P H I L O S O P H Y P A T H W A Y S ISSN 2043-0728
Issue number 14
9 September 2001
I. In Memory of Alberto Capizzano
II. 'On First Reading Sartre's "Nausea"' Colin Amery
III. Admissions to Pathways, and Associate and Fellowship
I. IN MEMORY OF ALBERTO CAPIZZANO
Last week I was saddened to hear of the death of my student Alberto Capizzano,
a physician and radiotherapist from Buenos Aires, Argentina who passed away at
the age of 73.
His widow, Tessy Botex de Capizzano writes:
"It is with great grief that I must inform you that on the 18th of August at
21:00 Alberto passed away, due to a heart attack. He was at home, sitting in
front of the computer, where so many times she had sat to write to you. He
leaves a great void, as you might imagine,having filled this house with his
personality, so full of projects and new ideas."
Alberto Capizzano had chosen to follow the Pathways Philosophy of Mind program,
'Searching for the Soul', which he commenced towards the end of 1999. I soon
discovered that he was truly passionate about his own search in philosophy, and
I learned much from our dialogue on the nature of the self and mind, and the
place of consciousness within the physical world.
During our correspondence, Alberto mentioned that he had attended the same
medical school at the same time as Che Guevara, although they never actually
met. This was too good a story to miss! I asked Alberto to write a piece for
the Pathways web site, which I reproduce here:
'A page of my past youth to an English youth of nowadays'
"I was born in a little peaceful village near to the shore of the Rio de la
Plata, with a fine yachting port, in the neighborhood of Buenos Aires, whose
name is Olivos (olive trees).
"My home, a chalet surrounded by a wide garden, stood in front of a long avenue
named 'Maipu' which divided two very different places: on one side the elegant
English quarter with its typical Tudor houses, and on the other the humble
suburb where lived the people who were employed by the English families.
"My friends were boys from the two sides. Crampton, Doelling, Atwood, Hayward,
Peacan. Their families came to Argentina with the railway companies, when the
English railways spread over our country, or with the banks or other different
enterprises. Willy, Eric and Douglas remain here still; Bob, Martin and Freddy
departed in the 40's to the Second World War becoming R.A.F. heroes. My wife
still keeps the badge of her uncle Robert Harrison who died in the sky of
"They played rugby and danced jazz.
"My friends of the back yard, Horacio, Raul, Antonio, Carlos, Juancito played
soccer, danced tango and went across the avenue to hide themselves and spy,
through the grove, the girls of Northland's College (of which my granddaughter
Lucrecia is pupil now) playing hockey with their short scotch skirts!
"But in our schools we learnt from childhood about the English invasion of
1806, when a navy commanded by Admiral Beresford landed at Buenos Aires, and
was repelled by people throwing boiling oil from the roofs of their homes!
"I still remember ourselves as children, watching proudly the English flags
kept in Santo Domingo Convent.
"And also we learnt that the Malvinas Islands are Argentine and had been
snatched by England.
"This innocent nationalism became adult.
"In 1945, when I entered in the University's Medicine School, anti-imperialist
bibliography filled the corridors. Railways were nationalized and the long
Maipu Avenue became 'Presidente Peron'.
"My soul was divided in two schizophrenic portions.
"I am a son of a famous oncologist who taught me a deep personality cult.
Certainly, I grew up in a family of Italian origin, with a strong fascist
character, but when my father was censored in his own expression of ideas, he
turned against the regime.
"Then, the poor relegated people of the provinces, a long time ignored, came to
Buenos Aires. An old conservative politician described it as a 'zoological
"Standing on a Buenos Aires' corner, near my father, we watched together the
crowd marching with their naked torsos and the leader's image stuck on their
foreheads. It was October 17 1945.
"That very same afternoon I came back home, gave flags to Antonio, Carlos and
Juancito and we went together to Plaza de Mayo with the 'unshirted' masses.
"I was a medicine student at the time when human pain wasn't yet classified and
one thought that misery is an illness like a cancer.
"In Rosario, a big city also, 300 km from Buenos Aires, another boy looked the
same scenario and felt the same commotion.
"He played rugby, was medicine student, and descendent of a traditional
Argentine family. Guevara (Che is the generic Argentinian nickname) was born at
the same date as I and graduated at the same time.
"We both traveled the lonely corners of our huge country and stirred up our
selves looking at the humble and marooned people in their hovels. But we never
met each other. All I know about him is from Ricardo Rojo, his biographer and
"He took the way of violence with its tragic end. I became old caring for
"I entered a brief political phase. I believed Peronism would be the way for
the recovery of indigent people. Then, my father died and I thought I should
take his place. Ernesto found in Marxism his way and died seeking for his own
"Many years later other Ches found their death on the South Atlantic's black
fog pursuing a dream drawn first on the blackboard of their childhood.
"Last year, a Sunday evening, I went across a long avenue named 'Web'.
And while spying, I found a new English friend. His name is Geoffrey Klempner,
from the Sheffield University, who teaches Philosophy, another Searching for
Truth...and for Happiness.
"And I went across the Avenue because in my Cancer Institute' s Lecture Hall,
under my father's portrait, one can read one of his phrases:
"'Humanity will reach its Health, when it understands that it is but one
family, which ought to be in harmony with itself and with Nature that surrounds
Alberto Capizzano's essay can be found in the section entitled, 'Six of the
and also on the 'Glass House Philosopher' site, at:
In a recent e-mail, Alberto said that he was looking forward to taking another
Pathways program with me. Sadly, it was not to be. We shall miss you, Alberto.
II. ON FIRST READING SARTRE'S 'NAUSEA'
I remember exactly when I first read Sartre's 'Nausea'. I was thirty. It was
l968. A revolution was beginning to erupt in Paris with Sartre active on the
barricades in support of the workers and students. I then worked as a night
watchman in Sydney at the opposite end of the world. On 25th April, just five
days before the students began rioting on May day, I leapt without knowing of
the revolution, into the heady world of existentialism. I quit the law where I
made a modest living as a criminal advocate with the idea of devoting myself
exclusively to the craft of writing philosophical novels. Vague reports of
street fighting where Sartre had addressed the masses were reaching the
antipodes. After the first month and no pay-checks I was feeling distinctly
hungry. I had no mentor to speak of, except for Colin Wilson whose 'Outsider' I
had hungrily devoured in one session with a real sense of identification.
Reading through his checklist I made the acquaintance of Jean Paul Sartre and
It was like moving into a new and much imagined world. I had always wanted to
be a writer. Now I had discovered a man who was both a writer and a
philosopher. 'Nausea' occupied the quiet hours close to dawn when I returned
from a cleaning job that involved flushing out toilets in hotel latrines that
were often clogged with vomit. The book was a wonderful antithesis to what my
daily work routine involved. I started to inhabit two parallel worlds, which
slowly became intertwined. The characters portrayed in Sartre's fiction I began
to look for on the street. Sydney's George Street had one coffee bar run by a
Greek with a slightly affected waiter who still imagined he was serving ouzo in
Athens' Constitution Square. I put his habits down in my yellow-covered notebook
so that one day he could creep into my fiction rather in the manner of Sartre's
At this time I had a girl friend I visited at the end of our mutual night
shifts. She also might have stepped from the pages of literature. Her name was
Juliet. I wrote poems about her - she was very beautiful - and we spent
weekends at Bondi beach, communing about the mysteries of life as the surf beat
its way to our door. She liked the novels of Dostoievski and for a while I
played the part of her Raskolnikov. I guess this was my first existential
relationship. The imagined world of the axe murderer was a dangerous one to
stray into. Eventually, there would be a climax that teetered on the edge of
our respective realities. I thought about Sartre's woman who wouldn't let on
about her sexuality. I wish I could have shown the same restraint towards my
Juliet, but we became embroiled in an affair of passionate intensity that made
me decide to leave the law and seek solace in the twin beds of love and
I saw my Juliet on our days off and we sat in cafes overlooking the beach at
Watson's Bay talking about existentialism. She was a kind of guide and mentor,
for she had arrived there first. I went to my job each night rather like the
robotic waiter in Sartre's left bank cafe and went through the motions of my
work. The pile of yellow pages got higher and higher, as l scrawled my strange
signature across a phase in my life that was probably memorable. I walked
across new boundaries and found that man was condemned to be free. I had left
my wife, the profession of law and I loved my Juliet. I was bold enough to
celebrate that freedom and say hang to the consequences.
Unfortunately, I was still married and my wife followed us one night to an
apartment in Double Bay that overlooked the harbour's twinkling lights. The
sound of broken glass presaged a femme fatalistic fight that I had to umpire
and ended with me taking my wife to hospital with some glass embedded just
below her left eye. This life of dangerous liasons was not for her. She had
married a lawyer and expected bourgeois rectitude not existential angst.
Meanwhile, I lived on the edge and loved it. Juliet and my torrid affair lasted
exactly one year. By then I had read the major works of existentialism,
including Kierkegaard whose Seducer's Diary held me in thrall and no doubt had
some influence over the young Sartre in his formative years. 'Nausea' I now saw
as his way of creating ideal worlds to contrast with the perceived actual world
through the use of imagination.
"Keep a diary", the reader was advised in the first sentence of his book. In my
den under the railway overpass across Sydney's harbour bridge, I scribbled away
deep into the night's darkest shadows the strange miscellany of thoughts that
came unbidden to my mind. I wrote on a yellow pad, which I kept for a long
time, with the idea that some day I might organise into a mere coherent form.
The opportunity never occurred, for I eventually moved back to Europe and
became focused on a different topic - that of Atlantis.
I can still see myself, pen poised over paper, a little like Dostoievski's
underground man or Kafka's pseudonymous "K", steering a strange passage through
a life that held little meaning for me then. But these books of philosophy had
come my way at the right time. They were treasures to take me through the
labyrinth of my own unconscious dreads. I had poured over the words in 'Nausea'
and found a passage with this guidebook through my strange subterranean life. I
stepped on to the thin ice of existential angst. I was living upside down at
the bottom of the world where I had dared at last to be free.
(c) Colin Amery 2001
III. ADMISSIONS TO PATHWAYS, AND ASSOCIATE AND FELLOWSHIP
After a gap of two long months, I am pleased to announce that admissions for
the Pathways to Philosophy, and Associate and Fellowship Diploma programs of
the Philosophical Society of England, will be re-opened from 1st October.
We have decided to relax the requirement that students gain the Associate
Diploma before proceeding for the Fellowship. This requirement derived from a
time when 'Associate' and 'Fellow' were different grades of membership of the
Philosophical Society. Today, the titles, 'APhS' and 'FPhS' are regarded, just
like University diplomas, as qualifications attained rather than badges of
There has been a modest increase in fees. This is the first increase in four
years, and only the second since the Pathways project was launched in 1995.
Visitors to Ask a Philosopher site will have noticed a number of new
contributors to the most recent 'Answers' pages. Out of these, we will be
recruiting the new batch of Pathways Mentors. The Ask a Philosopher site not
only provides Pathways Mentors with a showcase to demonstrate their
philosophical talents, but also gives Pathways students the opportunity to
learn about their Mentors' personal philosophical interests.
Mentors receive free guidance and supervision for their studies towards the
Associate and Fellowship Diplomas of the Philosophical Society of England.
Mentors also have free access to all six Pathways programs.
We are always on the look out for new Mentors. If you have a BA in Philosophy
and think you have got what it takes, then check out the 'Questions' page!
The latest letter to Pathways Mentors can be found at:
'Ask a Philosopher' can be found at:
- We look forward to hearing from you!
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