Dialogue and Universalism

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1/2016

HUMAN IDENTITY

 

Editorial

 

   From antiquity till modernity the problem of man has frequently been reduced to the problem of human nature, i.e., the quest to identify and clarify the fixed and innate essence or defining characteristic of human beings. Numerous schools of contemporary philosophy undermine this traditional reduction of human identity to a common nature (essence) either by neglecting essentialism or, more frequently, weakening it.

   By rejecting the conviction that human nature is the only source of human identity and thereby removing the earlier held specificity of human nature new approaches to the problem of human identity became open. In those conceptions viewing human identity as a personal or social construction human nature ceased to be regarded as the exclusive source of human identity, i.e. as the only base from which all that is human emerges.

   These images of human being see the traditional focus on human nature as radically incomplete. To be human is to be engaged with constructing a human, especially a human self, i.e., to become a human self, person, individual, and member of community. The sources and materials needed to construct and realize a human are found in the natural and social world surrounding any individual person. Human identity maintains itself in a dialectical tension with its surrounding worlds.

   Thus, weakened essentialism maintains that human identity is made possible and constrained by both human nature and the culturally constructed and inter-subjective worlds in which humans are thrown. The presupposition of this conception of man may lead to two different conclusions: 1) in becoming human, a person absorbs elements alien to his individual self in the course of his existence, so in the process of becoming human one’s primitive I is changed and even alienated by the world; and 2) particular humans are only partially individual and autonomous since all are shaped and constructed within the parameters of natural and cultural history.

   On this view human nature becomes a set of innate—biological or other—predispositions, abilities or powers in the Kantian sense that are open to different realizations. In consequence of adopting the above-sketched presuppositions, the contemporary ways of investigating the problem of human identity largely abandon or ignore the idea of an innate fixed non-changeable human essence. Instead they search for human identity—a non-separable union of human possibilities and their realizations. They hope to reveal what had been con-cealed by the focus on human nature, i.e., the diversity and totality of human becoming—becoming human. The problem of human being is replaced with the problem of human becoming. Thus, in contemporary philosophy human identity is mainly revealed by investigating the manifold spheres of human activities—the worlds of cognition, morality, values, religion, society, culture, as well as humanity’s immersion in and engagement with the more-than-human world.

   The idea of this Dialogue and Universalism issue, devoted to the problem of human identity, follows the above-sketched attitude. The papers included in the issue investigate human identity by examining various spheres of human activities that are its manifestations.

   We would like to mention three papers demonstrating how cognitive representation, i.e. a connection between human cognition and the world, can be a promising explanative tool (not committed into copy theory of knowledge) if treated in non-standard ways. Two of them (authored by Enidio Ilario, Alfredo Pereira Jr., Valdir Gonzalez Paixão Jr., and by Małgorzata Czarnocka) take an inspiration from Ernst Cassirer’s conception of symbolic forms.

   The papers authored by Charles Brown, Małgorzata Czarnocka, Stanisław Czerniak, Debamitra Dey Marie Pauline Eboh, Jean-François Gava, Manjulika Ghosh, Leepo Modise, Spyros P. Panagopoulos, and Vasil Penchev are an International Society for Universal Dialogue legacy. They were submitted to the 10th ISUD Congress (Craiova, Romania, 2014).

Małgorzata Czarnocka, Charles Brown, Emily Tajsin

 

 

 

ABSTRACT

 

Charles Brown

RETHINKING ANTHROPOS IN THE ANTHROPOCENE

   A growing number of geologists, geophysicists, and other Earth scientists now claim that human caused changes in the chemistry of the atmosphere, oceans, and land are so pervasive as to constitute a new geological epoch characterized by humanity’s impact on the planet. They argue that these changes are so profound that future geologists will easily recognize a discernible boundary in the stratigraphy of rock separating this new epoch from the previous geological epoch, i.e., the Holocene. They propose to name this new geological epoch the “Anthropocene,” a term meaning the age of man. Common to this view is the claim that humans are now the ecologically dominant force on Earth.

   This paper will compare the understanding of human self-identity developed by the defenders of the Anthropocene discourse with the understanding of human self-identity developed by radical ecologists. The defenders of the Anthropocene Discourse argue that human beings must accept a new understanding of human self-identity as an emerging elemental force of nature and as master of the planet while radical ecologists argue that human beings must cultivate a conception of human self-identity as integral to nature. Radical ecologists argue that human self-understanding has traditionally been constructed by defining the realm of the human through the denial of our embodiment, our animality, and our presence in the natural order of things. These forms of self-understanding and self-expression now result in the failure to envision and promote thriving and sustainable lifestyles and the consequent environmental tragedies that un-dermine the natural systems making possible good and healthy lives for all species.

   This paper will conclude by arguing that only an ecologically and dialogically in-formed conception of human self-identity can provide an adequate point of departure for an ecologically benign form of human dwelling on this planet.

Keywords: Anthropocene, Anthropocene discourse, geoengineering, human-nature dichotomy, radical ecology, self-identity, master self.

Affiliation: Emporia State University, 1 Kellogg Circle, Emporia, KS 66801, USA.

E-mail: cbrown@emporia.edu

 

 

 

Małgorzata Czarnocka

TWO-LEVEL, OPEN, PLASTIC AND MULTIDIMENSIONAL HUMAN NATURE. AN ONTOLOGICAL RIDDLE

   I present—in an extremely sketchy form—a model of two-level, open, plastic and multidimensional human nature. Due to the included attribute of multidimensionality this model opposes the reductive conceptions of man dominating in today’s philosophy. The main objective of the paper is the ontological status of man, especially the ontic foundation of multidimensional man. I demonstrate that this status remains a riddle; one only knows that from the ontological perspective man is a wholly exceptional object, not explainable by to-date ontological constructions.

Keywords: human nature, plasticity, multidimensionality, openness, two-levelness, ontological status.

Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, ul. Nowy Świat 72, 00–330 Warszawa, Poland.

E-mail: mczarnoc@ifispan.waw.pl

 

 

 

Małgorzata Czarnocka

SYMBOLIC NATURE OF COGNITION

   I propose here an image of knowledge based on the concept of symbol: according to it, the relation of representation that constituting cognition is a symbolization. It is pos-tulated that both the representing conceptual model, i.e. a pre-linguistic entity acquired in cognition, and the true sentence it generates are of symbolic and not of mirroring (copying) character. The symbolic nature of cognition carries dialectical tension. We have at our disposal conceptual models and true sentences which symbolically represent reality. However, it is not possible to lift the symbolic disguise over knowledge, because precisely this disguise is its essence. Reality appears only as symbolically, non-imitatively encoded. The proposed here symbolic realism rejects the traditional adopted dichotomy between, on one side, realism and the absence of the subject’s factors in the cognitive result, and, on the other, idealism and the subject as a factor which is viewed as inevitably leading to the idealistic nature of knowledge.

Keywords: symbol, symbolic epistemological realism, representation, mirroring nature of knowledge.

Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, ul. Nowy Świat 72, 00–330 Warszawa, Poland.

E-mail: mczarnoc@ifispan.waw.pl

 

 

 

Stanisław Czerniak

MORALISATION, HUMAN NATURE, MORALITY

   The author defines moralisation as cultural processes marked by a rise in moralistic argumentation (also in areas in which such argumentation has heretofore not played a meaningful role) to a degree which raises questions and doubts of a philosophical and sociological nature. This is developed on in detail in the sections “The moralisation of the world and suffering,” “The moralisation of everyday life and history,” “The moralisation of knowledge” and “The moralisation of human nature.” The closing section of the article, “Moralisation and morality,” focuses on the relation between the described moralistic approach and the changes broadly-understood moral awareness is undergoing in the contemporary world.

Keywords: moralisation, morality, philosophical anthropology, human nature, suf-fering, everyday life, knowledge, genetic manipulation, virtues, moral norms.

Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy and Sociol-ogy of the Polish Academy of Sciences, ul. Nowy Świat 72, 00–330 Warszawa, Poland.

E-mail: czerniak.l.stanislaw@wp.pl

 

 

 

Debamitra Dey

HUMAN BEING BELIEVES IN GOD: UNFOUNDATIONALLY?

   From the dawn of human intelligence to the present era, the question ‘does God really exist?’ has been important for human being. Is there any proof of his existence? Philosophers, scholars, preceptors, monks and even atheists have tried to find the answer in their own ways. Various schools of Indian philosophy have also expressed their views about God’s existence. Some schools of Indian philosophy have accepted the ideas of karma (deeds), karmaphala (effects of deeds), rebirth etc. They have denied to admit the existence of God due to their own philosophical standpoint hence they have presented a series of arguments to refute the existence of God. Udayanāchārya, a famous Indian philosopher of the 10th century A.D., belonging to the Nyāya School, has shown some refined arguments to prove the existence of God. This paper presents his way of reasoning examining whether the belief in the existence of God is reasonable or not.

Keywords: God, God’s existence, Udayanāchārya, the Nyāya School.

Affiliation: Department of Sanskrit, S.B.S. Govt. College, Dakshin Dinajpur, Hili, West Bengal, India.

E-mail: debamitradey@gmail.com

 

 

 

Marie Pauline Eboh

THE WOMAN BEING: ITS NATURE AND FUNCTIONS

   The woman being is a human being. This paper critiques gender politics and questions the mistreatment, the second class status and some of the socio-cultural gender roles of women. It posits critical education of men and women, sensitivity and sensible-ness as the surest way out of the quagmire.

Keywords: human being, woman being.

Affiliation: Director of the Institute of Foundation Studies, Rivers State University of Science and Technology; Westend, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria.

E-mail: revsreboh@vahoo.com

 

 

 

Don Faust, Judith Puncochar

HOW DOES “COLLABORATION” OCCUR AT ALL? REMARKS ON EPISTEMOLOGICAL ISSUES RELATED TO UNDERSTANDING / WORKING WITH THE OTHER

   Collaboration must be based on careful representation and communication of each stakeholder’s knowledge. Using a foundational logical and epistemological point of view, we explore how such representation and communication can be accomplished. We tentatively conclude, based on careful delineation of logical technicalities necessarily involved in such representation and communication, that currently a complete representation is not possible. This inference, if correct, is discouraging. However, we suggest two actions. First, we can strive to make stakeholders more aware of the incompleteness of knowledge representations. Second, moderating one’s certainty of “Truth” should increase each stakeholder’s humility, thereby promoting the efficacy of collaborations.

Keywords: cognition and perception, collaboration, communication, dialogue, epistemology, logic and foundations of mathematics, mathematical logic, overconfidence.

Affiliation: Department of Mathematics and Computer Science; Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI 49855 USA.

E-mail: dfaust@nmu.edu

Affiliation: School of Education, Leadership, and Public Service; Northern Michigan University, Marquette, MI 49855 USA.

E-mail: jpuncoch@nmu.edu

 

 

 

Jean-François Gava

THINKING UNDER EXTREME CONDITIONS: FROM POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY TO THE FORCING OF POLITICS.
A CONTEMPORARY REFLECTION ON BOOK VI OF PLATO’S REPUBLIC

    According to Aristotle, rhetoric stands in the midst of reason and violence. In contemporary coordinates, this means that there is a mode of action extraneous to reason, which is violence. Up to now, one could plea that the very exercise of reason was nothing but action, autotelic activity. Thus the opposition between action and thought was a fake one. Repatriating à la Oswald Ducrot all reason to practical reason allowed us to think on thought as acting. This was the answer to the impracticability of violence. However, action as a mere discourse conceived as auto/hetero transformational practice in itself will not help. We need to take back into consideration action as something ex-traneous to pure/practical reason, to discourse. But this is not violence of the old type. Both the old irenism of the workers’ movement and the armed counter-state as the specular image of the state, supposed to wipe away the latter from the historical stage in the name of universal emancipation, are impracticable.
    Modern barbarity will soon get rid of the human species unless a new form of violence is found able to compete with the state, without turning into a new form a state. This new form is authoritative, legitimate intimidation. But what are the conditions to speak out authoritatively? Are they not distinctive state conditions? Moreover, does authority lie in the form of discourse? If not, because consentment has superseded mere submission, which are the authoritative sources of discourse which, though neither overtly nor primarily conflicting with the state, nor with corporations, could somehow not completely coincide with the interests of it and even work against it, though like it? We would like to examine all those questions.

Keywords: reason, violence, political philosophy, Plato.

Affiliation:Université Libre de Bruxelles, Franklin Rooseveltlaan 50, 1050 Brussels, Belgium.

E-mail: jeangava@ulb.ac.be

 

 

 

Manjulika Ghosh

HUMAN TRANSCENDENCE, NATURE AND SOCIETY

   Man is a being-in–the-world and at the same time he defies the dictates of nature; he is a being-off-the-world. Man tries to transcend the unconditionally given nature through invention, symbolization, representation and imagination. Man not only be-longs to nature but also intervenes in the processes of nature. Man is duplex. This duplicity is also species-specific to man and can be termed as human transcendence. This implies not only the transcendence of external nature but also self-transcendence, i.e. transcendence of his ego-self. Self-transcendence not only makes morality possible but is also a the basis of formation of society. Further, it brings about a change in man’s attitude to nature. Nature is not seen purely as an object of utility, but also as a power, a force, having a telos or an end. In clarifying what we want to say, we study the positions of two figures, Friedrich Nietzsche and Rabindranath Tagore. This paper attempts to address the idea of man’s self-transcendence and its bearing on harmonious living with other individuals and with nature.

Keywords: human transcendence, man, Friedrich Nietzsche, Rabindranath Tagore.

Affiliation: Department of Philosophy, University of North Bengal; P.O. North Bengal Univer-sity, Darjeeling-734013, West Bengal, India.

E-mail: mghoshnbu@gmail.com

 

 

 

Enidio Ilario, Alfredo Pereira Jr., Valdir Gonzalez Paixão Jr.

SYMBOLIC EXPRESSIONS OF THE HUMAN COGNITIVE ARCHITECTURE

   We briefly review and discuss symbolic expressions of the cognitive architecture of the human mind/brain, focusing on the Quaternion, the Axis Mundi and the Tree of Life, and elaborate on a quaternary diagram that expresses a contemporary worldview. While traditional symbols contain vertical and horizontal dimensions related to transcendence and immanence, respectively, in the contemporary interpretation the vertical axis refers to diachronic processes as biological evolution and cultural history, while the horizontal axis refers to synchronic relations as the interactions of individuals in society. In spite of these differences, we claim that old and new symbols are similar, expressing the cognitive architecture of the human mind/brain in the world of experience.

Keywords: symbolic expression, cognitive architecture, mind, triple-aspect monism.

Affiliation: Department of Public Health, State University of Campinas (UNICAMP) — Address: Departamento de Saúde Coletiva da FCM-UNICAMP. Rua Tessália Vieira de Camargo, 126, Caixa Postal 6111, Postal Code 13.083-887. Campinas – São Paulo – Brazil.

E-mail: enidioilario@uol.com.br

Affiliation: Departamento de Educação, São Paulo State University (UNESP), Instituto de Biociências de Botucatu, Campus de Rubião Jr., Postal Code: 18618-970 – Botucatu, São Paulo, Brazil.

E-mail: apj@ibb.unesp.br

Affiliation: Departamento de Educação, São Paulo State University (UNESP), Instituto de Biociências de Botucatu, Campus de Rubião Jr., Postal Code: 18618-970 – Botucatu, São Paulo, Brazil.

E-mail: valdirpaixao@ibb.unesp.br

 

 

 

German Melikhov

ON THE PHILOSOPHY OF THOSE WHO ARE DISCORDANT WITH THEMSELVES

   The article introduces an idea of practical philosophy, a philosophy which is aimed at changing a philosopher, not at developing philosophical knowledge. Philosophy is not another theory of being or knowledge, but a way of holding oneself in the state of being open (to truth). It is stated that this philosophy is based on differentiating the experience of the encounter (the entrance) and its conceptualization, that they are not equal. A philosophical concept not only points at the source of the philosophical thinking, but also eclipses it. The main obstacle for a philosopher is his/her own self, tempted by his/her own philosophy.

Keywords: practical philosophy, setting exercise, discordance, philosophical concept, the visit, the entrance, (self-) problematization.

Affiliation: Kazan (Volga Region) Federal University, Department of Philosophy, ulitsa Kremlevskaya, 18, Kazan, Russia, 420000.

E-mail: meac@bk.ru

 

 

 

Leepo Modise

HUMAN BEING AS A MULTI-DIMENSIONAL BEING: A THEANTHROPOCOSMIC
APPROACH TO WELLNESS AND WELLBEING

   This paper examines four issues concerning human being as a multi-dimensional be-ing. Firstly, the dualist and tripartite conceptions of human beings are discussed. The dichotomist (dualist, bipartite) view of human beings—according to which man comprises of spiritual soul and body—underscores in a strongly materialistic world the idea that faith, spirituality, belief, trust and confidence are soft options in daily life. Secondly, the author investigates the possibility of a differentiation and interchange of human fields of experience as components of human nature. In the African and Christian approaches taken into account in this paper, human being comprises a differentiated multiplicity of fields, components, dimensions and facets of experience integrated into a wholesome creature that experiences God, itself, other human beings and the natural environment. Each component of human being, though radically different, is of the same importance. Thirdly, the modern integral and differential conceptions of human being as a multi-dimensional entity are discussed. The approach in this paper is of postmodern non-reductionist type; according to it, human beings are comprised differentially of a multiplicity of fields, modes, dimensions and aspects of experience dynamically integrated in a union.

Keywords: Human being; soul; body; wellness; Theanthropocosmic.

Affiliation: University of South Africa, Pretoria, Preller Street, Muckleneuk Ridge, Pretoria, PO Box 392, UNISA, 0003. South Africa.

E-mail: modislj@unisa.ac.za

 

 

 

Felix O. Olatunji

UNIVERSITY EDUCATION AND THE CHALLENGES OF DEVELOPMENT IN AFRICAN SOCIETY

   The importance of education can never be underplayed in any society as it is the most potent weapon given to man to transform, change and liberate him and society from the slavery of ignorance and backwardness. Education allows man to attain a rapid development in all ramifications. It should be known from the outset that universities in Africa are moulded on the foundation and systemic structure of the Western ideologies. There are salient multi-faceted and multi-dimensional barriers towards the pursuit of higher education in Africa. The aim of this paper is to examine the challenges of higher education in Africa, which hinders its process of producing a body of knowledge that will elevate the human condition and posit it for all-round development.

Keywords: university education, African society, challenges of development.

Affiliation: Department of General Studies, Philosophy Unit, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, P. M. B. 4000, Ogbomoso, Nigeria.

E-mails: felixolatunji28@gmail.com; foolatunji@lautech.edu.ng

 

 

 

Badru Ronald Olufemi

TRANSNATIONAL JUSTICE AND THE GLOBAL TAXATION POLICY PROPOSAL: AN INSTITUTIONALIST ADDRESS OF THE FEASIBILITY QUESTION

   This work attempts to address some basic feasibility concerns in the global taxation policy proposal. In recent years, moral-political philosophizing has extensively advanced the idea of transnational justice through volumes of scholarly literature. In moving the discussions beyond an ideational level and projecting it onto a practical realm, mo-ral-political thinkers have proposed a global taxation policy, the proceeds of the implementation of which are meant to cater for the global poor. This proposal is morally laudable, given that it would substantially benefit the global needy. Nonetheless, the proposal raises some basic feasibility concerns, such as the moral and legal justifiability of the proposal; the nature of the object to be globally taxed and how it is to be globally taxed; the nature of the globalist institution to implement the proposal; the legitimacy challenge of the globalist institution, and the challenge of practical implementation of the proposal by the institution. If the proposal is to succeed, the critical issues ought to be constructively addressed. Given that institutionalism necessarily emerges in the feasibility concerns, an institutionalist approach is advanced in this work to constructively address them.

Keywords: Feasibility question; global taxation; institutionalist approach; policy proposal; transnational justice.

Affiliation: De-partment of Politics and International Relations, Faculty of Social & Management Sci-ences, Lead City University, Ibadan, Toll Gate Area, Lagos/Ibadan Expressway, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria.

E-mails: femmydamak@gmail.com; femmydamak@yahoo.com

 

 

 

Spyros P. Panagopoulos

MAN AS A SUPERIOR QUALITY OF THE REST OF CREATION: HUMAN BEING AND NATURAL ENVIRONMENT IN GREGORY OF NYSSA

In the treatise on the construction of man De opificio hominis, Gregory of Nyssa ar-gues that man is qualitatively superior to other natural creations of God. Man is created in the image of God, a condition not found, at least explicitly, for other creatures. It is up to him whether he will digest this image in question or not. Despite the superiority attributed to man, it is not claimed in any way that he shall behave towards the rest of nature by a way of domination.

Keywords: Gregory of Nyssa, creation, Christian anthropology, De opificio homi-nis, teleology, in the Image, in Likeness, Book of Genesis.

Affiliation: Ionian University (Corfu, Greece).

E-mails: spyrpan1@gmail.com; panagopoulosspyros@yahoo.com

 

 

 

Vasil Penchev

SUPERHUMANS: SUPER-LANGUAGE?

   The paper questions the scientific rather than ideological problem of an eventual biological successor of the mankind. The concept of superhumans is usually linked to Nietzsche or to Heidegger’s criticism or even to the ideology of Nazism. However, the superhuman can be also viewed as that biological species who will originate from hu-mans eventually in the course of evolution.

   While the society is reached a natural limitation of globalism, technics depends on the amount of utilized energy, and the mind is restricted by its carrier, i.e. by the brain, it is language which seems to be the frontier of any future development of humans or superhumans. Language is a symbolization of the world and thus doubling in an ideal or virtual world fruitful for creativity and the modeling of the former. Consequently, the gap between the material and the ideal world is both produced by and productive for language.

Keywords: Heidegger, Husserl, human evolution, language Nietzsche, superhuman.

Affiliation: Institute for the Study of Societies and Knowledge, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

E-mail: vasildinev@gmail.com


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