The philosophy that thinks about Brazil



Perhaps, the time has come to think about what Brazil is, in an idle leisurely manner, however, symmetrical to the urgencies of the present time.

“There is only determinism where there is mystery. But what do we have to do with that? […] Our independence has not yet been proclaimed.” (Oswald de Andrade, Anthropophagous Manifesto, year 374 of the Swallowing of Bishop Sardinha, May 1928).[I]

“Bringing our ways of life, our institutions and our vision of the world from distant countries and maintaining all of this in an often unfavorable and hostile environment, we are exiles in our land.”

(SERGIO BUARQUE from HOLANDA, Brazil roots.[ii]

Symptoms and signs of philosophy in Brazil

Thickening the anamnesis of the anniversary of Brazil's Independence, the article “200 years, 200 books”,[iii] from the “Ilustríssima” notebook, from Folha de S. Paul on May 04, 2022, brought a list of books to “understand Brazil”, the result of consultation with one hundred and sixty-nine intellectuals. Headed by romance eviction room, by Carolina de Jesus (1960), followed by Great Sertão: Veredas, by Guimarães Rosa (1956), tied with the mythical and autobiographical account, The fall of the sky: words from a Yanomami shaman, by Davi Kopenawa and Bruce Albert (2015).

The first with twenty-nine nominations, the second with twenty each. However, close to the field of philosophy, only the essay Brazil: founding myth and authoritarian society, by Marilena Chauí, (2000), appears mentioned. With the exception that the list contains forty-eight books about the condition of Afro-descendants and sixteen about original peoples.

What has been the most general symptom of Philosophy in Brazil? Why hasn't a Brazilian philosophical thought been created yet? Why haven't we overcome the ongoing philosophical colonization subsequent to the application of Ratio Studiorum, by the Jesuits, promoted to students at the Colégio dos Jesuítas in the city of Salvador da Bahia, at the time of Colonial Brazil, between 1553 and 1759, under the arch of the baroque spirit?

A spirit that was perpetuated, even when the philosophical catechesis of the Jesuits ended, in view of the political-cultural shift instituted by the Marquis of Pombal, via the intention of cultural renewal in Portugal and the colonies, at the inaugural time of the Enlightenment. Why is there still no critical study on Brazilian philosophical formation,[iv] along the lines of what happened with studies of the “formation” of Brazilian literature, by Antonio Candido, of politics, by Caio Prado Júnior and of economics, by Celso Furtado, in the middle of the last century?

In the case of the economy, the problem was deepened and realigned, by Francisco de Oliveira, in Criticism of Dualist Reason / The platypus (1981), when returning to Furtadian thesis that national economic planning is created to reinforce the maintenance of social inequality and poverty. In addition to the works of Brazilian interpreters, Casa Grande & Senzala, by Gilberto Freyre, Brazil roots, by Sergio Buarque de Holanda and The bourgeois revolution in Brazil, by Florestan Fernandes. In fact, Florestan Fernandes completes the picture of intellectuals who critically filtered foreign production, at the time of its reception, from the sociologies of Durkheim, Marx and Weber, in order to verify what they would serve to think and understand Brazil. Florestan Fernandes, who initially adhered to functionalism and, later, to Marxism.

However, the work Philosophy in Brazil: legacies and perspectives. Metaphilosophical essays, by Ivan Domingues, is the most elaborate effort to understand and evaluate the symptoms and obstacles to the production of a Brazilian philosophy, by linking, in detail, history and philosophical reception in Brazil. Above all, when analyzing the (in)glorious undertakings of Sylvio Romero, Tobias Barreto, Farias Brito, which can be read in “3rd Step”, entitled “Independence, Empire and Old Republic: the foreign intellectual (DOMINGUES, 2017, pp. 207- 332)”.

Among the other exemplary “Steps” of critical analysis of the state of the art of philosophy in Brazil. From the unavoidable fact of the non-emergence of “an original thinker and, with him, that of the first Brazilian philosophical school”. On the other hand, the author highlights the record of the emergence of pragmatism, founding North American philosophy, the first created in the Americas (DOMINGUES, 2017, p. 50).[v] Of course, one must also consider the cultural ballast of North American poetry, particularly that of Walt Whitman, the poet of North America, expressing the poetic and historical dream of the beginnings of the country's opulence (PAZ, 2012, p 305), which had preceded that philosophical creation. While the poet Emerson stuck to naturalism, in a register prior to opulence. Now, poets and novelists fulfilled the task of thinking about Brazil, which will be seen later. Without dispensing with Amerindian and African wisdom, they necessarily subsidize Brazilian thinking in an extended way.

Resuming. In the wake of Ratio Studiorum, firstly until the tide of romantic inspiration in search of a national identity, Brazilianness – substrate of the “Brazilian soul” –, was found in the purity of the indigenous, to the sound of Rousseauian echoes. Along with the incorporations of spiritualist eclecticism, Victor Cousin and positivism, practically in natura, by Auguste Comte or mediated by Sylvio Romero and Tobias Barreto, within the scope of the Recife School created in the mid-1966th century (PAIM, XNUMX).

Without resonating every echo of the reception and assimilation of European philosophy from the 1928th century onwards, today, what we have in the scope of national philosophical studies, still seems like scales of colonialism, of all sorts, at the whim of decadent Europe ruminating on its ghosts , with no relevant news, other than the regret of having invented the Enlightenment, its consequences and criticisms, under the falsely scorching roof of the nihilist crossing and the existentialist suffering of a Heideggerian matrix. – “But what do we have with this?” Oswald de Andrade resoundingly shouted – the most perfect cook of the souls of this world –, when conceiving anthropophagy, the cultural particularity that “unites us socially, economically, philosophically (ANDRADE, 1972, 226, p. XNUMX).” Because, on the part of Brazil, it has almost nothing to do with what united Europeans until the disenchantment of the Enlightenment.

In truth, we waste a lot of time scrutinizing the philosophical thought of Europeans and North Americans, studied, commented, reviewed, understood to the limit of discard, in filigrees. Why persist in the incohesive task of competing with the great dissectors of philosophical lineages, who have an unattainable initial delta, starting with the knowledge of Greek, Latin, native languages, in addition to the cultural and historical broth of their own production? philosophies? - That is the question! What to do? First, what not to do?

The anthropophagic calculation foresees devouring everything from foreign cultural production, but leaving, in a symbolic way, to the large intestine the decision of what to choose for our appropriation, if it is opportune and necessary for understanding Brazil. Similar to what the Tupinambá did, subjecting their enemies to fattening processes, before literally devouring them, to assimilate the maximum of their spirit and strength. Apart from this, what might be of interest to Philosophy teachers and researchers in Brazil? Se nor can we imitate the philosophy produced in Europe and the dehydrated North American philosophy, when it comes to reproducing them. – This is the drama of philosophical colonization only sketched.

Under hypothesis, perhaps the excessive rigor in the studies of philosophical texts, based on structural readings and disregarding the historical contexts of their productions, may have inhibited, or delayed, the experience of free, contradictory and imaginative philosophizing in the Brazilian academic environment. Under anticipation driven by the Belgian (1908) and French (1934) missions. The first organized the Philosophy course at Faculdade São Bento, under Thomist guidance (MUCHAIL, 1992); the second, entitled “French Department of Overseas” – an expression derived from a joke by Michel Foucault –, created that of USP. (ARANTES, 1994). Both in the city of São Paulo.

However, in the continuous tide of updating from above, a replica in low relief of the Prussian political invention of the mid-XNUMXth century, lately, the wave of biopolitics has been surfed, after that of necropolitics and, today, under that of decolonization.[vi] The first thought from the French and European reality. Certainly, the notion of necropolitics may be of interest, if assimilated in a critical way. And decolonization does, if we look at the past of contributions that have long pointed to the need to think philosophically about the problems of the place Brazil, the reality of the place Brazil. Not from foreign themes and problems, created elsewhere with specific causal links. But, themes and problems specific to Brazil, which are different in substance from those theorized by Europeans, for Europeans. We were a colony, are we still colonized? In what senses?

Literature ahead of time

Certainly, Machado de Assis, with a sympathetic attitude towards Europeanizing colonialism, had imagined the philosophy of “humanitism”, to the proclaimed claim of the absence of a national philosophy. Such philosophy would fall under the genre of satire, in the Roman sense of the term, to educate through mockery, through ridicule.

Work by the character Quincas Borba, “who brought a grain of nonsense”, “that same castaway of existence,” by The Posthumous Memoirs of Bras Cubas, “beggar, unexpected heir, and inventor of a philosophy”, the humanitarian one (MACHADO de ASSIS, 2015, p. 740). Whose general principle, “Humanitas”, is “substance or truth”, an “indestructible principle. […] That’s what I call him, because he sums up the universe, and the universe is man.”

Then, Quincas tells his friend and caregiver, Rubião, the initial step of his ingenuity: “There is no death. The meeting of two expansions, or the expansion of two forms, can determine the suppression of one of them; but, strictly speaking, there is no death, there is life, because the suppression of one is the condition for the survival of the other, and destruction does not affect the universal and common principle. Hence the conservative and beneficial character of war. Suppose you have a field of potatoes and two hungry tribes. The potatoes are only enough to feed one of the tribes, which thus gains the strength to cross the mountain and go to the other side, where there are potatoes in abundance; but, if the two tribes share the potatoes in the field in peace, they do not get enough nutrition and die of starvation. Peace, in this case, is destruction; war is conservation. One of the tribes exterminates the other and collects the spoils. Hence the joy of victory, the hymns, acclamations, public rewards and all the other effects of warlike actions. If war were not for this, such demonstrations would not take place, for the real reason that man only celebrates and loves what is pleasurable or advantageous to him, and for the rational reason that no person canonizes an action that virtually destroys him. . To the defeated, hatred or compassion; to the winner, the potatoes (MACHADO de ASSIS, 1891, 2015, p. 741)”.

The doctrinal exposition of Quincas Borba, an idle millionaire transfigured into a philosopher with prosaic rhetoric, combines the modern nuances of philosophy and science, by revealing a pattern of mockery of humanism, classical, positivism and Darwinian evolutionism, supported by of growing social Darwinism.[vii] By extension, also to liberalism with its empty promises, however, from a place of backwardness, taking evolutionism as a short stab in the fight against the backwardness of all orders of Brazilian society.

Contrary to the levity operated by some philosophy professors, who assimilated and incorporated foreign doctrines without the necessary critical cleavage and parsimonious distrust. – Only a rich man could project an extemporaneous philosophy in Brazil, after the Proclamation of the Republic? According to Roberto Schwarz, national backwardness subsidizes Machado's work, which, from a certain point in his literary production, makes use of humor, irony, paraphrase, when looming at the wide-open door of Brazilian misery, starting with the hideous burden of slavery, among other similar issues of different weights, in progress (SCHWARZ, January 1973).[viii]

Thus, the philosopher Quincas Borba reveals what appears to be the combination of subtlety and satire in the background of the drama, that of Brazil on the outskirts of the capitalist order. The motto, certainly, testifies to an imaginary model for contemporary Brazilian philosophers. Of course, demarcated by the gravity required of new miseries of indefinite duration.

Is it still possible for a philosopher Machado de Assis to appear, after so much philosophical accumulation and consolidation, in Brazil? A Euclides da Cunha? Another Guimarães Rosa? Still a philosopher with the erudition and intellectual height of Sergio Buarque de Holanda and Antonio Candido?

Justifying the symptoms. Three questions from national philosophers, which, under the appropriate explanations and analyses, based on History and everyday life, point to the likely future horizon of a Brazilian philosophy. - Or not?

Philosophical understanding of Brazil

Let us think with Cruz Costa (1904-1978), the first doctor in philosophy from USP, regarding the philosophical understanding of Brazil, its reception and the drama of “what to do”. In Contribution to the history of ideas in Brazil: the development of philosophy in Brazil and the national historical evolution, published in 1956, argued that philosophy studies in Brazil should flow towards the philosophical understanding of the country. Originally, thesis presented to the Faculty of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters of the University of São Paulo, partial requirement for the competition for the philosophy chair.

At the outset, Cruz Costa argued: “So that thought is not a mere useless fantasy – as King Duarte said – it is necessary that it does not lose contact with history, with the real problems of life. […] (Since) Philosophy is not mere speculation in a vacuum or a simple game of abstract concepts. It is work on real experience and it must be carried out without losing this concrete sense of what it is […], 'this wisdom that is born from experience'” (CRUZ COSTA, 1956, pp. 7 and 22).

To which Cruz Costa asked: “What value could a culture have that does not aim at understanding who we are, that moves away from the conditions of the earth and that does not meet the curious lines of our destiny?” And he added, avoiding the latent trap: “Without denying the strange cultures that express a historical experience richer than ours – which is a precious heritage received – from them we must draw a lesson that allows us, first of all, to understand what are." Because, “we would be more than ineffective, we would be ridiculous, if after the lesson that these cultures provide us, we still remained unaware of the fascinating problems that affect us most closely (CRUZ COSTA, 1956, p. 7).”

At the same time, he recalled that by “the hand of Europe […] we made our entry onto the scene of History, at a time of crisis for Western culture.” Since “Europe imposed on us its languages, its religion, its ways of life, in short its civilization.” In such a way that no cultural bias was in force in the lands invaded by the colonizers. Religion, rites, care for nature, food, raising children, etc. However, if “we in America do not have the right to speak of a properly American civilization”, however, “we can […] speak of an American experience, one that has been formed, slowly, in these four centuries of dramatic construction effort of peoples and the adaptation of Western civilization to the conditions of our continent. Our life took place, however, in a different scenario and our actors belong to all shades of humanity.” To conclude that “In this scenario, time also passed, history was also made and from this history a human experience emerges, a philosophy only sketched, but which, for us, is of the highest value (CRUZ COSTA, 1956, p. 14)”.

Based – in passing – on the historicist thought of Benedetto Crocce, he wrote: “We must, however, not forget that history excludes certain restorations. It is not made to restore, but to free oneself from the past.” Thus, “philosophy finds truth in its adequacy with reality.” To which he added: “This reality is not permanent, but historical. When history changes, philosophy must also change (CRUZ COSTA, 1956, p. 24)”.

Antonio Candido judged that “Cruz Costa insisted without stopping on the need to apply reflection to Brazil, even if to do so it was necessary to leave strictly conceived philosophy” (ARANTES, 1993, p. 23).[ix]

Had Cruz Costa entered into Oswald's anthropophagic conception? Certainly, he had not been immune to it, he had touched upon it without fully assuming it.

Criticism of Tupiniquim reason

Roberto Gomes, in Criticism of Tupiniquim reason, of 1977, questions what could become a “Tupiniquim reason”, certainly one that will take into account the Brazilian way of thinking philosophically, in its own way, considering, above all, the place Brazil, its original locus. Not from elsewhere. Therefore, emblematically, without the Cartesian seriousness, the mask of the excessive seriousness, at least apparent, of the Europeans, which, in a generic way, we try to reproduce. That of boring, clear and distinct ideas. Recalling President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, in a radio address, on a Friday morning, when he said: “I am a Cartesian with one foot in Candomblé”.

Anticipated by Paulo Leminski who, in catatau, transformed Descartes into a military man dandy from the army of Maurício de Nassau, landed in Recife, during the time of Dutch Brazil. From where Cartesian rationalism is duly tropicalized, with lots of cachaça and cannabis. We are not serious in everyday life, we make jokes about almost everything. So, why should we dress in European common sense to reproduce the philosophy of the matrix? What bad conscience is this? We are Brazilians who are fans of easy laughter and good humor, an eloquent sign of refined intelligence, according to Freud.

Headed by the religiosity of football, intertwining the sacred and the profane, however, subjected to violence that burns books, ideas, people in public squares and in the dungeons of dictatorships, official or not. Added to structural racism, reiterated by the hideous fact of slavery. We love laziness, which is the rhythm of nature within us, the “divine laziness” that Mário de Andrade spoke of, a field of expression of free and unbridled sensuality, inherited from the times of Colonial Brazil.

We are born poor. Brazil had entered the framework of the old Portuguese mercantilism,[X] by the alienated form of supplier of raw materials: sugar, tobacco, gold, diamonds, coffee. Darcy Ribeiro wrote that we were transformed, from the beginning, into foreign labor for the colonizing Portuguese. And, in a way, on a large scale, we continue to be, through agribusiness and extractivism. Since the national industry, which was growing gallopingly from the 1930s onwards, began to decline from 1977 onwards, according to Bresser Pereira.

Would there be any parallel between mercantilism and the entry of philosophy in Brazil? Do we perhaps find ourselves transfigured into a philosophical workforce supporting European and North American creations? Understanding them exhaustively, without producing our own? Without reaching the heights of his original productions?

By the way, Roberto Gomes considered: “Immersed in a Greco-Roman diving suit – although he is neither Greek nor Roman – the Brazilian escapes his identity. It has been in philosophy that the human spirit has sought this self-revelation. However, self-complacent and conformist, a serious guy, the Brazilian has not yet produced philosophy. (Say it yourself). Therefore, it is necessary to warn that Brazilian thought has never been where it has been sought: university theses, undergraduate and postgraduate courses, specialized magazines.” […] Because, “In the mold of our 'official thinking' there is no sign of an attitude that assumes Brazil and intends to think of it in our terms. In addition to the dryly technical and sterile chatter, the general ideas, the theses that we know in advance how they will conclude, the well-thought-out ideas, we found nothing that denounces the presence of Brazilian thought among our 'official philosophers', victims of a discourse that does not think , delirious (GOMES, 1977, pp. 11-12).”

To which he adds: “It is not a question of 'inventing' a Brazilian reason, but of proposing a project, a certain type of pretension, certainly quixotic, and evidently absurd: thinking about what one is, how one is (GOMES, 1977, p. 12).”[xi]

Freud said that everything he looked for in the expectation of finding something new, art had achieved before. If art in many moments anticipated what philosophy would come to understand later, what should we do at a time when art, great art, supposedly, does not seem to express the present time? The vicissitudes of this time. However, it seems to reheat what were recent artistic and aesthetic inventions, however, from the past.

Philosophy also approaches the same dilemma, that of igniting past production, in a generalized way, from positivist, Marxian, Nietzschean, neo-Kantian, logical-mathematical, phenomenological, existentialist, analytical, structuralist, post-structuralist matrices, entering the biological, paired with Darwin's theory of evolution, in addition to psychoanalytic, and, at the limit, quantum mechanics.

Thus, this is a bad time for philosophy scholars in Brazil to pay attention to the Brazilian reality, the History of Brazil, our way of being, the joy and tragedy of being Brazilian. Without fear or modesty, with distance from the moldy standards of European and North American philosophies. In addition to “extreme attachment to the thoughts of others because we believe that only others can give us any key to knowledge (GOMES, 1977, p. 22).” As if they were precise keys to understanding the Brazilian being, sometimes without considering the present time.

However, there is a lot of wisdom accumulated in Brazilian popular songs. For example, Noel Rosa parodying positivism, the most popular philosophy in the country: “love is based on order in principle / progress must come later / you forgot this law from Auguste Comte / and you went to be happy far from me .”[xii] Furthermore, through the rhyme of Monsueto Menezes when appealing to “lives in philosophy / why love and pain rhyme…”,[xiii] advance of Oswald de Andrade’s verse: “Love / humor”. In addition to all the social criticism contained in the songs of Chico Buarque, Milton Nascimento, Aldir Blanc. And in that of Caetano Veloso, along the lines of mocking common sense: “it has been proven that it is only possible to philosophize in German…”[xiv]

Especially, in the Tropicália aesthetic intervention, not only in music, also in theater, cinema and visual arts, perhaps the last assessment of Brazilian culture to address latent or explicit residual traumas. Unveiled by Celso Favaretto in Tropicália: allegory, joy (1979), using Benjaminian philosophy and notions of psychoanalysis, however, in a decolonized way. Taking both as tools of critical thinking.

Excellent Brazilian poetry can provide ballast for the creation of a national philosophy, not necessarily drawn from conservative, authoritarian patriotism. From that of the universal bard from Minas Gerais, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, to the lyricism of Manuel Bandeira, to the refined poetics of Murilo Mendes and the sober and cerebral poetry of João Cabral de Melo Neto. Alongside the acidic and demolishing poetry of Oswald de Andrade, shaking the skeletons of the moralism of customs in the transition from rural to urban Brazil, and Mário de Andrade, launching aesthetic heights at the time of an ecstatic Orpheus in the Macota city of Zan Baolo.

In addition to the unique lyricism of the most expressive poet of the 1960s generation, Mário Faustino (1930–1962), voted ethos and the existential tragedy, identifiable in the poem “Balad (In memory of a suicidal poet)”: “He failed to sign the noble pact / Between the bloody cosmos and the pure soul. / However, he did not bend before the fact / Of the victory of chaos over the will / Augusta to order the creature / At least: light south of the storm. / Dead but intact gladiator (So much violence, but so much tenderness) / He threw himself against a sea of ​​suffering (FAUSTINO, 1985, p. 115).”[xv]

In addition to the few immense national novelists. At the head, Machado de Assis, mocking the slave nation with no apparent historical destiny; Graciliano Ramos, demystifying the northeastern tragedy in Dried lives, and the unpalatable absence of freedom under the Vargas dictatorship, of prison memories; Guimarães Rosa, in Great Sertão: Veredas, in which the backlands become the scene of hidden, internecine wars; the saga of the pampas, in Érico Veríssimo; Raduan Nassar dealing with the neurotic family romance, in archaic farming, and Clarice Lispector shuffling the obtuseness and vulgarities of the suffocating daily malaise. In particular, Lima Barreto, Afro-descendant, poor, admitted to an asylum, is certainly the most significant living metaphor in Brazil at the beginning of the XNUMXth century. Since literature for a long time fulfilled the function of reflecting on Brazil.

In the universe of national cinema, especially that of “Cinema Novo” (BERNARDET, 2007), there are varied virtualities of understanding Brazil, given the critical exposure of multiplied social themes, potential substrates to bring together elements for the ingenuity of its own, Brazilian philosophy . Thus, Glauber Rocha, in an interview with Positif – cinema revue, granted to ET Greville, entitled “Glauber speaks to Europe”, exposed the relevance of cinema by including very Brazilian themes, relating to mysticism, messianism, mandonism, agrarian reform, Candomblé, politics, revolution, populism, urban guerrilla warfare and industrialism in low relief . Modelly, the focus on the production of accessories for the recently created automobile industry, shown in the film São Paulo SA, by Luiz Person, 1965. Glauber recognized cultural colonialism and the aesthetic and political struggle against the grain (of colonialism). (GREVILLE, January 1968).

Remembering that Greek philosophy was the invention of a self-taught person, an original creator, with no previous baggage, other than the epic poems and the reality under radical, accelerated socio-political changes taking place in Greece in the XNUMXth century BC. C. Until the transition from oral tradition to the establishment of writing. However, why do we lack so much philosophical baggage if we are unable to create our own way of philosophical thinking? Is there, in fact, a true desire for such a creation? Perhaps the excess of knowledge of philosophy and the history of philosophy, in our highly bureaucratized and bureaucratized universities, has and continues to have hindered the insurgence of our own, national thought, based on our problems.

Roberto Gomes reflects: “[…] philosophy is a reason that expresses itself – a formula where the word reason appears loaded with historicity. And a Brazilian philosophy would need to be the stripping away of this reason that we become. Whether due to excessive modesty or fear, the fact is that to this day we have not undressed. Perhaps fearing that we would find nothing underneath our European clothes… (GOMES, 1977, p. 25)”.

Following the publication of Criticism of Tupiniquim reason, Gerd Bornheim published the essay “Philosophy and national reality” (BORNHEIM, 1980).[xvi] Roberto Gomes and Gerd Bornheim agreed that philosophy, in Brazil, needs to take care of the uniqueness of Brazilian problems, in order to abandon the aspects of neutrality and universality. But, we must pay attention to Brazil's cultural plurality, at all levels, in order to create conditions to get closer to true thinking: that of the streets, that of the people, with their wisdom not yet elevated to broader conceptual categories. They thus advanced the problem of decolonization. Pointing to the invention of a popular philosophy. Certainly, except for the conservative political upheavals that it could contain. Operating as a passing point for the construction of a Brazilian philosophy.

The lack of subjects in philosophy in Brazil

By the way, Paulo Arantes, the best-known Brazilian public intellectual today, recorded: “In Brazil, the lack of subjects in philosophy is almost a fatality. All the more reason to turn it into a problem. It's not a question of talent, but of training. It's not even about personal training, although one doesn't go without the other. Nowadays, the latter is available to everyone in the country's good universities. In fact, there is no other way, as contemporary philosophical culture is essentially university, one specialty among many others. It turns out that this ideal of harmonious intellectual formation dissolves into golden fiction as soon as we return it to the raw ground of the set of singularities shaped over time by the uneven expansion of capitalism. A decompensated world system that insists on literally leaving our philosophers watching ships (ARANTES, 1993, p. 23)”.

However, it completes the reasoning, debunking the philosophical pretensions in Terrae Brasilis. Arantes resorts to the bard Mário de Andrade: “our national formation is not natural, it is not spontaneous, it is not, so to speak, logical (ARANTES, 1993, p. 24).” Because “naturalness, spontaneity and logic are evidently on the other side of the ocean. Given the 'mess', the 'filth of contrasts' that we are, there is no doubt that the ideal of harmony and wholeness can only be the relatively consistent link that in the European tradition associates the life of the spirit with the whole of social life (ARANTES, 1993 , p. 24)”.

As much as philosophy is part of the dominant ideology, there is a causal link between the philosophy produced and the European historical ground. Here, philosophy resembled an exotic flower, sprouted in another garden, other than the thought cultivated by the autochthonous people, the original people of Pindorama, the authentic Amerindian thought, disqualified and, consequently, devalued with the invasion of the colonizers. The same happened with African thought, mirrored the ancestral wisdom of the enslaved people brought from Africa, without the opportunity for expression during the entire period of Brazil-Colony.

However, without direct engagement with that wisdom, during the Empire, only the Afro-descendant writers Luis Gama and Machado de Assis expressed themselves. In the First Republic, Lima Barreto and Maria Firmina dos Reis. From the 1950s onwards, Carolina de Jesus, Carlos Marighella, Abdias do Nascimento, Milton Santos, Joel Rufino dos Santos, Conceição Evaristo. Contrary to what had happened in music, in which many people of African descent figured in the artistic scene, in a unique way. This makes one think about how much effort it would have cost Machado de Assis, a self-taught man, to follow European philosophical speculations, transposed into the very fine material of his literature and theater.

Still according to Arantes, “compared to literature, philosophy occupies a subordinate place in the national cultural panorama. […] the ideological touchstone represented by literature, which has been here 'the central phenomenon of the life of the spirit': a literary inflation in the service of national consciousness, the exposure and revelation of Brazil to Brazilians. […] this was not even remotely the case with philosophy, which did not add experiences.” As he illustrates, “Anyone who has perhaps gone through João Cruz Costa's shirt-sleeved historiography will note, somewhat suffocated and unfairly tempted to attribute to its author the shyness of perspective that came from the second-hand material he dealt with, that in it Strictly speaking, nothing happens, nothing is linked, except the disparate quilt of rhetorical artifacts designed to obfuscate the confreres (ARANTES, 1993, p. 24).” Cruz Costa regretted the afternoons in which he analyzed the philosophy of Farias Brito, for him “philosophical fumes (ARANTES, 1993, p. 30)”.

However, there is something new on the horizon of Brazilian academic philosophical research. These are four theses on innovative themes, the first, defended by Luis Thiago Freire Dantas, at UFPR, entitled Philosophy from Africa: decolonial perspectives, honorable mention from ANPOF, 2018; second, that of Felipe Beltran Katz, Against cordiality: analysis of the concept of cordial man in the work of Sergio Buarque de Holanda, for the PPG in Philosophy at PUC-SP, in the same year; third, that of Ubiratane de Morais Rodrigues, The aesthetics of pre-grooming (Vor-Schein) as transgressive anticipation in Ernst Bloch, framed by the analysis of the transgressive aesthetics of Dried lives, by Graciliano Ramos, defended in 2020, by the PPG in Philosophy at USP and the fourth, defended at PUC-SP, in 2021, authored by Rafael Ávila Matede, under the title of Axé notebook: notes on terreiro philosophy. The last one begins the entry of philosophy into the Candomblé terreiro, a practice anticipated by cultural anthropology decades ago.

However, here are some likely unavoidable problem themes that will destabilize the state of the art of philosophy, in a national environment: nature preservation, biophilia; social justice; ontonegativity of politics; cordiality, violence and counter-violence; crisis of human sciences; technoscience straitjacket; social self-management, work autonomy; concrete utopia; humor; football – profane religiosity –; horizon of a libidinal civilization; racial and gender prejudices in the field of social inequality; carnival – “the religious event of the race” –; visual arts; popular Brazilian Music; Tropicália; national cinema and dramaturgy; popular culture; ancestry of original peoples; territoriality; laziness – “the wise solar laziness” –; Brazilian phenomenology;[xvii] Brazilian philosophical anthropology;[xviii] Candomblé etc.

Themes arranged in such a way as to transform Philosophy studies into understanding Brazil. In detail, forged from the construction of a language specific to Brazilian philosophy. Dark philosophy of symptoms and evidence stored in the luggage of Caio Prado Júnior, Mário Ferreira dos Santos, Álvaro Vieira Pinto, Lima Vaz, Leandro Konder, José Chasin, Paulo Freire and, extra limit, Moniz Sodré. Also limited to revisiting the Latin American liberation philosophy project and, in particular, literature, particularly Brazilian poetry.[xx]

In progress

Dispensing with any exhortatory tone, concluding with what is plausible and on the margins of what is necessary, the motto of the essay is to think about Brazil, from Philosophy. Thus, let us establish our knowledge of the Brazilian reality – an anachronistic expression –, of the history of Brazil. To do so, read all the renegade interpreters in Brazil. (PERICÁS; SECCO, 2014). In this step, everyday life is taken into account, the proletarianization of social classes, being macunaímic Brazilian, with a keen eye for the nuances of Brazilian culture, for literati – poets, novelists, playwrights –, popular and erudite musicians – with Villa-Lobos as helmsman.

In line with the films of the so-called Cinema Novo, guided by the aesthetics of hunger, alongside the aesthetic-political intervention Tropicália. Thus, the chronic lack of subject matter in philosophy in Brazil could – it is to be believed – remove raw material from this cultural ballast, for the creation of a Brazilian philosophy, from the place Brazil! Preferably, methodically inspired by Oswald's anthropophagy. After all, at a time when a theoretical basis for understanding and critical weapons to combat the neo-fascism underway in the country is most needed, philosophy appears to be devoid of such an arsenal.

Because the foreign philosophical-political thought matrices do not seem to be able to understand the particularity of the phenomenon, in order to support a strong enough political philosophy, in the face of the authoritarian scenario. – Except for the little-read book by Ernst Bloch, Heritage of this eraOf 1934.

However, Hegel had recorded that “Conceptualizing what is is the task of philosophy, since what is is reason. As far as the individual is concerned, each one is in every way a child of his time; thus, philosophy is also your time captured in thoughts (HEGEL, 2022, p. 142).” Lima Vaz, following Hegel's footsteps, but using another perspective, asserted: “ a given historical moment, philosophy is the response that a society brings to the double requirement of critically reflecting and explaining itself theoretically regarding the values ​​and representations that make intelligible, or at least acceptable, for the individuals who live in it a way of being, that is, a way of living and dying, of imagining and knowing, of loving and working, […], etc., which constitutes a legacy of tradition, and that individuals must assume and, in fact, have already assumed before they can even respond for it, or justify it before their own reason. (VAZ, 1978, p. 7).”

Perhaps the time has come to think about what Brazil is, in an idle way, however, symmetrical to the urgencies of the present time. Because only the particular can become universal. However, without abandoning the accumulation of philosophical knowledge, nor the current themes of global society, to be redefined beyond the colonizing bias agenda.

Without giving up on philosophy! – Since, philosophically, thinking is transgressing, preferably by the anthropophagic formula: “Joy of ignorance that discovers”. Extra schematisms, philosophy in Brazil could promote its “philosophical turn”, along the lines of that created during the Modern Art Week of 1922, and extensions, which, roughly speaking, it devoured by denying the literary schools and the plastic arts, consolidated in Europe, while critically incorporating the novelties of European modernist manifestos from the beginning of the XNUMXth century. Demarcating the invention and originality of Brazilian art, by trying to expose the Brazilian way of being, under the arc of culture beyond foreign arrivals, filtered from hosts of the national-popular universe.[xx]

After all, Oswald de Andrade, under the aesthetic-political, anthropophagic guard, had observed: “We were never catechized. We did Carnival. The Indian dressed as a Senator of the Empire. […] We already had communism. We already had the surrealist language. […] because we never had grammars, nor collections of old vegetables. […] But we never admitted the birth of logic among us. […] We had no speculation. […] we had divination. We had Politics which is the science of distribution. And a social-planetary system. […] The million-dollar contribution of all mistakes. As we speak. As we are (ANDRADE, 1924 and 1928, 1972, pp. 204, 227-230)”.

*Antonio Valverde He is a professor in the Postgraduate Program in Philosophy at PUC-SP.


ANDRADE, M., “Pirandello, the crazy epidermis and a joyful feeling of injustice”, Purple Earth and other lands, The. I, nº 4, 1926; _______, Complete Poems, volume 2, Rio de Janeiro, Record, 2013, pp. 158-163.

ANDRADE, O. de, “Manifesto of pau-brasil poetry”, In TELES, GM, European avant-garde and Brazilian modernism: critical presentation of the main avant-garde manifestos, prefaces and conferences, from 1857 to today, Petrópolis, Vozes, 1972, pp. 203-208.

_______, “Anthropophagous Manifesto”, Same, same, pp. 226-232.

ANTONIO CANDIDO, “Machado de Assis Scheme”, In ________, Various Writings (1968), 5th edition, Rio de Janeiro, Gold over Blue, 2011, pp. 15-33.

ARANTES, P., “Cruz Costa, Bento Prado Jr. and the problem of philosophy in Brazil – a digression”, In ARANTES, p. et alii, São Paulo, Educ, 1993, pp. 23-65.

_______, “A story of São Paulo people in their desire to have a philosophy”, In _______, The thread: a conversation and four interviews about Philosophy and National Life, Rio de Janeiro, Paz e Terra, 1993, pp. 319-347.

_______, A French overseas department: studies on the formation of Uspian philosophical culture (an experience from the 1960s), Rio de Janeiro, Peace and Land, 1994.

BERNARDET, JC., Brazil in the time of cinema: essay on Brazilian cinema from 1958 to 1966, Sao Paulo, Co. of Letters, 2007.

BORNHEIM, G., “Philosophy and national reality”, In Encontros com a Civilização Brasileira, vol. 19, Rio de Janeiro, Civilização Brasileira, 1980, pp. 93-112.

CRUZ COSTA, J., Contribution to the History of Ideas in Brazil: the development of philosophy in Brazil and the national historical evolution, Rio de Janeiro, José Olympio, 1956

DOMINGUES, I., Philosophy in Brazil: legacies & perspectives. metaphilosophical essays, São Paulo, Unesp, 2017.

FAORO, R., Machado de Assis: the pyramid and the trapeze, 2nd edition, São Paulo, Nacional, 1976. (Coleção Brasiliana, v. 356).

FAUSTINO, M., “Last poems”, In ________, Complete poetry Translated poetry, 1st edition, São Paulo, Max Limonad, 1985, pp. 49-135.

FLUSSER, V., Brazilian Phenomenology, organization Gustavo Bernardo, Rio de Janeiro, UERJ, 1998. (Brasilien oder die Suche nach dem neuen Menschen: Für eine Phänomenologie der Unterentwicklung (Brazil, or the search for a new man: towards a phenomenology of underdevelopment), Bensheim, Bollmann Verlag, 1994).

GOMES, R., Criticism of the Tupiniquim Reason, Porto Alegre, Movimento / UFRS, 1977.

HARDMAN, F. F., São Paulo ideology and the eternal modernists, São Paulo, Unesp, 2022.

HEGEL, GWF, Fundamental lines of the philosophy of law, translated Marcos Lutz Müller, São Paulo, Editora 34, 2022.

KOPENAWA, D.; ALBERT, B., The fall of the sky: words of a Yanomami shaman, translated Beatriz Perrone-Moisés, São Paulo, Cia. das Letras, 2015.

MUCHAIL, ST (org.), A past revisited: 80 years of the Philosophy course at PUC-SP, Education, 1992.

NOVAIS, FA, “Brazil within the framework of the old colonial system”, In MOTA, CG (Org.), Brazil in perspective, 7th edition, February 1976, pp. 47-63.

PAIM, A., The philosophy of the Recife School, Rio de Janeiro, Saga, 1966.

PAZ, O., “Whitman, the poet of America”, ___, The bow and the lyre, São Paulo, Cosac Naify, 2012, pp. 305-308.

PERICÁS, LB; SECCO, L. (orgs), Interpreters from Brazil: classics, rebels and renegades, Sao Paulo, Boitempo, 2014.

ROCHA, G. Interview with ET Greville, Positif – cinema revue, n. 91, Paris, January 68. (Edition of the Sociedade Amigos da Cinemateca, Livraria PAF, Cine Belas Artes).

SANTOS, JH, “Brave Brazilian people: short essay on society and State on the occasion of the V Centenary”, true, v. 44. N. 4, Porto Alegre, December 1999, pp. 977-994.

SCHWARZ, R., “Ideas out of place”, Cebrap Studies, São Paulo, January 1973.

_______, Martina versus Lucrécia: essays and interviews, São Paulo, Cia. das Letras, 2012.

VAZ, HC de L., “Philosophy in Brazil, today', SEAF notebooks, year 1, no. 1, Rio de Janeiro, Society of Philosophical Studies and Activities, August 1978, pp. 7-16.

VITA, LW, Triptych of ideas, São Paulo, Grijalbo, 1967. (Collaboration with Edusp).


[I] Perhaps, foreshadowing the anthropophagic imagination on the way, Mário de Andrade, in 1926, recorded: “We are not what we are, we are what others want us to be.” (PAU-D'ALHO, pseudonym of MÁRIO de ANDRADE, 2013, p. 159).”

[ii] From a conservative and dated point of view, check out the chapter “Brasilíndia Worldwide” (VITA, 1967, pp. 35-45).

[iii] By the way, check out the article about the two hundred years of Brazilian Independence, access links: e, accessed on October 01, 2022.

[iv] “… with Paulo Arantes dedicating his book to the USPian formation and opening the way for what would be the formation of Brazilian philosophy, which to this day has not yet come to light. However, if there is no work yet, we are not lacking the experience and reality of the page turned, with the post-training agenda occupying the foreground today... (DOMINGUES, 2017, p. 50).”

[v] By the way, Lima Vaz recorded “Thus, we see it appearing at the end of the century. 1978th and early 13th century. XX, moment of fastest growth of North American society, philosophical currents such as pragmatism, Deweyan instrumentalism, operationalism, which configured a typically North American philosophical thought (VAZ, XNUMX, p. XNUMX).”

[vi] Decolonization to avoid the Galicism of the term “decolonization”, both with a similar meaning.

[vii] “Critics, especially Barreto Filho, who studied the case best, interpret Humanitism as a satire on Positivism and in general on philosophical Naturalism of the 2011th century, mainly under the aspect of the Darwinian theory of the struggle for life with survival of the fittest. But, in addition, a broader connotation is clear, which transcends satire and sees man as a devouring being in whose dynamics the survival of the fittest is an episode and a particular case. This general and deaf devouring tends to transform man into man's instrument, and in this aspect Machado's work is articulated, much more than it might seem at first glance, with the concepts of alienation and the resulting reification of personality, dominant in thought. and in the Marxist criticism of our days and already illustrated by the work of the great realists, men as different from him as Balzac and Zola (ANTONIO CANDIDO, 29, p. 1976).” However, Faoro interprets the Humanitas philosophical program politically: “The end of the program is the real program: overthrowing the ministry. A philosophical doctrine would justify the ambition of power, mitigated and embellished in its rudeness. But philosophy, in essence, teaches nothing other than the displacement of the party that rules by another that wants to rule. In this manipulation of formulas and words, the ingredients of the two traditional parties were mixed and confused: 'defending the sound principles of freedom and conservation (FAORO, 167, p. XNUMX).”

[viii] Regarding “Ideas out of place” (1973), see “Why 'ideas out of place'? (SCHWARZ, 2012, pp. 165-172).

[ix] For a detached critique of Cruz Costa's position, check out “A history of São Paulo residents in their desire to have a Philosophy” (ARANTES, 1993, pp. 319-347). See also “Instinct of nationality: Cruz Costa and heirs in the 60s” (ARANTES (1984), 1994, pp. 102-126).

[X] See NOVAIS, F. “Brazil within the framework of the old colonial system”, (MOTA, 1977, pp. 47-63).

[xi] If the expression “Tupiniquim reason” reeks of a certain prejudgment regarding the wisdom of the original Brazilian peoples; Currently, on the contrary, there is a growing interest in such wisdom, especially about the man-nature metabolism portrayed in the autobiographical testimony of the Yanomami shaman, Davi Kopenawa. (KOPENAWA; ALBERT, 2015).

[xii] Access link to the samba “Positivism”, by Noel Rosa,

[xiii] Access link to the samba “Mora naPhilosophy”, by Monsueto Menezes,

[xiv] Access link to the song “Língua”, by Caetano Veloso,

[xv] The character Paulo Martins, played by Jardel Filho, journalist and poet, in Earth in a trance, by Glauber Rocha, 1967, recites parts of poems by Mário Faustino in the film.

[xvi] “The problem of a specifically national Philosophy, which finds its criterion (I would say validity) in its autochthonous character, has been repeatedly raised in Latin America. Evidently, this aim is part of a much wider complex of issues: it is the process that aims to overcome a situation of cultural inferiority through the affirmation of a national 'language'. And national means, among other things, but mainly, the establishment of the status of a non-dependent culture, based on the demand for national autonomy, even if not exclusive. Thus, what would be at stake would be the very being of these people, listening to their deepest nature, the only guarantee for being able to build a truly national profile. And it would be up to the commitment of philosophical concepts to translate the richness of the reality of different countries into unmistakable rational categories. […] (However), the entire problem of relations between philosophy and national reality ends up necessarily revolving around the concept of difference. And it is only then that the problem can begin to be resolved (BORNHEIM, 1980, pp. 93 and 103, respectively).”

[xvii] Suggested theme replicated from the title of the work Brazilian Phenomenology (FLUSSER, 1988).

[xviii] First of all, take into account “Brava gente brasileira: small essay on society and State on the occasion of the V Centenary” (SANTOS, 1999, pp. 977-994).

[xx] By Gregório de Matos Guerra, Castro Alves, Mário de Andrade, Oswald de Andrade, Murilo Mendes João Cabral, Mário Faustino, João Cabral, Paulo Leminski, the Campos brothers. – Carlos Drummond de Andrade, starboard.

[xx] However, it should be noted that the modernist project traveled through time, before emerging in 1922, basically through the dialogue between Eduardo Prado and Eça de Queiróz, among others, since the end of the 2022th century. Eduardo Prado, whose family controlled coffee production and foreign trade for decades. For Hardman, subsidized by the São Paulo agro-commercial oligarchy, and expressed by the regional intellectual elite, what was intended with the Modern Art Week, in addition to the intentions of an aesthetic turnaround, was the political consolidation of a country project, under the hegemony of paulistas. (HARDMAN, XNUMX).

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