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"The Philosophy, together with the social sciences, should help us to discover how to realize the demands of the human condition of agreement with the family and cultural reality that we have been given to live."

Interview with Lourdes Flamarique, professor of Philosophy Contemporary and member of the committee of experts of the workshop Interdisciplinary on the Family

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PHOTO: Manuel Castells
11/12/14 18:05 Fina Trèmols

Lourdes Flamarique, professor of Philosophy Contemporary Art at the School of Philosophy and Letters and collaborator of project 'Emotional culture and identity' of the Institute for Culture and Society (ICS), is a member of the committee of experts of the interdisciplinary workshop 'Family and society in the 21st century', coordinated by the ICS on the initiative of Office of the Vice President for Research. In this interview she talks about the family from the point of view of Philosophy.

How is Philosophy challenged by the family issue?

Since its beginnings, Philosophy has sought to provide answers to the questions proper to our rational and free nature. This also requires understanding human existence and its reality partner-cultural; to that extent it is not and cannot be alien to the vicissitudes experienced by women and men in each era. The Philosophy reflects on change: distinguishing the changing and the permanent is a first step in understanding the human condition. If the experience of social and cultural change always awakens the desire to understand, how much more so in relation to a permanent institution of society, such as the family, which, due to its universality and responsibility in social life, can be considered as an outstanding area for analyzing and examining the cultural change of recent decades.

The historical dynamic sample tells us that changes not only imply the withdrawal of certain forms of life, the decline of institutions, etc., but can also offer the ideal conditions for the development of possibilities of human nature that did not exist in other times. This is especially important in the case of the family, permanent and changing at the same time. There are those who think that social changes have taken place at the expense of other values, for example those offered by the family, when it could be that they only go against a certain model understanding of family life.

To return to the question: Philosophy not only understands and diagnoses the social reality, but must also endeavor to illuminate the paths along which the existence of our contemporaries is passing. It must help us to discover the way to realize the demands of our condition also of agreement with the familiar and cultural reality that we have had to live.

What topics about the family and family ties can be of interest to research from Philosophy?

They are very varied. I have already mentioned the change of regime and style in family life; other themes would be: the relations between the family and the social environment; the configuration of identity staff, professional and social, in a distinctly urban environment, characterized by a mobility and a capacity for interaction unheard of in history: in addition, the generalization of democratic and egalitarian sociability that demands rethinking the meaning of authority, and unity in the various forms of difference. Family relations, consumption, market: how does the labor regime affect the idea of family? In the era of knowledge, of the professionalization of work, is the family the main agent in the Education of children? If the responsibility of the Education is also social, civic, how are the different educational spheres and stages integrated? These would be some of the issues that arise from the family as an institution among institutions.

There are other questions that look more "inward", to put it graphically: what is essential and what is cultural in family relationships modified by the insertion of men and women in the labor market, if we can separate the two aspects. As I pointed out earlier, we sometimes lament the loss of ways and manners that are cultural and, as such, are consequences of the very changes necessary to make life possible. How do the codes in force on work affect the family balance? Is it possible to clearly differentiate between the roles of men and women in the family? The current labor regime, with expectations of professional development that affect the person and family life, to what extent does it open new paths or compromise inalienable aspects of the family institution?

From the perspective of family sociability, it is also worth thinking about the contrast that exists between the appreciation for attention to the needs of others and the resistance to understanding forms of donation without which the human family is not viable: we are very sensitive to the demands of solidarity in the face of misfortunes and catastrophes, but we often find it difficult to include in our life organization this form of Withdrawal and service for our closest environment, which involves the care of the elderly and children. Is it that in the context of developed societies the family does not exemplify so clearly an essential dimension of love which is submission to others? If so, why doesn't it already do so?

What proposal can Philosophy do to strengthen family ties and relationships?

The question, now as always, is whether we are capable of discovering the way to realize in today's culture, with its possibilities and limitations, the genuine family institution, that which throughout history has presented itself in various forms, with its achievements and shortcomings. Because of the virulence with which these demands that appeal to ideas such as justice and equality are presented, the Philosophy, together with the social sciences, should help to understand the potential offered by the new modes of relationship between men and women, and the lifestyles that favor the purposes of the family institution.

Why do you recommend participating in workshop Interdisciplinary 'Family and Society in the 21st Century'?

The workshop will be an opportunity to try to understand our time and our reality. The interdisciplinary perspective with which it is conceived ensures that we have the right approaches to think about where we are, and what are the needs and shortcomings of the society in which we live.

In no case is it an exercise in nostalgia, but to open roads. The knowledge is always an advantage. It is a certain gain when we adequately interpret the realities we live, not taking as a measure types, patterns and values of another time and that, once idealized, are presented to us as safe. Only in this way will we generate an adequate speech on the change in the family, capable of presenting its inexhaustible humanizing potential. In my opinion, the speech on the family and the changes experienced in the last century is dominated almost exclusively by approaches indebted to social tensions, both progressive and conservative.


Lourdes Flamarique's research and publications focus on contemporary thought, both from the philosophical perspective and the theory of modern culture. For two decades she has been professor of Current Currents of the Philosophy at the University of Navarra; she has also studied at the Universities of Munich, Münster and Boston. She has been visiting professor at universities in Colombia, Argentina, Mexico and Chile. She is a collaborator of project of research of the ICS 'Emotional culture and identity', financed by Zurich Insurance.

His recent publications on philosophical and social modernity include the edition of Emotions and lifestyles. Radiography of our time (2013), The roots of ethics and interdisciplinary dialogue (2012), of articles such as - "The political relationship: from universal political representation to cyber-revolutions" (2013), "From the Psychologization of Experience to the Priority of Emotions in Social Life", (2012), The dismantling of modern utopia. Towards a new political culture?", (2012) And "Emotions versus norms. The Psychological Confinement of Social Experience", 2009).