What ethical challenges does transhumanism pose? What direction is the collective Zeitgeist taking? Is there a place for utopia and a positive image of the future? Three expert voices on the subject talk at the Eugenio Trías Public Library about culture and philosophy in today’s world.
The anthropologist and researcher Yayo Herrero and the philosophers and writers Javier Gomá and Diego Garrocho, moderated by the journalist and writer Marta Fernández, discussed utopia with uncertainty. They also addressed progress towards the values on which to base it and their hopes for dystopia.
“We have never enjoyed moral progress like the current one. What woman, what homosexual, what foreigner would like to live in an earlier time? And that progress is a trend that leads us towards the democratic ideal, ” said Gomá. Herrero and Garrocho were more skeptical. The first, due to the lack of a culture of eco-dependence and constriction regarding material progress. The second, due to the generational bias whereby young people are more vulnerable now, they are more exposed and fear the future.
The challenge, therefore, is to contribute utopias by eliminating the ankylosing nostalgia and taking advantage of the worthy nostalgia, those that make us see achievable goals and challenges overcome. And that led the speakers to ask another question: what is helping us in that process? What are our “prescribers of vital meaning” in Garrocho’s words? All of them agreed this question creates struggle. This is a struggle for cultural hegemony between the prescribers of the good and the monstrous
“When you believe that utopia exists, the perfect future, you are close to totalitarianism. Idealism should be a horizon to which you approach, but which always moves away, which should serve to analyze the present and arouse enthusiasm.”
“We will never find the ideal in the closest. What should worry us is that it is increasingly difficult to see futures where we can house our hope. Rather, we only anticipate challenges and threats.”
“It is difficult to imagine a good place in the future if we remain in an extremely unequal structure, without linking ourselves to the earth and bodies, without internalizing that we are interdependent because without that conviction moral and material progress is difficult.”
“It seems essential to recover frugality, and not only in the material but also in ideas. It is more useful to decant what is important than to hoard content. Culture feeds on the right prescribers.”
Javier Gomá, philosopher, writer, and essayist. His first book, Imitation, and Experience (Pre-Textos, 2003) obtained the National Essay Award in 2004. He is the current director of the Juan March Foundation.
Diego Garrocho, a writer, and regular contributor to the press is a professor in the Area of Ethics and Political Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy of the Autonomous University of Madrid.
Yayo Herrero, is an anthropologist, agricultural engineer, and social educator. Additionally, he is a consultant, researcher, and professor in the fields of political ecology, ecofeminism, and education for sustainability.
Marta Fernández, journalist and writer.