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Materialidades e Objectualidades

About A platonic love for matter
In partnership with Universidade Lusófona - Centro Universitário do Porto

André Barata

Universidade da Beira Interior





«It would not have occurred to Plato that one day he would arrive at property over “ideas” and the attempt to legally protect that property», noted Günther Anders (1902-1992) in The Obsolescence of Human Beings.
Ironically, materialistic values, that is, those linked to possession, exchange value and consumption, have dematerialized. Not because they disappeared, but because they migrated to a world of ideas.
At the same time, we inhabit a world of copies, of “industrial Platonism”, Anders called it. The download era that we have now reached has accentuated this industry of ideas. Good ideas and concepts are bought and sold, as obsolescent as any gadget or “latest generation” that hits the market. It's about uploading them, circulating them around the global world and generating income in copies that are downloaded into applications or websites. Also with cities and people, the global village is an idea that every place in the world reproduces, each influencer an idea of a person that is copied as a mass download. There is no longer any shortage of virtual influencers, created by AI.
Faced with such an unexpectedly materialistic life of ideas – to the point of asking whether even new philosophical ideas do not emerge mainly to fight for market share – and a life so impoverished in matter, it should not come as a surprise that there are those who, on the contrary, idealize presence in front of matter, the awareness that even stones can be embraced, deserve to be listened to, to feel their temperature, their texture, the inner rumination of the crystals. Spiritualizing matter was already the program of Leibniz's Monadology.

© Musa paradisiaca, 2018, Cortesy of Galeria Municipal do Porto

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Author's bio text

André Barata was born in Faro in 1972. He received a PhD in Contemporary Philosophy at the University of Lisbon. He has been a professor at the University of Beira Interior since 2002, where he currently directs the Faculty of Arts and Letters. He also presides over the Portuguese Philosophy Society. His academic interests revolve around social and political philosophy and phenomenological and existential thought. He regularly writes columns in Jornal Económico and Público. He published several books of essays, such as “Metáforas da Consciência” (Campo das Letras, 2000), on the thought of Jean-Paul Sartre, “ Mente e Consciência” (Phainomenon, 2009), a set of essays on philosophy of mind and phenomenology, “Primeiras Vontades – sobre a liberdade política em tempos árduos” (Documenta, 2012). More recently he published a trilogy in Documenta - “E se parássemos de sobreviver – Pequeno livro para pensar e agir contra a ditadura do tempo” (2018); “Desligamento do mundo e a questão do humano” (2020) and “Para viver em qualquer mundo - Nós, os lugares e as coisas” (2022).

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