The Institutionalization of Brazilian Political Thought in the Social Sciences: Wanderley Guilherme Dos Santos' Research Revisited (1963-1978)

By Lynch, Christian Edward Cyril | Brazilian Political Science Review, September 1, 2013 | Go to article overview

The Institutionalization of Brazilian Political Thought in the Social Sciences: Wanderley Guilherme Dos Santos' Research Revisited (1963-1978)


Lynch, Christian Edward Cyril, Brazilian Political Science Review


Introduction

Wanderley Guilherme dos Santos' research on Brazilian political thought began in 1963 when he was head of the philosophy department at the Higher Institute of Brazilian Studies (ISEB). It originated from a request by Álvaro Vieira Pinto, his former professor at the National Faculty of Philosophy and head of the institute at the time. Vieira Pinto intended to address the shortage of bibliographic records that could be used as an adequate reference source, which would be able to expand the accepted canon of works representative of Brazilian philosophy. In the company of Carlos Estevam Martins, Wanderley Guilherme dedicated himself to reading works from the 18th and 19th century in the rare books section at the National Library and at the library of the Social Service of Commerce (SESC). As he gradually lost interest in the metaphysical themes within this literature, Wanderley discovered, as if casually, works by several authors who were listed as philosophers as well as others not included in this category, which versed on Brazil's society and politics in the 19th century. Wanderley then began his "conversion" process towards the social sciences in detriment of a philosophical production (though not of philosophical themes, whether in epistemology or political theory, as evidenced by his production). Most likely, this ISEB period marks the moment of his discomfort towards the prevailing modes for analyzing Brazilian thought, a discomfort that when formalized as a theoretical problem lies in the origin of his articles concerning this issue. Within the ISEB there was barely any possibility to consider past Brazilian thought, since the colonial nature of such past was considered to be an impediment for any consistent and autonomous intellectual production.

It was also during his ISEB period that he came into contact with the works of Guerreiro Ramos on Brazilian political thought, such as Efforts in theorizing Brazilian reality; The ideology of order; The ideology of jeunesse dorée; and The sociological subconscious. As we known, Guerreiro was the only professor at ISEB who called out to the fact that, in spite of a slow process of surmounting their "colonial" cultural condition, there was a lineage of Brazilian intellectuals who, ever since the 19th century, stood out in the struggle for the autonomy of national thought and whose contributions should be redeemed in a context of establishing a Brazilian social science. In fact, contrary to the hegemonic perspective in the ISEB and in Guerreiro Ramos's argumentation, Wanderley Guilherme's initials readings at the National Library and SESC were an indication for him that not only was there originality in Brazilian thought prior to the 1950s, but also of the fact that the Isebian theses - considered to be original by members of the institute (especially by Hélio Jaguaribe) - had already been partially developed in works previously neglected by reason of their alleged compliance to a colonial mentality.1 The claim that a Brazilian intellectual elite existed and that their thought should be studied by those seeking to comprehend Brazil's contemporary dilemmas set up, from this period onwards, a research thesis and a horizon for Wanderley Guilherme on Brazilian political thought. And thus the gathering of such bibliographic material gave him motivation for more; he now wished to compile "as thoroughly as possible, the social, philosophical, and political Brazilian thought during the 19th and 20th centuries while also attempting to isolate some constants within Brazilian intellectual development" (Santos, 1965, p. 93).

The new research would begin in 1964 and was to last circa 2 years. With the military coup and ISEB being consequently shut down by the new regime, the regular research would only be resumed in the following year with the creation of the former Rio de Janeiro University Research Institute (IUPERJ, currently IESP-UERJ). The investigation would unfold until 1978 at least, being comprised of six articles or reference essays, which shall be object of analysis in this article. …

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