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We publish here the presentation by Javier Tolcachier during the first session of the International Symposium “Towards the discovery of the Human”, organised by the World Centre of Humanist Studies, Latin American chapter, in Santiago, at the premises of the Chilean National Parliament.
“We thank the organisers for the opportunity to be here with you in this attempt to understand ourselves a little more, to learn more about ourselves. I thank you all for being here. Without your presence, our presence here would be pointless. I start in this way, rather bluntly, to focus and present an inescapable human trait, intersubjectivity.
This interpersonal and social way of being in the world is not merely about coexisting in separate still spaces together. On the contrary, intersubjectivity is a structure such that any changes to its interior transforms us, everything that moves in it, moves us.
This simple verification is temporarily clouded by an individualistic system that leads us to believe that each of us is absolutely independent, that our life is something exclusive and private. This sterile belief, whose evidences of inhumanity are apparent show us by the absurd that the human resides on the opposite side, in the connection with others, interdependence and solidarity. But this truth, as we shall see, is still partial and not enough to fully define what is human.
Before continuing with the presentation, it is necessary that we introduce to one another, and as the one standing here and talking I will be trying to look at things from the perspective of New Humanism or Universalist Humanism, it is imperative, then, to introduce the founder of this movement, the Master Silo.
In this very house, more than fourteen years ago, on the occasion of the founding ceremony of the Latin American Humanist Regional, our Italian Siloist friend Salvatore Puledda drew an emotional and very complete portrait of this extraordinary human being. Apart from enumerating some of the contributions from Silo to different fields of knowledge for the sake of a humanising transformation, he highlighted among his attributes the kindness, patience, good humour and compassion that characterised him. After describing Silo as a global thinker and mentioning his intellectual audacity and revolutionary drive, he ended this tribute by saying: “Silo is a guide, an initiated, someone who has a key to open the door to the world of the spirit.”
If anything can be added, we say that Silo is the living proof of how human actions can transcend, largely exceeding the narrow margins of corporeal existence. So, we welcome and thank the work of the Master, very much alive and present in this room!
In this city, on May 23, 1991, on the occasion of presenting his thought and literary work, perhaps alluding critically to the still prevailing Aristotelian view of the social and rational animal, Silo explained:
“For me it is insufficient the definition of man by his sociability as this does not make the distinction with numerous species; nor his capacity for work is characteristic, compared against the most powerful animals; even language defined in his essence, because we know codes and forms of communication between different animals. However, as each new human being finds themselves with a world changed by others and is constituted by such intentional world, I discover their ability to build and incorporate the temporal; I discover their historical and social dimension, not just social. As things stand, I can attempt a definition by saying: “Humans are historical beings whose mode of social action transforms their own nature” (end of the quote).
In another referential work, known as “About the Human”, Silo writes: “Well then, what is it that defines what is human as such, if not the reflection of the socio-historical as personal memory? Every animal is always the first animal, while every human being is his or her historical and social environment, along with a reflection of, and a contribution to, the transformation or inertia of that environment” (End of the quote).
But how can someone think about something? Let us amplify the problem: How can a being think about himself? And further still, how is that the same being can reflect on this matter of self-reflection?
To make this possible, there exists a need of a look that observes and something that is looked at by it. Unquestionably, we have to have a perspective between what is seen and the act of seeing, a distance. Thus we discover human interiority, that internal space in which all these phenomena operate.
And if the space exists, it will have different levels and depths. If we intend to discover what is human, we will have to remove what smudges our humanity; we must unveil it, opening any veil threatening to obscure it.
In this course, surely related to eidetic and transcendental reductions so dear to Platonism and phenomenology, we can immerse ourselves endlessly into the folds of our own humanity, perhaps reaching our essential Being. This path, perhaps complex in appearance, was made available by Silo to every human being with a simple question that anyone can ask daily. “Do not let your life pass by without asking: Who am I?” It is a suggestion that confronts us with the evidence of our interiority, suddenly clearing the illusion of confusion about what is human that reduces it to mere physicality.
In that inner spatiality, we see how the memory of the human process emerges with the force of centuries, the historical accumulation that successive generations have built and which is already part of ourselves in the very moment we are born. As we dive into the experience of temporality, we see emerge an even stronger certainty. Our life is oriented toward the future. The intentionality that characterises our consciousness tends permanently towards an endless search of mental objects to satiate the thirst for growth and evolution. In this projection, overcoming difficulties and resistances, we find the need for freedom from oppressive conditions, overcoming pain and suffering, and rebellion against finitude as the most prominent motor. I then ask: Where am I going, where are we going?
In that journey from the natural and conditioned to the creative and indeterminate, I see the emergence of transforming beings that also become transformed by their actions. I see also emerge that horizon that gives meaning to human life, that in us which moves towards freedom.
Violence is the denial of the possibility of such liberation in the other and in oneself. Violence, which still exists, shows us that we are a species still in process that will find a higher destiny by rejecting, resisting, discarding and surpassing the violent act. Violence in any form is the expression of antihumanism. The subjugation of humanity is always a source of violence and we must warn that such subjugation always begins with the degradation of humanity, whether subtle or coarse.
Hence there is no other way to discover the human but to place it as the central value and social concerns, giving every human being without distinction of any kind, without delays, or justification, the option to reach their highest dignity and fulfilment: being happy, helpful and free.
To the human in us, then, I address these beautiful words by Silo, “I sense in you the liberty and the possibility of your constituting yourself as a human being, and in you my acts find the liberty at which they aim. And so, not even your death can halt the actions you set in motion, because you are in essence time and liberty.
What I love in the human being, then, is its growing humanization. And in these times of crisis, reification, and dehumanization, I love the possibility of the human being’s future vindication. ”
That is all, thank you very much.