The philosophy of ageing Lecture Series We’re getting older…

The philosophy of ageing

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Victoria Camps


  1. Victoria CampsVictoria Camps

    Es catedrática de Filosofía moral y política en la Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona. Senadora independiente por el PSC-PSOE, de 1993 a 1996, en ese período presidió la Comisión de contenidos televisivos. Es presidenta de la Fundación Víctor Grifols i Lucas, dedicada a la investigación y promoción de la bioética, miembro del Consejo Audiovisual de Cataluña desde 2002 y presidenta del Comité Consultivo de Bioética de la Generalitat de Cataluña. Sus últimos libros publicados son: Virtudes públicas, Paradojas del individualismo, El malestar de la vida pública, El siglo de las mujeres, Una vida de calidad y La voluntad de vivir. Es coordinadora de Historia de la ética (en tres volúmenes).

Philosophy has not been a great help until now for deepen within the phenomenon of aging. Philosophers have traditionally been interested in the human being as subject of knowledge and as the a producer of moral and policy. The philosophers of morality have taken their time to think about big topics like freedom, virtue, or obligation, but they have not thought about vulnerability and human finitude. Only the Stoics, and some of their followers -like Montaigne or Schopenhauer- take time to speak about the different shapes of human finitude, which is more evidently reflected by the decay and decadence that are associated with getting old. Accepting the limitations of age, and at the same time, make the most out of the experiences lived; seeing old age not only as a problem, but as an opportunity; is the perspective from which practical philosophy should address the topic of aging.

Each period and each culture have their own conception of aging. The question that should be posed is what is the meaning of getting old in our world and in our time: what does aging mean for the individual getting old; what does it mean for a society that is becoming older, but that is not keen on making old age visible; how to face aging from policy and how it should be done from ethic. There is a tendency to limit the phenomenon of aging to the realm of medicine. This is reductionism, because aging is not a disease, although it is often accompanied by diseases and ailments. Aging poses questions that are related with big philosophical questions: the sense of life, the personal identity, the relationship with others, social justice, or personal autonomy. Questions that need to abandon abstraction and get contrasted with a reality that cannot be ignored if we pretend that philosophy helps us to live better.