The Invisible Seen!

University and intellectuals in contemporary society


In the university, the questions must be constructed and the answers achieved must be dismantled. As long as it remains a mere center of instruction, it will be difficult to achieve different living conditions. And the realization of a better world will hardly be possible.


University and intellectuals in contemporary society should be areas from which critical thinking originates. The university as a space for research and analysis of reality. Intellectuals as a point of reference for reflection and questioning. But this is not always the case. More clearly, things are rarely as they should be.

What is expected of the University

It is high time that universities in our societies cease to be centers for molding fragmented beings and carriers of the virus of segmented knowledge. As long as the university remains a center of instruction, that euphemism that encompasses the slow and stubborn exhumation of wisdom, it will be difficult to conquer different living conditions. And the realization of another world will hardly be possible.

The impact of a transcendental educational renovation will surely take time, and may be a process of years. But the modification of a curriculum and a syllabus, the first steps, would be something brief, immediate, if there were the political will to do so. Something elementary that there is not and will not be in societies governed by the perverse and utilitarian logics of capital.

In the university, the school, the college, lie the supports of authentic transformation. The educational center will have to be a center of questioning; in this articulation, the university cannot be other than the major generator of critical thinking, which is not only the dismantling or digestion of a reality, but, above all, the open door for social proposition and construction.

Questions and answers

The power and validity of data, retentive and hypotheses is never in the dead letters that consign or formulate them, but in the capacity we have to break down their meanings and see them move through the window. Society requires suspicious beings, elusive to what they hear and see, and deeply suspicious of canned knowledge, of stupendous vacuum-packed ideas and of textbook artifices to succeed. There are no such.

Doubt is a useful tool to be art and part of the reality that we have for our, at times, elusive, at others, gimmicky. In those anguishing qualms may lie the secret for us not to be simple reciters of their theatrical snacks. In the university, questions are constructed and, as soon as possible, the brilliant answers achieved are dismantled.

University and intellectuals, and democratic forces

The role of intellectuals and democratic forces, in this reordering, has a lot to do with projecting the proper emphasis and encouraging reflection on the only effective grip that the transcendental has on earth: the everyday. Each one from his or her own perspective, spheres and competencies.

There lie the keys, the metaphorical, the allegorical or the symbolic, the ones you want and in sight, like The Purloined Letter (Allan Poe, 1844), in “a cardboard card holder with the filigree of a trinket, hung by a dirty blue ribbon from a ring…”. The crux to better understand what we are and to achieve the unequivocal commitment to what we do.

The attitude of the intellectual is neither conformity for the sake of conformity nor disagreement for the sake of disagreement. It is relentless dispute against iniquities, resistance against injustices and anger with the unreasonableness of everyday life.

From his words, alarms, uneasiness, despair and hope should emerge in a single sentence. The commotion of intellectuals should be the burden on the shoulders of societies, and especially of the academy. But this is rarely the case.

In this world of insecurities, exclusion, fascism, racism, supremacy and all conceivable maladjustments, social transformations are increasingly unavoidable and urgent, starting with the cultural one.

We all win in educational transformation

Many intellectuals, writers, thinkers, have great convening power, and their reflections could fuel that impulse without which any authentic transformation is unfeasible: motivation. And in this world of insecurities, exclusion, fascism, racism, supremacy and all conceivable maladjustments, social transformations are increasingly unavoidable and urgent, starting with the cultural one.

It seems that integration is advocated and praised in countless texts by reclusive and incommunicado writers. It is not so late as not to realize that the hours and years are slipping away. University and intellectuals, schools and philosophers, but also the media and opinion makers, institutions and leaders, should from time to time look at the calendar on the wall and the clock in their hands.

The struggle for the transformation of education, be that as it may, as a determinant for the future that awaits human beings, will not cease to be a battle of that category aptly defined by Flaubert (1911): “Always bloody” and always with two winners, “he who won and he who lost”. Because in this achievement, those who now vehemently obstruct it will also win, and perhaps even more so.


Flaubert, Gustave. (1911). Dictionary of commonplaces. (2019). Titivillus. Apple Books.
Poe, Edgar Allan. (1844). Complete short stories. (2016). Penguin Classics. Apple Books.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. (1762). Emile or Of education. (2017). Edu Robsy: Menorca.
AA. VV. (2012). Holy Bible. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:3). Biblioteca Autores Cristianos: Madrid. Available in:

Source Sua voz na conjuntura - Carta Maior
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