The emerging ontological turn: the need to rediscover our essence

The emerging ontological turn: the need to rediscover our essence

A story from several years ago said "In our towns one goes to bed in the community and wakes up inside a national park."

Situation that accounted for the times of creation of protected natural areas outside the local populations. Today it would be inconceivable for this to happen because a broad participatory process is required for the creation of a protected area. But even the concept of protected natural area obeys a particular way of conceiving nature.

Based on this story, we ask ourselves, what would happen if we went to bed with a way of thinking and the next day we woke up with a new reality? Although not all of us are actually aware, a new reality is in front of us and we are not all capable of perceiving it. We are facing an ontological turn.

It turns out that many of the concepts, meanings and categories that for many years we have finished, that is to say that no longer require further revision due to the (apparent) level of perfection and refinement reached, are in serious question. From that perspective of concepts legitimized even by science, by academia, by institutions, by politics and economics, there is no more discussion and what remains is to see how we implement it in the most effective way possible. Consequently, from that point of view, there is no history, only a future to see to what extent we are more effective and efficient so that reality is inscribed in our repertoire of flagship concepts. But what if we take into account that our concepts are not as solid as they seem? In other words, they are so solid that they do not allow any dissent.

The concepts do not appear by spontaneous generation and are configured in the framework of power relations. Thus, many of our official and official concepts start from a series of paradigms that have to do with a way of relating between people, and between people and nature. As much objectivity as possible that we have put it, they are not free from subjective and ideological issues. Thus, many of our concepts carry the burden of anthropocentric, Eurocentric or Northcentric visions on the assumption that these views constitute the most advanced of human thought and of the processes of social evolution. Thus we divide peoples into categories: those who know and those who do not know, the developed and the backward, the modern and the traditional. The same thing happens with knowledge because we differentiate objective scientific knowledge and emotional and intuitive popular knowledge, logical knowledge based on reason and animistic and mythological knowledge of the people. But the issue is that this knowledge marks us and influences the way we feel in reality and how we relate to it. Both critical academia, that which is not satisfied with official explanations, and social movements, realize that these concepts, instead of liberating us, subject us to a particular way of understanding life that is not necessarily consistent with the conceptions that for many years guided life. people's lives. Then comes the proposal to decolonize thought.

For example, the words management, natural resource, natural heritage, productivity, competitiveness, among others, appear as standard words in our policies, in our institutions, in international cooperation, in our academy. So the anguish is how we do so that the peoples "who do not know" learn these terms so that they are able to get out of their situation of poverty. The challenge from this perspective is to modernize them, to make them entrepreneurs so that they can fully enjoy the benefits of technoscience and economic growth. Manuals, guides, procedures and guidelines will then appear so that local communities have the key aspects to develop. Also, many methodologies will appear to make this transfer process more effective, more playful, more friendly. We will identify successful cases and show them proud that “yes, it can”.

The same goes for aspirational words such as development and sustainable development. We will say that these concepts have been refined over time and that they are now in limbo of perfection. Everyone wants them, everyone summons them, everyone evokes it. But is it true that they are already finished concepts?

Many of our star words both from the world of development and conservation have been born within the influence of a disjunctive ontology that implies that the human being is totally different from nature and that nature exists to satisfy our human needs. In this context, nature is seen as an unlimited basket of resources, as things that must be exploited or taken advantage of without any remorse. This way of seeing and treating nature is based on the fact that human beings are rational, they are conscious and therefore they are the only ones who have dignity. Everything must be subordinate to the supreme interest of human beings. What we see in practice is that the product of power relations "some humans are more supreme than others"

Thus a reified, instrumentalized, desacralized nature must be at the service of satisfying the infinite needs of human beings. It does not matter that animals, especially animals with higher brain structures, are sentient beings, with interests, with flourishing needs, with subjectivities. Plants that are considered as plant entities without meaning or relationships do not matter. Neither do the spirits, the geniuses, the owners of plants, forests, lakes and mountains that are typical of animistic and magical religious thoughts typical of backward peoples are interested. Then the rule of reason, objectivity, and infinite economic development arises. Modernizing or staying in the past of poverty and exclusion is the premise that guides these voluntary development efforts.

A recent note that appeared on social networks [1] is very graphic about it: Baby cries inconsolably because he killed an ant: "What if he had a family?" What emotions does this note awaken us? Am we amused by the child's naivety? Does it draw our attention to the way the child relates to life? Attitude reveals a lot about how we are relating to life. The note is extremely illustrative about our dominant worldview. Without intending to, the child is inviting us to a deep philosophical reflection.

We therefore require a more philosophical attitude despite the reigning pragmatism. We need critical thinking, complex thinking that helps us better understand and understand what we are doing, we need to review our indicators of success and to what extent those indicators are contributing to genuine sustainability or deep sustainability. In a reality of relationships, our ways of thinking, feeling and acting also have to do with the current state of Gaia or pachamama.

References: [1]

By Rodrigo Arce Rojas

Video: Gabriel Marcels Existential Philosophy (October 2020).