Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category


Freedom from Deception

Written on October 22, 2007 by Santiago Iñiguez in Philosophy

Santiago Iniguez

Marcus Aurelius (121-180), Meditations

It is rare to find a writing emperor, but even more an emperor that
would have wished to have been a philosopher rather than wear the
purple. This is the case of Marcus Aurelius, known as the last good
emperor of the Antonine’s
dynasty in the second century of our era, at a time when the Roman
Empire was besieged by barbarians. You may be familiar with his image
if you have been in Rome and visited Capitol Hill, where his colossal
equestrian statute, made of bronze, remains because early Christians
believed it represented St. Peter.

Marcus Aurelius lived in times when Rome was experiencing both
internal and external turbulence. Internally, different political and
cultural opposing streams concurred: in religion, the fight between
defendants of the old faith in Roman deities and Christians was
starting to erode old beliefs associated with old Roman customs and
Law; in philosophy, stoics, epicureans, and supporters of imported
doctrines of Plato and other Greek philosophers contended to become the
standard. Marcus Aurelius was, by education and self-cultivation, a
stoic. Basically, stoics defended personal self-control, the subjection
of the own senses to the mind, the acceptance of nature –they professed
some sort of pantheism- and of given state of things, in order to
achieve perfection. Thus, stoics opposed epicureans and hedonists.

This spirit influences Marcus Aurelius “Meditations”, which exude
some form of holiness and sanctity. In fact, at his death, after a
battle on the Danube Front (the hit movie Gladiator here
at least was accurate), he was declared sacred, being the last Roman
emperor to be considered part of the deities. Why did he write this
book? The Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy
explains that “by reflecting upon philosophical ideas and, perhaps more
importantly, writing them down, Marcus engages in a repetitive process
designed to habituate his mind into a new way of thinking”. Indeed,
many of the maxims sound repetitive, but they may be recommendable at
times when managers have to face deception, failures or any other sort
of setback. I include a selection:

–    “II.1. Begin the morning by saying to yourself: I shall meet
with the busybody, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious,
unsocial (…) I can neither be harmed by any of them (…) for we are made
for cooperation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of
the upper and lower teeth”.

–    “II.5. …Do every act of your life as it were the last”.

–    “II.14. Though you were to live three thousand years, or three
million, still remember that no man looses any other life than this
which now lives, or lives any other than this which he now loses”.

An advice to those who look for places to retire and recharge the
batteries –I declare myself guilty of this, since I am writing these
lines at my little house in the country:

–    “IV.3 Men seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country,
seashores, and mountains, and you too are wont to desire such things
very much. But this is altogether a mark of the common sort of man, for
it is in your power, whenever you shall choose, to retire into

A further piece of advice to cultivate modesty; valuable since it comes from an Emperor:

–    “IV.3. But perhaps a longing for the thing called fame torments
you. See how soon everything is forgotten; look at the chaos of
infinite time on each side of the present, and the emptiness of
applause, and the fickleness and poor judgement of those who pretend to
praise, and the narrowness of the space within which it is confined.
For the whole earth is but a point and in that how small a nook is this
your dwelling, and how few are there within it, and what kind of people
are they who will praise you?”

However, there are two aspects of Marcus Aurelius personality, which
do not fit with the pure thoughts of the “Meditations”. First, he
devoted most of his life to warfare. Second, his son Commodus, who
became his successor, was not a very good apprentice, since he became
one of the most deplorable emperors of Rome. However, this happens in
the best of families, doesn’t it?



Written on October 11, 2007 by Fernando Fontes in Philosophy

Fernando Fontes


Humanidades son el conjunto de disciplinas relacionadas con el conocimiento humano y la cultura.

Es decir, podemos escribir y opinar sobre casi todo.

Humanismo, segun la 2ª acepción del diccionario de María Moliner es: "Movimiento intelectual europeo del Renacimiento que considera al hombre como centro de todas las cosas.

Pues bien:

Flaubert, citado en Memorias de Adriano por M.Yourcenar escribe: "Cuando los dioses ya no estaban y Cristo no había aparecido todavía, hubo un momento único, desde Cicerón (106 ac) a Marco Aurelio (180 dc) en que sólo estuvo el hombre".

Y, Gibbon en su " Hª de la decadencia y caída del Imperio Romano" escribe: "Si a alguien le pidieran que indicase el periodo de la Hª del Mundo, durante el cual, las condiciones del género humano fueron mas prósperas y felices, elegiría sin vacilación el que abarcó desde la muerte de Domiciano (96 dc) a la subida al trono de Cómodo (180 dc). Hay que recordar que Gibbon escibe su libro en el s. XVIII.

Me pregunto y os pregunto: ¿Pueden tener alguna relación causa-efecto las aseveraciones de Flaubert y de Gibbon o son sólo coincidencias?

¿Volverá ese momento único, en que sólo estuvo el hombre? A mí, me encantaria, aunque sé que para muchas personas sería algo inconcebible y terrible, nada menos que el triunfo del materialismo sobre la espiritualidad.

Para mí, la máxima expresión de la espiritualidad es la vuelta al humanismo que considera al hombre como centro de todas las cosas y que le hace estar solo ante su destino.


Papyrus resists

Written on October 8, 2007 by Administrador de IE Blogs in Literature, Philosophy


Miguel Herrero de Jáuregui

“Time will tell” is the easiest opinion one can have about practically everything. Whenever one does not want to risk a thought on a fishy subject, it is advisable to stick to the judgement of Time. Apart from avoiding the dangers of reflection, appealing to Time has the glamourous flavour of cosmic justice. Old Chronos does not ask your name or place of birth, but only one question: What are you worth remembering for? As if History had an internal Darwinistic clock, people and facts, independently of their glory among contemporaries, are set by Time in their due place. So are books, so will be even blogs, perhaps.

Yet Time’s monarchy is not fair (classical political theory would call it tyranny). Take, for instance, the case of books. Of all the prose and poetry wrote by the ancients, only the few works which were thought worth being copied time and again throughout the centuries survived till the age of Gutemberg. The rest turned dust and ashes. And the transmission of ancient texts is so full of accidents, censorships, arbitrarities, burnt libraries and sunk ships that talking of balanced judgement of what should be preserved and what deserved oblivion seems pure mockery. N. Wilson’s Scribes and Sholars is a classical account of that process. And in the first of his fine best-sellers, Eco (with the immensurable help of Sir Sean Connery) put before everyone’s eyes the arbitrary destiny of ancient books. The third book of Aristotle’s Poetics on comedy is lost forever. Now, in the age of bits and bytes, anybody’s thoughts, no matter how dire they are, can be turned everlasting just with clicking on “save”. Is this justice? Is that fair?

Only some few chosen fighters keep resisting Time’s tyranny. Their name is papyri. Ancient books were written in papyrus rolls, which have survived only in extremely dry conditions. The burning sands of Egypt have given back to us most of these new texts from the remotest past: many poems of Sappho, for one, which were not copied by medieval monks for obvious reasons, are read and sung again thanks to the papyrus findings. Out of Egypt, accidents are needed, ancient tragedies which turn to be strokes of good luck for us: the sealed jars of Qumran, in Israel, were abandoned while fleeing from slaughter against their holders; the Derveni Papyrus, in Northern Greece, was going to be burnt in a funerary pyre, but it rolled out to the miraculous point were it would be far away from the fire not to burn and close enough to get dry and survive; the lava of Pompeii and Herculaneum, while destroying lives and cities, carbonized whole libraries and preserved them for modern scholars who patiently retrace ancient wisdom back from the ashes. Much has been discovered in Herculaneum, but there may be much more – tragedies, philosophy, new epics with old myths– waiting down there for us to dig, unroll and read: have a look at, where fighters against the tyrant  have joined the battle. There is yet hope. Time will not prevail.


Julián Montaño


La zona de la tribu de los Conejos es de matorral bajo, plana y extensa, no muy seca en verano. Es la envidia de todo el valle. Cerca de un arroyo vive la tribu de los Conejos. La tribu de los Conejos –como así se denominan ellos- se dedica a la caza, pero tienen prohibido cazar conejos. Los conejos pueden acercarse con tranquilidad a la aldea y nadie los captura ni les hace nada, campean a sus anchas en los alrededores de la aldea o cerca de los patios de las casas. Una vez al año el Conejo Magnífico, que es el título del jefe de la tribu, sale en solemne procesión fuera del recinto de la aldea acompañado de los varones adultos. Una vez fuera grita “¡Al conejo!” y los varones adultos tienen permiso hasta el mediodía para cazar un conejo. El que lo cace será el jefe hasta el próximo verano. Este conejo lo comen los varones adultos en una fiesta formidable y muy divertida donde se danza el Baile del Conejo. Con esta fiesta se celebra el día en que el fundador de la aldea –el Gran Primer Conejo- huyendo de la tribu vecina de los Zorros consiguió no morir de hambre al dar caza a un conejo –el primero que veía en su vida- que es llamado en la aldea el Gran Conejo Primordial. Todo en la aldea de la tribu de los Conejos gira alrededor de los conejos. Los niños que nacen con labio leporino no tienen que trabajar y son mantenidos por sus familias. El saludo entre los miembros de la tribu de los Conejos consiste en fruncir el labio superior y olisquear desde lejos al vecino imitando la actitud de buena voluntad que tienen todos los conejos hacia las personas. Los ancianos piadosos cultivan zanahorias para dárselas a los conejos que se acercan a las lindes de la aldea.

Ahora bien el centro de la vida de la tribu de los Conejos, aquello que configura la forma de la aldea y es el lugar de reunión de todos, es la cueva que está en medio. En esta cueva el Gran Primer Conejo, en agradecimiento por haber sobrevivido había pintado la imagen del Gran Conejo Primordial (vid. imagen). Esta imagen es lo que mantiene en pie el mundo de la tribu de los Conejos, pues siendo la imagen verdadera del Gran Conejo Primordial bendice las cosechas de melones y proporciona la caza abundante (perdices, por supuesto, jamás conejos). Además asegura el buen parto de las mujeres que normalmente es muy numeroso, consecuencia de juguetear con el marido sólo cuando la constelación Conejo aparece en el cielo. Por lo demás el magnánimo Gran Conejo Primordial mantiene alejados de la aldea a los astutos y malolientes vecinos, los Zorros.

Read more…



Arantza de Areilza

This blog forms part of an initiative by IE Business School designed to bring humanities and social sciences closer to the world of business and law, and born of the conviction that humanistic disciplines such as art, history, literature, philosophy or music form an integral part of mankind’s intellectual development. Knowledge moulds the way we perceive and understand the world and ourselves, and enables us to participate in the creation of new values that serve as a catalyst for the change and development that are essential in all modern societies.

The different faces of culture foster the development of the imagination, the appreciation of humanistic values, aesthetic perception and critical reasoning, all of which play a key role in the human capacity for self-betterment and perfectionism. It is a permanent, liberating challenge in everyone’s life, which is the reason it forms a core part of our training programs.

This blog is an invitation to extend the vision of all those who are always curious to know more, and who want to share with us their ideas and experiences in the broad range of fields that comprise our environment.

I would like to take this opportunity to extend my thanks to the blog authors for their enthusiasm for this idea and their generous collaboration. And now, without further ado, it’s my pleasure to invite you to reflect and comment on the first subject, lost paradises, that someone once described like this:

A Frayburu en despedida

¿Oyes como los murmullos de relatos resbalan en el verdín de tus rocas?

¿Las estelas de chalupas nocturnas en contrabando,

el chapoteo alegre de las pozas marinas escondidas, los laberintos de sirenas,

Y el nido de búho en la arboleda?

¿El gorgojeo de la llegada del agua de mar a la piscina probática,

la canción del viento del norte en el cañaveral?

¿Recuerdas la pita en flor envuelta en la rosaleda indomable,

El ancla de galeón en la entrada del zaguán,

Las dunas hechas de tiempo y las  higueras de tentación?

¿Los muros de piedra y las vigas que anuncian tormenta?

Viejo caserío de mirada atávica al mar,

playa de ánimas donde hoy mora una más.

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