TO BE A MEMBERraed
TO BE A MEMBER
History reminds us that it was Plato who founded his famous Academy (387 B.C.) in gardens next to the sanatorium of the hero Academo. In the Academy and by means of peripatetic, spoken teaching, he created a forum of chosen ones, “philosophers” and those passionate for wisdom. Therefore to be an academic means, as today, to belong to a group of intellectuals who think of the responsibility of our moment in history, in the light of our scientific investigation, because the life of the Academy cannot remain unmoving in the time routine of retired knowledge, or in proclaiming absolute truth. As Kant said only the field of criticism, watching out and commitment is open and it is along this path the scientist is to travel.
To be an Academic is therefore firstly to be a witness and to bear testimony to our moment in history. We cannot speak about the present when it is about to be wrapped up and displayed in a glass case as part of the past. Rather we must reflect on the past so as to make it valid in the present, so that it can offer us options for the future. It is in the future where there is life and hope. With this balance we can take the pulse of our times. Our task of criticism is no other than that of being a filter and sieve.
Today we are living through times of change and turbulence. In the endeavour to find solutions it will be necessary to be daring, take risks, but firmly rooted. In scientific investigation, which is our task, we have no choice but to combine disciplines. The Royal Academy of Doctors is based on scientific multiexperience. Its members, coming from law, economics, medicine, psychology, physics, engineering, geography and anthropology, etc., open up a host of paths of investigation. Though they may start out from this polyhydric perspective of reality, all members aspire to reach a meeting point of knowledge about nature and culture, where man and woman may live. The scientific investigator has an almost prometeic task of drawing on light and fire to transform their profession into passion, which means there will have to be not negligible sacrifices. However, their militant austerity, their adventure, quest and investigation, their sense of service to men and women all lead to notable joy and weave together biographies of passion and different styles. In an Academy, above all an interdisciplinary Academy, all these biographies unite and work adding in their synergies.
To be an Academic is, as well as an honour, to be noble intellectually. Members are patres conscripti or senators, the prebísteroi or the elders of the intellectual community. There are other nobilities and other honours, but to be an academic is different.
One becomes an academic starting from the base of one’s scientific biography, once fully mature and in full capacity of one’s learning, teaching and investigative capacity.
In today’s times there is an excess of the present, the right now, of the image and of consumption, the need to satisfy the senses here and now, of deconstruction and breaking down what is equal, a devaluation of the axiological: to have becomes more important than what is, irreverence of the sacred and a lack of confidence in the intelligence creep in. In these contexts the Academy builds up the prestige of the identity, the honour of responsibility and the nobility of service.
The mission of an academic can be no other than to arrive at the truth, to defend life, to work for science and to proclaim that different cultures can live together.
For the academic, as the classic text says, nihil mihi alienum hurnani, nothing that concerns man and woman, is remote to him.
Prof. Dr. Ángel Aguirre Baztán