Can we try to question the common origin of “culture” as a transformation of first nature into second nature, which becomes a condition of the very possibility of inhabiting a world for humans? The hypothesis I intend to argue is that the constant and systematic work and use of tools depend on the possibility of “imagining otherwise” the data present to normal perception and provide the basis for an initial organization of thought in space-time. Hence, the transformation of perception itself into the invention of techniques, usages and norms of coexistence, the creation through the arts of a “spiritual” world that is embodied and, by extension, knowledge itself about the human as a self-reflection of transformative potentials and possibilities. A process that finds its preconditions in the care of offspring extended and elaborated – to overcome the difficulties of neotenic processes typical of the human species – far beyond any other animal species. Care therefore and not the transformation of aggressive instincts – a decisive but secondary process – as the root of culture. From these processes we can infer that meaning, as the orientation of the cultural proceeding of the life of groups and individuals, is nevertheless and always present even in attempts to deny it and assert nonmeaning. Re-establishing and inventing new possibilities of meaning as an orientation — thus helping the spontaneous ability to “imagine otherwise” — is also at the root of all medical, psychological and spiritual ( or a combination thereof) soul-body care. The figure of Cicely Saunders, the founder of palliative care, the inspirer of ways of giving relief to “total pain,” is emblematic as a symbolic exemplification, in the concrete of a biography, of this aptitude for transdisciplinary cooperation of techniques, arts, sciences and sciences of the human, and finally spiritualities in their various expressions.
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