Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociais

Revista Brasileira de Ciências Sociaisversão On-line ISSN 1806-9053

Rev. bras. Ci. Soc. vol.32 no.93 São Paulo  2017

 Artigos Originais
Silva, Josué Pereira da

        · resumo em Português | Inglês | Francês     · texto em Português     · Português ( pdf )
·  “VAMOS LUTAR, PARENTES!” As candidaturas indígenas nas eleições de 2014 no Brasil
Codato, Adriano; Lobato, Tiemi; Castro, Andréa Oliveira

        · resumo em Português | Inglês | Francês     · texto em Português     · Português ( pdf )
Miguel, Luis Felipe

        · resumo em Português | Inglês | Francês     · texto em Português     · Português ( pdf )
Avelino, Nildo

        · resumo em Português | Inglês | Francês     · texto em Português     · Português ( pdf )
Gonçalves, João Felipe

        · resumo em Português | Inglês | Francês     · texto em Português     · Português ( pdf )
·  CONFLITOS DE PRESSUPOSTOS NA ANTROPOLOGIA DA ARTE: Relações entre pessoas, coisas e imagens
Cesarino, Pedro

        · resumo em Português | Inglês | Francês     · texto em Português     · Português ( pdf )
Petta, De Leon

        · resumo em Português | Inglês | Francês     · texto em Português     · Português ( pdf )
Lacerda, Fabio

        · resumo em Português | Inglês | Francês     · texto em Inglês     · Inglês ( pdf )
Machado, Carly

        · resumo em Português | Inglês | Francês     · texto em Português     · Português ( pdf )
Moreira, Constanza

        · resumo em Português | Espanhol | Inglês | Francês     · texto em Espanhol     · Espanhol ( pdf )
Schlegel, Rogerio

        · resumo em Português | Inglês | Francês     · texto em Português     · Português ( pdf )
·  Reconfigurações da sociologia francesa contemporânea (1960-2000)
Martins, Carlos Benedito

        · texto em Português     · Português ( pdf )
·  Demência(s), em imagens, narrativas e experiências
Feriani, Daniela

        · texto em Português     · Português ( pdf )
·  O pensamento revolucionário de Nicolau Maquiavel
Mussi, Daniela

        · texto em Português     · Português ( pdf )
·  Mídias participativas e violências extremas: uma etnografia on-line dos tiroteios em escolas
Rodrigues, Tiago Hyra

        · texto em Português     · Português ( pdf )
·  Errata: Pós-graduação em relações internacionais no Brasil: anotações sobre sua institucionalização

        · texto em Português     · Português ( pdf )
·  Errata: CIÊNCIA E MERCADO Impasses na institucionalização de práticas empreendedoras em uma universidade pública brasileira

        · texto em Português     · Português ( pdf )

How we lost the world-changing power of useless knowledge


15 March 2017

Intellectual freedom was the founding principle of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton – something we lack the confidence to do now, show two new books

geezers in old pic
Luminaries at the Institute for Advanced Study in the 1930s

Photographer unknown. From the Shelby White and Leon Levy Archives

IN 1930, the US educator Abraham Flexner set up the Institute for Advanced Study, an independent research centre in Princeton, New Jersey, where leading lights as diverse as Albert Einstein and T. S. Eliot could pursue their studies, free from everyday pressures.

For Flexner, the world was richer than the imagination could conceive and wider than ambition could encompass. The universe was full of gifts and this was why pure, “blue sky” research could not help but turn up practical results now and again, of a sort quite impossible to plan for.

So, in his 1939 essay “The usefulness of useless knowledge”, Flexner listed a few of the practical gains that have sprung from what we might, with care, term scholastic noodling. Electromagnetism was his favourite. We might add quantum physics.

Even as his institute opened its doors, the world’s biggest planned economy, the Soviet Union, was conducting a grand and opposite experiment, harnessing all the sciences for their immediate utility and problem-solving ability.

During the cold war, the vast majority of Soviet scientists were reduced to mediocrity, given only sharply defined engineering problems to solve. Flexner’s better-known affiliates, meanwhile, garnered reputations akin to those enjoyed by other mascots of Western intellectual liberty: abstract-expressionist artists and jazz musicians.

At a time when academia is once again under pressure to account for itself, the Princeton University Press reprint of Flexner’s essay is timely. Its preface, however, is another matter. Written by current institute director Robbert Dijkgraaf, it exposes our utterly instrumental times. For example, he employs junk metrics such as “more than half of all economic growth comes from innovation”. What for Flexner was a rather sardonic nod to the bottom line, has become for Dijkgraaf the entire argument – as though “pure research” simply meant “long-term investment”, and civic support came not from existential confidence and intellectual curiosity, but from scientists “sharing the latest discoveries and personal stories”. So much for escaping quotidian demands.

“The structures throttling today’s scholars come not from Soviet-style planning, but market principles”

We do not know what the tightening of funding for scientific research that has taken place over the past 40 years would have done for Flexner’s own sense of noblesse oblige. But this we can be sure of: utilitarian approaches to higher education are dominant now, to the point of monopoly. The administrative burdens and stultifying oversight structures throttling today’s scholars come not from Soviet-style central planning, but from the application of market principles – an irony that the sociologist Lawrence Busch explores exhaustively in his monograph Knowledge for Sale.

Busch explains how the first neo-liberal thinkers sought to prevent the rise of totalitarian regimes by replacing governance with markets. Those thinkers believed that markets were safer than governments because they were cybernetic and so corrected themselves. Right?

Wrong: Busch provides ghastly disproofs of this neo-liberal vision from within the hall of academe, from bad habits such as a focus on counting citations and publication output, through fraud, to existential crises such as the shift in the ideal of education from a public to a private good. But if our ingenious, post-war market solution to the totalitarian nightmare of the 1940s has itself turned out to be a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity (as journalist Matt Taibbi once described investment bank Goldman Sachs), where have we left to go?

Flexner’s solution requires from us a confidence that is hard to muster right now. We have to remember that the point of study is not to power, enable, de-glitch or otherwise save civilisation. The point of study is to create a civilisation worth saving.

The Usefulness of Useless Knowledge

Abraham Flexner, companion essay by Robbert Dijkgraaf

Princeton University Press

This article appeared in print under the headline “The power of useless”|NSNS|2017-Echobox#link_time=1489919367

Robots, aliens, corporate drones – who will be the citizens of the future?

In the 1940s, science fiction author Olaf Stapledon gave a talk to a school about the future. Addressing his audience as “you citizens of the future”, he proposed three visions for this future: the “destruction of the human race”, a “worldwide police state”, and “an entirely new kind of human world”.

Citizenship will not be such an important issue if Stapledon’s first vision comes to pass. But any future in which humans persevere or flourish will be accompanied by a repeated need to reassess what a citizen is. As we increasingly consider what and where we are citizens of in the face of recent political events in Britain and America, what “citizens of the future” might look like takes on new resonance. And it’s something that science fiction has long imagined.

Citizenship obviously has different meanings. Etymologically, it implies the inhabitant of a city, but its connotations cut across legal, geographical, cultural and racial senses. Nobody necessarily agrees on what citizenship is, let alone who should have it. This is further compounded when we consider who the citizens of the future might be, from the “next generations” of children and grandchildren, to questions around the political, economic and geographical landscapes that will redefine current debates about citizenship.

Who will inhabit our future cities? Shutterstock

Citizens in space

The most common science fiction setting – space – is the site of one such redefinition, as humanity expands into the universe. This is something of a stalwart of science fiction from Star Wars (the Empire and the Galactic Senate) to Star Trek (the United Federation of Planets). In both cases, humans and aliens are part of the same political organisations. In Star Trek especially, the different series examine the various tensions surrounding Federation membership, from the inclusion of the Klingon Empire in The Next Generation to the founding of the Federation in Enterprise.

Even without aliens, science fiction has examined how humanity might be governed as it colonises space. One of the most explicitly political of such works is James SA Corey’s recently adapted Expanse series.

The Expanse sets the United Nations (as the governing body of Earth) against the Martian Congressional Republic and a “terrorist” Outer Planets Alliance. Here, a corollary between citizenship and colonialism comes to the fore. Citizens of the Belt imagine themselves to be citizens of one place (the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter) but are in fact governed by Earth, Mars and corporations based on those planets.

World citizens

Much science fiction imagines some such incarnation of a “world citizen”, often emerging from space colonisation and a decline of national borders. Some examples of “post-nation-state” science fiction are concerned with the rise of mega-corporations (such as William Gibson’s early cyberpunk fiction or Continuum). Others explore the increasing homogenisation of humanity, as racial characteristics (broadly identified) become mixed across large sections of the population.

World citizenship isn’t necessarily imagined as a consumer hell or socialist paradise. One of the most famous, and perhaps provocative, examples of global citizenship in science fiction is the one portrayed in Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. Heinlein’s “citizens” are the opposite of civilians. In this novel, citizenship equates to being given the right to vote in the State (the Terran Federation) and is only earned via federal service.

In effect, Heinlein seems to be advocating limiting the right to vote to those who serve the State and, given that this service is often military, for many readers Heinlein’s sense of “world citizenship” is quasi-fascistic. Heinlein justifies this militaristic “citizen of the world” by the existence of an outside enemy — the Bugs. So citizenship here remains a case of “us” and “them”: what unites the world and humanity is a shared enemy beyond the State.

Us and them

Some authors are more overt about the ways in which the concept of citizenship can itself be redefined. In Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead – the sequel to his famous Ender’s Game – he introduces the Hierarchy of Exclusion, a framework that determines how “foreign” other nations, planetary populations, and species are. The Hierarchy of Exclusion codifies the ways in which categories of “us” and “them” are decided, and as one of his (alien) characters comes to realise, “the tribe is whatever we believe it is”.

Another recent example is Ann Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, which underscores what happens when any particular racial or cultural imperative, whether a notion of “the human” or being born within a particular caste, comes to stand as a measure of citizenship. In her novel, she equates the struggle of a colony planet seeking independence from the empire with an Artificial Intelligence (AI) seeking to obtain its own legal identity. Both cases revolve around notions of citizenship, which Leckie rather cannily reframes in terms of “Significant Beings”.

What might citizenship look like for an AI? Shutterstock

Back to reality

Given Leckie’s narrative of AI rights, recent proposals for European legislation to reconsider the legal status of robots seem strangely relevant, even if truly autonomous machines do not exist yet. While much of the draft report is concerned with legal liability, section 32f looks to the future:

The most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons with specific rights and obligations.

As The Independent reported, this implies that a robot could be legally a citizen. Yet in the same report, the committee advocates that designers include “opt-out mechanisms (kill switches)”. This creates a potential situation where an “electronic person” could be programmed with a kill switch – surely a somewhat self-contradictory gift of citizenship?

So where does all this leave the notion of “citizens of the future”? Aliens — in both senses — can become citizens (if our understanding of citizenship shifts), as can robots (if we have the means to kill them). But citizenship depends, it seems, as ever upon who we call “us” and who we call “them” – citizenship understood as an exclusive club.

Elsewhere in his writings, Stapledon counselled himself to “think cosmopolitanly” – that is, to think inclusively, outside of national and even anthropocentric structures. As citizens of Stapledon’s future, it seems we are still failing to consider citizenship in such innovative terms, even now. For all the speculations inherent to the field of science fiction, it appears that we still often limit ourselves, even in our imaginations, to a moribund sense of citizenship.

This article was written as part of the Citizens of Everywhere project, organised by the Centre for New and International Writing at the University of Liverpool. @CitizensofWhere #CitizensofEverywhere.

Do We Have the Right to Visit Inhabited Planets? Carl Sagan Said, “No”

  • October 12, 2016

by Scotty Hendricks


Mars has captivated humanity since the time of ancient Babylonian astronomers. In the modern era, the idea of life on Mars has been a focus of such great minds as H.G. Wells, Carl Sagan, and David Bowie. As Big Think has mentioned in the last week or two, plans are underway to take humanity to Mars within the next two decades. President Obama has even channeled John F. Kennedy in his recent endorsement of sending a person to Mars and “returning them safely to the Earth”.

There is no shortage of people who want us to get to Mars, but less noticed among them are the people who ask, “Should we go?”. While the reasons that would compel us to go to Mars are many and substantial there is a vital question that must be considered.

What if there is already life on Mars? Should we still go if there is?

Suppose for a moment that we discovered tomorrow that there was life on Mars, most certainly it would be limited to microscopic life, but it would still be life. It would be the most significant discovery in the history of science. Would mankind be entitled to colonize Mars in this case? Could we claim it was still moral to do so?

One of the greatest advocates of space exploration in the 20th century, Carl Sagan, said no. In the chapter ‘Blues for a Red Planet’ in his book Cosmos, he discusses the idea fully: “If there is life on Mars, I believe we should do nothing with Mars. Mars then belongs to the Martians, even if the Martians are only microbes.” When he wrote that in 1980, inconclusive evidence on such life being on Mars from the Viking landers made his statement incredibly relevant.

While we might consider the idea of life on Mars less likely than he did, the question he tries to answer remains important. Especially when mankind moves beyond Mars and towards other candidates for life harboring worlds such as EuropaTitan, or Enceladus.

Sagan was opposed to anthropocentrism, the belief that humans are exceptional or otherwise extremely significant, both on Earth and in the universe. In defending the rights of Martian microbes to their planet, Sagan suggests that all life has great value and that our ability to get to Mars does not constitute a right to colonize it. His position was reflected here on Earth through his support of the Cornell Students for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, as their faculty advisor.

On the other hand, the argument could be made that the life we are most likely to find on Mars, if any, would be microbial and thus perhaps not entitled to any special rights. After all, who cares for the rights of microbes on Earth?

Consider a few methods of deciding who has certain rights in modern philosophy. They tend to run into the issue of anthropocentrism, and find it difficult to protect the rights, if any, of non-human life. Microbes get left out entirely.

James Griffin’s idea of human rights is based on the notion of Normative Agency, our ability to design and act on a plan of life, and could only be fully applied to humanity at this time. Even if you were to scale rights down with the ability of an animal to use said agency, microbes would be left with nothing.

Kant’s notion of Autonomy is also difficult to apply to anything less intelligent than a human. While it would be possible to support a maxim that respects all life rather than just humanity using his ethics, Kant still relies on the ability of a moral agent to reason, which we generally don’t consider microbes to be able to do. John Rawls, in his Kantian masterpiece A Theory of Justice, excludes animals from having “rights” because of this. In all of his works, he never suggests we owe non-human life anything more than a guarantee to avoid cruelty. His concern for microbes could be considered minimal.

John Stuart Mill’s Utilitarianism perhaps demands that we do invade Mars, as he places the happiness of a human at a much higher value than that of a lower life form. Stating in his classic text Utilitarianism: “it is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question.” The promotion of the total happiness then, calls for us to ignore the risks to microbial life on Mars.

Of course, the opponents of anthropocentrism could point out, perhaps accurately, that humans have a tendency to place high value on traits that they have a monopoly on. When happiness is discussed, we even claim access to a higher form of it. Perhaps we are biased towards our own virtues and value. After all, wouldn’t intelligent eagles value the power of flight and keen vision over having thumbs?

So, should we go to Mars? Or is Mars for the Martians, if any? The question of if there ever was life on Mars to begin with must be resolved first. When it is resolved, we are still faced with the issue of life on other worlds we desire to travel to. Should we invoke the Prime Directive of the Federation when exploring the heavens, or brush aside the bacterium of the cosmos? The philosophical jury is still out.

In a robot showdown, humanity may happily surrender

March 9

Matthew Hutson is a science and technology writer and the author of “The 7 Laws of Magical Thinking.”

Many people fear that the path of artificial intelligence will eventually lead to a standoff between humans and machines, with humans as the underdogs. Confrontation looms in the forecasts of futurists and in the narratives of science fiction movies such as “The Matrix,” “The Terminator” and “Westworld.” But there’s another way our demise could go down. We could begin wondering what makes people so special, anyway, and willingly give up the title of supreme species — or even the preservation of humanity altogether. This is the path explored by historian Yuval Noah Harari in his new book, “Homo Deus.” There’s no need for a Terminator to come after us when, instead of fighting the network in the sky, we assimilate into it.

At stake is the religion of humanism. Whereas theists worship gods, humanists worship humans. Harari, whose previous book, “Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind,” foreshadows this one, defines religion as any system of thought that sees certain values as having legitimacy independent of people. “Thou shalt not kill” derives its force from God, not from the mortal Moses. Similarly, humanists believe in “human rights” as things earned automatically from the universe, whatever anyone else says. The right not to be tortured or enslaved exists outside human convention. (Philosophers call this bit of magical thinking moral realism.)

We may take for granted the right not to be tortured or enslaved — or various other humanist doctrines, such as the idea that we’re all inherently valuable individuals with the free will to express our authentic selves — but we have not always done so. People were seen as property even well after that bit about “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” was inked to parchment. As Harari argues, we’ve lived with alternatives to humanism, and we can again. And ironically, he writes, “the rise of humanism also contains the seeds of its downfall.”

That’s kind of a fudge, one of a few in the book. It’s not the humanist revolution per se that planted those poison seeds. It’s more the (somewhat symbiotic) scientific revolution. You don’t need universal rights to study electricity and invent computers. Or to apply our inventions toward the evergreen pursuits of health, happiness and control over nature (or as Harari calls them, “immortality, bliss and divinity”). Nevertheless, scientific and technological progress might eventually undermine the humanist ethos.

On the scientific front, research is pushing back on the idea of free will (as philosophers have for ages). The more we can explain human behavior with neuroscience and psychology, the less room there is for some magical human soul.

Meanwhile, artificial intelligence is rendering us useless, taking the jobs of taxi drivers, factory workers, stock traders, lawyers, teachers, doctors and “Jeopardy!” contestants. And, Harari argues, liberal humanism rose on the back of human usefulness. It advanced not on moral grounds but on economic and military grounds. Countries such as France offered dignity to all in exchange for service to the nation. “Is it a coincidence,” Harari asks, “that universal rights were proclaimed at the precise historical juncture when universal conscription was decreed?” But with robots making and killing things better than we can, who needs people? Intelligence will matter more than consciousness. “What’s so sacred about useless bums who pass their days devouring artificial experiences” in virtual reality?

Even if the human species does continue to serve the system meaningfully, we might not matter as individuals. Harari suggests that algorithms might get to know us better than we know ourselves. As they collect data on our Web searches, exercise routines and much more, they’ll be able to tell us whom we should date and how we should vote. We may happily take their advice, literally ceding democracy to databases. Once our authentic, enigmatic, indivisible selves are exposed as mere predictable computations — not just by philosophers and scientists but by our every interaction with the world — the fiction of free will might finally unravel. (Personally, I’m not sure our brains will allow this.) We’ll enlist as mere specialized processors in the global cyborganic network.

Harari presents three possible futures. In one, humans are expendable. In a second, the elite upgrade themselves, becoming essentially another species that sees everyone else as expendable. In a third, we join the hive mind, worshiping data over individuals (or God). “Connecting to the system becomes the source of all meaning,” he writes. In any case, he says convincingly, “the most interesting place in the world from a religious perspective is not the Islamic State or the Bible Belt, but Silicon Valley.”

I enjoyed reading about these topics not from another futurist but from a historian, contextualizing our current ways of thinking amid humanity’s long march — especially a historian with Harari’s ability to capsulize big ideas memorably and mingle them with a light, dry humor.


In “Homo Deus,” Harari offers not just history lessons but a meta-history lesson. In school, history was my least favorite subject. I preferred science, which offered abstract laws useful for predicting new outcomes. History seemed a melange of happenstance and contingency retroactively cobbled into stories. If history’s arcs were more Newtonian, we’d be better at predicting elections.

Harari points to an opposing goal of his field. He writes that “studying history aims to loosen the grip of the past,” showing that “our present situation is neither natural nor eternal.” In other words, it emphasizes happenstance. That’s a useful tactic for the oppressed fighting the status quo. It’s also a useful exercise for those who see the technological singularity as a given. We have options.

It’s possible we’ll choose to avoid our loss of values. On the other hand, it’s possible we’ll choose to accelerate it. Harari, a vegan who disputes humanity’s reserved seat atop the great chain of being, briefly ponders this option: “Maybe the collapse of humanism will also be beneficial.” Indeed, don’t we owe a chance to animals and androids, too?

Homo Deus
A Brief History of Tomorrow

By Yuval Noah Harari

Harper. 449 pp. $35

“Ainda nos restam as pequenas utopias que nos ajudam a viver”

Quem diz é o filósofo espanhol Francisco Jarauta. No mundo de hoje, nada é como era antes. É um laboratório onde todos os modelos políticos, éticos e morais precisam ser repensados


Poucos filósofos contemporâneos conhecem tanto quanto Francisco Jarauta, catedrático de filosofia da Universidade de Múrcia, antropólogo e especialista em História da Arte, os desafios e as complexidades de uma sociedade globalizada em que, diz ele, “todas as certezas do passado voaram pelos ares ao mesmo tempo”.

Ele considera que, se as grandes utopias morreram, ainda nos restam “as pequenas utopias, as que nos ajudam a viver o cotidiano”, como a de poder morar em um bairro onde todos se conheçam e sejam solidários uns com os outros, ou a da busca pelo tempo livre e pelo silêncio criativo. A pequena utopia da amizade, ou aquela capaz de transformar nosso trabalho e nossos sonhos em fruição, em vez de pesadelos e escravidão.

Para o filósofo, a emergência do Outro está se transformando em um laboratório onde “nossos modelos políticos, éticos e morais precisam ser repensados”.

Como diretor do Conselho Científico do Instituto Europeu de Design (IED) da Espanha, e membro do Conselho Internacional do Grupo IED, hoje presente também no Brasil, com unidades no Rio e em São Paulo, Jarauta, que ensina em várias instituições universitárias do mundo, se nutre da experiência desses milhares de estudantes que formam um caleidoscópio cosmopolita das tendências que estão forjando a nova civilização.

A esses jovens, que estão se graduando em design industrial e gráfico, e como novos estilistas de moda, Jarauta surpreende e estimula com suas metáforas e paradoxos. Como quando lhes diz que “somos nossas próprias perguntas”, para acrescentar em seguida que “a intensidade dos fatos condena essas perguntas ao silêncio”.

Escrutinador do caminho por onde vai a nova civilização, Jarauta é também um intelectual que gosta de tomar o pulso da humanidade. Depois de uma viagem recente a um campo de refugiados na Grécia, declarou ao jornal O Globo que o mais urgente hoje é “reconstruir o coração da humanidade”.

Para isso, afirma, “é preciso caminhar pela viagem da vida”, onde existe a dor, a crueldade, a cegueira ante as tragédias como as dos refugiados e imigrantes, “esses novos párias da história”.

Em sua conversa, que tínhamos interrompido durante muitos anos, desde nossos encontros no IED de Madri, ressalta que “estamos na era do ‘pós’: a pós-verdade, a pós-democracia, a pós-política, a pós-modernidade a pós-identidade. Nada é mais como ontem”.

Diz “que temos de nos debruçar na janela do mundo para ver o que se está passando e o que está chegando”. Vivemos não só no mundo da velocidade, mas naquele em que “as geografias se deslocaram e os espaços e as distâncias desapareceram”. Um jovem estudante de Cingapura se encontra em poucas horas com um do Rio e é como se fossem do mesmo bairro. A globalização os transforma em contemporâneos.

Isso leva a um “inevitável processo de miscigenação cultural”, à nova “sociedade da rede”, onde todos nos comunicamos, misturamos, contagiamos e recriamos. Aí reside o verdadeiro futuro.

O que chamamos de crise na realidade significa que todas as velhas definições do saber e da cultura estão morrendo, assim como as velhas profissões. A neociência já está sendo criada fora das universidades clássicas, muitas delas ainda de “formato medieval”.

Nada mais está petrificado nem prefigurado. Saltam pelos ares as definições do passado. O que é a filosofia hoje, a política, a arte? O que é o design em uma sociedade pós-industrial? “Já não é a pura fabricação de objetos para o consumo e o mercado”, diz o filósofo.

É muito mais: “O design se transformou, por exemplo, em um dos instrumentos básicos na hora de definir as novas formas da cultura. Pertence, por direito próprio, ao mundo do projeto, capaz de transformar os gostos, as formas de percepção das coisas e as novas necessidades das pessoas”.

Para tentar apreender o mundo em ebulição, torna-se cada vez mais atual, diz Jarauta, o estudo das tendências. É preciso saber, como os antigos radioestesistas, detectar os mananciais que correm sob nossos pés. Temos que ser “mergulhadores do novo”.

Os jovens, mais que ninguém, necessitam hoje, segundo o filósofo, nutrir-se da certeza de que o mundo novo que os espera não só não lhes será hostil, mas lhes “permitirá participar para dar-lhe nome e sentido”.

New Theory Suggests Religion May Have Been Responsible for Social Evolution

01 Mar 2017

Posted by Nathan Glover AddThis Sharing Buttons

Dunbar supports his theory by stating that humans needed something to stop them from killing and hurting each other and religion provided the necessary logic by presenting the idea that all humans were part of one family.

The evolutionary psychology professor, who teaches at Oxford University, had previously earned fame for his research on animal social networks. He found each species of primate was able to form and hold a social bond with other members of its own species. He also found the larger the brain of a certain primate species, the more social networks this species formed. For example, apes were better at forming social bonds compared to monkeys.

Similarly, Dunbar discovered humans were the most capable in terms of maintaining social relationships. In fact, he is the founder of “Dunbar’s number,” a construct which is used in reference to the consistent number of social ties a human being can maintain. According to Dunbar’s n umber, the average human can maintain ties with 5 intimate friends, 50 good friends, 150 friends, and 1,500 acquaintances.

In his recent quest to determine why the numbers were so significantly high for humans, he believes to have found his answer in religion. According to Dunbar, most of his observations pointed to religion in one form or the other.

This is in line with what neuroscientists have recently begun stating – that religion is natural. Now, with Dunbar’s hypothesis, it would make sense why most people are religious. After all, it could have laid the foundation for all of society’s most important functions.

Dunbar has conducted other studies where he found laughter and singing to be the two other key components involved in the development of social relationships. Religion is the third component that the scientist is trying to unravel.

Dunbar states that all three components trigger what is known as an endorphin release within the body, which leads to bonding. However, the role of religion will be explored further only in April. The scientist expects to see conclusive results within a period of three years. The study will rely on an “evolutionary tree of religion” to determine when religious traditions came about and how they became connected with each other.

Read more at World Religion News: “New Theory Suggests Religion May Have Been Responsible for Social Evolution”

If We Are Not Just Animals, What Are We?

From the exhibition, “Marina Abramovic, The Artist is Present,” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2010. Credit Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

Philosophers and theologians in the Christian tradition have regarded human beings as distinguished from the other animals by the presence within them of a divine spark. This inner source of illumination, the soul, can never be grasped from outside, and is in some way detached from the natural order, maybe taking wing for some supernatural place when the body collapses and dies.

Recent advances in genetics, neuroscience and evolutionary psychology have all but killed off that idea. But they have raised the question of what to put in its place. For quite clearly, although we are animals, bound in the web of causality that joins us to the zoosphere, we are not just animals.

There is something in the human condition that suggests the need for special treatment. Almost all people believe that it is a crime to kill an innocent human, but not to kill an innocent tapeworm. And almost all people regard tapeworms as incapable of innocence in any case — not because they are always guilty, but because the distinction between innocent and guilty does not apply to them. They are the wrong kind of thing.

We, however, are the right kind of thing. So what kind is that? Do any other beings, animal or otherwise, belong to it? And what follows? These questions lie at the center of philosophical inquiry today, as they have since the ancient Greeks. In a thousand ways we distinguish people from the rest of nature, and build our life accordingly. We believe that people have rights, that they are sovereign over their lives, and that those who live by enslaving or abusing others are denying their own humanity. Surely there is a foundation for those beliefs, just as there is a foundation for all the moral, legal, artistic and spiritual traditions that take the distinctiveness of human life as their starting point.

If, as many people believe, there is a God, and that God made us in his own image, then of course we are distinct from nature, just as He is. But talk of God’s image is a metaphor for the very fact that we need to explain, namely that we treat the human being as a thing apart, a thing protected by a sacred aura — in short, not a thing at all, but a person.

Much 20th-century philosophy is addressed to the question of how to define this fact in secular terms, without drawing on religious ideas. When Sartre and Merleau-Ponty write of “le regard” — the look — and Emmanuel Levinas of the face, they are describing the way in which human beings stand out from their surroundings and address one another with absolute demands of which no mere thing could be an object. Wittgenstein makes a similar point by describing the face as the soul of the body, as does Elizabeth Anscombe in describing the mark of intentional action as the applicability of a certain sense of the question “Why?”

Human beings live in mutual accountability, each answerable to the other and each the object of judgment. The eyes of others address us with an unavoidable question, the question “why?” On this fact is built the edifice of rights and duties. And this, in the end, is what our freedom consists in — the responsibility to account for what we do.

Evolutionary psychologists tell another story. Morality, they argue, is an adaptation. If organisms compete for resources, then a strategy of cooperation will be more successful in the long run than a strategy of pure selfishness. Hence cooperative features of an organism will be selected over time. And all that is special in the human condition can be understood in this way — as the outcome of a long process of adaptation that has conferred on us the insuperable advantage of morality, whereby we can resolve our conflicts without fighting and adjust to the demands that assail us from every side.

The astonishing moral equipment of the human being — including rights and duties, personal obligations, justice, resentment, judgment, forgiveness — is the deposit left by millenniums of conflict. Morality is like a field of flowers beneath which the corpses are piled in a thousand layers. It is an evolved mechanism whereby the human organism proceeds through life sustained on every side by bonds of mutual interest.

I am fairly confident that the picture painted by the evolutionary psychologists is true. But I am also confident that it is not the whole truth, and that it leaves out of account precisely the most important thing, which is the human subject. We human beings do not see one another as animals see one another, as fellow members of a species. We relate to one another not as objects but as subjects, as creatures who address one another “I” to “you” — a point made central to the human condition by Martin Buber, in his celebrated mystical meditation “I and Thou.”

We understand ourselves in the first person, and because of this we address our remarks, actions and emotions not to the bodies of other people but to the words and looks that originate on the subjective horizon where they alone can stand.

This mysterious fact is reflected at every level in our language, and is at the root of many paradoxes. When I talk about myself in the first person, I utter propositions that I assert on no basis and about which, in a vast number of cases, I cannot be wrong. But I can be wholly mistaken about this human being who is doing the speaking. So how can I be sure that I am talking about that very human being? How do I know, for example, that I am Roger Scruton and not David Cameron suffering from delusions of grandeur?

To cut the story short: By speaking in the first person we can make statements about ourselves, answer questions, and engage in reasoning and advice in ways that bypass all the normal methods of discovery. As a result, we can participate in dialogues founded on the assurance that, when you and I both speak sincerely, what we say is trustworthy: We are “speaking our minds.” This is the heart of the I-You encounter.

Hence as persons we inhabit a life-world that is not reducible to the world of nature, any more than the life in a painting is reducible to the lines and pigments from which it is composed. If that is true, then there is something left for philosophy to do, by way of making sense of the human condition. Philosophy has the task of describing the world in which we live — not the world as science describes it, but the world as it is represented in our mutual dealings, a world organized by language, in which we meet one another I to I.

Empresas buscam o funcionário digital

Trabalhos do futuro terão um componente digital e serão focados na criatividade

Em 2012, a plataforma de fotografias Instagram foi vendida por um bilhão de dólares. Tinha 13 funcionários fixos (e 30 milhões de usuários). Naquele mesmo ano, mais de 18.000 empresas desapareceram, e 250.000 empregos em tempo integral sumiram do mapa. São as mutações do presente e, ao que parece, também do futuro.

Os economistas Carl Benedikt Frey e Michael Osborne, da Universidade Oxford, lançaram um alerta, no ano passado, segundo o qual 47% das funções correm o risco de desaparecer sob a ditadura da tecnologia, que imporá o uso de robôs, tese a que se contrapõem, no entanto, outros especialistas e instituições, como a OCDE, para a qual somente 9% das funções atuais estão em via de extinção. Algumas pesquisas, por outro lado, se apoiam no chamado paradoxo de Solow, pelo qual as novas tecnologias não produzem efeito sobre a produtividade porque requerem investimentos que obedecem a exigências de rentabilidade muito elevadas. Em resumo, o mundo pode estar vivendo uma ilusão, mas, mesmo assim, não é capaz de vencer o medo de que a tecnologia acabe com o trabalho das pessoas.

Ela realmente fará isso? Qualquer resposta acabada para essa questão seria tão digna de credibilidade quanto um horóscopo. O único ponto com o qual os quinze especialistas consultados pelo EL PAÍS estão de acordo é que o trabalho se transforma. E o faz muito rapidamente. A EAE Business School acaba de publicar um estudo mostrando que os postos de trabalho com maior necessidade por parte das grandes empresas dentro de dois ou três anos serão, por ordem de prioridade, os seguintes: especialista em análise de dados, engenheiro de informática, responsável por estratégia digital e comercial (digital). Bem precisamente. “Os dois grupos mais assinalados, com muita clareza, são os que têm a ver com comércio e tecnologia. O Big Data ocupava em 2014 a vigésima posição e já subiu para a primeira”, observa Pilar Llácer, coordenadora do estudo.

O sobrenome “digital” é a nova grande aposta. “Todos os postos relacionados a tecnologia e que serão mais procurados foram criados recentemente”, diz. É a transformação das profissões abraçadas pela vida inteira, como a do responsável de vendas, que terá de fidelizar um consumidor do qual desconhece o rosto, em um ambiente online. Várias outras funções ainda serão criadas, pois, assim como o aplicativo de mensagens WhatsApp não existia oito anos atrás, outras tecnologias e programas hoje desconhecidos surgirão, “exigindo novos conhecimentos”, acrescenta Llácer.

Na InfoJobs, maior plataforma digital de intercâmbio de ofertas, sabe-se que as funções mais requisitadas neste momento são as chamadas transversais: aquelas de que todas as empresas precisam. “Perfis que se encaixam nas categorias comerciais e de vendas; informática; telecomunicações e atendimento ao cliente, que reúnem 56% do total de vagas oferecidas”, conta Dominique Cerri, sua diretora. Nos últimos anos, houve uma explosão do fenômeno digital, notadamente em cargos como programador, especialista em Big Data, HTML5, desenvolvedor de aplicativos móveis ou na nuvem, ou especialista em redes sociais. Por outro lado, determinados cargos, devido à sua grande quantidade disponível e baixa procura, constituem excelente oportunidade de emprego e um bom caminho para quem pretende buscar uma orientação no mercado de trabalho que se desenha para o futuro: procuram-se programadores em linguagens como J2EE, Oracle, Java, Net, Abap ou Cobol, arquitetos de informática, programadores de aplicativos móveis ou consultores de energia. “Todos eles, com exceção do último, ligado a energias renováveis, têm a ver com tecnologia”.

Robótica, inteligência artificial, segurança cibernética, internet das coisas e nanotecnologia –esses são os campos mais promissores. Mas nem todos os trabalhadores serão necessariamente engenheiros com várias pós-graduações. Na empresa de trabalho temporário Nortempo, algumas profissões mais comuns são também integradas à lista. “Pensando até 2020, a automação e a logística ligada ao consumo online absorverão a demanda de mão-de-obra intensiva com qualificação média ou baixa”, comenta Mercedes Elipe, diretora. Concretamente, fala-se em atendimento ao cliente, telemarketing especializado, cozinheiros, camareiras, sommeliers, carregadores de peças para controle de qualidade, soldadores, ferramenteiros ou encarregados de tráfego (logística).

Mudança cultural

Essa mudança está nas mãos das empresas. Miguel Premoli, vice-presidente de Recursos Humanos da PepsiCo, desenha o novo caminho do trabalho em multinacionais como a sua, com 76 fábricas e 44.000 funcionários na Europa, sendo 2.500 na Espanha. A equipe de marketing, e-commerce e infraestrutura digital já reúne 150 pessoas na Europa. “É uma grande tendência que já se impõe, e ela tem a ver com a maneira como as marcas se comunicam com as pessoas. Antes havia a publicidade, que era uma coisa fixa. Agora existe uma quantidade enorme de canais, para os quais precisamos recrutar um tipo de talento que não tínhamos conosco antes”.

Outro exemplo é o grupo de cooperativas Corporación Mondragón, com 12,1 bilhões de euros [39,9 bilhões de reais] de faturamento e 74.355 postos de trabalho, onde há um grande esforço, nem sempre bem-sucedido, para encontrar profissionais com formação superior. “Cerca de 54% das cooperativas pedem técnicos em eletrônica, mecatrônica, eletricidade. Outros 25% demandam habilidades mecânicas e outras, como informática”, revela Íñigo Larrea, diretor de gestão de talentos. Na área de distribuição (principalmente para a Eroski, que faz parte da CM), os novos perfis são de analista de dados, marketing digital e segurança cibernética. E, na área financeira, pessoas que conheçam o universo fintech (uso da informática bancária). “Internamento, teremos organizações mais horizontais, com menos níveis hierárquicos e com ambientes culturais mais diversificados”, acrescenta.

As mudanças no trabalho apontam para várias direções, segundo um estudo do IESE (Instituto de Ensinos Superiores da Empresa). “Os trabalhos rotineiros, seja os braçais, como encher caixas, ou os intelectuais, como checar registros, estão correndo risco porque podem ser automatizados rapidamente sem um custo muito elevado. Os não rotineiros estão mais protegidos: seria difícil e custoso automatizar a jardinagem, por exemplo”. Para a consultoria McKinsey, mencionada no estudo, apesar da alta porcentagem de funções que podem ser automatizadas, “na verdade são muito poucas as que podem sê-lo inteiramente”.

Assim, como se diz no futebol, é bom baixar a bola. Em uma pesquisa sobre sistemas de autosserviço em supermercados, por exemplo, os professores do IESE Alejandro Lago e Philip Moscoso descobriram que o emprego de caixas no comércio cresceu 2%, em média, por ano entre 1980 e 2013. “Este é um outro lado importante da história. Os computadores não necessariamente apenas substituem os trabalhadores, mas, muitas vezes, apenas complementam o seu trabalho, e não têm por que ser obrigatoriamente uma ameaça”.

Na Câmara de Comércio espanhola, as mudanças também não são vistas como algo tão radial a ponto de desfazerem de uma hora para outra a estrutura do trabalho. Segundo suas pesquisas, em médio prazo, as funções mais procuradas, em todos os níveis, serão de operadores e trabalhadores qualificados de indústrias e construção (cerca de 13% das empresas irão contratar esses perfis), técnicos e profissionais científicos e intelectuais (11,2% e trabalhadores de serviços de restauração, pessoais, segurança e vendedores (10,5%). Por fim, 6,7% das empresas estimam que irão aumentar o seu pessoal administrativo, enquanto 0,5% prevê contratar, em curto prazo, diretores e gerentes.

Carreiras ou habilidades

Para David Navarro, coordenador do programa de emprego PICE da Câmara da Espanha, as inovações “não causam tantas rupturas como imaginamos. Basta lembrar que já faz vinte anos que as TI [tecnologias da informação] vem sendo vistas como o futuro”. Ele observa a existência de uma tendência que não tem a ver com diplomas acadêmicos, com sim com capacitações. “Provavelmente teremos uma vida de trabalho com projetos diversos ou trabalhos diversos. São necessários perfis multidisciplinares capazes de enfrentar esses desafios”.

Nesse mesmo sentido, o professor de gestão de pessoas, José Ramón Pin assinala duas qualidades que um robô jamais poderá ter: “carinho e imaginação”. E vislumbra um futuro em que os professores terão de continuar a ensinar marketing, finanças, sistemas de produção… mas formar pessoas capazes também de lidar com situações complexas. “Haverá departamentos de recursos humanos robotizados? Talvez. O certo é que as máquinas não têm imaginação nem podem conversar com um idoso ou efetuar qualquer tipo de assistência pessoal”. É difícil, então, escolher uma carreira. “Se existe alguma coisa de que você realmente goste, estude-a. Mas sempre inclua no seu currículo a matemática e mais de um idioma”, aconselha.

José Luis Casado, diretor de Desenvolvimento Profissional do Esic, resume a questão da seguinte forma: “Novos empregos sempre surgem, mas isso já aconteceu em outros momentos da história. O que parece claro é que continuaremos a ter de vender produtos, serviços ou soluções para os outros”. Então, como os centros de formação se preparam para isso? É complicado, avalia Martin Boehm, reitor da IE Business School. “Podemos aprender alguma coisa com o mundo anglo-saxão. É preciso amadurecer e desenvolver a capacidade de raciocínio. Teremos de estudar ao longo de toda a vida, reinventarmo-nos. Poderemos ser advogados, ter uma segunda carreira como jornalistas e acabar como empreendedores. O problema é o tempo de ajuste, pois serão necessárias duas ou três décadas para que se criem novos negócios e profissões”. A especialização tal como a conhecíamos antes terá pouco tempo de vida, porque os conhecimentos se tornarão obsoletos rapidamente. “Já existem até mesmo algumas plataformas que estão substituindo, de alguma forma, os advogados. Pensemos na Watson [sistema de inteligência artificial criado pela IBM]. Estudos dizem que ele toma decisões melhores dos que os humanos, porque uma máquina não tem preconceitos”. Para José Luis Guillem, diretor do grupo CEU, o mais importante é algo de que não se costuma falar muito: o enfoque ético. “A empresa tem de ajudar a melhorar as coisas e não focar tudo na maximização dos lucros”.

O futuro é visto como uma página em branco cheia de desafios interessantes, mas a realidade é mais preocupante e obscura. É o que acontece com uma das maiores fontes de riqueza da Espanha, o turismo, para o qual são necessários hoje mais habilidades e conhecimento de mais idiomas. César Galiano, responsável por esse setor na UGT, afirma que as crescentes exigências não se refletem em um esforço por parte dos empresários na formação profissional. “Não existem planos de carreira. Na Restauração, as boas escolas estão no exterior ou são particulares. Não dizemos que o turismo é parte da Marca Espanha? Pois o que ocorre é o contrário: um setor de passagem, um refúgio temporário com horários incompatíveis com uma vida normal e salário baixos”.

Este é apenas um exemplo que questiona a ideia de uma Espanha que brilhará com o apoio da tecnologia. As 302.000 empresas do setor faturam 93,5 bilhões de euros [308,5 bilhões de reais] e empregam 1,2 milhão de pessoas, mas a crise tem priorado as suas condições: o emprego em tempo parcial passou de 19,3% para 26,7%; o emprego temporário cresceu 6% e o salário bruto médio anual não chega a 19.000 euros [62.700 reais].