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Rafael Alvira, a Socrates that leaves us


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The discussion

Montserrat Herrero

Professor of the School of Philosophy and Letters and researcher at Institute for Culture and Society. University of Navarra.

Rafael Alvira (Madrid, 1942), Full Professor emeritus of Philosophy of the University of Navarra, died on February 4 in Madrid at the age of 82. Teacher of philosophers for more than four decades, he was Dean and Associate Dean of the School of Philosophy and Letters and one of the promoters of the Institute business and Humanism. He has been a teacher for many of us who are now professors at the University of Navarra as well as in many other universities in the Americas, the rest of Europe and Africa. Indeed, the list of those of us who took our first philosophical steps with him is long: all very different. Each one with his own idiosyncrasy. Without forming a "school": an expression of the spirit of freedom that always encouraged his teaching. 

Rafael Alvira joined the University of Navarra in 1980 as Full Professor of History of the Philosophy, but before that he had taught for 12 years at the Complutense University in his hometown, Madrid, "with great honor", close to his teacher Antonio Millán Puelles, and for a very short time also in La Laguna. At the University of Navarra he dedicated many hard hours to classes, to study and to millions of assignments: he was director of the department of Philosophy and of the Institute business and Humanism, Associate Dean and Dean of the School of Philosophy and Letters, director of numerous editions of the Philosophical Meetings, IP of the Institute for Culture and Society, director of the Chair of Music, and a long etc.

In addition, it contributed to opening our academic space to other Spanish universities and also to many international ones, as can be seen at sample from the closeness that great foreign academics have had with our faculty, who have also been among their colleagues and friends: Pieper, Grimaldi, Spaemann, Anscombe, Geach, Brague, Pöltner, Dougherti, Vigna, Nicolaci, Broadie, Incardona... The list could go on and on. Many of us have benefited from these solid relationships in our academic career, and the signing of agreements between universities pales in comparison.

But, above all, he has been a "servant" of all: every last person who has come to knock on his door has found a listening ear and recognition. It doesn't matter if it was the former president of Portugal Ramalho Eanes (to whom he addressed his doctoral thesis ), a student first year, a PhD student, the CEO of Iberdrola, the president of Sener, a former student who came to tell him his sorrows, a businessman of some regional forum or a colleague from department or some other university. Rafael Alvira embodied the passion for equality, better than many who consider themselves to be exquisite democrats. 

Behind Alvira's intelligent gaze, as we called him, were hidden many hours of reading and reflection synthesized in an original philosophical proposal , which in many ways is more postmodern than reactionary, even though he considers the French Revolution as the most significant event to understand what can be an epochal rupture, and not precisely of a positive sign. His antimodernity is projected in a way of philosophizing in which the will takes a preponderant role, as he writes in Vindication of the Will. This fundamental intuition is expressed in his anthropology developed in The Reason for Being Human; and in a multitude of analyses on the most diverse metaphysical questions or internship: everyday life, in his Philosophy of everyday life; the family, in The Place to Which One Returns; the question of unity and limit; the concept of "good will"; or the idea of "subsystems and social transcendentals", to mention only a few of the themes. In his more than 16 books and 310 articles, Alvira does not leave us "programs of study of Philosophy", but a "philosophical position".

In the consideration of life, in the anthropological turn, in the weakness of reason without the presence of love, that is, in the themes, this position is postmodern. But in its internal logic it is absolutely classical: heir to Platonic inspiration, it praises the word as opposed to writing, the essential contemplation of the idea as opposed to hermeneutics, unity as opposed to fragmentation. Writing in the souls: this was Professor Alvira's motto during all these years of teaching and, coherent with this motto, he has squandered his energies with kind generosity in the University of Navarra, in other Spanish universities and in those of other countries that came to his teaching, from the European, African, American and Asian continents. There are many of us who can only say to him today in his farewell: thank you Professor Alvira!