Rapporteurs 3. Block
The influence of social and historical intangibles in the formation of a society
Rapporteurs participating in the area: Culture
An architect, working for ESCO del Sole SRL since 2005, where she is currently a partner. She deals with urban energy planning, energy efficiency and renewable energy. In 2003 she founded the “World Without Wars” voluntary association in Milan, while at the same time participating in international projects led by the NGO “Otro Mundo es Posible”. She has travelled extensively in India, to the Tamil Nadu region that was affected by the tsunami.
In 2009 she was the national coordinator for Italy for the World March for Peace and Nonviolence.
She has also been the spokesperson for the humanist organisation “World Without Wars and without Violence” since 2010.
Towards a truly humane society
Is it possible to once and for all eradicate the curse of violence in humane societies?
In light of previous and everyday experiences, we would be tempted to say no, but, at the same time, reflecting on the crisis, instability and transition that we face leads us to see things differently: human beings are trapped in a circle of violence, but are equally prepared to take a progressive step towards a non-violent world.
Unfortunately, changes due to crisis can come hand in hand with waves of all kinds of violence: conventional war, nuclear accidents, social disruption, civil wars, secession, global scale economic collapse, disruption to vital services (water, electricity, transport, etc.), mental imbalance and suicide. Some of the greatest threats of modern times include the huge interest in nuclear power and the folly of violent groups that can access small-scale nuclear equipment.
Much remains to be done in this worrying picture, not only to avoid incidents that agonise a dehumanised world, but also in order to unite and reunite people from all nations and cultures who share this new consciousness that is arising.
Just like in the history of humanity, a new civilisation is emerging on the dawn of a new spiritualism.
A fundamental element of this new spirituality is rebellion against violence and commitment to rise above violence, as much from the inside as the outside, with the view that personal and social change does not conflict, but actually nourishes and stimulates.
Antonia Monopoli has been a transsexual woman for 16 years. Her origins go back to a village in the province of Barletta-Andria-Trani. Since January 2009, she is the Counter Person of Trans ALA Milano Onlus, a non-government association which offers advisory services on transsexual and transgender procedures. She deals with those who are going to undertake the procedure on the delicate issue of sex change and transsexuality. Moreover, as the social secretary, she conducts orientation of the services in Milan and in the Lombardy Region. She proposes outreach activities, coordination and collaboration with different departments in the region. Since 2002, she fights actively against the discrimination and transphobia exposing herself in the frontline. Antonia is invited frequently as a speaker in debates, conventions, and meeting on the issue of transsexuality and transphobia. She collaborates as a peer educator in a project called Via del Campo of the ALA Milano Onlus, which deals with various addictions, particularly in transsexual prostitution. She participated in the creation of a short film directed by Tinelli, entitled Crisalidi, winner of the Novara Film Festival in 2005, and the Tekfestival in 2006.
Female, Male or Pangender?
Director of Studies at Paris Dauphine University. He specialises in transdisciplinary studies (technoculture).
Emma A. Viviani graduated in Sociology at the University of Pisa, a specialist in issues of globalization and transculturalism. Since 1985 she has been involved in social services, public institutions and private-social organizations as an expert in relational systems.
Her action aims to deepen and activate group experiences in the field of social disadvantages of juvenile and family issues. Since 1996 she has been providing services at the Ser.T (servizio tossicodipendenza) in Viareggio (Province of Lucca) where she developed, together with the users, a path to recovery based on a strong activation of social relations, reaching to develop its own methodology based on self-projection of the inner and outer spaces of the person.
In 2005 she established the Associazione Araba Fenice, a non-profit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of prisoners and ex-offenders with drug dependence problems. Being part of the National Association of Sociologists, she undertakes activities to promote cultural cooperation with the Tuscan Laboratory of Sociology, local authorities and Associazioni della Versilia, and collaborates with scientific journals and periodicals of sociology. She has numerous publications. She is the author of humorous texts and plays that won several awards at a national level. She co-authored the book Il Parco Sociale La Fenice a Viareggio (published by the Michelucci Foundation of Florence, 2007) following her other works, Laurea honoris casa, (Publisher Ibiskos 2008), and Una tribù all’ombra delle foglie di coca, (Publisher ETS, Pisa 2010).
From Marginalization to Self-Planning
Marginalization is experienced not only as a social phenomenon (and institutional) but also spatial and cultural, producing original and creative ways of living, that if one knows how to grasp, these may become innovative elements within the urban fabric and propel new energy for the city.
The strength needed to make a change in social and cultural diversity is remarkable, and grows slowly in micro-social phenomena where the city does not always pay attention since it feels strong, guarded and fortified through its institutional control and security.
This creates a voltage of equal power; on one hand the city excludes and rejects diversity, but it is from this resistance, the energy expended by marginalization, the city will guarantee its survival, the New York ghettos are concrete examples, as well as "barrios" (small houses/slums) of Venezuela. These are examples of these places of marginality that live alongside with the 'formal' city, in a parallel world, preserving the traditions of African and tribal peoples.
Precisely these worlds of characters are not accepted by the city because they have the requirements in gaining access to draw in new patterns of urban life, rich in culture, tastes and sounds, where you keep traditions alive and cultures of people. These new elements, refused in the beginning, will slowly spread by generating new trends, see the blues, jazz, rap ... Often it is the younger generation who picks up the innovations that come from the world of the suburbs, like the ghettos of New York and become the mediators between the city and informal institutions.
Starting with the 'marginalized' to build the city is not a utopian ideal but a concrete utopia, a necessity. Emma Viviani after leading the experience of the Parco Sociale La Fenice in Viareggio in collaboration with the Fondazione Michelucci of Florence and University of Pisa, traces a methodological self-design, the internal and outer spaces of the person, within the ambit of human as well as environmental and social sustainability.
Rapporteurs participating in the area: Spirituality
Sergey NizhnikovHaving graduated from the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia with a degree in philology in 1989 and with a degree in philosophy in 1993, he holds a doctorate in the History of Philosophy with his thesis “The Metaphysics of Faith in Russian Philosophy”. He is now beginning his didactic activity at the same university, and since 2003 has been a lecturer in the History of Philosophy and Political Philosophy (one of his classes, among others, being entitled “Archetypes of Eastern and Western Philosophical Cultures”) in the History of Philosophy Department. He has received funding from the Ministry of Education, the Russian Foundation of Humanities, and the ISE-Center in Moscow to expand his research on cultural interaction and globalisation, and also on their philosophical and metaphysical aspects. He has published several scientific articles, mainly on the subject of spiritual and philosophical cognition, and on East-West intercultural dialogue. He is also a student of Kant’s works and of his metaphysics of faith. His work has been used at international congresses of philosophy in Turkey, the United States, Russia and South Korea. He is a member of the Russian Philosophical Society.
Features of Spiritual Cognition in Different Cultures
It would seem hardly possible that similarities in spiritual cognition should exist, given the great variance in cultures and traditions. However, even the most cursory analysis reveals a substantial uniformity of spiritual cognition throughout human history. The concept of spirituality, though divided across the often contradictory branches of philosophy, religion and culture, yet yields an inner unity.
Spiritual cognition is the highest manifestation of human life – its essence. It is neither above nor outside of life, but is the very substance of Life, deployed exclusively toward the goal of its own transcendence. In other words, to realize itself, Life ascends to a spiritual level by the realization of humanity and, through this self-realization, moves closer to a qualitative leap in its own evolutionary development.
The phenomenon of spiritual cognition is not here contemplated as metaphysical (concerned with the spiritual/nonphysical), but as a process of self-cognition that results in the willfully determined deployment of human life-essence. A definitive categorization of human essence is the core around which all the thorny questions of spiritual cognition are deployed. From this conundrum, Humanism progresses by correlating human essence with existence.
Therefore, while appearing to form the superstructure governing the empirical life of a person, the speculative sphere of spiritual cognition is, in fact, its realization, its sense and its essence. Further, the conceptions of spiritual cognition are developed and perfectly charged in accordance with the fundamental character of any given individual and in keeping with their aptitude for speculation. Those of a philosophical bent tend to conceive of concepts through the avenues of methodically structured thought processes, while those more inclined toward religion conceptualize by means of symbolic images and faith. The sphere in which speculation is pursued has historically given rise to any number of problems. Though the metaphysical concepts of the philosophical school and the religious symbols of the believers often vie for their place as rightful members of the speculative arena, the focus of their main concepts belie an underlying Spiritual unity in striving to define the will of God or the nature of being or the essence of the perceived. It may be said with some conviction that the idiosyncratic differences existing between the schools of speculation point to underlying contradictions reflecting correlatives of individual life experience.
Spiritual cognition as the deployment of human essence results in the manifestation of the spiritual archetypes Truth, Good and Beauty as a synthesis of Art, Philosophy, Religion and Love.
There exists an essential difference in the characteristics of spiritual cognition as it relates to existence and transcendence. Transcendence goes beyond the boundaries of mundane existence, expanding consciousness to disclose the universal. Only in case when it seizes the individual existence, touching the essence of that existence.
Simply put, spiritual cognition is the individual relationship to life – to the I and to the world in which it exists. Through the recognition of purpose, each moment of an individual life takes on significance against the backdrop of Eternity. Though the relationship with life is necessarily imported from outside the individual, it is the essence of life itself, the universal nature of which may be disclosed through transcendence of its apparent limitations.
Computer Engineer. Co-founder and president of the Center of Humanist Studies in Barcelona. Member of the Promoter Group of the World Center of Humanist Studies.
Scholar of the Psychology of New Humanism for over twenty years, he published his lectures "Irrational Behavior" and "Kant and the Current Ehtics" in the volumes "Frontiers of Unreason" and "Lighthouses of Thought", both published by Maragall Lyceum of Catalonia.
He developed and coordinated workshops of "personal works" in various Latin American countries, in Europe and Africa. Born in Argentina, he currently resides in Barcelona.
Spiritual Roots of a Nonviolent Culture
The new civilization that is already beginning to take shape and that will be the first global civilization, must necessarily be non-violent in order to shape itself. This feature will be moulded in social, interpersonal relationships and the personal search of every human being.
For this new civilization to rise, it is necessary that its roots be nourished by a deep spiritual experience, which by definition is transpersonal, and that it can be projected to society as a whole.