Knowing how to live "slowly": praise of slowness from philosophy

Knowing how to live

The illusion of speed is the belief that it saves time, but in reality, haste and speed accelerate it. In today's world, slowness is tremendously subversive: we need to slow down in order to live.

Who was going to tell Luis Fonsi that withSlowly he was declaring the principles of a philosophical approach for our era, for a time of speed and haste, for a velociferian modernity ―in terms of the thinker R. Koselleck-, as Faustino Oncina puts it: «The carousel of the future turns faster and faster , of the future present, to which a soteriology of the now is intrinsic, whose contemporaries want everything and want it now. Faced with this painful example of self-denigration, what would happen if we slowed down and rediscovered that precious airbag, slowness? "

We live running, immersed in the speed, the rush and the immediate; herunning It is the epitome of our time. We run like headless chickens, traveling nowhere, on an endless wheel like laboratory mice.Hurry, hurry It was a controversial and award-winning film by Carlos Saura that crudely reflected the life without destiny of some young criminals from the Madrid suburbs, accelerated, violent, aimless (like our world?).

It is known as the Great Acceleration to the phenomenon of rapid socio-economic and biophysical transformations that began in the mid-20th century as a consequence of the enormous technological and economic development that occurred after the end of the Second World War and that has plunged the planet Earth into a new state of drastic changes unequivocally attributable to human activities, giving rise to what is known as the era of humans or Anthropocene, characterized by the enormous growth of the world economic-financial system, technological development and the deep ecological and biophysical crisis.

Faced with this hasty, accelerated panorama, we need to stop, calm down, reflect, determine goals for the good life, take perspective. In this sense, the slowness is tremendously subversive. We need to slow down in order to live. Look, contemplate, recreate, pay attention to detail, walk and not run, and make the way while walking, in the words of the teacher Antonio Machado.

Reason demands delay

Carl Honoré said a few years ago that living fast is not living, it is surviving, that we are trapped in the culture of haste and lack of patience, in a constant state of hyperstimulation and hyperactivity that reduces our ability to enjoy, to enjoy of the life.

As psychology has brilliantly explained, reason demands delay while haste loads us with biases and prejudices. And although our quick thinking can be adaptive in many circumstances, the lack of reflection and calm leads us to irrationality and poor decisions. This is really dangerous in everything that concerns the determination of the ends and the organization of life in common. Biases such as availability, group polarization, confirmation, gender and racial, have a distorting effect on human judgment that often leads to excessive fear of unlikely events and, at the same time, an unfounded trust towards situations that pose a genuine danger .

The rush is to fill life with feverish activities, speed, so that there is no time to face the real issues, the essentials. However, the rush we live in almost never responds to the fact that we have important things to do urgently, but to the requirements of a way of life that tries to keep us distracted and busy all the time.

The mobile and precarious life

On the one hand, mobile phones and social networks are designed to capture our attention for as long as possible and with the greatest intensity, in order to commercialize and monetize this attention to the maximum.

Jonathan Crary has made it crystal clear: Life without pause fosters "a culture void of self-promotion and self-absorption, of an instantaneity on demand, of acquiring and having while remaining isolated from the physical presence of others and from any sense of responsibility that is involved. may entail. The 24/7 system also undermines individual patience and deference that are crucial to any form of direct democracy: the patience to listen to others and wait for their turn to speak. The problem of waiting, of intervening in turns, is linked to a broader incompatibility of 24/7 capitalism with any social practice in which sharing, reciprocity or cooperation intervenes ”.

In his book24/7. Capitalism on the assault of the dream, Crary describes the dream as the enemy of the turbo-accelerated capitalism of our Anthropocene era. Sleep is subversive, it frees us from a plethora of simulated needs and its intrinsic passivity causes incalculable losses in production, circulation and consumption time: «Most of the seemingly irreducible needs of human life - hunger, thirst, sexual desire and, recently, friendship - have been reformulated as commodified or financialized forms. The dream raises the idea of ​​a human need and a temporality that cannot be colonized and harnessed to fuel the great engine of profitability and, therefore, remains an incongruous anomaly and a place of crisis in the global present.

On the other hand, as my colleague Rosana Triviño recalled, the lack of security and links associated with the workplace, untimely shifts and schedules, uncertainty, the mismatch between what is demanded to be done, what is received in return and what you want to do, cause a deep bankruptcy and vital anguish.

Being wrong is okay

It is impossible to finish everything in our performance societies, it does not matter if we propose a lot or a little. The impression of never being able to conclude something satisfactorily leads to a whirlpool that sinks us ceaselessly. We lack time; For everything we do, we use less time and yet we have less time than the previous generation. The more we rush, the less time we have left. And time becomes an instrument of domination because there is constant dissatisfaction with time (supposedly) wasted.

This is what happens with science and research, as Manuel Souto pointed out in a recent article inThe Conversation. Science and research need time to think, ask, study, experiment, test, propose. Investigation times must be slowed down. Science needs time to inquire and time to fail. The error has an undoubted epistemic and moral value: recognizing errors, correcting them and repairing them is the foundation for change, innovation and individual and social transformation. And it is what would characterize a critical and modest rationality (à la Popper), open to plurality, contingency, dissent and, ultimately, to the future.

Accelerated time

But it is also what happens with personal relationships, which have also accelerated, prioritizing thefast sex although this leads to a feeling of lack of intimacy and connection because afast-track intimacy. Human beings need connections, we want intimacy, but relationships are complex and require time, work, dedication and care. Appealing to technology (as some do from dating and contact websites) is a trap and a deception. What's more, people use theirsmartphones to escape the demands of privacy. If the first thing you touch in the morning and the last thing at night is your mobile phone and not your partner, there is a problem about your priorities.

The facilities that we have today to buy, move, work, communicate, are micro-releases that constitute, on the other hand, accelerations of a system that imprisons us more strongly. That which seems to free us from time and space alienates us in speed and haste. The illusion of speed is the belief that it saves time. But in reality, haste and speed accelerate time, which passes more quickly, shortening the days. Being in a hurry means doing several things at the same time and quickly and time fills up to bursting, like in a poorly arranged drawer where you put a lot of things haphazardly.

So, now you know, walk, don't run, look, observe, listen, reflect, sleep, love (although it is not easy); life is short enough to lose running in a hurry. We risk everything, personal life and the future of the planet.


By Txetxu Ausín, Senior Scientist, Institute of Philosophy, Applied Ethics Group,Center for Human and Social Sciences (CCHS - CSIC).

This article was originally published on The Conversation.

Video: Finding your Inner Tortoise - The Slow Movement by Carl Honore (August 2021).