Letter about Philosophy in Brazil

hegelpd supports the opposition to the recent pronouncements of the Brazilian government on defunding philosophy and sociology in public Universities. For this reason, we feel the urgency to share the following open letter, which has already been signed by thousands of people around the world. Hegelpd invites those interested to join the international concern by sending the attached letter to the Brazilian senate


Dear Philosophers, If you agree with the attached letter please send it to the Brazilian senate;

On April 25th, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, along with his Minister of Education, Abraham Weintraub, declared the government’s intent to “decentralize investments in philosophy and sociology” within public universities, and to shift financial support to “areas that give immediate returns to taxpayers, such as veterinary science, engineering, and medicine.”

As professors, lecturers, graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and other scholars in philosophy and related disciplines at colleges and universities in the UK, the United States and worldwide, we write to declare our unwavering support for continued funding for philosophy programs at Brazilian universities. We oppose President Bolsonaro’s attempt to disinvest in philosophy , or any other program in the humanities or social sciences.

As historical and contemporary philosophers, we understand that the decades-long marketization of higher education has convinced many politicians – in Brazil, in the United States, and globally – that a university education is valuable only insofar as it is immediately profitable. We reject this premise.

The purpose of higher education is not to produce “immediate returns” on investments. The purpose of higher education must always be to produce an educated, enriched society that benefits from the collective endeavor to create human knowledge. Higher education is a purpose in and of itself.

An education in the full range of the arts and sciences is the cornerstone of a liberal arts education. This is as true in Brazil as it is in the United States as it is in any country in the world.

Brazilian philosophy departments produce socially engaged and critical thinkers, both in Brazil and worldwide. Brazilian sociologists contribute to the global production of sociological knowledge. They are our colleagues within the disciplines and within our shared departments and institutions. When philosophers from abroad conduct research or other academic work in Brazil, we are welcomed by Brazilian philosophers and by their departments. Many of our own students receive world-class training in philosophy at Brazilian universities.

President Bolsonaro’s intent to defund philosophy programs is an affront to the discipline, to the academy, and, most broadly, to the human pursuit of knowledge. This proposal is ill-conceived, and violates principles of academic freedom that ought to be integral to systems of higher education in Brazil, in the United States, and across the globe. We urge the Brazilian government to reconsider its proposition.

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