What is it?
The Open Chair of Humanistic Studies and Thought "Bolívar Echeverría" is an academic space of the Universidad del Azuay that promotes critical reflection on contemporary philosophical and humanistic debates. Knowing what the human consists of, in what way the enlightening gaze of the human being finds meaning in the world, are some of the questions that will be addressed in this space, with historical sense, pluralism and a multidisciplinary approach.
For this reason, the Chair also recognizes the contributions to Latin American thought of the Ecuadorian philosopher Bolívar Echeverría Andrade (Riobamba, Ecuador, February 2, 1941 - Mexico City, Mexico, June 5, 2010), considered as the last public intellectual of the country and that permanently reminds us that one of the academy's missions is to train people with critical thinking, ethically committed to society, who contribute to science and knowledge to achieve the integral development of our environment.
Why create this chair?
We have started the third decade of the XNUMXst century; Advances in different fields of knowledge have revealed many of the unknowns that have historically afflicted humanity: how human beings conform, what makes them sick and what excites them, what could work better, how we increase productivity; and yet, reality shows us, from time to time, our fragility and vulnerability. Certainties become questions, beliefs collapse or, at least, they falter, reason gives hope and hope the transcendence of faith and with it the conformity that human beings also transcend. Or maybe it isn't. Plato uses the term anabasis to refer to what he believes to be the essence of the human being, the spirit of ascending, of ascending, of moving away from what violates us to become gods; here is an explanation of our usual tendency to break the limits of humanity, those who tell us that we are conditioned and finite beings.
Given the doubts that invade us, we lack understanding. Bolívar Echeverría wonders «What history is it that we are living? What narration is able to tell in a better way - with greater coherence within the period and with more capacity for association outside it - what is currently happening? What, really, is all this happening to us? What is the meaning of the events that we witness and that involve us? ». Echeverría uses the term narration because he insightfully observes that there are multiple ways of narrating reality; there is a reality foreign to the eye that sees it, to the body that experiences it, to the mind that analyzes it. In this idea, Echeverría moves away from the most postmodern ideas for which reality is a discursive construction; no, for the philosopher reality exists, but there are also multiple narratives to tell it and for that all the disciplines of knowledge contribute, although not harmoniously. The economy narrates reality in a way, perhaps focusing on the relations of production; the right, on the other, from the construction of the norm and what it regulates; sociology, from the relationship between social groups and existing conditions and institutions; medicine, as is now usual, from how the perception of the environment is determined by our neural structure.
All these questions necessarily have to look at the past, make historical sense. As Bloch said, "misunderstanding of the present is the inevitable consequence of ignorance of the past" or, as Hobsbawm put it, "the past is [...] a permanent dimension of human consciousness, an obligatory component of institutions, values and other constituent elements of human society ». That look at the past, from philosophy, makes Echeverría say that we return to barbarism, "[t] he conviction that history means or is endowed with a progressive sense - enlightened conviction that secularizes belief in the salvific sense of Divine Creation vanishes indefinitely: history does not seem to have a meaning, but at best a contradiction ». Echeverría then specifies that we must think about this contradiction; We had convinced ourselves that an enlightened world like ours could not be miserable, why does humanity, instead of entering a truly human condition, sink into a new type of barbarism? says the Ecuadorian.
Bolívar Echeverría Andrade is - and this has been recognized nationally and internationally - the most important Ecuadorian philosopher in our history; his contributions to humanistic reflection were highlighted in Mexico and Germany, where his intellectual work was educated and developed. Carlos Monsiváis recognized him as the public intellectual of Ecuador; just as Argentina had Borges, Cuba Cabrera Infante, Ecuador had Echeverría. Public intellectuals, laments the Mexican, are being replaced by academic intellectuals. What is the problem of the academic intellectual? It is the same problem that threatens the academy: the denaturation of the humanist ideology; the current horizon of knowledge tends to support stagnant discourses or, as a Chilean philosopher says, "reductivist plots of intellection of reality". In academia, the work of inter-epistemic, cooperative, solidary, synergistic dialogues is forgotten.
The Chair of Humanistic Studies and Thought «Bolívar Echeverría» wants, in the first place, to honor the most important Ecuadorian philosopher. His intellectual importance has not deserved in the country - but exceptionally - spaces in which his concerns are investigated. Secondly, the Chair aims to become a space for dialogue of understanding and connection with the environment and reality, with a humanistic, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach. For the same reason, it is a space open to the entire university community, teachers and students, which enables the exposition, deepening and debate of multiple themes and, in addition, motivates the deepening of the investigative study around the intellectual work of Bolívar Echeverría and the Latin American thought.
The work that the Chair will develop will also strengthen the ties of the University of Azuay with the national and international academic world in relation to humanistic studies, by promoting the composition of converging plexuses of theoretical, philosophical, anthropological, and historical knowledge, among others. ; which will lead to the improvement of teaching, research and connection of our alma mater.