Vicente Ferreira da Silva
Vicente Ferreira da Silva (1916–1963) can be viewed as the most influential Brazilian philosopher on Vilém Flusser’s intellectual development. Their dialogue reached its peak when Flusser published Língua e Realidade [Language and Reality] (1963) with a blurb by Ferreira da Silva (Língua e Realidade, 2004, p. 27). This work was closely linked to meeting Ferreira da Silva, as Flusser states in the preface to the first edition (ibid.). At the time, Flusser had already decided to write the Portuguese version of The History of the Devil (2014), A História do Diabo (1965). The preface to the first edition of this book also attested the importance of the Brazilian philosopher for the Jewish writer from Prague.
In 1963, Ferreira da Silva’s sudden death put an end to this dialogue. Flusser became the guardian of the intellectual treasure entrusted to him by his Brazilian friend, and part of this treasure can be found in the pages of The History of the Devil. Thus, this work by Flusser can be read as the continuation of an unfinished dialogue with Ferreira da Silva.
Flusser said his encounter with Ferreira da Silva’s thought was an “intense, invigorating shock in many senses” (Bodenlos, 2007, p. 110; translated from the Portuguese). Like Flusser, Ferreira da Silva engaged with the philosophy of science, focusing on logical positivism and existential analysis (ibid., p. 213). The need to understand Ferreira da Silva’s work led Flusser to study other philosophers, very different to the roots of his own thinking, such as Martin Heidegger and Friedrich Nietzsche (ibid., p. 214). Essays 11 to 14 in Da Religiosidade [On Religiosity] (1967) specifically address Ferreira da Silva or refer explicitly to him (Da Religiosidade, 2002, pp. 107–145).
In the chapter devoted to Ferreira da Silva, Flusser lists some of the main aspects of his thought. First, Flusser mentions his errors when “conceptualizing what is existential and generalizing what is concrete” (Bodenlos, 2007, pp. 107–108; translated from the Portuguese). He refers to Ferreira da Silva’s thinking as the outcome of theoretical malice and yet – despite these comments – refers to him as “the greatest and perhaps the only Brazilian philosopher” (ibid.; translated from the Portuguese).