Reflections about Latin America and Culture

gale-world-scholar-latin-america-and-the-caribbean-lgAs discussed in the previous posts, culture can be both tangible and intangible. Greeks were not worried about the big religious questions, such as what happens after death or who are the gods? Do they have an influence in our lives? They dismissed all of these questions, considering them not important at all, but instead they were very much concerned about the moral behavior of men and women inside their communities, their ethics and their relation with themselves and with others.

All these interrogations were oriented to the tangible world; the one they could understand and, ultimately, transform. There were exercises aimed to get the people to be in control of themselves. Self-knowledge was essential. According to Epictetus, a man should be able to see a beautiful woman or a handsome man without feeling any desire for her or him.

Ancient Greek societies were occupied with finding ways to state what people should do to live as well as possible; the Greek word for this is “techne”, an action from which man produces a reality that did not exist before. According to Aristotle, human reason was divided into two parts: one dedicated to the things that are necessary and the other referred to transforming things.

According to Immanuel Kant, German philosopher from the 18th century, we can identify two kinds of ethics: Materialistic and spiritual ethics. We start from a “supreme law”, which claims an object or a state of affair as being supremely good (pleasure, money, power, happiness, contemplation of God, etc.). Based on this, those behaviors or actions that allow the realization of the “supreme law” are declared as good and those behaviors or actions that distance us from it are “bad”. Materialistic ethics identify the Supreme Law with material stuff; spiritual ethics identify the Supreme Good with a spiritual good (God, for example).

So, it is important to realize that ethics and pleasure, good and bad are not only tangible things, such as a painting or a building, but can also be music, such as Argentinian tango or a dance.