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Educação & Realidade

versão impressa ISSN 0100-3143versão On-line ISSN 2175-6236

Educ. Real. vol.44 no.2 Porto Alegre  2019  Epub 11-Abr-2019 


Notes on the Reception of Álvaro Vieira Pinto’s Thought: the Vaz case and education in Consciência e Realidade Nacional

Breno Augusto da CostaI

Adriano Eurípedes Medeiros MartinsI

IInstituto Federal do Triângulo Mineiro (IFTM), Uberlândia/MG - Brazil


The aim of this paper is to discuss the evaluation done by padre Vaz focusing in the accusation of the presence of totalitarianism in the work of Vieira Pinto, Consciência e Realidade Nacional. One of the critiques done by padre Vaz is that the work does not restores any social, historical, cultural or political trait linked to Brazil, the other one accuses the possibility of an implicit totalitarianism in the work of Vieira Pinto. However both of the critiques do not match with the thought exposed in the work. The vazian evaluation became a reference which influenced the reception of the work of Vieira Pinto by a reductionist bias.

Keywords: Álvaro Vieira Pinto; Consciência e Realidade Nacional; Lima Vaz; Brazilian Philosophy; Education


O objetivo deste trabalho é discutir a apreciação realizada por padre Vaz do livro de Álvaro Vieira Pinto, Consciência e Realidade Nacional, enfocando a imputação da presença de totalitarismo na obra, bem como apresentar as reflexões sobre educação nesta contidas. Uma das críticas realizada por padre Vaz é que a obra não restitui nenhum traço social, histórico, cultural ou político ligado ao Brasil, a outra acusa a possibilidade de um totalitarismo implícito na obra de Vieira Pinto. Entretanto, ambas as críticas não condizem com o pensamento exposto na obra. A apreciação de Vaz tornou-se uma referência, que influenciou a recepção da obra de Vieira Pinto por um viés reducionista.

Palavras-chave: Álvaro Vieira Pinto; Consciência e Realidade Nacional; Lima Vaz; Filosofia Brasileira; Educação


The work of Ivan Domingues, Filosofia no Brasil: legados e perspectivas (2017), drew attention to an important aspect in relation to the development of philosophy in Brazil: the reception of the thought of the philosopher Álvaro Vieira Pinto. The texts of Father Henrique Lima Vaz (1962), Prado Jr. (2000) and Paulo Arantes (2005) are used by the author as reference to discuss the insertion of Vieira Pinto in the plot of the history of philosophy in Brazil through the work Consciência e Realidade Nacional [Consciousness and National Reality] (1960). Domingues’ work points out a somewhat uncomfortable position occupied by the Brazilian philosopher; we refer to the negative and restrictive assessments regarding his work and those indicated by the author.

It is quite widespread that Álvaro Vieira Pinto was linked to the Instituto Superior de Estudos Brasileiros (ISEB - Higher Institute of Brazilian Studies), occupying prominence and projection at the head of this institute, as well as contributed to discussions on developmentalism through the book Consciência e Realidade Nacional (Vieira Pinto, 1960) and other texts published in the period (Vieira Pinto, 1956; 1962a; 1962b). Many thinkers, however, consider him as a developmentalist strictly, that is, as a philosopher who has been specifically concerned with the question of national development, being restricted to this theme. Nevertheless, the work of the Brazilian philosopher includes other books with a wide range of topics covered, such as education, work, demographics, science, scientific methodology, technology, third world and cybernetics (Gonzatto; Merkle, 2016), as well as unpublished manuscripts dealing with first philosophy, education, ethics and still a work which cryptic title is A Crítica da Existência (The Critique of Existence), proposing a critique of existentialism (Vieira Pinto, 1982, p. 20).

We can consider that Vieira Pinto has a vast work still underappreciated in its totality, but whose (re)appropriation is fundamental to clarify some mistaken reductionism that the author’s work suffered.

In this sense, still around the reception of Vieira Pinto’s thought, several texts from the field of education, in many cases based on the thought of Paulo Freire, mention with more or less detail some reflections of Vieira Pinto, either the question of limit situations (Moreira; Guzzo, 2013), for example, or the distinction between critical and naive conscience (Beorlegui, 2010; Freire, 1974/2016), however, they do not go deeper into the positions defended by the author in his own reflections. This work is an efforts to the (re)appropriation of Vieira Pinto’s work, as explained by Norma Côrtes (2003), who points out the increasing interest in the philosopher’s thinking. We can understand this commitment as growing since the 1990s and especially since the 2000s, with the publication of two posthumous works in 2005 and 2008, dealing with technology and sociology, respectively.

Faced with this panorama we find ourselves instigated to question about the reception of Álvaro Vieira Pinto’s work. It is clear that critically asking for the reception of his thinking involves addressing the works published in life; both those of the Isebian period, post-Isebian and the works of the period of exile, and also works published posthumously, an extremely ambitious task (Vieira Pinto, 2005; 2008). To delimit this work we will take the criticism to Vieira Pinto’s thought undertaken by Father Henrique Lima Vaz as a setting. Such a delimitation is justified to the extent that we believe that Vaz’s appreciation has great diffusion and relevance, being a work of fundamental importance to discuss the reception of Vieira Pinto’s work. Therefore, in the first part of the work, we will focus on the criticism of Father Vaz to the work. Next, we will discuss and comment on the educational propositions contained in it, since questioning about reception means also addressing what has been neglected by commentators, although still enclosed in the work. Our intention is to demonstrate the pertinence of these reflections and to recover them.

A Brief Approach to the Critique of Father Henrique de Lima Vaz

The Jesuit priest Henrique Cláudio de Lima Vaz (1921-2002) is pointed out by Domingues (2017, p. 512), in the aforementioned book, as a thinker of encyclopedic knowledge; furthermore, the author also projects him as the holder of a promising legacy for philosophy in Brazil, placing him as a candidate for the much-vaunted project of a Brazilian masterpiece. This brief note is sufficient to underscore the seriousness of the author who in 1962 published an appreciation of the work of Vieira Pinto that became a reference for others, such as Paulo Arantes (2005) and the aforementioned work by Ivan Domingues (2017), not to mention the unpublished influences in academic texts.

Vaz developed his work intending to critically examine the work Consciência e Realidade Nacional (1960) by Vieira Pinto. This is a text presented at a Catholic seminary held in January 1962 by the Associação Brasileira das Escolas Superiores Católicas (ABESC - [Brazilian Association of Catholic Higher Schools]). This seminar aimed to systematize the Catholic point of view regarding Brazilian society and had the texts originated in the debates of the event published in number 14 of the Revista Síntese Política, Econômica e Social (Freitas, 1998, p. 128). The author criticized several points that, however before actually examining the work, emphasizes its importance, saying that it “[…] will undoubtedly be the classic work of the ‘developmentalism’ of the 1950s” (Vaz, 1962, p. 93). This statement is noticeable, because in a way, Vaz buries the work, in delimiting its importance to the previous decade. It was as if Consciência e Realidade Nacional, instead of expressing the beginning of a philosophical and cultural project, strictly expressed a developmental trend that had already passed, surpassed, and especially as if the work was restricted to the question of development.

In addition to this claim by Vaz, among the points criticized, we highlight the Jesuit’s claim that the Brazilian philosopher develops in the work an interpretation of the national reality, but not restoring it at any time in its specific historical, economic, sociocultural and political components, thus reinforcing what the priest calls a thetic, defining work, to the detriment of an aporetic, inquiring work. Another criticism refers to the question of the conscience of the national reality and the dialectical incapacity to conceive it in the molds of Vieira Pinto. On the other hand, Vaz also criticizes the use of the notion of nationality, as well as its unfolding.

In this work, we will address Vaz’s first and third criticisms: the first criticism, since other authors later repeated it; and the third because it claims a position inverse to that defended by Vieira Pinto.

Different thinkers echoed Vaz’s first criticism that Vieira Pinto did not restore the nation’s specific historical, economic, sociocultural, and political components. Domingues cites the text of Vaz and affirms that Vieira Pinto’s reflections lost their bearing on reality in a “delirious dialectic-Hegelian examination” (Domingues, 2017, p. 529) of a suspended national reality. Such harsh words find resonances in the text of another commentator, Paulo Arantes, who also points out a supposed lack of connection between Vieira Pinto’s investigation and the national reality, since “[…] there is no historical reference in the book that allows knowing it’s about Brazil”. Then, in the same page, Arantes states that in the work “[…] there is no historical, cultural, economic, sociological reference which would make it possible to say that it speaks of Brazil and of Brazilian underdevelopment” (Arantes, 2005, p. 13).

We object these respectable scholars by challenging these unfounded conclusions through some observations from the Brazilian philosopher himself. One of the questions addressed by the philosopher in the book Consciência e Realidade Nacional was the philosophical past of Brazil. In order to examine Vieira Pinto’s approach, we will turn to Ivan Domingues’s book (2017), since the thinker carried out a broad and systematic study of the economic, political, social and anthropological characteristics that influenced the culture and philosophy developed in each historical period in Brazil. We perceive a great deal of philosophical sensitivity and historical shrewdness in Álvaro Vieira Pinto, who asserts “[…] eclecticism was one of the features of our colonial thought” (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. I, p. 411). It is left to the thinker of that period either to adopt a hermeneutic attitude that integrally adheres to a particular philosophical doctrine, being content to comment or rewrite it, or else the eclectic attitude, which proposed a certain integration between the different doctrines, in certain cases even conflicting ones, seeking to harmonize and apprehend the proper points of each doctrine. Vieira Pinto also discusses the correspondence between theory of development and the emergence of a new form of culture. The author says that the previous phase of the national historical period “[…] corresponded to the phase of our development, which is rightly called colonial or semicolonial. Its outstanding features were the alienation of knowledge, mimicry, transplantation, the dismay for Brazilian problems, the metropolitan fad” (1960, v. II, p. 504).

The philosopher here exposes the traits found in the thinkers of the second and third essays of Domingues’ own work (2017). Colonial Brazil, until then without objective conditions for the autochthonous philosophical production, because at the time, it was only a colony, without a formed nation, it produced what the metropole determined and allowed to develop. Later, from Independence to the Old Republic, the Brazilian thinker was not infrequently a bachelor of law and foreign dilettante, feeling exiled in his own land. His productions had little bearing on originality or autochthonous reflections, since the thinkers lived in Brazil, but with their minds in Europe. Then, about his own historical period, Vieira Pinto (1960, v. II, 505) states that:

[…] only now, when we enter the phase of intense development, are we able to produce consciously and critically what we previously wished to do - expressing our own being - but objectively we could not, because we did not have the conditions to create autonomous intellectual instruments that would allow us to interpret our reality.

In this quotation Vieira Pinto weaves sober reflections on an issue that Domingues also examined. This is the installation of the institutional apparatus that allowed the development of philosophy, which began in the 1930s. This apparatus only became efficient, or at least only reached a capacity previously unheard of in the history of the country, from the University Reform of 1968, and in the following decade, with the institution of the Sistema Nacional de Pós-Graduação (SNPG - National Graduate System). Domingues examines these questions in greater depth in the fourth and fifth essays of the aforementioned work (2017).

What we learn from these two quotes by Vieira Pinto is the problematic of philosophy in the context of the colonial and agrarian society of the past in contrast to the developmental society and in the process of industrialization of modern times. In keeping with these reflections, Domingues (2017, p. 338) points out to the 1930 Revolution as the great trigger of the Brazilian national-developmental project, a project that extends to the present day, despite the evident dissent, changes of focus, and loss of awareness of the development process.

Vieira Pinto also addresses in the same work the question of the developmental distinction between regions of the same country, in Brazil he cites the distinction between the south-central and north-northeast regions (1960, v. II, p. 419); the numerical predominance of the rural population over urban areas, surpassed in the following decade; he also comments the deplorable conditions of rural man’s subsistence, and the difficulties of governmental assistance to the smallholders, such as the rubber tapper, the caboclo who crops babaçu [Attalea speciosa], the peasant who crops cotton and the worker who lays the coffee in the yard (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. II, p. 487); he also deals with the question of the profits of foreign companies operating in Brazil, drawing exorbitant profits from the country (Vieira Pinto, 1960,v. II, p. 459); as well as the question of nostalgia and its peculiar expression in that historical period in the form of monarchist nostalgia (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. I, p. 378). We could document other questions concerning the Brazilian context and that Vieira Pinto addressed in his work, however we believe that these notes show that Vaz’s claim and the repetition of other vulgarizers of the Vazian criticism of the absence of a “[…] documented reference to the Brazilian reality” do not support themselves. Cortes (2003) shows that in Consciência e Realidade Nacional Vieira Pinto undertakes a descriptive phenomenology of the naive conscience in the first volume of the work and, in the second, he defines the characters of the critical conscience, following a philosophical itinerary that requires a specific philosophical argument to examine the issue of consciousness of the Brazilian reality.

As for Vaz’s third criticism, which focuses on Vieira Pinto’s concept of nationalism, and especially on its developments, we will now make a few brief comments. These considerations, however, deserve to be further elaborated and expounded, since Vaz’s claims about the ramifications of Vieira Pinto’s reflections are extremely serious. We refer to the Vazian claim that in the pages of Consciência e Realidade Nacional it is only possible to glimpse, at least implicitly, “[…] the premises of an ideology of the fascist totalitarian State” (Vaz, 1962, p. 109). Lima Vaz states that:

[…] in the perspective of Vieira Pinto, in which being-in-the-world is being-in-nation and the whole historical process is explained from this fundamental situation, the communication of consciousness will finally take place within the historical space of the nation: History is blocked arbitrarily in the dispersion of the ‘national consciences’ that, by hypothesis (since ‘nationality’ is the supreme category of intelligibility of the process), no dialectic can unify (Vaz, 1962, p. 106).

In fact it is verified in the thought of Vieira Pinto that only it occurs to the human being the solid existential datum of being in the world, because he is in the world. The philosopher elucidates that the human being is in the world to be in the world. This means that being in the world is a static datum, the place of the human in the world, along with the different types of being: human, animate and inanimate that surround it. Being in the world, on the other hand, denotes the procedural character of the existence of the human in the world. It is the active and dynamic mode of his/her presence in the world. To be in the world means to constitute oneself as it is where it is proper to be. But it is necessary to elucidate that for Vieira Pinto, the world materializes as nation (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. II, p. 132). It takes much idealism and abstraction to an almost artificial scope for not conceiving the world in which the human being is as a nation. However, this conception should not be hypostatized into a universal category and unrelated to history.

Nation is the totality surrounding the existing human, however it is necessary not to neglect that the unified historical process surpasses any national contours. “The nation is historically a recent fact”, then stating that:

[…] the status of ‘nation’ is a historical product [...]. It has, therefore, no changeless ontological reality, it is not a necessary product, eternal archetype, final goal of an absolute process. It is a historical datum, the juridical form in which the consciousness of unity of each people came to form in our time (1960, v. II, p. 141-142).

The author of Consciência e Realidade Nacional conceives the transience of the concept of nation and even rejects the improper use of the notion of nation for totalitarian purposes (1960, v. II, p. 214). Nationalism and nationality in Vieira Pinto should be nuanced, considering the author’s own explicit and clear postulations, who states that:

[…] nationalism, in affirming and consolidating itself in its principles, thus leads to identify with an internationalism that does not destroy it, does not revoke any of its theses, does not replace any of its ideals, but in this new stage finds the full realization of what it preached (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. II, p. 513).

In Vieira Pinto’s conception, nationalism does not involve any form of cultural isolationism, which he criticizes and delimits as a form of nativism (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. II, p. 166). Nationalism is also not an extravagant boastfulness or an irrational patriotism, since, together with nativism, they are the fruits of naive consciousness (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. I, p. 367). In the author’s view, on the other hand, nationalism does not involve a cult to charismatic or leadership figures who present themselves or are considered as a savior hero; such conception the author conceives as another of the traits of naive consciousness (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. I, p. 247).

The philosopher conceives that “[…] nationalism is fundamentally the ideology of the masses because it aims to free them from the oppressions and spoliation of which they are victims” (1960, v. II, p. 446). We can therefore characterize Vieira Pinto’s nationalism as a project to improve the existential conditions of the masses, so he associates the development policy on nationalist bases with what he calls “the true humanism” (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. II, p. 471), which integrates the country with the other underdeveloped countries in the fight for better conditions of existence of their populations (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. II, p. 513).

Nationalism is also associated with the ideology of social forces and autochthonous cultural groups and committed to the liberating construction of Brazilian national destiny (1960, v. II, p. 590). The author characterizes these social forces and cultural groups as autochthonous in contrast to social actors committed to the economic plundering and cultural influence engendered by imperialism. According to the philosopher, the “[…] imperialism of the fully developed nations, on which we depend, with all its aspects, economic, political and cultural, is our main contradiction at this moment” (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. II, p. 579). From imperialism, for example, accrues the loss of sovereignty driven by the pressure of foreign capital, which leads to a framework where raw materials are exported at low prices and products are imported at high prices thanks to the aggregated value. But more than that; the policy of exporting raw materials, or in the current terms, commodities, corresponds to an unemployment policy1 (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. II, p. 438-444). And on the totalitarianism alleged by Vaz, Vieira Pinto himself addresses the question (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. II, p. 209), even mentioning the dangers of totalitarian seduction to human beings willing to think the question of national development. The philosopher rejects totalitarianism, arguing that democracy, as long as it is the honest expression of popular advances, will always be able to execute the national development project. National development, in turn, should not be seen in its vegetative indexes, but as an acceleration of growth, seen also in its totality and objectivity, meaning that national development is the development of better conditions of existence of the plundered masses. National development means not only the growth of economic indicators, but also the reduction of inequality and the promotion of better living conditions. The Vazian reflections neglect these aspects of Consciência e Realidade Nacional, leaving unjustified his claim that a fascist totalitarian State ideology would be hidden in Vieira Pinto’s work, because the philosopher himself refuses and rejects this position.

The Question of Education in Consciência e Realidade Nacional

Álvaro Vieira Pinto is presented by some as an educator (Cardoso, 2015; Mainardes, 2015; Saviani, 1987), which is enough to highlight the contributions of the thinker to education. We can cite Sete Lições Sobre a Educação de Adultos (1982) and A Questão da Universidade (1962a) as published texts in which he specifically addresses education. There is even information that the philosopher produced a work dedicated to envisage the education for the people of an underdeveloped country, as reported in an interview in the Sete Lições (1982) introduction. Nevertheless, in all the works from the Isebian period onwards, it is possible to find contributions directly or indirectly related to the educational debate.

However, as our intention is to specifically address the reception of the work Consciência e Realidade Nacional, we will limit ourselves to engaging the explicit contributions to the educational debate found in the work and which, we believe, remain current, as pointed out by Jefferson Mainardes (2015).

The reflections on education are concentrated in the chapter Consciência Política e Desenvolvimento [Political Consciousness and Development], item e, whose title is O significado da educação para o desenvolvimento [The meaning of education for development], this in the first volume of the work. As for the second volume, we can find educational reflections in the chapter Princípios de Uma Política Nacionalista [Principles of a Nationalist Policy] in item number 11, A Educação Popular Para o Desenvolvimento [Popular education for development]. Of course, after a brief examination of the titles of texts, we see that education is placed by Vieira Pinto on the horizon of the national development process, which, in the last analysis, equates with the political process of struggle for the improvement of existential conditions of the masses (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. II, p. 469-471), therefore the educational reflections found in the work do not have a pedagogical focus, but raise education to broader areas of reflection and which, we consider, remain very current.

In the text O significado da educação para o desenvolvimento the author begins by pointing out a naivety of political consciousness: that of placing the problems of social reality and its resolution as a problem of pedagogy strictly. This is put by the philosopher as a subtle and nefarious paralogism, because it creates a confusion with the fact that there really exists the problem of education for national development, though not in the terms in which it is placed. Vieira Pinto criticizes the position he calls pedagogist, which proceeds in the abstract, speaking of a pedagogy for development naively. He then proposes that this reflection be treated by the critical conscience, the only one able to approach the theme in its fair amplitude. According to the author, “[…] education does not precede the process of development, it accompanies it contemporaneously” (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. I, p. 118), existing between them a dialectic tension that conditions them mutually. Education is placed by the author as the process of awareness of tasks, mobilization of resources for national development, because each epoch has its tasks and complex needs and that intuitively, without preparation and without awareness of them, the human being cannot execute them. Reality raises the content of education, which is changeable just like reality itself; it is up to the pedagogy to establish the means and procedures for the transmission of the material that constitutes the educational content.

Next the author articulates the educational content with the culture, this content is clear but is inseparable from the national reality and its current problems. For culture is not about classical, universal knowledge, dissociated from reality and acquired by books, museums or other resources; culture must always be understood according to the context in which those knowledges are used. These knowledges, therefore, are not the culture, but are part of it, are contained in it.

The social reality presents several problems, which must be attacked from diverse perspectives and propositions. In the case of the role of sciences, this means that each must contribute to its own plans of action. Vieira Pinto rightly points out that really there is a problem of education for development and is masterful in pointing out the confusion that has been made by those who put this problem exclusively in the perspective of pedagogy. The vision of wholeness, only offered by the critical way of dealing with the question, gives us an adequate picture of this problem. On the other hand, only critical thinking is capable of attributing to each science its responsibilities of treating its possibilities of understanding and intervention of the real. The totality also shows us that debating education does not refer to the horizon of pedagogy specifically, but also involves considering the social totality in which it is inserted, so the economic, political and social process must be considered when approaching education. In this context, culture and the own content of education cannot be taken as packages to be delivered to the student, but rather must be understood as an awareness of the reality in which the student is inserted and the ways of acting in favor of the enterprise development. Vieira Pinto’s reflections on development and education found reflexes in other works, such as Ciência e Existência (Vieira Pinto, 1969) and O Conceito de Tecnologia (Viera Pinto, 2005). We highlight the latter, because in it the author explains a contradiction of education: while education incorporates individuals to the existing state for its conservation, it causes the rupture through the progress of knowledge (Vieira Pinto, 2005, v. II, p. 395).

Returning to the text that we were discussing, Vieira Pinto addresses an issue that we consider fundamental to discuss the most current theme of educational duality. The author points out that we inherited from the past the dissociation between manual labor and intellectual work in clear detriment to the former.

He explains that the knowledges of the fine arts were considered the highest, for they were learned only by the ruling classes who judged themselves educated and explains that manual works, being rudimentary and repetitive, required only brief and mechanical preparation, being considered lower. Today, however, and increasingly, this is being overcome, as technical progress requires more and more knowledge for the exploitation and use of resources of reality and greater integral participation of the worker. As we can see in the work of Vanessa Caires (2016) and Maria de Oliveira on the history of professional education in Brazil, the educational duality was a striking feature in the period in which Vieira Pinto made his reflections. This fact, besides serving as an argument to reinforce the refutation of father Vaz’s unreasonable accusations, demonstrates how the Brazilian philosopher was engaged in transforming the conditions of existences of the masses, in this case, striving for access to fairer conditions of schooling.

Besides showing the ideological procedures of the ruling classes who conceive their activities as superior, elevated and refined, and concomitantly conceive the work performed by others as subordinate, inferior and degrading, Vieira Pinto bases the need for technological education. It provides the educating with the general technical knowledge that enables him/her in relation to the productive techniques currently available. These reflections of Vieira Pinto, therefore, offer us subsidies to overcome the issue of educational duality, allowing the emergence of a more democratic teaching and favoring the productive process. We must, however, always understand the process of production on the horizon of national development, that is, as production of better conditions of existence for the people.2

Then Vieira Pinto states in the text that “[…] there is no development without corresponding consciousness, at least implicit, and this is not formed without some kind of education” (1960, v. I, p. 120). The author distinguishes two modes of education that are constantly unfolding: the formal system, which is the school, university or other institutions and which consists of the flow of the ruling classes to the population; and the real system, “[…] imposed by facts in the pressure they impose on thought, which is given by the process of development in the stage where it is found” (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. I, p. 120).

The more coherent with the real system, the more effective the development will be the formal system. That is, the formal system can accelerate, stagnate or be anachronistic to the development process according to its proximity to the real system. The author then points out that education indeed plays an important role in development, but the educational problem cannot be reduced to a pedagogical or even psychological question, as was common in that context. It is necessary to approach education sociologically and philosophically, relating it to the society that is the origin and end of education.

These reflections on the two existing educational systems can be associated with formal and authentic conceptions of education (Vieira Pinto, 1982, p. 29). While the formal system is that established by law and is practiced on paper; the real system stems from the interactions between society and reality and the individual, being understood as a process experienced by him/her, a process through which he/she is formed in the image and in the interests of society. The formal system is a dead letter and the real system is a dance of letters converted into poems of existence through the actions of the individual in the situation in which he/she is inserted. Therefore in the concrete social dynamics a science is not solely able to offer the answers for the promotion of the development; only a trans-disciplinary and dialectical commitment is capable of offering the right guidelines for social progress. We must remember that between national development and education there is a dialectic relationship of reciprocal action; one influences the other and the transformation from one inevitably transforms the other.

Then Vieira Pinto points out that education appropriate to the underdeveloped country is one that allows a critical conscience to provoke the emergence of another. Educating for development is:

[…] to awaken in the educating a new way of thinking and of feeling existence, in the face of the national conditions confronted; it is to give an awareness of his/her constant relationship to a country that needs his/her personal work to change the state of backwardness; is to make him/her receive everything he/she is taught from a new angle of perception, that all his/her knowledge must contribute to the collective effort to transform reality (1960, v. I, p. 121).

Therefore, more than a change in the curricula, the education for development, for this reason, advocated by Vieira Pinto, needs reforms in the process itself as a whole aiming at a new way of forming the human being. The philosopher affirms in another work that education is a teleological fact and depends on a conception of being human to be fulfilled (Vieira Pinto, 1982, p. 32-35), in such wise education for development is one that aims to form citizens with degree of critical consciousness. In Ciência e Existência (Chapter XVI) the author elucidates the essence of consciousness and its characters, as well as its intentional character, that is, the quality of being always directed to... Critical consciousness is capable of recognizing its determinants and it is, therefore, capable of addressing things by apprehending them authentically and lucidly. Therefore, as the author points out in another work, education is not to give knowledge to the student as if it were a package, but rather, to create a new way of receiving the packages, to change how the student is able to receive them (Vieira Pinto, 1982, p. 22). In this case it is the reality that offers the packages that constitute the tasks for the development and at the same time encompassing the means and resources to attain them.

Vieira Pinto goes on to say that the “[…] reform of national education is a matter of political decision, because it concerns the general perception of the state of society and the design of its future existence” (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. I, p. 122). He also discusses on the law of guidelines and bases of national education that would be approved shortly after the launching of the work (LDBEN of 1961). The author points out that more than voices calling for reform, society is the one who has the power to push the shift from the old form of education to a critical and progressive one.

According to the author, the approximation between the formal system and the actual education system depends on the development process itself, since this enables the masses to transform their consciousness into a process of reciprocal interaction, because as well as development causes the transformation of consciousness, critical consciousness engenders development. The citation of Vieira Pinto in the previous paragraph makes explicit that education reform is a social decision and therefore political, and should not be taken only by professors or cabinet technicians, that is, education reform is not only a pedagogical modification, detached from reality , but also a modification that encompasses social, political, cultural and economic reality, and must open itself to popular yearnings for better conditions of existence. Thinking about our present reality this leads us to lament the deformation of middle school which was formally termed as reform.

In fact, the government undertook a real deformation of what is now called MDB, related to PSDB, PP, DEM and other parties with less expression, but equally pernicious to the interests of the nation. The deformation undertaken by them only increases the diastema between public and private education, that is, it increases the distance between the public education that had been improving and the private education, which in general is already of quality. The deformation of secondary education means, therefore, the unprecedented increase of educational duality, which in itself contributes to the stagnation of the national development process3. As for the 1961 law on directives and bases, Vieira Pinto was one of the signatories of the document Manifesto dos Educadores: mais uma vez convocados (2006), which justifies his repulsion to this legislative formulation of the way it was done, because in defending a public, free, secular and universal education, the philosopher was in controversy with the proposals of the LDB under discussion. The approved text ended up being considered by Vieira Pinto a text that simply regulated the current status, instead of designing modifications or providing conditions for the improvement of education.4

Vieira Pinto approaches the closing of the text that we are talking about by debating LDB’s approval of the way it has been discussed until then. The author points out that, being a reactionary project and opposed to the interests of the nation, opposition would soon arise to its realization. Its approval would also be responsible for exposing “[…] delayed, mercenary or submissive conscience, to having to be confessed as such” (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. I, p. 123). He argues that without “[…] the inconvenience of political decisions it is impossible to create the radicalization of the process, it does not exacerbate, it does not offer objective situations and the conditions of a progressive transformation” (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. I, p 123).

The last paragraph of the text recognizes the authority of education specialists regarding the pedagogical relationship itself, but emphasizes that such authority only acquires socially useful meaning when approved by the community, which implies the recognition of the socio-political totality implied in any educational reform.

In these reflections Vieira Pinto is right when he points out that the approval of a measure contrary to national interests, besides evidencing the traits of its approvers, i.e. naivety, greediness and submission, points to a phenomenon involved in the dynamics between a political projection and social resistance. While various political decisions show themselves to be naive consciences, when in simple and candid people, or greed and submissive, when in the case of those united with foreign interests, they are increasingly distancing themselves from the people and their demands. The popular clamor, the dissatisfaction and movements are unfolding in order to offer the resistance and finally the reversal of these pernicious decisions to the national development project. It is clear that the desirable plan is that of the deliberately engendering decisions of national development, but in fact there is the phenomenon of radicalization after approval of some project alien to popular interests. It is worth mentioning that Vieira Pinto’s discussion of the base guidelines law under discussion in that period is another argument corroborating the finding that Vaz’s accusation does not proceed. On the other hand, we emphasize that Vieira Pinto’s reflexive stance is not to depreciate the role of pedagogues and educators in any educational reform; but rather to articulate the sciences of education with other sciences, especially sociology, since there is no education except in a specific society and to attend to the existing social problems, education sciences need direction and clarification from other sciences. We conceive that something that hurt both the role of educators and other sciences and especially the popular yearning for a public, democratic and quality education was the approval of the above mentioned high school deformation.

The other text of Vieira Pinto that debates education in the scope of Consciência e Realidade Nacional is in the second volume. It addresses the importance of examining popular education for development.

The author begins by saying that “[…] development is always accompanied by a process of qualitative transformation of the national consciousness” (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. II, p. 502). Next he affirms that such consciousness has a dialectical relationship with the modifications of reality, because this consciousness is produced by the degree of appropriation of reality by the community, but at the same time the domain of reality depends on the perception that the social consciousness has of reality and the logic of events. The author emphasizes that social consciousness is always of the masses and not of a minority group of leaders, concluding that “[…] education, consisting of the process that expands and multiplies useful social consciousness, must be fundamentally popular” (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. II, p. 502). He then explicitly rejects the notion of education as a privilege of the elites, determining that the elaboration of an educational theory of that period was one of the most difficult tasks of the period. It should be done not by the permanent visiting pedagogues of metropolitan academic organizations; the education of a developing country is an eminently political matter, and should be inspired by the just sociological theory of the political representatives of the authentic interests of community consciousness.

This text is in a chapter dedicated to thinking some principles of a politics with nationalistic bases, therefore they are principles that aim at the improvement of the conditions of existence of the masses, as we saw in the first part of our work. Thus, the importance of involving the people in the development process is justified, because developing the country is a global process of accelerating growth and improving the well-being of the people, not only the increase of economic indexes, which alone speak nothing. Brazil, for example, is one of the richest economies in the world, yet when we contemplate the odious picture of our inequality we see that we need, more than ever, development on nationalist grounds. When we involve the people in the process of development, we adopt a democratic and truly humanist stance, and here the fundamentals of development education are elaborated, they must be able to form a contingent of people with increasing critical awareness. In this sense, education for development is a matter that needs people who are in tune with the people’s experiences, with the demands of reality and with the resources and means for development, since only then will they be able to work out a truly popular policy.

It would be of little importance if the visiting pedagogues of the metropolitan academic organizations, or even those who, never leaving Brazil, were molded by the philosophy of education, pedagogy and educational thought of others. These pedagogues would have contributions based more on imported knowledge than on the knowledge that matters for the promotion of development. Our intention here is to emphasize the coloniality of knowledge, as understood by Maldonado-Torres (2007) that surrounds the knowledge of these pedagogues who have little involvement with our reality and the ways to solve the existing problems. Let us repeat: instead of importing knowledge we must produce the knowledge that matters and this is only possible when we come to our people, their real experiences and desires to elaborate an educational theory with purposes and conception of human being coherent to the national project. Today we have a dysfunctional school in Brazil as a whole, that is, the set of Brazilian schools is ill-disposed to fulfill the educational task it proposes. Therefore, as Vieira Pinto points out, it is necessary to listen to one’s own community conscience in opposition to the positions that we will call technicalities, which are characterized essentially by bringing technical knowledge abstracted from its concrete reality. Thus, we propose to overcome this problematic, also treated by Mainardes (2015, p.108) when he says that the “[…] pedagogue and the intellectuals of the poor country generally seek to imitate the production of rich nations, resulting in the phenomena of mimicry and transplantation cultural”. Education, for Vieira Pinto, is a social practice, not transferable from one society to another. In this way we must rethink the foundations not only of the educational sciences, but of all science and philosophy that are made in Brazil. In another paper we address the question of coloniality in Vieira Pinto’s educational thinking. We emphatically discuss the concept of education of the author, especially considering the work Sete Lições Sobre a Educação de Adultos and the question of educational duality and its overcoming (Costa; Martins, 2019). What we want to keep is that for solve national problems requires a critical awareness of the national reality and this awareness can never be achieved through a formation based on bacharelism, philoneism and bovarism. For the understanding of these terms we refer the reader to the work of Domingues (2017, p. 322), who qualifies the first with the cult of beautiful words; the second as the uncontrolled taste for novelties and for what is foreign; and the third is an attitude of self-depreciation, of the culture itself or of the situation surrounding it, associated with a desire to escape from this reality. We see in many scholarly texts an almost mnemonic and literary writing, in some cases poetic and lunatic, which are more concerned with maintaining a certain fidelity to a foreign mogul, instead of seeking the rigor of correspondence with reality. We emphasize that critical awareness can only be formed together with the national reality concretion.

Vieira Pinto goes on to say in the text that “[…] the school and the university can not make the revolution that Brazil needs, simply because it is the revolution that has to make the school and university that Brazil needs” (Vieira Pinto, 1960, v. II, p. 503). He points out that, and here comes the question of educational duality again, in an underdeveloped country, higher formal education is a benefit of the higher classes as well and that a class has never been seen in history to give up its privileges. It is quoted the question of the university that is linked almost specifically with the ruling classes and is a temple of honors and idle ceremonies. The author closes the text by pointing out the high priority of educational themes in nationalist-based development programs, noting that education should be examined concretely, that is, as it is given, not in abstract terms education.

In the book A Questão da Universidade (1962a) Vieira Pinto explores some of the issues raised in this paragraph. We must keep in mind that education does not subsist on its own, that is, it exists in the face of a social reality that supports it and offers its purpose and that schools or universities do not change essentially when forced externally by popular pressures. Therefore, to expect that the school or university alone will revolutionize Brazil is naive. Especially the university has no propensity to change in essence nor to modify the national reality, for it is still, despite the advances of the last decades and that are threatened by the setbacks of the last years, a scope of the idle fruits of the ruling classes. The educational question often appears in the work of Vieira Pinto, and the reflections in this sense were concentrated in two works (1962a; 1982). However, it is worth mentioning that in the book A Educação para um País Oprimido, that is currently missing, we would find a perfect systematization of the philosopher’s educational thought. It is worth emphasizing that the very question of the reform of Brazilian universities was one of the topics of relevant repercussion in the period (Cunha, 2007), which reiterates the lack of solidity of Vaz’s accusations.

Final Considerations

Ivan Domingues carried out a serious and well-grounded study, but we were struck by the allegations made there about the thinking of Alvaro Vieira Pinto, serious allegations that contrast with the Brazilian philosopher’s own postulates.

In this work, we analyze Father Vaz’s critique of Consciência e Realidade Nacional, which claims that the work does not present concrete reality with the national reality, criticized by different thinkers, and who do not stand up to Vieira Pinto’s own reflections found in work. The criticism that Vieira Pinto’s nationalism can lead to totalitarianism can only be done by neglecting or disregarding Vieira Pinto’s own postulates in the work, for the author explicitly and clearly rejects fascist and totalitarian positions. The criticisms of Paulo Arantes and Ivan Domingues to Vieira Pinto are based on empty appreciation, which culminates in some negligent reductionism as to the true character of the work Consciência e Realidade Nacional. The case of Paulo Arantes (2005, p. 12) becomes symptomatic, because the ideologue defender of Father Vaz casts ironies and acclaims injurious and not at all fair to Vieira Pinto and even confesses that he did not finish reading the work that he and the Jesuit priest appreciated so negatively.

On the other hand, we can trace the same positions of Vieira Pinto about nationalism to his later publications, which shows a certain coherence with the humanizing principles of the conditions of existence of the Brazilian masses dear to him. His reflections on nationalism, therefore, have nothing to do with totalitarianism or fascism, with the opposite result, if the unfolding holds the least coherence to the philosopher’s thought.

This work also dealt with the educational proposals found in the work Consciência e Realidade Nacional. Our intention was to demonstrate how the author’s reflections remain current and deserve to be rescued. His thinking maintains the dialectical rigor that approximates the examination of phenomena authentically, that is, as they show themselves to human existence, to the detriment of idealistic or metaphysical speculations. Thus, their reflections constitute a solid foundation for understanding the pedagogical relationship, the teaching process as a whole, the educational relationship and the educational process.

The field of education can also be enriched through the philosopher’s reflections, since it offers, in addition to the possibility of overcoming educational duality, an examination of the relations between society and education, as well as the basis for the critical and democratic elaboration of educational policies.

About the subject matter discussed here, much still needs to be developed for a complete work, such as a broad approach to Vaz’s text and the examination of different authors who examined Vieira Pinto’s work, such as Gérard Lebrun and Guerreiro Ramos (1963). It is also necessary to systematically retake the philosopher’s educational thinking, especially considering the contributions scattered in his different works. We reiterate that the news disclosed in Sete Lições Sobre a Educação de Adultos (1982) on some of the author’s manuscripts, among which one on education, fills us with hope and expectation, because, certainly, they will contribute greatly to the educational debate. In any case, we are faced with the need for further studies on the work of Álvaro Vieira Pinto, the Brazilian master.


1On the issue of the main contradiction of the country and the different aspects inherent to it; such as coloniality, the overcoming of economic exploitation and the intellectual influence and the role of the Brazilian ruling classes in the maintenance of this deplorable situation, we warn the reader that this field of reflection is present in the work of the philosopher as a whole and soon we will present a paper addressing such question.

2In the dissertation that we are developing in the Professional Master in Professional and Technological Education (ProfEPT) of the Instituto Federal do Triângulo Mineiro (IFTM) this issue will be dealt with in its details.

3We look forward to the position of Gaudêncio Frigotto, Maria Ciavatta and Marise Ramos (2012) on the reform, since in a previous text they reported that Decree no. 5,154/2004 was carried out in a context of restricted democracy; what would be, then, the context in which the current high school deformation was approved?

4We must recognize the efforts of Luiz Merkle of UTFPR (Federal University of Technology - Paraná) and Rodrigo Gonzatto of PUCPR (Pontifical Catholic University of Paraná) in the organization and feeding of the Álvaro Vieira Pinto Group of the Zotero Platform. In it we find the link to an interview that, doing justice, was inserted by another person named Sandra. The link to enter the platform is: <>. We also add the importance of the Rede de Estudos Sobre Álvaro Vieira Pinto in spreading the thought and rescue of the works of the philosopher: <>.

Translated from Portuguese by Francieli Lima of Celera Translations


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Received: May 21, 2018; Accepted: December 08, 2018

Breno Augusto da Costa has a bachellor degree in Psychology by Universidade Federal do Triângulo Mineiro. Currently studies in the Master program in Educação Profissional e Tecnológica (ProfEPT) by Instituto Federal do Triângulo Mineiro. ORCID: E-mail:

Adriano Eurípedes Medeiros Martins has a post-doctoral degree in Philosophy by Universidade Federal de Uberlândia (UFU). ORCID: E-mail:

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