CXXVIII (Re) Leituras - Evil in Modern Thought - an alternative History of Philosophy, by Susan Neiman, commenst by André Bandeira

This one comes from Princeton, and was written in Israel. The author has an intriguing sentence at some point, when one turns the page. The classics have doubted of the existence of the world we see, not because they thought it could be unreal, but because the real world could be frightfully real.And, here, the author sets the scene with a dramatic move, disguised in thesis. Some hundred pages further, there is a recurrence, when she states that, in something taken as a disputed hypothesis, it was not a possibility which was in balance, but the Impossible which was incrementing its probability. The book reviews all main  Illuminists, goes as far as the Frankfurt School and John Rawls, displays a anti-hegelian flavour, idolizes Hannah Arendt, and establishes two landmarks in the historiography of  the question «Why Evil?»: the Earthquake of Lisbon, in 1755, and Auschwitz, in the Second World War. The book addresses what we may call «complex metaphysics», criticizes the seductive doctrines with totalitarian consequences and aims at sketching an alternative History of Philosophy, by recentering it in Theodicey. It also widens the human objective responsibility, at the sources of Evil (or tells us not to discuss natural Evil and concentrate in man-made Evil), and ends up in resuscitating the metaphysical tradition, where the philosopher elegantly gives the floor to the cleric. Calling attention to the modern complexity of Evil is never out of place. It is not because something gets consensual, that it turns out not being completely forgotten by media demagogy. Unfortunately, this is one more attempt to usher judaism in a Noah's Arch being built in th West. If it is true that totalitarianism may easily descend from seductive philosophical fashions -- and that explains the degree of european collaborationism with the nazi Evil -- it doesn't explain why nazism itself had deep cultural and psychological roots in Europe, long before illuminism and even before Christianity emerged. This means, that a good critique of the enthusiasms in western illuminism, leaves many important things, in western mind, out of hand. No wonder, the admiration for Hannah Arendt, who in «Eichmann in Jerusalem» managed to inculpate as far as the death penalty, the not so crude Eichmann, for his petty but decisive responsibility, as bureaucrat-in-chief of the Holocaust. As a matter a fact, Arendt was in a state of euphoria, when she advocated the sole official death penalty carried out in Israel, so far. And, as she concedes, probably she had her soul empty. What does this mean, «soul»? Perhaps, that such a certainty in the rhetorical flux of arguments, such brilliance in a theological debate, keeping in mind, at any moment, all what has been accounted for, leaves us completely dry, debating in a cemetery. The book juggles superbly with the rhetorical tricks who made famous many western philosophers and ends up with a conclusion which may well be brilliant: at some junctures, Providence is excrucitingly invisible, as in the Book of Job. We have to be acquainted to not being at home, even within ourselves. All this is very «sexy» in Philosophy, especially when this latter is a political cover-up. «Sufficient reason», as the jesuit Luis the Molina has, once, manufactured, maybe is  what we apport to an unreasonable reality, but reality -- no matter how unreasonable -- is sufficient in being real. Instead, it is love in practice, pure emotion as the summing-up of all vital energies, which replaces all suicidal attempts in either conceiving God, or keep staring at His finger. Maybe Philosophy, instead of returning to a psychologically westernized metaphysics, should find out what was creative and original in the western thinkers, besides hard core bibliography. The gadgets of human living engineering are worthier than any universal wisdom, mostly when this latter arrogates to be encyclopedic or available in a network. First and foremost, even a philosopher is due to create, and  then the historian may talk about it. Philosophy is no background reporting. Philosophy is no judicial expertise. In trying to interrogate Good, we just perfected more Evil, got heavier and more dyslexic, and tainted even more our hands with blood. Definetly, we have to revisit the classical greek double mind and stop being olympic pagans, disguised in five o'clock tea conversation. In the imminence of any asteroid fallout on Earth we still would have an Eternity to complete our Humanity among ourselves.


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