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Mireia Las Heras , Professor, IESE, University of Navarra

...I think?

Wed, 12 May 2010 09:15:39 +0000 Published in ABC (Madrid)

I think therefore I am, Descartes bequeathed to us. Thomas Aquinas, however, tells us that thought does not decide existence, but that it is existence that determines thinking. In short, what the two great philosophers agree on agreement is the importance of thinking as an act that characterizes the human person. But at the rate we are going, either we cease to exist, or we cease to be human, because what is clearly not in vogue is thinking.

Thinking is essentially human. However, our system educational does not financial aid to think, and our television seems to be obstinate in avoiding it. The classics of literature and Philosophy are disappearing from our classrooms, and in prime time there is a proliferation of violent series, foul language, and the cult of easy sentimentality. Of course, with such a popular culture, people capable of declaring that an embryo "is a living being but not a human being" (that is, that we are like some amphibians that undergo metamorphosis) become ministers.

Relativism is comfortable, but it is neither logical nor good. Relativism is basically affirming that something is and is not at the same time. It is to affirm that what is square for you is round for me. And the other way around. Or both at the same time. Relativism is basically a manifestation of the lack of critical, consistent and deep thinking. It is a manifestation of the lack of intellectual activity, under the excuse of "I let you think what you want because everything depends". It is a sample of intolerance, disguised as tolerance: "I don't let you have an opinion on anything, because for me everything depends exclusively on what I think". Relativism is comfortable, but it does not humanize us, because what is proper to human beings is to think and act according to what is known as true and good.

Relativism leads us to words empty of meaning and life lacking in commitment. Therefore, we should not complain about political or personal speeches in which hollow verbiage abounds, and in which responsibilities are not assumed. In public life we have become accustomed to words such as peace, accompanied by abortion and euthanasia laws; others such as democracy referring to a partycracy that does not represent the people; and to dialogue being used even to the exclusion of entire sectors of civil society. And on staff, we should not be surprised that words such as de facto unions allude to the lack of true union, and freedom refers to addiction.

One way to stimulate thinking is reading. Reading contemporary authors that help us understand the world, its diverse cultures and globalization. Classical authors who expose history and its twists and turns. Spanish authors who show us our idiosyncrasy and how it has been forged. International writers who open doors to other worlds and situations. But above all, authors who stimulate our neuronal and intellectual activity, and therefore, who make it possible for us to understand people and the world we live in.