Ed. note: This piece was originally published in Spanish in Indymedia Argentina, June 8, 2020 by Mariel Cisneros López, and translated into English by Jane K. Brundage for Resilence.org
Recognized since 1996 for his work as an intellectual committed to socio-environmental problems and his criticisms of destructive economic policies, Professor Sirio López Velasco, now retired, has developed a logical Ecommunitarian ethic. He considers his theory to be an ethic possessing three fundamental norms.
López Velasco has said in this space that these three norms “must be understood as Quasi-Causal Reasons, deduced (with the help of the logical operator renamed ‘conditional’) exclusively from the ‘conditions of happiness’ of the question that establishes ethics, namely: ‘What should I do?’ It is therefore a non-dogmatic ethic, in which obligations are based on falsifiable statements (thus getting past the chasm opened by Hume) and evolve along with the constructed-accepted knowledge in the logical argument.”
Based on that ethic, he developed his Ecommunitarian proposition, which includes the economy, education, erotica, politics and communication.
It is for these arguments, and knowing the work and the person, that I present here in these moments of world pandemic an opportunity to reflect together with this Latin American intellectual on a proposition for analysis, a product of his lived work in the area of Latin American Philosophy.
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Mariel Cisneros López: When and where did you begin developing your ideas?
Sirio López Velasco: My name is Sirio López Velasco. I started working systematically on Latin American Philosophy from the perspective of Liberation in the early ’80s, when as a political refugee, I began studying for the PhD in Philosophy at the Catholic University of Louvain, founded in Belgium in 1425. This occurred in the context of the work of the Seminar on Latin American philosophy that we set up at that time with several colleagues in the University. A collective book emerged from that Seminar, in which my first strictly philosophical publication appeared.
Later, in 1986, I taught in the Postgraduate in Philosophy program at the Pontifical Catholic University do Rio Grande do Sul, in Porto Alegre, Brazil, where with some students I founded the Center for Latin American Philosophy Studies, and from it, the magazine “Libertação-Liberación”. We published the magazine only three times (twice under my responsibility) for the simple reason that in the middle of 1988 my work focused on the Philosophy of Liberation earned me expulsion from that University.
In the meantime, I had already presented several works at Congresses (including the Extraordinary World of Philosophy, held in Córdoba, Argentina) and published some of them.
Enrique Dussel, whom I had met in Brazil in 1986, proposed that I might develop a Philosophy of Language of the Philosophy of Liberation. This work led me in 1988 to the World Congress of Philosophy held in Brighton, England, where I told Dussel that his Philosophy of Liberation had no logical-linguistic foundation for those who (like me, an atheist) did not accept that the Judeo-Christian theological assumptions (for example, through Levinas’s philosophizing) made sense, directly or indirectly.
So I dedicated myself to developing a Philosophy of Self-Liberation, the basis of which would be an Ethics deduced entirely from the deep grammar of language that we all speak.
The outlines of that enterprise appeared in my first book, published in Brazil in 1991 and titled “Reflexões sobre a Filosofia da Libertação” | “Reflections on the Philosophy of Liberation” (which has some chapters in Spanish). The task of completing my Philosophy continues to occupy me even today. Mine is a career marked by twenty books in which my proposed Philosophy is framed in the term: Ecomunitarismo | Ecommunitarianism. I developed it from 1989 to 2019 while teaching in the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande, where I helped found and worked in the Master and Doctoral programs in Environmental Education (until my retirement in 2019).
MC: What are the areas of action where you have been able to broaden the investigation of your academic work?
SLV: Ecommunitarianism is based on three basic ethical standards logically deduced from the question that Ethics sets out, that is to say, What should I do? Note that with this I think I have relaunched Ethics on its ultimate foundation, and I think I have closed the chasm that opened since Hume between expressions that speak of what is and those that speak of what should be. These three rules bind us, respectively, to
(a) fight to guarantee our individual freedom of decision;
(b) fulfill that freedom in the search for answers and consensual actions with others; and to
(c) preserve-regenerate a healthy human and non-human Nature.
From that fundament, Ecommunitarianism unfolds in an:
- a) economic ecology without patterns (guided by the principle that says “from each according to their capacity and to each according to their need, respecting the ecological and intercultural equilibrium”); in a
- b) politics of all (grounded in direct democracy and subordinating to it the participatory and representative organizations); a
- c) socially generalized environmental education (in the formal and informal spheres, which goes from childhood to end of life), and which includes both a libertarian sexuality-oriented education for freely shared pleasure (and that rejects both machismo and homophobia) and a physical education that integrates educational training sport (i.e., neither competitive nor commercial); a
- d) horizontal and symmetrical communication (which puts current media monopolies or oligopolies at the discretion of organized communities); and an
- e) aesthetic of liberation (still very incipient in my work).
MC: Can you share with us your greatest achievements regarding your philosophical and social proposal?
SLV: I think that in the previously mentioned aspects of Ecommunitarianism I have given some clear guidelines on where we should go in our day-to-day socio-environmental transformations such that we might allow capitalism and all its tragedies to be left behind on behalf of Humanity and the rest of Nature. Some socioenvironmental works grounded in these guidelines drafted by myself and some of my students have been relatively successful in improving basic need satisfaction, communal solidarity and the environmental practices of some local communities in Brazil.
Clearly, those experiences clash with their contextual limit, capitalism, which hinders and even sabotages it every day. The fulfillment of the transition to Ecommunitarianism assumes the ability to act in a coordinated manner, at least at the country level (in that sense I have always valued, although critically, the Cuban experience, which I see as referring to the time when it self-corrects. Similarly, Ecommunitarianism must be adjusted and adapted within each Latin American country — always keeping in mind that we aspire to integration in the Great Latin American Homeland dreamed by José Artigas and Simón Bolivar).
MCL: How could you advance and summarize the transformations that your theory proposes?
SLV: The permanent challenge is to articulate the theoretical propositions and the daily actions (especially the pedagogical and political, broadly understood, to speak of the ones closest to my life experience). And to do it knowing that the theory must ceaselessly correct its aim toward the light of practice (just as the practice must follow the theory, under pain of lacking direction and making us spin in circles).
That is why today I feel the lack of being integrated into an organizational tool that allows such an attempt at daily articulation, as I did in my youth lived in Uruguay, but I do not lose hope that this tool might reappear in Uruguay, with or without my participation (and almost certainly, by the limitations of age, without it).
MC: What proposals and/or reflections might you leave those of us who follow this blog and who very likely will be interested in applying some of your ideas at the local level of each community where they live or work?
SLV: I don’t believe I am worthy to give advice, but if I could make one suggestion for those who work in formal education, it would be to include the Ecommunitarian meaning of life in each class. With this, not only will professors feel happier and more fulfilled in their personal work, but they will also be able to help at least some of their students find that vision of a better life from the socio-environmental point of view and of another world possible beyond capitalism. Moreover, they might then undertake all their research and extended activities with that same spirit.
It is obvious that if they do, they will strive to enjoy that same experience as citizens, neighbors, children and / or parents. So surely, they will not be richer from the standpoint of material goods, but they will undoubtedly be more complete. All this knowing that we will always be fallible, contradictory and imperfect, and that full Ecommunitarianism will always be a work in progress.
Additionally, in my book “Filosofia da Educação” (see the list of my books freely accessible through the internet), I have suggested clear guidelines for informal and community environmental-policy education.
Thank you, Sirio.
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Now we make available below part of the work of this renowned professor who is generously sharing it. It carries our gratitude, and we hope it will be of great benefit to the community.
Links for downloading some publications:
Transl. note: The original citation is given, followed by its translation (indented).
López Velasco, Sirio. Ideas y experiencias de la democracia. Una mirada ecomunitarista, Ed. Fi, Porto Alegre, 2017, disponible gratuitamente en https://www.editorafi.org/180sirio (es una parte del libro que sigue, en portugués)
López Velasco, Sirio. Ideas and experiences of democracy. An ecommunitarian look, Ed. Fi, Porto Alegre, 2017, freely available at https://www.editorafi.org/180sirio (it is part of the book that follows, in Portuguese)
López Velasco, Sirio. Contribuição à Teoria da Democracia: uma perspectiva ecomunitarista, Ed. Fi, Porto Alegre, 2017; disponível gratuitamente em https://www.editorafi.org/196sirio
López Velasco, Sirio. Contribution to a Theory of Democracy: an ecomunitarian perspective, Ed. Fi, Porto Alegre, 2017; freely available at https://www.editorafi.org/196sirio
López Velasco, Sirio. FILOSOFIA DA EDUCAÇÃO. A RELAÇÃO EDUCADOR-EDUCANDO E OUTRAS QUESTÕES NA PERSPECTIVA DA EDUCAÇÃO AMBIENTAL ECOMUNITARISTA, Ed. Phillos, Goiânia (GO), 2018, ISBN 978-85-52962-00-7, 122 pp., também disponível gratuitamente em https://www.editoraphillos.com/siriolopesvelasco
López Velasco, Sirio. PHILOSOPHY OF EDUCATION. THE EDUCATOR-EDUCATING RELATIONSHIP AND OTHER ISSUES FROM THE ECOMUNITARIAN ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION PERSPECTIVE, Ed. Phillos, Goiânia (GO), 2018, ISBN 978-85-52962-00-7, 122 pp., also freely available at https://www.editoraphillos.com/siriolopesvelasco
Sirio López Velasco, Cuestiones de filosofía de la educación: diálogo con Vaz Ferreira y otros autores, y otras cuestiones pedagógicas en óptica ecomunitarista. Ed. Phillos, Goiânia, 2019, ISBN 978-85-52962-61-9 , 165 pp., disponível gratuitamente em https://www.editoraphillos.com/sirio-lopez-velasco2
Issues of the philosophy of education: dialogue with Vaz Ferreira and other authors, and other pedagogical issues in the ecommunitarian perspective, Ed. Phillos, Goiânia, 2019, ISBN 978-85-52962-61-9 , 165 pp., freely available at https://www.editoraphillos.com/sirio-lopez-velasco2
Sirio López Velasco, Las Máscaras y Un amor de 149, Ed. Phillos, Goiânia, 2019, ISBN : 978-65-5071-012-5, 219 p., disponível gratuitamente en https://www.editoraphillos.com/las-mascaras-y-un-amor-de-1492
Sirio López Velasco, The Masks and A Love of 149, Ed. Phillos, Goiânia, 2019, ISBN : 978-65-5071-012-5, 219 p., freely available at https://www.editoraphillos.com/las-mascaras-y-un-amor-de-1492
link do capítulo de Sirio López Velasco, CAPÍTULO IV “ÉTICA, ECOMUNITARISMO Y LA ANTROPOLOGÍA DE LA PEDAGOGÍA DEL OPRIMIDO EN EL SIGLO XXI” in PROBLEMAS DO PENSAMENTO FILOSÓFICO NA AMÉRICA LATINA, Willames Frank, Alberto Vivar Flores (Orgs.), Ed. Phillos, 2017, Goiânia.
Link to the chapter by Sirio López Velasco: Chapter IV “Ethics, Ecommunitarianism and the Anthropology of Pedagogy of the Oppressed in the XXI Century” in Problems of Philosophical Thought in Latin America, Willames Frank, Alberto Vivar Flores (Orgs.), Ed. Phillos, 2017, Goiânia.
Sirio López Velasco: “La tarea de Sísifo. Ensayo sobre las dificultades para superar el capitalismo”, in América Latina en Movimiento, Quito, 13/12/2019, 49 pp. in https://www.alainet.org/es/articulo/203835
Sirio López Velasco: “The task of Sisyphus. Essay on the difficulties in overcoming capitalism”, in América Latina en Movimiento, Quito, 13/12/2019, 49 pp. in https://www.alainet.org/es/articulo/203835
Sirio López Velasco, “LA DEMOCRACIA DIRECTA Y LA DEMOCRACIA PARTICIPATIVA HOY: DE SUIZA A LA A. LATINA DEL SOCIALISMO DEL SIGLO XXI”, in Revista Alamedas, Ed. UNIOESTE (Toledo, PR), vol.5, nº 2, p.187-200, in http://e-revista.unioeste.br/index.php/alamedas/issue/view/954/showToc, e-ISSN 1981-0253 (o nº está datado em 2017 mas saiu em janeiro de 2018).
Srio López Velasco, “DIRECT DEMOCRACY AND PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY TODAY: FROM SWITZERLAND TO LATIN AMERICA OF 21ST CENTURY SOCIALISM”, in Revista Alamedas, Ed. UNIOESTE (Toledo, PR), vol.5, nº 2, p.187-200, in http://e-revista.unioeste.br/idex.php/alamedas/issue/view/954/showToc, e-ISSN 1981-0253 (or number is dated in 2017 plus health in janeiro of 2018).
Sirio López Velasco, NOVA DEMOCRACIA E FORMAÇÃO HUMANA: A PROPOSTA DA EDUCAÇÃO AMBIENTAL ECOMUNITARISTA, in Filosofazer, vol. 50, n° 28, Ed. IFIBE, Passo Fundo, pp. 43-56, ISSN 1413-4675, também in www.ifibe.edu.br, junho de 2018 (o n° está datado em 2017).
Sirio López Velasco, NEW DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN FORMATION: THE PROPOSAL FOR ECOMUNITARIAN ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION, in Filosofazer, vol. 50, n° 28, Ed. IFIBE, Passo Fundo, pp. 43-56, ISSN 1413-4675, also in www.ifibe.edu.br, June of 2018 (the number is dated in 2017).
Sirio López Velasco, NOVA DEMOCRACIA E FORMAÇÃO HUMANA: A PROPOSTA DA EDUCAÇÃO AMBIENTAL ECOMUNITARISTA, in Diaphonia, vol. 4, nº 1, pp.134-145, Ed. UNIOESTE, Toedo (PR), junho 2018, ISSN 2446-7413, in http://e-revista.unioeste.br/index.php/diaphonia/issue/view/988]
Sirio López Velasco, NEW DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN FORMATION: THE PROPOSAL FOR ECOMUNITARIAN ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION, in Diaphonia, vol. 4, nº 1, pp. 134-145, Ed. UNIOESTE, Toedo (PR), june 2018, ISSN 2446-7413, in http://e-revista.unioeste.br/index.php/diaphonia/issue/view/988]
Sirio López Velasco, “Notas sobre la estética ecomunitarista (desde A. Latina)”, in Dialectus, Ed. UFCE, ano 5, nº 13, agiosto-dezembro 2018, p. 143-154, in http://www.periodicos.ufc.br/dialectus/issue/view/757
Sirio López Velasco, “Notes on the ecomunitarista aesthetics (from A. Latina)”, in Dialectus, Ed. UFCE, ano 5, nº 13, August-December 2018, p. 143-154, in http://www.periodicos.ufc.br/dialectus/issue/view/757
BRIEF CURRICULUM VITAE | Profile Sirio López Velasco, Uruguayan-Brazilian-Spanish, was born in Uruguay in 1951. In 1985, while living as a political exile in Belgium, he obtained his doctorate in Philosophy at the Université Catholique de Louvain (Belgium), where he also received a “Licensed” diploma in Linguistics and was co-founder and coordinator (1983-1985) of the Latin American Philosophy Seminar (the first PhD seminar created by students at that University founded in 1425). In 2002 and 2009, he conducted postdoctoral research in Philosophy at the Institute of Philosophy of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC, Madrid, Spain). In 1988, he was elected Vice-President of the International Association of Young Philosophers (IAYP) at the XVIII World Congress of Philosophy (Brighton, England); he held that post until the next World Congress (1993). From 1989 to 1992, he was retained by the University of Mainz (Germany) as a researcher for development of the Diatopic and Diastratic Linguistic Atlas of Uruguay (coordinated by Harald Thun and Adolfo Elizaincín).
López Velasco was a professor at the PUCRS and UNISINOS Universities (in Porto Alegre, Brazil). From 1989 until his retirement in 2019, he was Professor of Philosophy at the Federal University of Río Grande (FURG, in Rio Grande, Brazil); where from 1994 to 2016 he helped develop first the Master, then the Doctoral Degree programs in Environmental Education (the first and only program to date recognized by Brazil’s Ministry of Education). He was a member of the International Scientific Committee for the 1st and 3rd World Congress on Environmental Education (held, respectively, in Portugal in 2002, and in Italy in 2005). He was also a member of the official Brazilian delegation in education to the “Rio+20” (UN Conference on Sustainable Development), held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012.
He is a member of two Working Groups of the Associação Nacional de Pesquisa e Post-Graduação em Filosofia (ANPOF) | National Association of Research and Graduate Studies in Philosophy, Brazil. He was Secretary in Rio Grande of the Sociedade Brasileira para o Progresso da Ciência (SBPC) | Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science. He directed several postgraduate theses, in Philosophy and Environmental Education, and gave lectures at international conferences held in Latin America and Europe.