Dialogue and Universalism

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2/2014

PHILOSOPHICAL PROBLEMS OF THE LIVING WORLD

 

EDITORIAL

 

   The focus of the main part of the Dialogue and Universalism issue 2/2014 is on life, first of all on its nature and origin. The problems considered in this part, at first sight approachable from a biological perspective alone, are viewed here chiefly philosophically. It is philosophy which for centuries has been sought explanations of life and conceptual frameworks from which life can be attained. Philosophy is seen here as an autonomous, not rigorously naturalized, but at the same time open enterprise which assimilates and transforms information from beyond, inter alia from various disciplines of science. The here-presented collection of papers contributes to this this long-lasting, possibly eternal search. The united task of the papers can be characterized by Ernst Mayr’s claim: “New directions for research frequently come into view when one steps back from one’s own field and sees it as part of a larger endeavor to explain the living world, in all its wonderful diversity.” In the papers life (as-we-know-it) is contrasted with lifeless of animate objects, with life embraced “in principle”, but also with death or near death phenomena, with non-biological artificial life, and with extraterrestrial life (that might exist elsewhere in the universe). Thus, the old categorical difference between the inanimate world and the living organisms is here expanded, in along the lines of recent investigations which propose various alternative or complementing approaches of contrasting life with non-life. A leading metaphilosophical idea of the presented collection maintains that life cannot be discussed and explained in biology alone. Instead a philosophical attitude, with strong elements of interdisciplinarity is favored: in exploring life knowledge from different, not only adjacent scientific fields beyond biology (which remains, however, the main source of grounding) is applied. Besides, it is demonstrated that philosophical beliefs and programmes, worldviews, and ideological or religious threads load the proposed or discussed images of life. In consequence, the very question of life and understandings of it become not a purely descriptive but also normative problem.

   Moreover, the collection Philosophical Problems of the Living World comprises studies approaching ethical problems of biological life, among others, the evolutionary origin of morality, naturalizing ethics, an ethical problem of death, environmental ethics, the ethical relation between men and animals. It also contains methodological proposals valid in exploring life.

   The second part of the D&U issue 2/2014 entitled Dialogue is devoted to dialogue which is an especially distinguished subject of the journal. Four papers now published are a continuation of the investigations on dialogue presented lastly in the D&U monothematic issue 3/2013 Universal Dialogue, and, in numerous earlier issues of the journal.

   The third part entitled Wisdom. A Discussion about Andrew Targowski’s Book: Harnessing the Power of Wisdom: from Data to Wisdom. 2013. New York: Nova Publishers is in its basic dimension a discussion about Andrew Targowski’s publication. However, it should be emphasized that the included papers are not only reviews. Some of them are rather short essays which start from ideas proclaimed by Targowski, and then develop their own reflections, argumentations and views concerning the various contexts, among others political, social, cultural, civilizational, in which wisdom plays or should play a crucial role. Thus, the authors of the essays increase Targowski’s intellectual insight in extent and depth, and enrich still too scanty knowledge on wisdom and on its importance in the universal scale, namely, in the task of struggle against misfortunes in the human world. The presented essays and the book Harnessing the Power of Wisdom: from Data to Wisdom clearly although implicitly show that wisdom appears to be at least slightly different in each context—cultural, social, political, etc. From the presented essays and from Targowski’s book itself a radical consequence can be derived: wisdom—so long forgotten, postponed (at least in the Western modern civilization), and still being distant from a full understanding—is a virtue, lying in the sphere of human abilities, necessary for surviving humankind. A yet another consequence of the presented discussion may be added: the standard concepts of wisdom, primarily of the ancient origins (wisdom as epistemic humility, as epistemic accuracy, as knowledge, as living well) are too narrow to treat them as basic categories able to cope with fundamental problems of the today human world. In particular, the Aristotelian concept identifying wisdom by the rules: “to live life at its best” or, from Nicomachean Ethics: “it is evident that it is impossible to be practically wise without being good” is not adequate to consider universal problems of humankind, since it refer to individual human life, and not to the social dimension. Approaching wisdom is possibly a non-ended process of constructing senses and human values in accordance with whole adopted visions of the human world, in particular, with conceptions of man. The commonly shared conviction telling that wisdom is a virtue and a way of living, and that it requires more than smart ideas and knowledge, says, in fact, about an essential field of ignorance concerning wisdom. This ignorance should be diminished. The published essays contribute to this end.

 Małgorzata Czarnocka
D&U Deputy Editor
Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

 

 

 

ABSTRACTS 

 

Serena Cattaruzza, Paolo Tosolini

BEYOND STEREOTYPES KNOWLEDGE AND MEDICAL CARE IN THE MAN-ANIMAL RELATIONSHIP

   The possible contribution that the figure of the veterinarian provides to a progressive clarification of the knowledge inherent in the animal subject can be highlighted by an epistemological reflection which throws into relief the distinctive modes of approach and the most suitable curative procedures. At the same time a comparison between such procedures and the methods developed by different contemporary philosophical-scientific sectors, including those of the human sciences, could prove instructive in reporting the junctions and obligatory crossings of common problems.

Keywords: abduction, abstractive relevance, animal behaviour, animal wellbeing, clinical reasoning, diagnosis, evolution, ethology, Gestalt psychology, nosography, POA (Problem Oriented Approach), productive thinking, symptoms

 

Affiliation: Serena Cattaruzza: Department of Life Sciences, University of Trieste, Piazzale Europa, 1, 34128 Trieste TS, Italy

Email: serenacattaruzza@alice.it

Paolo TosoliniBiologist, Veterinarian, Udine, Italy. The author, a small-animal veterinarian, has been responsible solely for the technical-clinical part; nonetheless, he has followed attentively the stages of historical-epistemological text without, however, bearing any responsibility for it.

 

 

 

Krzysztof Chodasewicz

IS THE NATURE OF LIFE UNKNOWN?

THE PREDICTIONS IN EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY AND DEFINING OF LIFE

   Some biologists and philosophers are convinced that no definition of life can yet be formulated. I polemicize with this skepticism. Especially, I discuss the argumentation of Carol E. Cleland and her co-workers. I demonstrate that the theory of evolution is a proper theoretical foundation for defining life. I show that downgrading the importance of the theory of evolution is not based on the traditional arguments against the scientific character of this theory (e.g. Popper’s argument). The new arguments are deduced from the belief that every mature theory of life should explain all forms of life. I also consider conclusions derived from my analysis of the nature of the evolutionary theory for the problem of defining life. I show that the conclusions lead to a functionalist view of life.

Keywords: theory of evolution; biological theory; definition of life; prediction and explanation in biology.

 

Affiliation: High School of Physiotherapy, ul. Gen. T. Kościuszki 4, Wrocław, Poland

Email: kchodasewicz@o2.pl

 

 

 

Urszula Czyżewska

PLANETARY ECOSYNTHESIS—ENVIRONMENTAL ETHICS AND SCIENTIFIC IMPLICATIONS

   The article examines selected issues of planetary ecosynthesis from both scientific and philosophical perspectives. The main object of the examination is terraforming—a purposeful alteration of a planetary environment to improve the chances of the survival of an indigenous biology or, in the absence of any native life-forms, to allow for the habitation of most, if not all, terrestrial life-forms. Although this process has been lively debated within environmental ethics for many years, it still requires more precise ethical analyses as well as an applicable legislation on the international space policy.

Keywords: terraforming; search of life in the Universe; environmental ethics; space policy.

 

Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy of Nature and the Natural Sciences, John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Aleje Racławickie 14. 20-950 Lublin, Poland

Email: ukczyzewska@gmail.com

 

 

 

Andrzej Elżanowski

WHITHER “NATURALIZATION OF MORALITY”?

   The issue widely discussed under the heading of “naturalization of morality” involves at least three major components of morality: (1) value-laden experience which is the source of all genuine values; (2) received morality, a system of behaviors and attitudes that are transmitted from generation to generation and control the exchange of primary values; and (3) an analytic-evaluative agency, here referred to as ethics, that assesses norms and assumptions underlying received moralities against an independent knowledge of values. This task requires the use of both scientific information (on values and received moralities) and domain-specific ways of ethical reasoning that are appropriate for the subject. While the transmission of moral systems is fully explicable and thus naturalized in terms of evolutionary theory and psychology, the ongoing naturalization of ethics appears to be more complex.

Keywords: values; morality; ethics; metaethical competence; subjectivity; evolution.

 

Affiliation: Museum and Institute of Zoology, Polish Academy of Sciences, ul. Wilcza 64, 00–679 Warszawa, Poland

Email: elzanowski@miiz.waw.pl

 

 

 

Andrzej Gecow

STEPS OR REVOLUTIONS—EMOTIONS IN BIOLOGY

   The development of biology too frequently and inappropriately takes on the character of large revolutions. Revolution means a change of the basic set of principle factors explaining a given area of phenomena. Revolutions in science and of political systems have common rules, which are connected to ideological environmental pressure and simplifications resulting from its mechanisms.

In this article I just point out these simplifications, including the lack of grounds for treating many discoveries as revolutions on given scale. Ordering of the range and the importance of the already recognized discoveries is necessary for the abolition of current simplifications and the unblock of the path to the next approximations. Considered relations cover history from Cuvier, Lamarck and Darwin to genetics and Jablonka.

Keywords: biological theories; acquired characteristics; evolution theory; population genetics; epigenetics.

 

Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, 00–330 Warszawa, Poland

Email: gecow@op.pl

 

 

 

Andrzej Gecow

THE SPONTANEOUS ORDER, THE EDGE OF CHAOS AND ARTIFICIAL LIFE AS MISSING IDEAS IN THE UNDERSTANDING OF LIFE

   I claim that each of the title ideas needs a deep correction. The order in the structure and function of living objects can only be created by the Darwinian mechanism. Believing that it can emerge spontaneously, one stands for creationism. The hypothesis “life on the edge of chaos and order” results from the stability of this area of RBN, but living objects are not random as regards their stability; they are carefully selected just for stability by Darwinian natural selection. The networks modeling of living objects can be simultaneously ordered and chaotic on a similar level. It is also an edge of chaos, but—as I will demonstrate—another one. Definitions of artifacts are subjective, based on purposefulness, and their usefulness is problematic. Basic properties of natural life result from its spontaneity, which suggests a limit of using artificial life in investigations of life.

Keywords: spontaneous order; edge of chaos; natural life; artificial life; biological information; purposefulness.

 

Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, 00–330 Warszawa, Poland

Email: gecow@op.pl

 

 

 

Asok Kumar Mukhopadhyay

LIFE WITHIN THE AKHANDA WORLDVIEW

   Life cannot be understood in isolation from consciousness, mind, self and information, on one hand, and space, time, matter, energy, on the other. There are deep interconnections amongst these nine entities constituting the operational divisions of the unbroken whole within the Akhanda worldview. The author postulates that material evolution culminates in developing the state called the living state of matter which supports and helps to manifest the intangible, all-pervasive and irreducible life-principle as life-form, living entity or living being. The enclosure of life-principle within matter and the creation of a bioenergetic membrane have cosmological, biological and spiritual purposes.

Keywords: the Akhanda worldview; life; consciousness; information; philosophy and science.

 

Affiliation: All India Institute of Medial Sciences, New Delhi-110029, India

Email: mukhoak1953@gmail.com

 

 

 

Marek Łagosz

PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE. FEW ARGUMENTS AGAINST EUTHANASIA

   This paper considers and withstands the ideology of a “good death” (euthanasia). I consider some ontological statements about life and death and also some ethical motivations. In that light I show that legalization of the euthanasia is morally problematical.

Keywords: life; death; euthanasia; “good death”; duty; pleasure; suffering; health; disease; sacrifices; freedom.

 

Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy, Wrocław University, plac Uniwersytecki 1, 50-137 Wrocław, Poland

Email: lagosz@o2.pl

 

 

 

Włodzimierz Ługowski  

THE PROBLEMS OF ORIGIN. LIFE AS A PROPERTY OF MATTER

   I take the view that the inclusion of the problems of origin in the field of scientific research was a philosophical breakthrough, in three aspects—ontological, epistemological, and concerning the consciousness of scientists (precisely, it consists in deciding if the issue of the origin is worthy of consideration). It turns out that following a philosophical approach it is possible to (1) have a good grasp of the essence of the most important breakthrough which came in the twentieth-century natural history, (2) establish the circumstances in which it happened, (3) to explain the reasons why the foremost representatives of neo-positivist orientation has put so much effort to replace the truth with the legend in recent years. I demonstrate that the dispute over the nature (and over the assessment) of philosophical ideas, which were at the root of the above-mentioned breakthrough, led to a polarization of stances but also to completely unexpected alliances.

Keywords: origin of life; philosophy of nature; Weltanschauung.    

 

Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, 00–330 Warszawa, Poland

Email: wlugowsk@ifispan.waw.pl

 

 

Elina B. Minnullina

COMMUNICATIVE GROUNDS OF PHILOSOPHICAL REFLECTION

   The paper examines communicative grounds of philosophical reflection in the context of the post-metaphysical paradigm. It is shown that the characteristic of reflection is the ontologisation of language. Drawing on the basic questions of the linguistic and communicative transformation of metaphysics, such as the subject-object dichotomy replaced with intersubjectivity, and substantive rationality replaced with a formal conception, the author deals primarily with the problem of communicative rationality and intersubjective being-in-the-speech.

Keywords: communication; reflection; speech; communicative action; intersubjectivity; being-in-the-speech; communicative rationality.

 

Affiliation: Department of Philosophy, Kazan, State Power Engineering University, ul. Krasnosel’skaja 51 Kazan 420066, Republic of Tatarstan, Russia

Email: elinafil@mail.ru

 

 

 

 

Yuri M. Serdyukov

NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE AND SUBJECTIVE IMMORTALITY OF MAN

   The life of the brain is believed to be the major factor determining the existence of subjective reality during clinical death. The duration of the existence in question cannot be measured in the units of astronomical time for two reasons. Firstly, it is impossible to determine once and for all how long the brain survives after cardiac arrest and termination of breathing. Secondly, the duration of subjective time during near death experience (NDE) differs from that typical of daily regular experience. Immobilization, loss of the sensation of one’s body, state of affect and severe sensory deprivation ensure that consciousness is focused and fixated in and onto itself exclusively which, in its turn, diminish and slacken the course of time so that it expands to eternity and subjective reality goes beyond the usual limits of the temporal “past-present-future” paradigm.

Keywords: time; subjective time; eternity; near death experience (NDE); subjective reality; psyche; consciousness.

 

Affiliation: Department of Philosophy at the Far Eastern State Transportation University, , ul. Serysheva 47, 680021 Khabarovsk, Russia

Email: serdyukovyuri@mail.ru

 

 

 

Svetlana Shumakova

CIRCUS ART: AN ASPECT OF CROSS-CULTURAL DIALOGUE

   The paper examines the problem of cross-cultural interactions; within this context circus art is analyzed. Art, in general, and especially, circus art can be considered as a field of dialogical communication, and as a way of giving new human experiences, spiritual values and worldviews. It is hypothesized that circus art is a complex polyfunctional social and cultural phenomenon which inherits communicative properties of art. It is possible and desired to study circus art in the context of cross-cultural dialogue. The article deals with modern cultural situation, its orientation on cultural dialogism, and displays general factors forming the role of circus art in the cross-cultural interaction.

Keywords: cultural situation; cross-cultural dialogue; circus art.

 

Affiliation: Kharkov Academy of Culture, Bursatsky skusk street 4, 61003 Kharkov, Ukraine

Email: svetlana.klr@mail.ru

 

 

 

 

Vir Singh

UNIVERSAL DIALOGUE AS A UNIVERSAL PHENOMENON

   Universal dialogue serves as a stimulant for discussions leading to definitive social actions. The dialogues which are not universal are irresponsible, retrogressive, and lead only to negative social actions. Mal-dialogue (casual or customary dialogue), lethal dialogue (dialogue with the fury of religious fundamentalism), ecocidal dialogue (favoring economy based on nature’s plunder), and cyber dialogue (confusing dialogue) are opposed to universal dialogue; they all pose a challenge for humanity. Lethal and ecocidal dialogues are extremely dangerous and they have to be effectively opposed. Lethal dialogue can be defied by absorbing the ideas of cultural pluralism. The Gandhism philosophy is important of the issue of dialogue— it is replete with ideas fundamental in reversing the processes of ecocide inherent with globalism (the highest stage of economism) and in restoring ecological balance and ecological integrity. Universal dialogue reflects human’s universal attributes such as altruism, consciousness, responsibility, reasoning, ethics, wisdom, creativity, and justice, and promotes a discussion vital to promote human evolution synchronized with universal evolution.

Keywords: Casual dialogue; customary dialogue; ecocidal dialogue; Gandhism; global economism; interfaith dialogue; lethal dialogue; universal dialogue; universal evolution.

 

Affiliation: Govind Ballabh Pant University of Agriculture and Technology Pantnagar-263145, Uttarakhand, India

Emails: sinvir@gmail.com ; drvirsingh@rediffmail.com

 

 

 

Zhanna Vavilova

THE SUBJECT IN DIALOGUE: THE VISUAL SEMIOTIC PERSPECTIVE

   What does it mean to communicate with visual messages and to convey ideas with the help of images? Is the visual sign capable of substituting the subject when he or she is not present? Can it be relied upon in communication? Can it happen that a gap between the subject’s visual image and identity becomes an insurmountable barrier on the way to understanding? This paper attempts to discover visuality as a weighty addition to the spoken word, to reconsider its role in communication so that it is treated not as a deceptive simulacrum but a representation of the subject in dialogical space, an embodiment of an eternal pure impulse, an aspiration to unfold oneself in front of the other.

Keywords: dialogue; communication; semiotics; visuality; image; identity; subject; the other.

 

Affiliation: Department of Philosophy, Kazan, State Power Engineering University, ul. Krasnosel’skaja 51 Kazan 420066, Republic of Tatarstan, Russia

Email: zhannavavilova@mail.ru


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