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Spirit of the World Conferences on Metaphysics

Now, more than ever, human thought needs comprehensive responses that can help alleviate the problems that beset the man of our time, and heal the painful cultural, religious, social and political cleavages that have marked modern history. Science, together with technology, cannot exhaust the field of culture. The economy alone does not provide sufficient bases for our life together. Even the religious dimension cannot claim a total autonomy, or self-sufficiency in the act of thinking, that leads it on to the ultimately destructive paths of integralism or fanaticism.

The metaphysical attitude is a deep driving force of the spirit that has been observed since the dawn of humanity to our day, but is first present in the constitution of the human being. This can already be appreciated in childhood: “Children want to know, with great tenacity in their continuous attempts and with their own methods of analysis –even destroying their toys for example– they also want to possess what is within their reach and then reject it because, as a matter of fact, they do not seek a fragmented knowledge, they do not want to own whatever comes in their way, and the manner of owning it means something to them. This search has a constant: an ecstatic, loving, emotional communication, not with “something”, but rather with “someone” who can fulfil their aspirations. This is why children make prosopopeias with animals, and even with inert objects. This is the first indication of the genetic character of the tendency to explore and possess the ultimate reason of things, revealed in different ways in each phase of the human life. From an early age, the discourse of human life begins, a human life that bears the sign of the most pathetic adversities: physically, in the family, the environment and society, and that will forge its formative orientation or accentuate its deformative tendencies in the different stages of its development” (Fernando Rielo, My meditations from the genetic model p. 163s.)

As human beings, our questioning goes beyond sectoral knowledge. Here we see both our greatness and our limitation. Indeed, we seek the foundation or absolute origin —and the rational intelligibility— of the multiplicity we know. Our thinking cannot stop arbitrarily at a certain point of the journey without suffocating, without self-inflicting a wound, because its dynamics are unlimited. And yet, we realize that we cannot reduce the ultimate foundation of reality to our formulas, and here we find the unequivocal motive for modesty that should characterize our thinking and our living. It is very healthy —even, necessary— for us, for culture, to give our vision this double movement of expansion and humility.

Metaphysics has then a healing function, of providing equilibrium and intelligibility to human society, its culture, its religiosity, its science. If we admit that mission, in this time of often spectacular moves forward in all areas of knowledge, we should ask ourselves if we can accept a metaphysical approach today and if it can contribute to real progress in all areas.
There is certainly something important to “correct” or “improve” for this discipline to be placed again at the heart of culture as a guiding light, so that it can truly fulfil its founding and integrating role in each field of research applied to life: physics, biology, social sciences; reflection on medicine, law, politics, economics, the arts, and a peaceful coexistence among peoples; and, in a particular way, the different religious traditions that channel the most intimate aspirations of human beings, now, in this era of globalization and of an almost worldwide pluralism due to massive migrations, in which more than ever it is necessary to interpret and assess properly the different forms of experience and develop a genuine model for interpretation that should evolve around the magna quaestio of our time: the definition of the human person, with all its scientific, social, legal and spiritual implications.

Metaphysics united with mysticism and with an empowering, inclusive and dialoguing epistemology can take the lead of a vital, creative humanism that is at the heart of the attempt to clarify who human persons are and what they are, with a view to protecting them against any possible manipulation or attack on their lives.