Statement of Support for the Brazilian Logic Society
The Society for the Advancement of American Philosophy (SAAP) commends and supports the Brazilian Logic Society (SBL) and their allies for their recent statement which both disavows the proposal by the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, to defund teaching and research in the fields of Philosophy and Sociology in Brazilian Universities and also eloquently defends the value of a broad and varied education as an essential part of a free and worthwhile life.
While their entire statement bears attention and wide dissemination, we salute in particular their reminder that the practice and study of philosophy and sociology help us think more clearly about questions that inevitably surface as we live our lives:
Anyone who thinks also philosophizes, even though one may not know it. Anyone who ponders upon the practical conditions of his or her professional activity in the context of his or her community is always thinking sociologically as well. Philosophy and sociology do add method and self-awareness to the curious impulse of willing to know that is the life of knowledge. In truth, since Socrates to our days, to ask why we should prefer the answers to the questions ends in shaking the foundations of uncritically held beliefs.
The proposal to defund public access to the social sciences and humanities is but a particularly brazen example of a common and widespread fallacy regarding the value of education, namely that education’s primary purpose is simply to train prospective workers to sell their labor. We heard a less extreme version of this basic fallacy here in the United States when Sen, Marco Rubio proclaimed in 2015 that “We need more welders and less philosophers.” Sadly, the fact that humanists and social scientists are increasingly called by their own university administrators to defend the value of their work according to their ability to teach marketable skills or serve as dutiful help-mates to STEM and Business disciplines shows that even the people who purport to represent and lead educators should heed the words of our friends in Brazil.
However, as disturbing as the effort to defund humanities and social science research in the United States might be, we must note and commend the moral courage of our colleagues in Brazil. Bolsonaro campaigned on a platform of unvarnished fascist violence against anyone he and his confederates deemed undesirable and he has openly called on paramilitary forces and the police to use violence on his political enemies. By openly and forcefully disagreeing with his policies, our colleagues in Brazil embody the virtues of courage and wisdom that philosophers and humanists like Socrates modeled for us during their own times of crisis and political cruelty.