Juan José Tamayo
Juan José Tamayo
Juan José Tamayo
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Philosophy Seminar

Utopias for Times of Crisis


  • Date: 19/11/2013
  • Presenter:
    • Lucía Franco

Without utopias, the die is cast, humanity commits harakiri, and history can become a never-ending return. Utopias are now more needed than ever because in times of such an acute crisis affecting the most vulnerable sectors of society, as the one we are living now, pessimism tends to take control over people. The hopelessness, apathy, indifference, passivity, disenchantment, even depression, due to having all hopes robbed and the prohibition to dream.  It is precisely in these times when the marginated sectors become aware of the negativity of history and express their dissatisfaction with reality, show their discontent and indignation, their complaints and desires for change. It is in these specially critical moments when the critical sense becomes radicalized and moving utopias are formulated with the emancipatory energies of Humanity.

It has always been -and still is nowadays- in the margins of society where the big, alternative transformations are forged. It is in the times of crisis, and from these margins, when it is more necessary than ever to cast light over hidden treasures buried in the depth of reality and activate the liberating potential inherent to human beings. Gianni Vattimo claimed that "change is powered by those who are not okay: the poor, the oppressed. The change does not necessarily mean things will be better, but maintaining the situation as it is implies a foreclosure of the future. There is an onthologic-Christian motivation: on one side, those oppressed trying to change things, while on the other, those who are weaker are the most numerous. This is democracy".

But we cannot follow naive attitudes. It is necessary to liberate the utopia from the discredit in which it has fallen, and the negative implications that its confusion with illusion and chimeras cause. The lack of sense of reality, an unworkable ideal. We need to return to the real original sense utopias have, in the best literary and philosophical tradition. And from there rehabilitate their role as a motors of history: demystified utopias, with a conception of the human being as an animal utopicus, a being of hope guided by reason, with ethical intentions, open to alternatives, and aiming at a transforming and decolonized praxis that recognizes different cultures and civilizations, in a secular horizon respectful with the freedom of beliefs and non-beliefs in its paradoxical and dialectic character.

The conference by Professor Juan José Tamayo-Acosta is an invitation to cultivate utopias in this dark present, to continue writing new utopian tales, and thinking reality beyond its facts to overcome the limits of what is possible, as suggested by Walt Whitman: "Before sunrise, I walked up the hills, looked at the light-tight skies and asked my spirit: Once we get to know all of these worlds and the pleasures and wisdom they contain, will we be calm and satisfied? And my spirit replied: No, we will reach those heights just to continue climbing up".

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