Friday, 29 September 2017 00:00

Humanism and the Life Sciences: What is human?


GRANADA,  Spain. 
The University/Research Group of the Teresian Association (TA) met in Granada from August 25-29 at Colegio Mayor Santafé. They addressed studies on humanism and genetics, mutation of the virus of dualism, new diseases of humanism, and the humanism of Pedro Poveda in Guadix.  They also visited the Alhambra, rejuvenated and embellished, and walked through some notable places of the city.

This Group meets twice a year. The meetings combine - ever more wisely after decades of existence - study, cultural knowledge of the environment, reflection, dialogue, and papers. Of course, participants also experience personal encounters in their free time and the calm rhythm of a few days that are partly rest and partly discovery.

This year, in addition to the required visit to the Alhambra that will always be a historical, human and world heritage monument, the group spent a day in the city of Guadix.

Genetics and epigenetics

The meeting was inaugurated by the president of the Group, Carmen Azaustre. This was a surprising program for those who had never studied biology, chemistry, or anything scientific. María Victoria Arruga Laviña, Professor of genetics at the University of Zaragoza, delivered the keynote on Biological mechanisms (Genetics and Epigenetics) intrinsic to the human identity. Transhumanism and Post-humanism.

Epigenetics are stable heritable traits (or "phenotypes") that cannot be explained by changes in DNA sequence, such as the place where one is born, external influences, experiences, ... etc. As it was to be expected, the dialogue was intense. The speaker generated the desire to learn much more. Professor Maria Victoria was accompanied by her husband. It was the first time the group had contacted her and it was to be hoped that it would not be the last.

Mutation of the virus of dualism and diseases of humanism

Rafael Amo Usanos, Professor of Theological Anthropology and Bioethics at the Pontifical University of Comillas, spoke on The mutation of the virus of dualism and the new diseases of humanism. In his view, humanism is sick and on the verge of a multiorgan failure. The old dualistic virus has already attacked man. It has been mutating. And there are new viruses.

He referred to the three stages of humanism: classical, illustrated, and contemporary.

Classical humanism leads to freedom; the enlightened, to reason; the contemporary, to information.

The mutated virus of dualism has a vaccine: the emergent creed and emergentism. He summarized it in its basic lines: structure, relational ontology; pluralism or biological diversity. 


The papers, delivered in two days, opened new horizons of action from the perspective of our charism and mission: Loreto Ballester Reventós, spoke on Pedro Poveda and the contribution of the sciences to Christian humanism; M. Virtudes Moreno Martinez spoke about less familiar facets of a man, whose work we did not imagine so vast, so curious, so pre-Renaissance. Since we heard his name, in high school, he stayed there. He was a scholar who investigated many lines of knowledge with a thoroughness and a search for truth that arrived at surprising results: The Science of Ramón Llull; Thomas Sheehan delighted us with his reflections on a subject so dear to Goya, in his art, particularly in hisbrilliant painter in his prints. The presenter delivered his personal reflection on The Dream of Reason generates monsters; Emilia Serra Desfilis presented a work that opened horizons: 'Buentrato' and generative care at the University. The speaker spoke of something experienced. The word 'buentrato' does not exist in Spanish and it is opposite to another that unfortunately our dictionary picks up with all sorts of meanings: mistreatment. 'Buentrato' among colleagues, among all the people that make university life possible; Beatriz Núñez Angulo shared her experience with undergraduates from Burgos and schoolchildren in India: Working with emotional intelligence competencies with university students; María Paz Díez Prieto moved us with her talk about prisoners: With those who are the least. I was in jail and you came to see me. These are stories of life in the middle of what has been called "the university of crime." Carmen Azaustre Serrano presented the author of the Virginia Woolf poetry prize, Mª Antonia García de León Álvarez, and her poems titled No hay señal

After the study sessions, in the afternoon, the participants had the opportunity to learn about various cultural routes through the city of Granada, an activity prepared and accompanied by María Ángeles Martínez Rey Molina and her husband Jorge Fernández, presidents of ACIT of Eastern Andalusia.


The climax of these days was Guadix. We walked the city with new eyes in the footsteps of Poveda. The family house the seminary, the cathedral ... Encarnita González and Maribel Sancho  shared very valuable stories which invited us to see the young priest running from one side to the other, to fulfill all the orders from the bishop. 


  Mª Nieves San Martín Montilla



C/ Príncipe de Vergara, 88. 28006 Madrid, ESPAÑA