapons, culminating in the atomic bomb, which continues to be capable of ending human life. It also applies to the Internet, with the hateful use of what could serve emancipation and cooperation between humans. How to reverse this? How to reduce the hatred in the heads?

13pm-14pm – Lunch

14pm-15:30pm – MR 3 – Scientific research and its contribution to social inclusion. Coordination by Fernanda Sobral (UnB/SBPC). Speakers: Irlys Barreira from UFCE, Anete Ivo from UFBA and Edna Castro from UFPA

(a) How can we promote greater social inclusion in our country?

(b) How can social sciences, integrated with others, contribute to effective projects in this direction?

16pm-18:30pm – MR 4 – A scientifically based utopia for humanity and the planet. Coordination by Renato Janine Ribeiro. Participants: Ricardo Abramovay, Marina Silva, João Cezar de Castro Rocha (UERJ).

We need to articulate the solution to the following problems:

(1) Reduce the negative impact of human action on nature, including reducing consumerism and producing sustainable consumer goods; (2) how to deal with jobs that do not contribute to personal improvement and growth? (3) Take advantage of scientific and technological advances to reduce the time spent on monotonous and unhappiness-producing activities, while valuing creative leisure; (4) implement a culture of peace, strengthening cooperation and reducing the role of confrontation in human relations; (5) strengthen public spirit and the pursuit of the common good; (6) solve the equation that, adding longer lives and a drop in birth rates, allows fewer people to produce for many more people.

In short, make productivity gains resulting from automation (= machines) and information technology improve human life, increasing life expectancy but also promoting creative and happy leisure.

*Renato Janine Ribeiro He is a retired professor of philosophy at USP. He is the current president of SBPC. Author, among other books, of Machiavelli, democracy and Brazil (Freedom Station).

*Fernanda Antonia Sobral She is a retired professor from the Department of Sociology at UnB. She is currently vice-president of SBPC.

The online event will be held this Tuesday, March 26th.

It will be broadcast on the SBPC YouTube channel:

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