A batalha pelas universidades [Portuguese translation]

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Primeiro ponto: os manifestantes não são nem “flocos de neve” que derretem quando o clima esquenta, nem “flores delicadas” cujos sentimentos são machucados. Os estudantes universitários já viram filmes violentos, terminaram relacionamentos, leram coisas grotescas na internet, viram filmes pornôs, perderam pessoas queridas, e ouviram notícias trágicas sobre eventos ao redor do mundo. Ainda assim, sobreviveram.

Com base no vocabulário utilizado, aprendemos que os manifestantes em geral têm uma grande capacidade para o uso de palavrões, insultos e expressões vulgares. Não obstante, desde a infância, todos eles aprenderam de professores, pais e desenhos animados quando ou não dizer foda-se ou não vou com a sua cara.safe-space-campus-protest-r

Eles podem estar furiosos, mas são adultos que sabem o que estão fazendo. Cry-bullies[1] é uma boa definição, mas eu tiraria a parte do “choro”, pois ele é uma tática.

Segundo ponto: a maioria das queixas dos manifestantes não serve para pressionar por uma solução, mas sim para inflamar os ânimos e prestar serviço à estratégia política de poder.

Continue reading A batalha pelas universidades [Portuguese translation]

Our Schizophrenic Politics — Sex, Health, Religion, Money, and Other Important Stuff [Good Life series]

schiz•o•phren•ic, adjective: Of, relating to, or characterized by the coexistence of disparate or antagonistic elements.

Let’s talk about one reason why politics makes us all a little crazy — its incoherent mix of laws and regulations. (Warning: overcharged metaphor ahead.) Not only does the left hand of government often not know what the right hand is doing, the two are often pointing in opposite directions and independently smacking and caressing us.

What should governments do?

Here is one principled answer. “The purpose of government is to manage the nation’s health.” We might take that principle and reflect on the fact that there are too many fat people in America. And we might then propose a number of policies to address the problem. Here are three options:

A. The government should mandate group exercise every day.
B. We can offer subsidies to fitness centers to encourage people to work out more, or mandate that people join fitness centers — and charge them a tax if they don’t.
C. The government should ban fat-causing foods and drinks.

Dissenters will object. They will argue that health is a matter of personal responsibility and that we should leave people free to make their own choices.

But current public policy is moving strongly away from the “hands-off” position. Our government has long implemented controls on alcohol, tobacco, and other stimulants; it has long established nutritional standards for food and drink; it is increasingly paying for medical and pharmaceutical services for a larger portion of the population; and it is now mandating insurance coverage. Government-managed health is high on the public policy agenda.

Now suppose we change the subject from health to religion. We say instead: “The purpose of government is to manage the nation’s religious life.” We might take that principle and reflect on the fact that there are too many religious people — or too many irreligious people. So again we propose specific policies to address the nation’s spiritual health:

D. The government should mandate religious attendance.
E. It could charge a tax for those who do not attend church or synagogue or mosque or temple or shrine.
F. The government ought to offer subsidies for construction companies that specialize in building churches.

Or from the other side of the debate:

G. The government should tax religious institutions to discourage them.
H. It should lower the immigration quotas from especially religious nations.
I. The Department of Education ought to increase the number of hurdles religious education institutions must clear in order to receive accreditation.

Of course none of those proposals are on the political agenda, because they are about religion and our religious politics is hands-off. We mostly agree that religion is a matter of personal responsibility and that we should leave people free to make their own choices. So controlling religion is low on the policy agenda.

But suppose we again change the subject — from religion to sex — and say as a matter of principle:

Continue reading Our Schizophrenic Politics — Sex, Health, Religion, Money, and Other Important Stuff [Good Life series]

Ukrainian translation of Nietzsche and the Nazis published

NN-Ukrainian (1)Mariupol State University Press has published the Ukrainian translation of my Nietzsche and the Nazis book. Much thanks to Dr. Przemysław Zientkowski for initiating the project and to the team at MSUP for producing it.

Here’s is the book’s description in English:

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) is famous for his statement that “God is dead” and his provocative account of Master and Slave moralities — and for the fact that Adolf Hitler and the Nazis claimed that Nietzsche was one of their great inspirations.
NN-Ukrainian (5)Were the Nazis right to do so — or did they misappropriate Nietzsche’s philosophy?
In this book — based on the script of the 2006 video documentary — Stephen Hicks asks and answers the following questions:
* What were the key elements of Hitler and the National Socialists’ political philosophy?
* How did the Nazis come to power in a nation as educated and civilized as Germany?
* What was Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy — the philosophy of “Live dangerously” and “That which does not kill us makes us stronger”?
* And to what extent
did Nietzsche’s philosophy provide a foundation for the horrors perpetrated by the Nazis?

NN-Ukrainian (7)Stephen Hicks, Ph.D., is Professor of Philosophy and Executive Director of the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship at Rockford University, Illinois. He is the author of Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault (Scholargy, 2004) and articles in publications such as The Review of Metaphysics, Business Ethics Quarterly, and The Wall Street Journal.

Here’s more information about Nietzsche and the Nazis in English and in other translations and editions.

The Most Important Artist of the Century [Good Life series]

A survey asked our generation’s leading artists and critics to identify the most influential artist of the twentieth century. Who won? If you guessed Pablo Picasso — nice try, but he came in second. Continue reading The Most Important Artist of the Century [Good Life series]

Católico vs. Ateu, Parte 2: Razão e fé são incompatíveis? [Portuguese translation]

[This is a Portuguese translation of Part 2 of the Theist vs. Atheist series between John C. Wright and Stephen R. C. Hicks, originally published in English at EveryJoe.]

Razão e fé são incompatíveis?

Por Stephen Hicks
Tradução e Revisão de Matheus Pacini

Eu aprecio o ensaio inicial do Sr. Wright e estou de acordo com porções substanciais dele.

Se nós arranjarmos as religiões ao longo de um espectro de mais para menos racional, a versão de catolicismo por ele apresentada está theist-vs-atheistentre as mais racionais. Muitos defensores e oponentes da religião são animados mais pela raiva, êxtase e outras forças psicológicas, as quais os tornam indispostos a raciocinar — seja para apresentar suas próprias visões de forma clara, ou para ouvir as visões do outro lado. O raciocínio pode ser uma atividade apaixonada ou desapaixonada, mas nenhum progresso individual ou social pode ser alcançado sem ele.

A meu ver, Mr. Wright e eu concordamos em colocar de lado diversas versões de Cristianismo — a de Tertuliano, “creio porque é absurdo”, a de Lutero, “a razão é a prostituta do diabo”, e a de Kierkegaard, “a fé requer a crucificação da razão”. E concordamos em focar na visão, bem expressada por Tomás de Aquino e outros, que a razão e a fé são duas formas legítimas e complementares de se alcançar um tipo de crença.

Não obstante, permitam-me focar nas minhas divergências substancias para com a posição do Sr. Wright, as quais são (1) que, em grande medida, pode ser demonstrado que a crença religiosa é racional, (2) que os argumentos demonstram um Deus monoteísta, e (3) que a fé é uma forma legítima de preencher a lacuna entre o que pode ser provado e um comprometimento total à crença religiosa.

Eu não acho que nenhuma das três partes supracitadas sejam verdadeiras. Parte 1 e 2 serão tratadas nos próximos artigos, quando debateremos os méritos dos argumentos em prol e contra a existência de Deus, portanto, permitam-me focar na parte 3.

Continue reading Católico vs. Ateu, Parte 2: Razão e fé são incompatíveis? [Portuguese translation]

Do we really live in a world of scarce resources? No. [Good Life series]

You’ve likely heard the Bad News: we are supposed to be running out of resources. As a result you are sometimes asked: will you continue use up resources selfishly — or are you willing to make sacrifices? Possibly you individually are a person of selfless virtue, but how likely is it that most other people will give up their consumerist lifestyles for the good of humanity? So, you are also asked, shouldn’t we empower the government to make some tough choices on behalf of future generations?

The Good News, though, is that the Bad News is almost always false — and a relic of pre-modern thinking. But the belief that we live in a world of scarce resources is still widespread and dangerous, as it sets us up for desperate measures. We must, some suggest, resort to lifeboat ethics. Perhaps the claim will be that we need to reduce the population, possibly even by imposed birth-control regulation or voluntary human extinction. Or perhaps we need to ration access to the dwindling resources so that only essentials are produced and only the most worthy get to consume them.

We are divided into Doomsters who are convinced that the end is nigh and Boomsters who see a present and future world of plenty.

One way to assess the scarce-resources claim is to look specifically at key resources: food, water, living space, wood, iron, oil, natural gas, bauxite, and so on. Are they scarce?

Start with your own home. It likely has running water and a stocked refrigerator. If you run low, there is a grocery store nearby. Even if you live in a modern city built in a desert — like Phoenix, Arizona — food and water are plentiful. (When was the last time that Phoenix’s grocery stores were without bread, meat, vegetables, or water, and Arizonans went hungry and thirsty?) Even in our poor neighborhoods, average heights and weights are increasing, a sign of better nutrition and food availability. Production has increased dramatically, and food is now so plentiful that we have the chubbiest poor people in history.

Continue reading Do we really live in a world of scarce resources? No. [Good Life series]

Does Martin Creed Speak for All of Us?

New York’s Park Avenue Armory’s current major exhibition is a retrospective of Martin’s Creed’s work over two decades. Viewers will experience films and installations of nipples stiffening and softening, flaccid penises firming, and a young woman squatting to defecate.creed,martin-nz One room’s back door opens and closes, inviting one to explore a small, dark opening.

The exhibition’s centerpiece, “Open and Closing Mouth,” is a film of an older woman, the artist’s mother, with her mouth opening to show a glob of creamy white stuff on her tongue.

Let’s set aside any “That’s not art!” indignations for now and take Mr. Creed as a serious man with a serious purpose. Art is a form of self-expression, he tells us. In his case, “it has to do with the horrible insides coming out.”

At the same time, art made public comes from a desire to generate experiences in its audience. The artist wants to express himself, of course, but he also wants you and me to have specific experiences—and he wants to express himself as a person who wants to make us have certain experiences. About his Turner Prize-winning The Lights Going On and Off, Mr. Creed says, “the real reason I made that work was because I loved switching the lights off and on to annoy people.”

Other works are darker and troubled evocations. There is “this monster inside me,” he tells us, which he both feels compelled to reveal and fears revealing. So the exhibition’s many metaphorical orifices ask us to peer into Mr. Creed’s soul and feel with him his dominating fears, guilts, and sicknesses.

Yet why should we care about Mr. Creed’s particular obsessions? Not to disparage the value of his products as a form of therapy and self-exploration—but why ought the rest of us devote our times to a sad sack who wants to annoy us?

Because he is not alone in the art world. And because its high custodians have told us that we ought to. The significance of the Turner Prize in Britain and a major retrospective at New York’s Armory is they are the art world’s stamps of high approval and an authoritative signal to the rest of us to pay attention.Martin-Creed-bd Mr. Creed matters as a symbol of our cultural leaders’ judgments of what is truly important.

His output does speak to the concerns of a generation or more, with nods to Tracey Emin’s semen-stained bedsheets, Eric Fischl’s Freudian-masturbatory children, Paul McCarthy’s animal buggery, and Millie Brown’s vomit creations. For decades now, these have been commended to our serious attention. And with good reason—for who can deny that the disturbed is part of the human condition?

At the same time, can we also deny that the art world seems to have been stuck for a long time in a few thematic ruts and to be missing major parts of the human story? Life expectancy has gone up dramatically over the last century and infant mortality rates have plummeted, meaning that more humans beings have gotten a chance at this fragile, precious thing called life. Human rights battles for women, racial and ethnic minorities, and gays have been engaged seriously and liberating victories have been won. Every year brings new scientific beauties and technological marvels, opening the universe for us to explore in unimagined ways.

While we all have our fears and dark anguishes, those advances too are a features of the human condition. And that is precisely where our artists most need to be with their creativity, sensitivity, and openness to experience the world as it really is.

Perhaps the symbolic lesson of Mr. Creed’s exhibition is that art is indeed a philosophical enterprise and always reflects its practitioners’ strongest beliefs and values. When will our contemporary art leadership open to embrace the human condition more fully and allow expressions of authentic human dignity and exuberance to occupy cultural space with equally authentic self-loathing and despair?

Stephen R. C. Hicks, Ph.D.

Stephen Hicks is professor of philosophy at Rockford University, Illinois, where he teaches courses in aesthetics and modern intellectual history.

Source: Frank Rose, “Martin Creed Unleashes His Demons in ‘Back Door’ at the Park Avenue Armory,The New York Times, June 7, 2016.

Related:

“Why Art Became Ugly”. Translations into German, Korean, Spanish, and Portuguese.

“Taking Modern Artists at Their Word”. Translation into Portuguese.

“The Most Important Artist of the Century”. Translation into Portuguese.

Lucros: bons, ruins e obscenos [Portuguese translation]

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[This is a Portuguese translation of “Profits: Good, Bad, and Obscene”, originally published in English at EveryJoe.]

Ninguém gosta de ter prejuízos, todavia, o lucro gera atitudes polarizadas. Como todos os fenômenos com alta carga moral — concorrência, riqueza, pobreza, propriedade — superar discussões muitas vezes confusas exige algumas distinções sutis.

Vamos abordar o lucro por meio de um exemplo de seu oposto — uma destruição acidental de propriedade. Suponha que, por imprudência minha, ocorra um incidente: cometo uma barbeiragem, e derrubo parte da cerca-viva e algumas flores do jardim de meu vizinho. O que deveria acontecer a seguir?

Obviamente, eu deveria assumir a responsabilidade por minhas ações, compensando-o por sua perda. Obtemos, assim, uma cotação de um paisagista (US$ 900) para restaurar o jardim, adicionando US$ 100 pelo incômodo e perda de tempo. Assim, eu lhe dou US$ 1000,00, o jardim é reparado, e a justiça compensatória foi alcançada.

Note que esse exemplo liga causa e efeito à responsabilidade e justiça.profit1

Continue reading Lucros: bons, ruins e obscenos [Portuguese translation]