domingo, 4 de febrero de 2018

Los conceptos iniciales de la Psyché: El Pneuma

En este escrito me refiero al concepto de Pneuma como antecedente presocrático del concepto de Psyché.

Psique o alma, es un concepto procedente de la cosmovisión de la antigua Grecia, que designaba la fuerza vital de un individuo, unida a su cuerpo en vida y desligada de éste tras su muerte.

Psique, se refiere también a la divinidad griega y protagonista de un mito latino, como personificación del alma.

El verbo griego ψύχω, psycho, significa «soplar», «aire frío». A partir de este verbo se forma el sustantivo ψυχή, que alude en un primer momento al soplo, hálito o aliento que exhala al morir el ser humano. Dado que ese aliento permanece en el individuo hasta su muerte, ψυχή pasa a significar la vida.

Cuando la psique escapa del cadáver, lleva una existencia autónoma: los griegos la imaginaban como una figura antropomorfa y alada, un doble o eidolon del difunto, que generalmente iba a parar al Hades, donde pervivía de modo sombrío y fantasmal.

Según cuenta muchas veces Homero, la psyché sale volando de la boca del que muere como si fuera una mariposa (que en griego se escribe también psyché); razón por la que algunas personas ven en la mariposa un psicopompo.

Los estoicos entendieron el termino como espiritu por el cual Dios obra sobre las cosas ordenandolas. Diogenes Laercio informa que a los estoicos les parece que la naturaleza es un fuego artifice dirigido a la generación y formación.

Posteriormente Virgilio tambien se refirio a este termino, al igual que Giodano Bruno para ilustrar su concepción del "Intelecto artífice". Agripa tambien se refiere al termino en "De oculta philosophia". San Pablo hablo del Pneuma como "el cuerpo espiritual". De igual modo lo hace Santo Tomas, Bacon, Hobbes, y Descartes.


En la tradición cristiana el termino no es mas que el Espíritu Santo.

Henri Lemaître, Essai sur le mythe de Psyché dans la littérature française des origines à 1890, Boivin, Paris, 1939 ;


Percy C. Acuña Vigil


PNEUMA

Pneuma: πνεῦμα



In Stoic philosophy, pneuma (Greek: πνεῦμα) is the concept of the "breath of life," a mixture of the elements air (in motion) and fire (as warmth). Originating among Greek medical writers who locate human vitality in the breath, pneuma for the Stoics is the active, generative principle that organizes both the individual and the cosmos. In its highest form, the pneuma constitutes the human soul (psychê), which is a fragment of the pneuma that is the soul of God (Zeus). As a force that structures matter, it exists even in inanimate objects. 

Levels of pneuma

In the Stoic universe, everything is constituted of matter and pneuma. There are three grades or kinds of pneuma, depending on their proportion of fire and air.

The pneuma of state or tension (tonos). This unifying and shaping pneuma provides stability or cohesion (hexis) to things; it is a force that exists even in objects such as a stone, log, or cup. The 4th-century Christian philosopher Nemesius attributes the power of pneuma in Stoic thought to its "tensile motion" (tonicê kinêsis); that is, the pneuma moves both outwards, producing quantity and quality, and at the same time inwards, providing unity and substance. An individual is defined by the equilibrium of its inner pneuma, which holds it together and also separates it from the world around it. 

The pneuma as life force. The vegetative pneuma enables growth (physis) and distinguishes a thing as alive.

The pneuma as soul. The pneuma in its most rarefied and fiery form serves as the animal soul (psychê); it pervades the organism, governs its movements, and endows it with powers of perception and reproduction. This concept of pneuma is related to Aristotle's theory that the pneuma in sperm conveys the capacity for locomotion and for certain sensory perceptions to the offspring. 

A fourth grade of pneuma may also be distinguished. This is the rational soul (logica psychê) of the mature human being, which grants the power of judgment. 

Pneuma and cosmology

In Stoic cosmology, everything that exists depends on two first principles which can be neither created nor destroyed: matter, which is passive and inert, and the logos, or divine reason, which is active and organizing. The 3rd-century B.C. Stoic Chrysippus regarded pneuma as the vehicle of logos in structuring matter, both in animals and in the physical world.

Pneuma in its purest form can thus be difficult to distinguish from logos or the "constructive fire" (pur technikon) that drives the cyclical generation and destruction of the Stoic cosmos. When a cycle reaches its end in conflagration (ekpyrôsis), the cosmos becomes pure pneuma from which it regenerates itself. 

The Stoics conceived of the cosmos as a whole and single entity, a living thing with a soul of its own, a spherical continuum of matter held together by the orderly power of Zeus through the causality of the pneuma that pervades it. This divine pneuma that is the soul of the cosmos supplies the pneuma in its varying grades for everything in the world. 




Impact on Christianity

In his Introduction to the 1964 book Meditations, the Anglican priest Maxwell Staniforth discussed the profound impact of Stoicism on Christianity. In particular:

Another Stoic concept which offered inspiration to the Church was that of 'divine Spirit'. Cleanthes, wishing to give more explicit meaning to Zeno's 'creative fire', had been the first to hit upon the term pneuma, or 'spirit', to describe it. Like fire, this intelligent 'spirit' was imagined as a tenuous substance akin to a current of air or breath, but essentially possessing the quality of warmth; it was immanent in the universe as God, and in man as the soul and life-giving principle.


1) PNEUMA IN REFERENCE TO GOD: In Jn.4.24: "God [is] spirit (pneuma), and those who are showing submission must show submission in spirit (pneuma) and truth. Note: God does not HAVE spirit, God IS (a) spirit. This concept of God being "spirit" also occurs in Eph.2.22: "...in whom you+ also are built up together into God's residence in spirit."

2) PNEUMA REFERRING TO THE SPIRIT OF A HUMAN (including Jesus while in the flesh): "To pneuma" with the definite article or other modifier as in Rom.1.9: "For God is my witness, to whom I do [godly] service in my spirit (pneuma) in the good news of his Son..." Also Rom.8.16: "The Spirit (pneuma) himself testifies with our spirit (pneuma) that we are children of God."

Clearly it is not a long step from this to the 'Holy Spirit' of Christian theology, the 'Lord and Giver of life', visibly manifested as tongues of fire at Pentecost and ever since associated – in the Christian as in the Stoic mind – with the ideas of vital fire and beneficient warmth. 

Baltzly, Dirk. "Stoicism." The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Edited by Edward N. Zalta. Taylor & Francis, 1998.

Stoicism," Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Spring 2008
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/21325/21325-h/21325-h.htm#CHAPTER_VIII

Pneuma

martes, 16 de enero de 2018

Fragmentos: Karl Jaspers







Fragmentos: Karl Jaspers
“Antinomia del día y la noche. La Norma del Día ordena nuestra realidad-humana; exige claridad, consecuencia, fidelidad sujeta a la Razón y a la Idea, a lo Uno y a Nosotros mismos; manda realizar en el mundo, edificar en el tiempo, perfeccionar la realidad-humana en un camino infinito. Pero en el límite del día habla algo distinto. Haberlo traspasado no nos tranquiliza. La Pasión de la Noche traspasa todos los órdenes. Se precipita en el intemporal abismo de la Nada, que arrastra todo en torbellino. Toda construcción en el tiempo, como manifestación histórica, le parece como una ilusión superficial. Para ella, la claridad no puede abrirse a nada esencial; o, más bien, olvidándose a sí misma, es la oscuridad lo que aprehende como tiniebla intemporal de lo Auténtico. Por un Ser-necesario inconcebible, que ni siquiera busca la posibilidad de justificarse, se hace incrédula e infiel con el Día. Ni deberes ni fin significan nada para ella; es vértigo y deseo de arruinarse en el mundo para realizarse en la profundidad de una abolición de todo mundo.”
Karl Jaspers, “La ley del día y la pasión de la noche” (El subrayado es mío)




Somos, por norma general los humanos, seres de mediodía. Seres del pensamiento de mediodía, como decía Camus. El mediodía, cuando el Sol está más alto, es cuando el mundo roza la eternidad inmovil y estable, en tono platónico casi. No existe ninguna sombra a esa hora que sea el negativo de lo que existe.


Todo está perfectamente identificado consigo mismo, no hay nada (la sombra) que perteneciendo al objeto vaya más allá de este. Es la luz, la que limita, la que define, la que concreta las cosas que nosotros vemos, y al identificarlas, las aprehendemos. Y nuestro mundo, el mundo que los humanos hemos construido, es un mundo de luz, de univocidades, de definición geométrica.

Porque esto es seguridad, es el reconocer las cosas, y ser/saberse un sujeto diferenciado del resto, tener también uno mismo identidad. No me estoy refiriendo a definición física, extensional, sino a todo el andamiaje conceptual, cultural, social, etc.: mira por un momento al mundo que te rodea y lo comprobarás.

Sin embargo, es en el momento en el que Jaspers se encuentra cuando esta pregunta, de saturada, toma un perfil trágico, y la pregunta se transforma a “¿por qué en general el Ser y no más bien la Nada?”. He ahí el lado oculto del hombre, el temor que toma visos de guilty pleasure, la obsesión que le lleva a iluminarlo todo necesariamente, huyendo de la sombra, de la Noche, como de un apestado, pero asumiendo que está ahí, y que para que haya definición, antes tiene que haber indefinición.

Eso es la Noche: la continuidad y la indiferencia de las cosas, la mezcolanza de todo. La oscuridad convoca al Caos, al que el hombre mira con cierta curiosidad, pero siempre con una valla blanca visible al fondo que nos da la seguridad de no haber caido en el abismo, de no habernos precipitado a la perdición de la inidentidad y dejar prácticamente de ser, porque si no se es nada en particular, no se existe más allá del mero existir (Sartre, La Nausea).



Karl Jaspers (1883 – 1969), como la muchos de los pensadores de su época, conocía esta cualidad del hombre de sobra, y puede que fuera a principios del s. XX cuando se fue consciente de este hecho. Antes era algo asumido, al igual que por ejemplo, la existencia misma: antes de Heidegger, coetaneo de Jaspers, la pregunta principal de la metafísica/ontología era “¿por qué en general el Ser y no más bien los seres (en referencia a la multiplicidad y el devenir)?”. 
Aún así, y pareciéndonos el día (la luz) lo que más puede socorrernos en momentos de incertidumbre, el día no nos aporta nada, porque en él todo está ya desplegado. Es la eternidad platónica de la que hablaba al comienzo. El día se convierte en un museo de arquetipos inmóviles, polvorientos, que en realidad nunca vamos a poder tocar. Es una seguridad ficticia, inalcanzable pese a razonable. Y en la noche está todo por desplegar, es la marabunta de lo posible y lo imposible. Y el hombre descubre que ahí hay mucho por descubrir. Lo nouménico kantian, el lado oculto -de la Luna-, la pasión  y el verdadero movimiento, lo Auténtico.
La definición del día limita y empobrece a las cosas, es en la indiferencia de los oscuro, como una raíz que se introduce en la tierra, donde aparece la substancia, el verdadero peso oculto que da lugar a la existencia. Sin el Caos, sin el batiburrillo fenoménico de la Noche, nuestras definiciones a plena luz no valdrían nada, como un libro en un museo. Y como intuimos que lo que tenemos en el día pueda estar vacío, nos arriesgamos a mirar a lo oscuro, al abismo. Y sin querer dar luz a la Noche, porque entonces caeríamos en el mismo error que en el día y se perdería lo que tiene de auténtico y genuino esa indiferencia.
De eso se dio cuenta el hombre a principios del s. XX, y fue consciente de su obsesión por la perdición, sin la que el Mundo (definido y seguro) no sería nada. Porque como decía el músico de jazz Thelonius Monk: 

“Siempre es de noche; si no, no necesitaríamos la luz”.


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JASPERS Y LA FILOSOFÍA DE LA EXISTENCIA





Hans Saner  describe la filosofía de Jaspers de la siguiente manera:

La filosofía de Jaspers, desde sus comienzos hasta hoy, es una filosofía existencialista. Esto no quiere decir únicamente ni en primer lugar, que su filosofía aspira al “conocimiento de la existencia”. Desea más bien estimular la existencia posible hacia una existencia real. Su objeto es la realización de la existencia [Jaspers, 1969: 19].

Por su parte, Jaspers, rechazó en su momento el que se le catalogara a su filosofía como “existencialista”, ya que para él dicho término es como un “apodo” [Cfr. Portuondo, 2012: 10].

En su obra Filosofía , Jaspers habla más bien de su filosofía como una “filosofía de la existencia” [Jaspers, 1958, II: 216]. Algunos autores hacen referencia a la filosofía de Jaspers, como una “filosofía existencial” o una “filosofía de la existencia” de manera indistinta 5

4 Hans Saner fue el último asistente de Karl Jaspers en la Universidad de Basilea.
5  Entre ellos: Emmanuel Mounier en Introducción a los existencialismos;
 Gladys Portuondo en La existencia en busca de la razón;
 Regis Jolivet en Las doctrinas existencialistas;
 Kurt Salamun en Karl Jaspers 


Link




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Hans Saner

Hans Saner is both an original thinker and a link to the great days of existentialism. Filiz Peach asked him about his relationship with Karl Jaspers, and about the future of philosophy.

Thinkers are often not fully appreciated during their lifetimes. One example is the Swiss philosopher, 


Hans Saner


Professor Hans Saner. 

It is regrettable that his name is hardly known in the English-speaking world – for on the Continent of Europe his scholarship and his original contributions to philosophy are widely recognised. Those few in Britain and North America who do encounter his work usually do so as a result of an interest in existentialism, and particularly if they are interested in the ideas of the great existentialist Karl Jaspers (1883-1969). Jaspers himself has also been rather neglected in the Englishspeaking countries, but is widely regarded as one of the three leading figures of 20th century existentialism, along with Heidegger and Sartre. The connection between Saner and Jaspers is an important one; Saner was Jaspers’ last personal assistant at Basle University between 1962 and 1969.

Hans Saner’s contribution to our understanding of Jaspers’ philosophy is invaluable. He has written, published and edited a vast amount about it, and he has a vivid way of explaining Jaspers’ sometimes obscure and difficult concepts and views. He sometimes resorts to diagrams and arrows to map out the relationship between Jaspers’ concepts of Dasein, Existenz, Transcendence, Reason, and so forth.

Saner’s contributions to philosophy are not limited to the analysis and clarification of Jaspers’ philosophy, and he has written and published a great deal on art, science, religion and politics too. In my view, Die Anarchie der Stille, which is described as ‘philosophy as experimental thinking’, is where his particular style and wit are best exemplified. In it, one finds his thoughts on various themes written in short paragraphs and aphorisms. Alas, it has not yet been translated into English.

Professor Saner, could you tell our readers where your main philosophical interests lie?
In the history of philosophy my main interests are in Spinoza, Kant, Jaspers and Hannah Arendt – and in systematic philosophy they are in problems of anthropological, political, aesthetic and cultural philosophy.

You are an eminent authority on the philosophy of Karl Jaspers. What, to your mind, was the most important contribution which the existential philosophy of Karl Jaspers made in the 20th century?

In the early years it was without doubt the philosophy of boundary situations in its tension with existential communication. In the later years I see his greatest importance in opening up European philosophy to non-European thought and in the critical destruction of all philosophies, ideologies and beliefs which tended towards closed and totalitarian structures.

In what respect, if at all, has Jaspers’ philosophy influenced your own thinking?

For me his philosophy opened the prison-gates which every human being carries in his head; it has given me a consciousness of the architecture of reality and of how to think about reality. An even more forceful impact, however, was meeting the man. He was a sovereign and eloquent partner in conversation, who possessed an unequalled culture of precise listening and clear responding. At that time I was young and still almost inexperienced in thinking, and he seemed to me like the very incarnation of philosophy.

How do you assess the relation between the theoretical and the practical task of philosophy in society?

The tasks of theoretical and practical philosophy in society are the same. They clarify our conscious thought and give it orientation in the world. It seems to me therefore that theory and practice ought to be combined in all philosophising. They are, as Jaspers has said, the two wings of thought. If one is missing, the practical becomes flat or the theoretical unworldly. When they move together you never know which one contributes more to the fulfilment of their tasks

What is your prediction for the future of philosophy?

That it will be needed.

Then what, to your mind, is the main task of a philosopher?
That he, within his powers, contributes to enlightening his time and that he has the courage and independence to say what he thinks.

What have we been able to learn from the 20th century?

That there must never again be a world war or a war among the great European states; that we have an obligation to resist when we are being forced into political obedience; also that we can do more than we are allowed to do; that freedom without justice causes too great a misfortune to too many people, as does freedom without reason; that, however, equality without freedom is the misfortune of all.

Do you believe that philosophers in the new millennium will have to attend to new tasks and new responsibilities?

Certainly there will be new technologies which will give rise to new moral problems. The world population is going to drastically increase, and available resources are going to decrease. Ecological problems are going to be aggravated. The economically less developed peoples are going to make their claims. The poor in Europe are going to storm the stock markets like the third estate once stormed the Bastille. In the background, however, the ancient questions are going to remain: Where do we come from? Why do we live? What is going to become of the world? Where are we going? 

And philosophers will be right back at the beginning and will be as puzzled as ever.

Do you envision a significant globalisation of philosophy in the near future?

The kind of philosophy which would lend itself to globalisation would have to be a world philosophy. I don’t mean a philosophy which spread throughout the whole world, but instead a kind of thinking capable of comprehending everything that is thought and has been thought in the world. Only such a philosophy of understanding could be global without coersion. Any philosophy, however, which wanted to gain world-wide acceptance, would be accompanied by a claim to power and would, in its attempts to be implemented, resort to force. This kind of philosophical imperialism would be ideological and deeply counter-rational. It would be a catastrophe, whether it was called analytical philosophy, deconstructionism or postmodernism.

Thanks for the interview.

[Filiz Peach is working on a PhD on Karl Jaspers’ views on death.]

[Interview translated from the German by Anja Steinbauer.]

 https://philosophynow.org/issues/32/Hans_Saner





martes, 26 de diciembre de 2017

Jacques Monod: El Azar y la necesidad!

Jacques Monod - Facts

Jacques Monod
Born: 9 February 1910, Paris, France. Died: 31 May 1976, Cannes, France



Affiliation at the time of the award: Institut Pasteur, Paris, France
Prize motivation: "for their discoveries concerning genetic control of enzyme and virus synthesis"
Field: genetics, molecular biology

Work
The biochemical processes that take place within an organism's cells are controlled by the genes found inside DNA molecules. Jacques Monod and François Jacob proved how the genetic information is converted during the formation of proteins by means of a messenger, which proved to the substance we now know as RNA. Different cells work in different ways at different times, however. This too is regulated by genes. In the early 1960s Jacques Monod and François Jacob mapped the intricate processes that determine how genes are expressed or suppressed in a self-regulating process.

Both Monod, with François Jacob, did much to elucidate how genes regulate cell metabolism by directing the biosynthesis of enzymes. The pair shared, along with André Lwoff, the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1965.

In 1961 Jacob and Monod proposed the existence of a messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), a substance whose base sequence is complementary to that of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in the cell. 

They postulated that the messenger carries the “information” encoded in the base sequence to ribosomes, the sites of protein synthesis; here the base sequence of the messenger RNA is translated into the amino acid sequence of a proteinaceous enzyme (biological catalyst).

In advancing the concept of gene complexes that they called operons, Jacob and Monod postulated the existence of a class of genes that regulate the function of other genes by affecting the synthesis of messenger RNA. For this work, which has been proved generally correct for bacteria, the two men were awarded a Nobel Prize.

Monod’s book-length essay Le Hasard et la nécessité (1970; Chance and Necessity) argued that the origin of life and the process of evolution are the result of chance. Monod joined the staff of the Pasteur Institute in Paris in 1945 and became its director in 1971.

Chance and Necessity. (El azar y la necesidad)
Chance and Necessity: Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology (French: Le Hasard et la Nécessité: Essai sur la philosophie naturelle de la biologie moderne) is a 1970 book by Nobel Prize winner Jacques Monod, interpreting the processes of evolution to show that life is only the result of natural processes by "pure chance". The basic tenet of this book is that systems in nature with molecular biology, such as enzymatic biofeedback loops can be explained without having to invoke final causality.



Teleonomic
In this book, Monod adopted the term teleonomic to permit recognition of purpose in biology without appealing to a final cause.

Inspiration
According to the introduction the book's title was inspired by a line attributed to Democritus, "Everything existing in the universe is the fruit of chance and necessity."

Awards
The first U.S. edition (New York: Vintage, 1971), translated by Austryn Wainhouse, won the National Book Award in category Translation.[1]

Summary
Monod starts the preface of the book by saying that biology is both marginal and central. He goes on to explain that it is marginal because the living world is only a fraction of the universe. Monod believes the ultimate aim of science is to "clarify man's relationship to the universe" (Monod, xi) and from that reasoning he accords biology a central role. He goes on to state that he does not intend to make a thorough survey of modern biology but rather to "bring out the form of its key concepts and to point out their logical relationships with other areas of thought…it is an avowed attempt to extract the quintessence of the molecular theory of the code" (Monod, xiii).

Monod stresses the importance of the molecular theory of the genetic code as a physical theory of heredity and brands it as the "secret of life". He continues to explain how this important discovery has made it the duty of scientists to share with and enhance other disciplines of thought such as philosophy. Toward the end of the preface Monod offers apology for any overly tedious or technical sections. He also warns that some ethical and political ideas he presents may seem naïve or ambitious but then states "Modesty benefits the scientist, but not the ideas that inhabit him and which he is under the obligation of upholding"(Monod, xiv). In the last paragraph of the preface Monod explains that his essay developed from the Robins Lectures that he gave in 1969 at Pomona College.

Of strange objects
Monod starts off chapter I entitled "Of Strange Objects" with a consideration of the difference between natural and artificial objects and states that "the basic premise of the scientific method... [is] that nature is objective and not projective"(Monod, 3). Through a series of thought experiments and rhetorical questions he leads the reader on a difficult path to three characteristics of living beings. 

One is teleonomy which Monod defines as the characteristic of being "endowed with a purpose or project"(Monod, 9).

Another is autonomous morphogenesis which points out that a living being’s structure results from interactions within the being as opposed to the external forces that shape artificial artifacts. Monod offers a single exception to this last criterion in the form of a crystal and at this point he states that the internal forces that determine structure within living beings are "of the same nature as the microscopic interactions responsible for crystalline morphologies"(Monod, 11), a theme that he promises to develop in later chapters.

The last general property Monod offers up as distinguishing living organisms is reproductive invariance which is the ability of a living being to reproduce and transmit the information corresponding to their own highly ordered structure. The author defines the primary telonomic project "as consisting in the transmission from generation to generation of the invariance content characteristic of the species"(Monod, 14) (the preservation and multiplication of the species).

Monod later retracts autonomous morphogenesis (spontaneous structuration) as a property of living beings and says instead that it should be thought of as "mechanism" leaving two essential properties of living beings: reproductive invariance and structural teleonomy. He then brings up and defends against a possible thermodynamic objection to reproductive invariance and points out the extreme efficiency of the teleonomic apparatus in accomplishing the preservation and reproduction of the structure. Here the author restates that nature is objective and does not pursue an end or have a purpose and he points out an apparent "epistemological [the study of the origin, nature, methods, and limits of human knowledge] contradiction" between the teleonomic character of living organisms and the principle of objectivity. With that cliffhanger of internal intellectual struggle Monod ends chapter one.

Vitalisms and animisms
In chapter two "Vitalisms and Animisms" Monod states that invariance must have preceded teleonomy, a conclusion reached by the Darwinian idea that teleonomic structures are due to variations in structures that already had the property of invariance and could therefore preserve the effects of chance mutations. He offers the selective theory as being consistent with the postulate of objectivity and allowing for epistemological coherence.

The author then says that in the rest of the chapter he will address religious ideologies and philosophical systems that assume the reverse hypothesis: that invariance developed out of an initial teleonomic principle (this defies the principle of objectivity). He divides these theories into vitalist, in which the teleonomic principle operates only in living matter (there is a purpose/direction in which living things alone develop), and animist, in which there is a universal teleonomic principle (that is expressed more intensely in the biosphere and therefore living beings are seen as products of universally oriented evolution which has culminated in mankind).

Monod admits he is more interested in animism and will therefore devote more analysis to it. He briefly discuses the murky metaphysical vitalism of Henri Bergson and then discusses the scientific vitalism of Elsasser and Polanyi which contend that physical forces and chemical interactions that have been studied in non-living matter do not fully account for invariance and teleonomy and therefore other "biotonic laws" are at work in living matter.

The author points out that the scientific vitalist argument lacks support and that it draws its justification not from knowledge or observations but from our present day lack of knowledge. He goes on to point out that today the mechanism of invariance is sufficiently understood to the point that no non-physical principle ("biotonic law") is needed for its interpretation. Monod next points out that our ancestors had a history of animating objects by giving spirits to them so as to bridge the apparent gap between the living and non-living. To them a being made sense and was understandable only through the purpose animating the being and so if mysterious objects, such as rocks, rivers, rain, and stars, exist it must also be for a purpose (essentially there are no inanimate objects to them). The author says that this animist belief is due to a projection of man's awareness of his own teleonomic functioning onto inanimate nature.

Nature is explained with the same conscious and purposive manner as human activity. Monod points out that this animist line of thought is still present in philosophy that makes no essential distinction between matter and life and frames biological evolution as a component of cosmic evolution (evolutive force operating throughout the entire universe). He contends that these lines of thought abandon the postulate of objectivity and also contain the anthropocentric illusion. At the end of this chapter Monod states that the thesis he "shall present in this book is that the biosphere does not contain a predictable class of objects or of events but constitutes a particular occurrence, compatible indeed with first principles, but not deducible from those principles and therefore essentially unpredictable" (Monod, 43). In his view the biosphere is unpredictable for the same reason that the particular configuration of atoms in a pebble are unpredictable. 

By this Monod does not mean to imply that the biosphere is not explicable from initial conditions/first principles but that it is not deducible (at best predictions could be no more than statistical probabilities of existence). He then points out that society is willing to accept a universal theory that is compatible with but does not foresee the particular configuration of atoms in a pebble but it is a different story when it comes to humans; "We would like to think ourselves necessary, inevitable, ordained from all eternity. All religions, nearly all philosophies, and even a part of science testify to the unwearying, heroic effort of mankind desperately denying its own contingency" (Monod, 44). It is this contingency of human existence that is the central message of Chance and Necessity; that life arose by chance and all beings of life, including humans, are the products of natural selection.



The demon of Maxwell
The third chapter is named "Maxwell's Demons". It starts off by stating that proteins are the molecular agents of teleonomic performance in living beings. Monod continues by writing that living beings are chemical machines, every organism constitutes a coherent and functional unit, and that the organism is a self-constructing machine whose macroscopic structure is not determined by outside forces but by autonomous internal interactions. The author spends much of the chapter reviewing general facts of biochemistry. He explains that proteins are composed of 100-10,000 amino acids and he distinguishes between elongated fibrous proteins that play a mechanical role and the more numerous globular proteins that are folded upon themselves.

He talks about the extraordinary specificity of action that enzymes display as exemplified by their ability to not only recognize a specific geometric isomer but an optical isomer as well. He points out that enzymes are optically active themselves, L isomers are the "natural" isomers, and that the specificity of action and the sterospecificity of the reaction conducted by an enzyme are the result of the positioning of the molecules with respect to each other.

Monod writes that an enzymatic reaction can be seen in two steps: The formation of a sterospecific complex between protein and substrate and the catalytic activation of a reaction within the complex (he stresses again that the reaction is oriented and specified by the structure of the complex). He next considers the energetic differences between covalent and non-covalent bonds and how the speed of a reaction is affected by activation energy. Since the activation energy of a covalent bond is high the reaction will have a slower speed than that of a non-covalent bond (which occurs spontaneously and rapidly). The author points out that non-covalent interactions attain stability only through numerous interactions and when applied over short distances.

To attain stable non-covalent interaction there is a need for complementary sites between two interacting molecules so as to permit several atoms of the one to enter into contact with several atoms of the other. In this complex the molecule of substrate is strictly positioned by the multiple non-covalent interactions with the enzyme. Enzymatic catalysis is believed to result from the inductive and polarizing action of certain chemical groupings of the specific receptor. By virtue of an enzyme's capacity to form sterospecific and non-covalent complexes with specific substrate the substrate is correctly presented in the precise orientation that specifies the catalytic effect of the enzyme. Monod reminds us that this reaction comes at the expense of chemical potential energy.

Microscopic cybernetics
In chapter four ("Microscopic Cybernetics") the author starts out by repeating the characteristic of extreme specificity of enzymes and the extreme efficiency of the chemical machinery in living organisms. The large scale coordination among cells provided by the nervous and endocrine system is brought to the readers’ attention. The rest of the chapter is a discussion of the principles that cell metabolism works by. Monod first brings up allosteric enzymes that are capable of recognizing compounds other than a substrate whose association with the enzyme protein has a modifying effect of heightening or inhibiting the enzyme activity with respect to the substrate. Monod lists and defines four regulatory patterns. The first is feedback inhibition. Feedback activation is when the enzyme is activated by a product of degradation of the terminal metabolite.

 Parallel activation takes place when the first enzyme of a metabolic sequence is activated by a metabolite synthesized by an independent parallel sequence. Activation through a precursor is defined as when an enzyme is activated by a precursor of its substrate and a particularly frequent case of this is activation of the enzyme by the substrate itself. Allosteric enzymes are usually under the simultaneous control of several allosteric effectors. Next Monod makes reference to his own research and talks about the S shaped non-linear curve that is characteristic of allosteric enzymes when activity is plotted against concentration of an effector (including the substrate). Allosteric interactions are mediated by discrete shifts in the proteins structure and this allows certain proteins to assume different conformational states.

Cooperative and antagonistic interactions of ligands are indirect: ligands interact with the protein not with other ligands. Allosteric proteins are oligomeric (made up of identical protomer subunits) and each protomer has a receptor for each of the ligands. As a consequence of protomer assembly each subunit is constrained by its neighbor. Upon dissociation each protomer can assume a relaxed state and this concerted response of each protomer accounts for the nonlinearity of enzyme activity: a ligand molecule that stabilizes the relaxed state of one of the monomers prevents the others from returning to the associated state. These simple molecular mechanisms account for the integrative properties of allosteric enzymes.

Monod again references his own work as he talks about the lactose system (consisting of three proteins) in Escherica coli. He explains that galactoside permease (one of the proteins in the lactose system) enables the galactoside sugars to penetrate and accumulate within the cell. When Escherica coli are grown in a medium with no galactosides the three proteins are synthesized very slowly (about one molecule every five generations). About two minutes after adding a galactoside inducer the rate of synthesis of the three proteins increases a thousandfold.

Monod explains that the rate of mRNA synthesis from the lactose operon determines the rate of the proteins synthesis. He lists the components of the regulatory system as i, the regulator gene that directs constant synthesis of the repressor protein (R), o, the operator segment of DNA that the repressor specifically recognizes and forms a stable complex with, and p, the DNA promoter where RNA polymerase binds. Synthesis of mRNA is blocked when the repressor is bound to the operator. When the repressor is in the free state it is able to recognize and bind beta galactosides thus dissociating the operator repressor complex and permitting synthesis of the mRNA and protein.

Monod spends some time stressing that there need be no chemical relationship between a substrate and an allosteric ligand and it is this "gratuity" that has allowed molecular evolution to make a huge network of interconnections and make each organism an autonomous functional unit. In the last part of the chapter Monod criticizes "holists" who challenge the value to analytically complex systems such as living organisms and that complex systems cannot be reduced to the sum of their parts. Monod first gives an example of dissecting a computer and then points out how teleonomic performances can be seen on a molecular level. He also states that the complexity of the cybernetic network in living beings is far too complex to study by the overall behavior of whole organisms.

Molecular ontogeny
At the start of chapter five "Molecular Ontogenesis" Monod states he will show that the process of spontaneous autonomous morphogenesis depends upon "the sterospecific recognition properties of proteins; that it is primarily a microscopic process before manifesting itself in macroscopic structures. Finally, it is the primary structure of proteins that we shall consult for the "secret" to those cognitive properties thanks to which, like Maxwell's demons, they animate and build living systems" (Monod 81).
Monod mentions oligomeric globular proteins again and how they appear in aggregates containing geometrically equivalent protomer subunits associated into a non-covalent steric complex. With mild treatment protomers are separated and the oligomer protein loses function but if the initial "normal" conditions are restored the subunits will usually reassemble spontaneously. This spontaneity is due to the fact that the chemical potential needed to form the oligomer is present in the solution of monomers and because the bonds formed are non-covalent. The author continues to mention the sterospecific, spontaneous assembly of ribosomes and T4 bacteriophage from their protein constituents in vitro.

Monod points out that the overall scheme/architectural plan of the multi-molecular complex is contained in the structure of its constituent parts and it is therefore able to spontaneously self-assemble. Next Monod reviews the primary and tertiary structure of proteins. In reviewing the tertiary structure, what he calls the native shape, he talks about the non-covalent interactions which bind the amino acids and the folding that determines the molecules three-dimensional shape including the sterospecific binding site.

The author then writes that a primary structure exists in a single (or a small number of related states, as is the case with allosteric proteins) precisely defined conformational native state under normal physiological conditions. Prior to folding there is no biological activity. The sequence of the amino acid residues and the initial conditions determine the protein folding and therefore dictate the function. Monod splits up organism development into four broad stages: First the folding of the polypeptide sequence into globular proteins, then the association between proteins into organelles, thirdly the interactions between cells that make up tissue and organs, and lastly "coordination and differentiation of chemical activities via allosteric-type interactions" (Monod,95).

Each stage is more highly ordered and results from spontaneous interactions between products of the previous stage and the initial source is the genetic information represented by the polypeptide sequences. The author then spends some time developing the fact that the preceding sequence of amino acids had no bearing on what the next amino acid will be. He says this "random" message seems to be composed haphazardly from a random origin and he ends the chapter poetically when he writes "Randomness caught on the wing, preserved, reproduced by the machinery of invariance and thus converted into order, rule, and necessity. A totally blind process can by definition lead to anything; it can even lead to vision itself" (Monod 98).

Invariance and perturbation
Chapter six is entitled "Invariance and Perturbations”. The similarity throughout all organisms of chemical machinery in both structure and function is set out. In regards to structure, all living beings are made up of proteins and nucleic acids and these are the same residues (twenty amino acids and four nucleotides). Similar functions are carried out by the same sequence of reactions that appear in all organisms for essential chemical operations (some variations exist that consist of new utilizations of universal metabolic sequences). On page 104 Monod states "The fundamental biological invariant is DNA.

That is why Mendel's definition of the gene as the unvarying bearer of hereditary traits, its chemical identification by Avery (confirmed by Hershey), and the elucidation by Watson and Crick of the structural basis of its replicative invariance, without any doubt constitute the most important discoveries ever made in biology." He adds that the full significance of the theory of natural selection was established by these discoveries. There is a brief review of DNA whose structure is a helix with translational and rotational symmetry and if artificially separated the complementary strands will spontaneously reform.

A very brief review of DNA synthesis by DNA polymerase is given. The sequence of nucleotides in DNA defines the sequence of amino acids which in turn defines the folding of proteins which in turn defines an organism; "One must regard the total organism as the ultimate epigenetic expression of the genetic message itself" (Monod, 109).

The author makes the point that translation is irreversible and never takes place from protein to DNA. In the last part of the chapter the author brings up the important subject of mutations. Various mutations such as substitutions, deletions, and inversions are listed. The accidental random chance of these mutations and that these unpredictable mutations alone that are the source of evolution is pointed out and exemplified. The "error" in the genetic message will be replicated with a high degree of fidelity. In the words of Monod "the same source of fortuitous perturbations, of ‘noise’...is the progenitor of evolution in the biosphere and accounts for its unrestricted liberty of creation, thanks to the replicative structure of DNA: that registry of chance, that tone-deaf conservatory where the noise is preserved along with the music" (Monod, 117).

Evolution
That mutations are unpredictable, faithfully replicated, and that natural selection operates only upon the products of chance is repeated at the start of chapter seven entitled "Evolution". Monod states that the decisive factor in natural selection is not the "struggle for life" but is the differential rate of reproduction and the only mutations "acceptable" to an organism are those that "do not lessen the coherence of the teleonomic apparatus, but rather, further strengthen it in its already assumed orientation" (Monod, 119). Monod explains that the teleonomic performance is judged through natural selection and this system retains only a very small fraction of mutations that will perfect and enrich the teleonomic apparatus.

Monod gives the example of antibody development to show how chance combinations can give a well defined solution. He states that the source of information for the antibodies associative structure is not the antigen itself but is instead the result of many random recombinations of part of the antibody gene. The antibody that is able to bind to the antigen is multiplied. This remarkable example shows chance as the basis for one of the most precise adaptation phenomena. Monod makes the point that selection of a mutation is due to the environmental surroundings of the organism and the teleonomic performances. He then gives some examples to show the interconnection of specific performances/behaviors and anatomical adaptations.

The author spends the rest of the chapter discussing linguistic and physical human evolutionary development. Language is an utterly different from the various auditory, tactile, and visual forms of communication in that it allows the communication of an original personal association to another individual. Monod hypothesizes that language was not merely the product but one of the driving forces for the evolution of our central nervous system. He believes that rudimentary symbolic communication appeared early on and created a new selective pressure that favored development of linguistic ability and hence the brain. He then talks about the evolution of our ancestors including the development of upright posture which allowed them to become hunters. Monod lastly points out the evidence to suggest the development of the cognitive function of language in children depends upon postnatal growth of the cortex.

The boundary
In chapter eight "The Frontiers" Monod captures the sense of wonderment one feels when considering the extraordinary diversity and complexity of organisms that has been brought about through billions of years of evolution when he says " The miracle stands "explained"; it does not strike us as any less miraculous" (Monod, 138). Three stages which led to the emergence of the first organism are proposed. First there must have been the formation of nucleotides and amino acids from simple carbon compounds and non-biological catalysts. Next would have been the formation of the first macromolecules capable of replication probably through spontaneous base pairing.

And lastly the evolution of a teleonomic apparatus around the "replicative structures" would lead to the primitive cell. The author next turns his attention to the central nervous system. He lists the prime functions of the brain in mammals as control and coordination of neuromuscular activity, to set into action innate programs of action in response to stimuli, to integrate sensory inputs, to register, group, and associate significant events, and to represent and simulate.

Monod makes the point that behavior cannot be strictly separated as learned or innate since elements are acquired through experience according to an innate program and "the programs structure initiates and guides early learning, which will follow a certain pre-established pattern defined by the species' genetic patrimony" (Monod, 153). The author now concentrates on what he views as one of the unique properties of higher level organisms, namely that of simulating experience subjectively so as to anticipate results and prepare action.

Monod describes as "the frontier" the work that is to be done that will enable us to understand how this instrument of intuitive preconception works. He believes this understanding will enable mankind to eliminate the dualism of differentiating between the brain and the mind. He ends the chapter stating "To give up the illusion that sees in it an immaterial "substance" is not to deny the existence of the soul, but on the contrary to begin to recognize the complexity, the richness, the unfathomable profoundity of the genetic and cultural heritage and of the personal experience, conscious or otherwise, which together constitute this being of ours” (Monod, 159).

The Kingdom and darkness
The last chapter in the book is “The Kingdom and the Darkness”. Once man extended his domain over the subhuman sphere and dominated his environment the main threat became other men and tribal warfare came to be an important evolutionary selection factor and this would favor group cohesion. Cultural evolution affected physical evolution; “it is behavior that orients selective pressure” (Monod, 162).

The author then says that due to the accelerating pace of cultural evolution, it no longer affects the genome and that selection does not favor the genetic survival of the fittest through a more numerous progeny. He brings up statistics that show a negative correlation between intelligence and the average number of children per couple and a positive correlation of intelligence between spouses which concentrates them among a shrinking elite. He also points to scientific and ethical advances that have allowed “genetic cripples” to live and reproduce (the author regards this as suspending natural selection). Monod says this suspension of natural selection is a peril to the species but that it will take quite a while for any serious effects and that there are more urgent dangers in modern society. He advances the idea “that nature is objective, that the systematic confronting of logic and experience is the sole source of true knowledge” (Monod, 165). He talks briefly about how ideas are selected based on the performance value and the spreading power (he states that ideas that explain man by assigning him a destiny spread the most).

 The author believes that we contain an inborn genetic need to search out the meaning of existence and that is responsible for the creation of myths, religion, and philosophy. He implies that this genetic component accounts for religion being the base of social structure and the reoccurrence of the same essential form in myths, religion, and philosophy. He admits that the idea of objective knowledge as the only source of truth may seem austere and unattractive in that it does not provide an explanation that will calm the anxiety of man; “It wrote an end to the ancient animist covenant between man and nature, leaving nothing in place of that precious bond but an anxious quest in a frozen universe of solitude” (Monod, 170).

The author points to what he sees as the acceptance of objective science in practice but not in spirit. 

He says that the important message of science is that in the defining of a new source of truth which demands revision of ethical premises and a total break with the animist tradition. Our values are rooted in animism and are at odds with objective knowledge and truth. This jarring and isolating revelation places value judgments within the hands of man himself. Monod believes that objective truth and the theory of values cannot be separated “because the very definition of “true” knowledge reposes in the final analysis upon an ethical postulate” (Monod, 173). It is at this point that author’s argument turns upon itself by admitting that making objectivity the condition for true knowledge, which helps to separate value judgments from true knowledge and define science, is itself an axiomatic ethical choice. By asserting the principle of objectivity, which is accepted in modern science, one is choosing to adhere to what Monod calls the ethic of knowledge.

 The author proposes that man should rise above his need for explanation and fear of solitude to accept the ethic of knowledge and frames this ethic as accepting both the animal and ideal in man. Jacques Monod ends the book with his fundamental conclusion that “The ancient covenant is in pieces; man knows at last that he is alone in the universe's unfeeling immensity, out of which he emerged only by chance. His destiny is nowhere spelled out, nor is his duty. The kingdom above or the darkness below; it is for him to choose” (Monod, 180).

Chance and Necessity: An Essay on the Natural Philosophy of Modern Biology by Jacques Monod, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1971,
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chance_and_Necessity

http://web.mit.edu/philosophy/religionandscience/chancenecessity1.pdf

Resumen del Azar y la cecesidad de Jacques Monod.
https://reasonandmeaning.com/2014/02/24/jacques-monod-a-cosmos-without-meaning/

sábado, 23 de diciembre de 2017

Heinrich Böll:

Heinrich Böll
GERMAN AUTHOR
WRITTEN BY: The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica
Alternative Title: Heinrich Theodor Böll



Heinrich Böll, in full Heinrich Theodor Böll, (born December 21, 1917, Cologne, Germany—died July 16, 1985, Bornheim-Merten, near Cologne, West Germany), German writer, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1972. Böll’s ironic novels on the travails of German life during and after World War II capture the changing psychology of the German nation.

The son of a cabinetmaker, Böll graduated from high school in 1937. He was called into compulsory labour service in 1938 and then served six years as a private and then a corporal in the German army, fighting on the Russian and other fronts. Böll’s wartime experiences—being wounded, deserting, becoming a prisoner of war—were central to the art of a writer who remembered the “frightful fate of being a soldier and having to wish that the war might be lost.” After the war he settled in his native Cologne.

Böll’s earliest success came with short stories, the first of which were published in 1947; these were later collected in Wanderer, kommst du nach Spa (1950; Traveller, If You Come to Spa). In his early novels Der Zug war pünktlich (1949; The Train Was on Time) and Wo warst du Adam? (1951; Adam, Where Art Thou?), he describes the grimness and despair of soldiers’ lives. The uneasiness of reality is explored in the life of a mechanic in Das Brot der frühen Jahre (1955; The Bread of Our Early Years) and in a family of architects in Billard um halb zehn (1959; Billiards at Half-Past Nine), which, with its interior monologues and flashbacks, is his most complex novel. In the popular Ansichten eines Clowns (1963; The Clown), the protagonist deteriorates through drinking from being a well-paid entertainer to a begging street musician.

Böll’s other writings include Und sagte kein einziges Wort (1953; Acquainted with the Night) and Ende einer Dienstfahrt (1966;
 End of a Mission), in which the trial of a father and son lays bare the character of the townspeople. In his longest novel, Gruppenbild mit Dame (1971;  Group Portrait with Lady), Böll presented a panorama of German life from the world wars to the 1970s through the accounts of the many people who have figured in the life of his middle-aged “lady,” Leni Pfeiffer.



 Die verlorene Ehre der Katharina Blum (1974; The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum) attacked modern journalistic ethics as well as the values of contemporary Germany.

 Was soll aus dem Jungen bloss werden?; oder, Irgendwas mit Büchern (1981; What’s to Become of the Boy?; or, Something to Do with Books) is a memoir of the period 1933–37.

 The novel Der Engel schwieg (The Silent Angel) was written in 1950 but first published posthumously in 1992; in it a German soldier struggles to survive in war-ravaged Cologne after World War II.

 Der blasse Hund (1995; The Mad Dog) collected previously unpublished short stories, while another early novel, 

Kreuz ohne Liebe (“Cross Without Love”), was first published in 2003.

A Roman Catholic and a pacifist, Böll developed a highly moral but individual vision of the society around him. A frequent theme of his was the individual’s acceptance or refusal of personal responsibility. Böll used austere prose and frequently sharp satire to present his antiwar, nonconformist point of view. He was widely regarded as the outstanding humanist interpreter of his nation’s experiences in World War II.

THE POLITICAL WRITER
Heinrich Böll
Heinrich Böll | Photo (detail): © Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung



Nobel-prize laureate Heinrich Böll, who died in 1985, advocated the concept of the enlightened, responsibly-minded citizen – yet was often derided.
In July 2015 thirty years will have passed during which one of the most important German-language writers has been missing from the literary scene: Heinrich Böll. He was born in Cologne in 1917 and was one of the generation of war veterans, writers of the zero hour and opponents of the Vietnam War and of nuclear warfare. He was also a critic of authority and a pacifist. Hardly any other German-language author received as much recognition in his lifetime. In 1972 he was awarded the Nobel Prize. His greatest literary success, the story entitled 

The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum (1974) sold six million copies in Germany alone.

Böll repeatedly succeeded in taking up and filtering out themes that were in the air, so to speak. His literary subjects almost all continue to have an uncanny relevance to this very day: for example, The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum describes the persecution of a young woman by the media. Ultimately the mercilessness of the sensationalist press forces the protagonist to commit an act of despair. Today the Newspaper, as Böll calls his fictional tabloid, alluding to Germany’s Bild Zeitung, would possibly be a digital medium, perhaps even Facebook.

ATTACK ON THE PRIVATE SPHERE
In his novel The Safety Net (1979) Böll engaged with a burgeoning network of surveillance. The occasion for this particular theme was the all-encompassing hysteria in the face of the terrorism of the extreme left-wing Red Army Fraktion (RAF). That highly topical and oppressive book outlines the attempted destruction of a family by “state security and surveillance measures”. The author knew what he was writing about: he himself was under police surveillance, had to suffer house searches and was the victim of a smear campaign. Although Böll distanced himself clearly from the methods and aims of the RAF, he was declared, even in the German Bundestag, to be an ideological accomplice of the terrorists. The only ones to defend him were Willy Brandt and several other member of the SPD party and of the liberal FDP party.

Böll’s major themes were the war and the post-war period: novels like And Never Said a Word (1953), House without Guardians (1954) or Billiards at Half-past Nine (1959) deal with the very tentative reappraisal of the theme of National Socialism in the 1950s. Böll was from a Catholic family and was critical of the NS-regime from the very start. While Günter Grass, who was ten years younger than him, volunteered to join the Waffen SS, Böll tried to avoid military service, initially writing applications for exemption so as to be able to study and later even feigning illness or forging leave passes.



A CONSTANT FOCUS ON “ORDINARY PEOPLE”
Scarcely any other author provides so much information about the reality of post-war life in the Federal Republic of Germany, the outcome and aftermath of the Second World War. He typically focussed not on the grand figures or heroes, but on “ordinary people” whose lives he chose to highlight. Böll’s touching and colourful stories about families torn between enthusiastic Nazis and Nazi-critics are more informative and better than many of the various other books published on this over the past decades.

It was not just through his writings that Böll exerted an influence. He was also a politically active author and contemporary citizen, in the sense of an enlightened responsibly-minded citoyen. His commitment to Willy Brandt and his Ostpolitik towards East Germany, his support for persecuted writers and advocacy of humane treatment for the German terrorists were widely talked about. He also incurred people’s anger for not binding himself to a particular political party. He was close to Willy Brandt, but was not a member of the SPD, unlike Grass. He may have taken a stand on concrete political issues, but he did not want to be monopolized by anyone.

SEEN BY SOME AS A NAÏVE “DO-GOODER”
Over the past decades, Böll’s social and environmental involvement have often be derided, with some writers and literary critics even presenting him as a naïve “do-gooder”. However, since new centres of conflict have flared up, even within Europe or on its border, things have changed. Böll’s commitment is no longer regarded as “outmoded”, but as exemplary. Now many young authors and artists are again commenting on political events. Yet a public figure like Böll no longer exists. He was one of the few great thinkers in Germany who did not take themselves too seriously.

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Böll’s death, Klaus Staeck, creator of a politically critical poster-art and long-time director of the Academy of the Arts in Berlin, wrote: “Several of the obituaries seem to be indicating … that today someone like Böll is somehow missing.”
Since then, little has changed.