Dialogue and Universalism

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2/2016

OVER – ELABORATED AND FORGOTTEN TOPICS IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY

 

  IN MEMORIAM OF MAREK J. SIEMEK

 

Editorial

 

   This Dialogue and Universalism issue intends to honour and commemorate the outstanding Polish philosopher Professor Marek J. Siemek on the fifth anniversary of his death; he passed away in 2011. Marek J. Siemek was highly respected for his philosophical ideas, extensive and novel investigations into German philosophy and translational and editorial work. He was a spectacular protagonist of intensifying dialogue between philosophers from different countries, and of breaking with the tendency to narrow philosophy down to its purely intellectual, internal quests. In line with a minority of contemporary philosophers Marek J. Siemek regarded philosophy as one of the domains which designed the human world apart from its purely intellectual quest. He was an intellectualist who tended to break barriers between Western and Eastern Europe, and sought the means with which to do it in philosophy. Marek J. Siemek’s intellectual bravery, his defence of leftist ideals, his resilience and human dignity manifested themselves especially after Poland’s political transformation in 1989.
   In 2006 Marek J. Siemek received an honorary doctorate from the University of Bonn (The German name is: Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn) for his extraordinary and creative mediation between Polish and German philosophy. It was the first honorary doctorate awarded to a Polish philosopher by a German state university.
   This Dialogue and Universalism issue is not a typical festschrift. Everybody who knew Professor Siemek is convinced that he would not want to be celebrated or worshipped. We believe that what would have made him really happy would have been an unhampered intellectual debate around issues which lay his research domain, and precisely this belief is the underlying idea of the present issue. It is thematically focused on contemporary social philosophy, which was one of Siemek’s main research fields throughout his academic life. In line with the specificity of his philosophical interests and commitments, we decided on the theme OVER-ELABORATED AND FORGOTTEN TOPICS IN CONTEMPORARY SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY. The contributors include Marek Siemek friends and students, as well as scholars influenced by his ideas or impressed by his penetrating philosophising. They investigate contemporary social philosophy’s most fashionable conceptions and problems, as well as those which, though seemingly important, are almost forgotten, e.g. Marxism and Marxist interpretations of social problems, especially in so-called post-communist countries. I would like to mention two papers in this group: the extremely actual study on the foundation of European unity by Ludger Kühnhardt, and Wolfdietrich Schmied-Kowarzik’s paper on the essence and today’s importance of Karl Marx’s Critique of Political Economy.
   Also in this issue are studies on Marek Siemek’s philosophical conceptions and ideas.
Last but not least, I would like to mention three papers which touch the transcendental sphere of human life and fundamental human existential emotions and creations. The contribution by Mihály Vajda is an impressive account of his and Marek Siemek’s friendship, and the special atmosphere in which they debated and developed philosophical ideas. In this dialogue they rarely attained consensus, but they continued it and considered it valuable despite their differences. First and foremost, however, the paper addresses the crisis of contemporary humanity. Barbara Smitmans-Vajda’s paper reveals some rarely recognised reasons behind the tragic fate of refugees—who besides losing their prior existence also lose their identity and experience total loneliness and estrangement. This paper, so very actual today, recounts the problems accompanying migration and refuge on the example of the fates of Ernst Bloch and Stefan Zweig in the first half of the 20th century. Shoshana Ronnen’s paper is an insightful study of the concept of god in Jewish thought. This essay about god indirectly reveals significant truths about man, who—in the atheist perspective shared by Marek J. Siemek—is the creator of god.
   I would like to express our deep gratitude to Halina Walentowicz, Katarzyna Bielińska and Adam Romaniuk for their valuable help in preparing this issue.
Małgorzata Czarnocka
Dialogue and Universalism Editor-in-Chief

 

 

 

ABSTRACTS

 

Katarzyna Bielińska-Kowalewska

SIEMEK AND ALTHUSSER: A CONTRIBUTION TO STUDIES ON THE CONVERGENCE OF THEIR PHILOSOPHIES

    The paper analyses relations between Marek J. Siemek’s views and Louis Althusser’s Marxism. The French philosophical tradition, especially structuralism, plays an important role in Siemek’s standpoint which overcomes the opposition between Hegelian Marxism and the so-called Structuralist Marxism.

Keywords: Marek Siemek, Louis Althusser, Marxism, epistemic, epistemological.

Affiliation: Graduate School for Social Research, Instytut Wydawniczy “Książka i Prasa” and Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung.

E-mail: katarzyna.bielinska@gmail.com

 

 

 

Pedro Leão da Costa Neto

THE RETURN TO THE CRITIQUE OF THE POLITICAL ECONOMY PROJECT IN THE DIALECTICS OF THE CONCRETE BY KAREL KOSÍK

   Karel Kosík’s book Dialectics of the Concrete. A Study on Problems of Man and World, elaborated under the impact of the de-Stalinization process, is one of the important attempts to rethink Marxist philosophy; it was an attempt to overcome the theoretical stagnation caused by the Stalinist period. It considers the state of Marxist theory, its relations to the past theoretical tradition, as well as it attempts to develop a critical and creative dialogue with different contemporary theoretical conceptions, then hegemonic. Through his reading of Marx and his A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy project, Kosík searches for ways of discussing different relationships between philosophy and economics in the contemporary world, and, in particular, he analyzes different theoretical or ideological forms of the reified characteristics of the pseudoconcrete world of care (starost), homo oeconomicus and economic factor.

Keywords: Marxism; Karel Kosík; social philosophy

Affiliation: University of Tuiuti at Paraná, Brazil.

E-mail: pedro.costa@utp.br; zhores@terra.com.br

 

 

 

Piotr Dehnel

MAREK J. SIEMEK’S REFLECTIONS ON THE PHILOSOPHY OF MODERNITY

   The aim of the article is to present Marek Siemek’s interpretation of modernity, focusing on problems related to understanding of the modern subject that arose (and still arise) from the reading of Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno’s Dialectic of Enlightenment. Siemek seems to endorse a general drive of Habermas’ theory of intersubjective communication intended to overcome the dialectics of Enlightenment and to complete the project of modernity. However, his position is that its foundation can be traced back to the philosophies of Fichte and Hegel and their mutually complementary intersubjectivity models. Siemek seeks to reconcile the idea of the philosophy of intersubjectivity underlying Fichte’s and Hegel’s philosophies with the tenets of the philosophy of consciousness.

Keywords: modernity, subject, intersubjectivity, recognition, consciousness.

Affiliation: University of Low-er Silesia, Wagonowa 9, Wrocław 53-609, Poland and Academy of Fine Art in Wrocław Poland.

E-mail: piotr.dehnel@dsw.edu.pl

 

 

 

Janusz Dobieszewski

MASTER—SLAVE

   The article concerns the problem of master and slave in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Then I compare this problem with the issues discussed in the Hegel, Haiti and Universal History, an interesting book by Susan Buck-Morss, published in 2009.

Keywords: slavery, master, Hegel, Susan Buck-Morss.

Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy, University of Warsaw, Warszawa, ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 3, Warsaw, Poland.

E-mail: dobieszewski@uw.edu.pl

 

 

 

Michał Herer

BARTLEBY AND HIS BROTHERS OR THE POLITICAL ART OF REFUSAL

   The article discusses the political (and potentially emancipatory) meaning of refusal. Against the dominating philosophical perspective, praising participation and sense of community, it argues that the acts of refusal may (or even must) play an important role in resistance against power. Some elements of a possible theory of refusal are to be found in the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, especially in his famous essay on Herman Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener, but also in Dialogues (with C. Parnet) and Mille Plateaux (with Félix Guattari), where he coins the crucial concept of becoming-imperceptible.

Keywords: America, abnegation, becoming-imperceptible, crack, Gilles Deleuze, emancipation, flight, lines, Herman Melville, original, participation, politics, refusal, treason.

Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy at the University of Warsaw, Krakowskie Przedmieście 3, 00–927 Warsaw, Poland.

E-mail: michal.herer@uw.edu.pl

 

 

 

Andrzej Karalus

ON THE MODERN AND POSTMODERN PARADIGMS OF IDEOLOGY AND SOCIAL CRITICISM

   The article takes on the problem of ideology, critical consciousness and social criticism and distinguishes two distinct ways of thematizing it. The first approach is developed within the post-Hegelian framework. According to this paradigm, critique of ideology is a means of transgressing the antagonistic forms of socialization and emancipating humanity from the false forms of consciousness and corresponding irrational and oppressive social institutions. The postmodern paradigm questions two basic assumptions of the modern approach: firstly, it denies that there exists a possibility to find purely rational and universal contexts, where ideological shackles could be exposed and thrown away; secondly, it rejects the idea that we can rely on the concept of self-awareness or critical reflection as informing our action and elevating our understanding of the social being to the higher level (self-enlightenment model), for critical consciousness has no direct consequences. While portraying the postmodern paradigm, Stanley Fish’s views, considered exemplary to the postmodern rendition of the problem of ideology, will be discussed in a more detailed manner. In the final section of the article a provisional attempt is being made to elucidate what is the task of social criticism with-in the postmodern paradigm.

Keywords: ideology, critical consciousness; social criticism; anti-fundamentalism; modern and postmodern paradigms.

Affiliation: Gdańsk University of Technology, ul. Narutowicza 11–12, 80-233 Gdańsk, Poland.

E-mail: aka@zie.pg.gda.pl

 

 

 

Ludger Kühnhardt

IS THERE A POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY OF THE EUROPEAN UNION?

   The future will tell whether or not the European Union is developing a political philosophy of its own. But the current trend indicates several interesting features structurally different, or asymmetric, to the experiences with the evolution of key notions of political philosophy in relation to the past experience with the development of state-hood. The paper gives examples which call for deepened research and provides stimulating material for a new and innovative reflection on the process and substance of European integration, this most unique feature of political history in the course of the 20th century.

Keywords: political philosophy, the European Union, European integration.

Affiliation: Center for European Integration Studies at the University of Bonn,Walter-Flex-Strasse 3, 53113 Bonn, Germany.

E-mail: l.kuehnhardt@uni-bonn.de

 

 

 

Andrzej Lisak

MAREK J. SIEMEK AND HIS INTERPRETATION OF THE IDEA OF TRANSCENDENTALISM

   The paper discusses with critical intent Marek J. Siemek’s conception of transcendental philosophy. Firstly, theory of knowledge does not belong to the epistemic level of reflection (Siemek’s stance) but it is precisely the other way around; namely, it is due to transcendental philosophy (critique of cognitive faculties) that it was possible to distinguish metaphysical, ontological and epistemological questions. Secondly, transcendental philosophy enables us to discriminate between the ontological and epistemological questions (Emil Lask, Edmund Husserl) and, as a result, to take up within its scope traditional epistemological questions such as adequacy of cognition. Thirdly, Siemek’s Fichtean interpretation of transcendental philosophy is untenable. It overestimates the role of spontaneity and practical moment in the constitution of the world and underestimates the receptive moment in cognition. It seems that more plausible way of understanding transcendental philosophy can be found in the writings of the Marburg School of neo-Kantianism where within the field of transcendental consciousness more objectified meanings and subject as such are being constituted.

Keywords: transcendental philosophy; Marburg School; Fichte; epistemology; theory of knowledge.

Affiliation: Gdańsk University of Technology, Gabriela Narutowicza 11/12, 80–233 Gdańsk, Poland.

E-mail: alis@zie.pg.gda.pl

 

 

 

Ewa Nowak

EXAMINING THE DIALOGICAL PRINCIPLE IN MAREK SIEMEK’S LEGACY

   The paper examines the evolution of Marek Siemek’s “dialogical principle.” The early version of this principle, sketched in the essay “Dialogue and Its Myth” (1974), meets several criteria of the phenomenology of dialogue and even hermeneutics. However, Siemek has continued to change his concept of dialogue over the decades. In his recent book, Freedom, Reason, Intersubjectivity (2002), he explores transcendental preconditions of free and reasonable activism, i.e., the Fichtean “limitative synthesis” of I and NonI and its applications in social interrelations. He no longer considers the empirical, anthropological, and phenomenological aspects of dialogics and mutual recognition. He also replaces mutuality with reciprocity, asymmetry with symmetry, and phenomenology with transcendentalism.

Keywords: Marek Siemek, dialogue, recognition, mutuality, reciprocity, Goethe and Schiller, storied dialogue, truth, myth, phenomenology, hermeneutics, transcendentalism.

Affiliation: Adam Mickiewicz University, Institute of Philosophy, Szamarzewski Street 89 C, 60–658 Poznań, Poland; Cornell University 14850-Ithaca NY, USA.

E-mails: en277@cornell.edu, ewanowak@amu.edu.pl

 

 

 

Shoshana Ronen

GOD IN JEWISH THINKING: BETWEEN INCOMPLETENESS AND PERFECTION

   The article deals with the concept or the image of God in the Hebrew Bible and the various understandings and interpretations of it by Jewish thinkers through generations. The biblical text, full of contradictions and anthropomorphic assertions about God, was a source of discomfort for Jewish philosophers and theologians. Therefore, the sublimation and distillation of the text was necessary, and it was done by use of different hermeneutical methods. The article deals with various attributes of the biblical God, and presents different theological and philosophical interpretations of that issue by major Jewish thinkers.

Keywords: God, Hebrew Bible, anthropomorphism, pathos, omnipotence, omni-presence, freedom of the will, Maimonides, Heschel, Leibowitz.

Affiliation: University of Warsaw, Krakowskie Przedmieście 26/28, 00-927 Warsaw, Poland.

E-mail: ronen@uw.edu.pl

 

 

 

Wolfdietrich Schmied-Kowarzik

THE ENDURING VALIDITY OF THE CRITIQUE OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
MARXIAN PRAXIS-PHILOSOPHICAL DIALECTICS

   Karl Marx is forgotten as a philosopher today not because he failed, but because the praxis-philosophical core of his Critique of Political Economy has not been rightly perceived. Marx’s Critique of Political Economy is a negative theory which takes it upon itself to uncover the negative aspects of capitalist values theory. It is not self-grounded, and substantiated solely by Marx’s earlier writings. It cannot serve as the basis for any kind of common, ecological economy, its importance lies only in its practical-philosophical conclusion that we must overcome the human- and nature-destructive value logic of capitalism.

Keywords: Karl Marx, Critique of Political Economy.

Affiliation: professor emeritus, University of Vienna.

E-mail: schmied-kowarzik@aon.at

 

 

 

Michal Sladecek

THE MORAL JUSTIFICATION OF CIVIC DUTIES.
CO-CITIZENS, NON-CITIZENS AND REFUGEES

   In the first part of the article the concept of associative duties and their justification as distinctive from general moral duties are analyzed. The second part considers associative duties to fellow citizens and distinguishing features of those duties such as reciprocity, mutuality and equal status. In the final part the author deals with specific cases concerning refugees and stresses arguments as to why the associative duties of co-citizens should overcome duties to refugees, as well as the failures of those arguments. It is argued that the status of refugees is different from the status of other non-citizens, such as immigrants, due to the lack of institutional representation and protection.

Keywords: morality, associative duties, civic duties, justification, refugees.

Affiliation: Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory, Kraljice Natalije 45, Belgrade, Serbia.

E-mail: sladecek@instifdt.bg.ac.rs

 

 

 

Barbara Smitmans-Vajda

HOPE AND UTOPIA AGAINST RESIGNATION AND DESPAIR?
ERNST BLOCH UND STEFAN ZWEIG IN CONNECTION WITH EMIGRATION AND EXILE

   My essay is based on the lecture I presented at the Conference “The German-Speaking Intellectual and Cultural Emigration to the United States and United Kingdom. 1933–1945” (Bard College, Annandale, New York 12504, August 13–15, 2002, Session: “Happy End?”). I decided to publish it (for the first time) in honour of my friend Marek Siemek, because I think this theme is very actual, especially in light of the current crisis in Europe connected with the problems of fugitives and refugees. Ernst Bloch and Stefan Zweig, both Jews, reacted in opposite ways to their forced fate of being on the run from persecution and murder. They felt like strangers in their exile. Ernst Bloch, a stranger to English and other languages, wrote his Principle of Hope in his mother tongue. Stefan Zweig, a brilliant translator, felt himself “imprisoned in a language, which he could not use”: Europe was his homeland. Tired “of all ideas in the future” he committed suicide far away from home. Ernst Bloch came back to Germany after the Second World War—first to the German Democratic Republic, and then, in 1961 to the Federal Republic of Germany. He continued his lifework against resignation and despair in keeping with what he outlined in his Principle of Hope: with his “real utopia” social model, and existence “without expropriation and alienation in real democracy,” where “there arises in the world something which shines into the child-hood of all and in which no one has yet been: homeland.”

Keywords: Ernst Bloch, Stefan Zweig, exile, fugitives, refugees.

Affiliation: PEN International in Germany (Poets, Essayists, Novelists), and “Verband deutscher Schriftsteller” (Society of German Writers).

E-mail: bsmitma@supra-net.net

 

 

 

Mihály Vajda

GODLESSNESS

   I myself and Marek Siemek could never accept the philosophical standpoint of the other, nevertheless we agreed with each other in a very important respect. For both of us philosophy was always a vital questioning, and not a kind of neutral science about the world. To Marek Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel was the starting point, to me Martin Heidegger, later Frierich Nietzsche; Marek wanted to create a new unified explanation of our world, I have denied to possibility of such a unified explanation.
To make my attitude comprehensible, I gave in this paper a kind of report on the conference at which in different talks the crisis of our world was discussed. The stand-points of the early György Lukács, that of Edmund Husserl, and Heidegger, and that of Carl Schmidt were interpreting. All of them wanted to give a kind of solution to our existential crisis. To me the name of Nietzsche was lacking; I think namely that only Niettzsche was the philosopher at the beginning of our crisis of modernity, who could see: the “last man” who killed God, cannot do anything else as to accept his existential crisis. There is no solution.

Keywords: the story of a friendship (Marek Siemek and Mihály Vajda); the impossibility to give a unified explanation of our world, and that of the existential crisis of man in modernity.

Affiliation: professor emeritus, University of Debrecen, Egyetem tér 1, 4010 Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary.

E-mail: vajmisu@gmail.com

 

 

 

Lino Veljak

PHILOSOPHY IN TIMES OF REGRESSION

   In this paper the author tries to explore (or at least to indicate) the problem of the social function of philosophy in the contemporary world. This world is characterized by universal modernization and in the last decades by globalization and unification, but at the same time also by controversies and contradictions which reveal tendencies of human regression and degeneration. Philosophy must remain a study of general and fundamental nature of a human-produced world. As such philosophy produces potentialities of critical thinking, provides social investigations, and—at least in principle—gives people the power of an adequate understanding of our world, its fundamental characteristics and main tendencies. Thus philosophy is a ground for a reasonable social practice and adequate policies.

Keywords: social function of philosophy, contemporary era, modernization, regression, high education, social practice.

Affiliation: University of Zagreb, University of Zagreb, Trg marsala Tita 14, HR-10000 Zagreb, Croatia.

E-mail: lveljak@ffzg.hr

 

 

 

Halina Walentowicz

THE APORIAS OF OPEN SOCIETY

   In the first part of The Aporias of Open Society the author enters a polemic with the views of Karl R. Popper, who links open society to capitalism, sees it endangered by totalitarianism, and considers Plato, Hegel and Marx as its intellectual fathers. In the second part she makes broad reference to the findings of global capitalism scholars, including Popper student George Soros, in defining the capitalist system’s self-destructive traits, which she sees as confirmation of Soros’ claim that open society’s most serious enemy today is itself.

Keywords: open society, democracy, freedom, equality, globalisation, totalitarianism, enslavement, inequality.

Affiliation: University of Warsaw; Institute of Philosophy, Krakowskie Przedmieście 3, 00–927 Warsaw, Poland.

E-mail: halinawalentowicz@uw.edu.pl

 

 

 

Boyan Znepolski

HOW TO CRITICIZE OUR SOCIETIES TODAY?
PART I:
PRAGMATIC SOCIOLOGY AND PRAGMATIC CRITICAL THEORY AS A SOCIAL CRITIQUE

   The article is dedicated to the pragmatic social critique as one of the most influential patterns of contemporary social critique. It is focused on the evolution of Luc Boltanski’s pragmatic sociology of the critique, which initially refused to play an overtly critical role and restricted itself to reconstructing the modalities of critique social actors recourse to in their everyday practices. In his most recent publication, however, Boltanski seems to return to Pierre Bourdieu’s definition of sociology as a critical sociology. According to Boltanski, the critical vocation of sociology is supposed to answer the increasing critical deficit that social actors experience in the context of contemporary societies with their complex forms of domination.
The aim of our study is to make this two-sided transformation comprehensible by putting into question the underlying methodological and political arguments. The pragmatic sociology seems methodologically more convincing but politically weaker than Bourdieu’s critical sociology. Moreover, it seems more legitimate but less efficient in its critical effects. How could this dilemma of social critique opposing requirements of legitimacy and requirements of efficiency be solved?

Keywords: social critique, pragmatic sociology, social classes, domination, capitalism.

Affiliation: Department of Sociology, University of Sofia “St. Kliment Ohridski,” 15 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd,1504 Sofia, Bulgaria.

E-mail: boyanzep@gmail.com

 

 

 

Boyan Znepolski

HOW TO CRITICIZE OUR SOCIETIES TODAY?
PART II:
THE RADICAL PHILOSOPHICAL CRITIQUE OF CAPITALISM AND DEMOCRACY

   The article aims to study the usages of the “people” as a critical idea in the texts of two contemporary radical political philosophers: Slavoj Žižek and Alain Badiou. The author’s intention is not so much to point out the divergence between them, rather it is to grasp a common trend imposing the figure of the “people” as a main subject of the political and as a source of a desired, but hardly conceivable social change. The strong appeal to an epochal rupture, yet unsupported by any utopia, could be considered as a double crisis—of the institutions of liberal democracy as well as of the critical imagination itself.

Keywords: people, democracy, capitalism, rupture, event, divine violence.

Affiliation: Department of Sociology, University of Sofia “St. Kliment Ohridski,” 15 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd,1504 Sofia, Bulgaria.

E-mail: boyanzep@gmail.com

 

 


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