Dialogue and Universalism

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2/2018

FRIENDSHIP—AROUND MICHAEL H. MITIAS’ FRIENDSHIP: A CENTRAL MORAL VALUE

 

EDITORIAL

 

FRIENDSHIP—AROUND MICHAEL H. MITIAS’ FRIENDSHIP: A CENTRAL MORAL VALUE

   The main theme of this Dialogue and Universalism issue is friendship. The object of investigations and/or inspiration the here presented papers on friendship is Michael H. Mitias’ book Friendship: A Central Moral Value. In this very modest way Dialogue and Universalism would like to honour Professor Mitias—by paying attention to one of his many, though interrelated, fields of research. We have decided to follow Mitias’ interest in friendship also because this virtue plays such a significant role in human life—in its individual as well as in social scale—that it repeatedly must be given attention it merits. Although— as one of the authors, Ruth Abbey, informs—some books on friendship have been published in the last years friendship is still a neglected issue, mainly because philosophy has rarely addressed the alarming condition of friendship in recent times. And it is Mitias who restores friendship in the variant that has been rooted in the human world over the centuries, reactivates it and postulates to assign it the role of a founding item of postmodern morality; Necip Fikri Alican elucidates this in detail in his paper. This recent period has abandoned many basic traditional values apparently “for the sake of modernization” as many ideologies try to convince us, in fact imposing or sanctioning our world order run by economic interests and benefits.

   The Dialogue and Universalism editorial team is pleased to present here three extensive essays on Mitias’ conception of friendship and his deep-going deliberations on this subject. The essays include analyses, discussions and trace the grounding of Mitias’ conception in philosophical traditions. Also, the collection includes two other studies that do not refer directly to Mitias’ book but are thematically closely related to it.

   Following Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (Book VIII), in philosophy friendship is commonly treated as an ethical issue and as lying in the individual subject’s sphere. However, like the majority of ethical issues, also the question of friendship inevitably extends to philosophical anthropology, especially to the problems of human being’s nature, natural, primitive features, needs and aspirations as well as those imposed from outside, issues of individual identity, freedom and autonomy in the face of friendship, and individualistic tendencies versus togetherness.

   Today the necessary extension of the scope of friendship goes farther on, namely to the sphere of society, culture, and civilization. Friendship is becoming a serious problem in all those domains, and cannot be viewed any longer only as an intimate relationship between two persons, a relationship devoid of socio-cultural influence and commitment. Recent socio–cultural phenomena have among others things led to the collapse or distortion of authentic human togetherness. We are witnessing the frightening disappearance of authentic friendly relationships. The very idea and value of friendship has been devalued and is currently turning into its own caricature or an empty illusion.

   Paradoxically, new communication media are taking part in this degradation. Facebook and other social networking websites and services are changing the intimate, private relation of being friends into collecting “likes.” Mobile phones’ texting extremely shallows conversations, and also—if they become the dominating form of communication—intimate contacts and exchange between humans.

   However, the degradation of friendship is mainly caused not by the flaws or side-effects of technical innovations. It is first of all a result of social changes, of changing social goals, needs, and lifestyles. Societies around the world are more and more strongly controlled by the rules of the Darwinian struggle for life, by selfish interests, by the continuous state of competition between people, by hostility toward the Other. One serious and pressing modern-day misery—in fact a widespread social disease—is loneliness, which is among other things an effect of the waning of friendship on the global scale (Mitias says a lot about loneliness and exclusion in his works, also Manjulika Ghosh writes about this phenomenon in her essay). People are lonely in the overpopulated world, in crowds, in societies, even in their families, because there are two dominant forms of human contacts: in the process of realising common interests, and in leisure. People are losing the ability to live authentically together, to be in selfless and emotionally involved relationships. The minimal and at the same time crucial benefit of friendship is avoiding loneliness.

   Till now the postmodern “friendship”—or, in fact, friendship in the era of late capitalism, an era in which millions were excluded, baffled and beaten, an era of the collapse of solidarity (with people seeming to unite only against an enemy or for the sake of common interests)—has not been considered by ethicists and anthropologists with attention it deserves. The threat of a human world wholly devoid of friendship, togetherness, empathy, in other words, a humankind consisting of isolated strangers, opens a new path of philosophical investi gation. It seems that friendship is not only an ethical value embracing two individuals, but also a social value and dependent on socio-cultural factors. As such it also could be an object of investigation in social philosophy. This should examine why friendship changes for worse in this world, which frequently speaks of itself as the best and most civilised world in human history. Philosophy should also study obstacles to friendship in today’s multi-ethnical, multicultural and multi-religious world. In general, new conditions, situations and phenomena in the human world, which is in a constant state of flux, inspire philosophy—by founding new philosophical questions, followed by ideas, research, and conceptions.

   The second part of this Dialogue and Universalism issue, entitled IDEALS UNIVERSAL VALUES, DIALOGUE, includes papers on the main topics discussed in this journal: the ideals and values underlying the praxis of the human world. And as for dialogue—this time we present two entirely different instances of dialogue: a dialogue between Christianity and Judaism (Shoshana Ronen), and a dialogue between philosophy and physics (Hisaki Hashi and Herbert Pietschmann).

Małgorzata Czarnocka

professor of philosophy  

 

 

 

ABSTRACTS

 

Ruth Abbey

CONTINUING QUESTIONS ABOUT FRIENDSHIP AS A CENTRAL MORAL VALUE 

   This article engages Friendship: A Central Moral Value by Michael H. Mitias. It questions Mitias’ distinction between friendship as a moral and theoretical concern as opposed to a practical one. It distinguishes the narrow from the wide meanings of philia in Aristotle’s approach. It looks at the resonances of classical approaches in later theories of friendship, while also attending to the innovations of later thinkers. It suggests that the moral paradigms Mitias delineates might not be as hegemonic nor as hermetically sealed as he suggests. Mitias’ contribution is better understood as an addition to moral philosophy than to friendship studies.

Keywords: friendship, philia, agape, Mitias, Aristotle, Emerson.

Affiliation: University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556, USA.

E-mail: rabbey1@nd.edu

 

 

 

Daniel O. Adekeye

THE HEGELIAN PHENOMENOLOGICAL EXPOSITION OF THE PROBLEM OF SOCIAL IDENTITY: A THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK FOR MANAGING DIFFERENCE IN MULTI-ETHNIC SOCIETIES 

   The process of constructing a social reality where “difference” becomes a social asset rather than a monster that threatens peace and progress must commence with a phenomenological understanding of social interactions within and among human societies. In my opinion, Hegel, more than any other thinker, has constructed a phenomenological framework that adequately captures and represents the nature of group interactions within human societies. This paper explores the Hegelian phenomenon of social identity, and, especially, characterizes the interactions between and among various social identities. It is a modest effort to contribute theoretically to the available discourse on the management of “difference” in multi-ethnic societies.

Keywords: difference, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, institutions, justice, multiethnic society, social identity.

Affiliation: Department of General and Entrepreneurial Studies at the Ondo State University of Science and Technology, PMB 353 Okitipupa, Ondo State, Nigeria.

E-mail: deenofem@yahoo.com  

 

 

 

Necip Fikri Alican

ANGELIQUE: AN ANGEL IN DISTRESS, MORALITY IN CRISIS 

   Michael H. Mitias argues that friendship is a central moral value constituting an integral part of the good life and therefore deserving a prominent place in ethical theory. He consequently calls upon ethicists to make immediate and decisive adjustments toward accommodating what he regards as a neglected organic relationship between friendship and morality. This is not a fanciful amendment to our standard conception of morality but a radical proposal grounded in a unifying vision to recapture the right way of doing ethics. While the assessment is compelling, and the plea well-placed, neither has been fully understood in the scholarly reception of Mitias. This paper clarifies both. What sets it apart from other reactions to Mitias is a holistic approach drawing on literary considerations as well as philosophical ones. The combined aim is to demonstrate that Mitias is not seeking simply to restore friendship to its rightful place in normative ethical theory, which is indeed the full extent of his formal mission, but that he is seeking to do so specifically within virtue ethics. This interpretation rests on a broad engagement with Mitias’s publications beyond the recent treatise often taken understandably yet erroneously to be his only work on the subject.

Keywords: friendship, Humanism, moral theory, virtue ethics, ontology of value.

Affiliation: Washington University in St. Louis, USA.

E-mail: necipalican@gmail.com

 

 

 

Martha C. Beck

PLATO’S DIALOGUES: CREATING FRIENDSHIP BONDS FOR 2400 YEARS 

   This paper is about: a) the model of friendship bonds Plato presents to us through his character, Socrates; b) the kinds of friendship bonds Plato tried to create with his students and wanted his students to create when they returned home; c) the friendship bonds lovers of Plato’s dialogues have created with each other for 2400 years; and d) the bonds that those who want to imitate Socrates should create with all of their fellowcitizens. Such bonds are critical for sustaining non-authoritarian societies. Since 2016, Westerners have become more aware of the need of intellectuals to develop these bonds.

Keywords: Plato, Socrates, self-governing society, friendship bonds, Euthyphro, Crito, Laches, Charmides, Phaedrus, Symposium, Western culture today.

Affiliation: Lyon College, Batesville, Arkansas.

E-mail: martha.beck@lyon.edu

 

 

 

Manjulika Ghosh

A PORTRAIT OF FRIENDSHIP 

   This paper on friendship starts with noticing the cultural specificities of the words, “friend” and “friendship”: how they possess rich nuances and meanings in some cultures not available in others. It has then delved into Aristotle’s treatment of friendship in his three ethical treatises with special reference to the relationship between friendship and morality and that between friendship and self-knowledge. Some comments are made on whether friendship is possible between persons of unequal virtues and whether they are capable of attaining self-knowledge. This paper also discusses certain challenges to Aristotle’s claims that friendship is an unalloyed good. The point of these challenges is that friendship can also be a great bad. The paper concludes with the observation how rare has friendship become in the modern world resulting in loneliness, depression and alienation.

Keywords: friend, friendship, virtue friendship, self-knowledge, friendship and immorality.

Affiliation: Department of Philosophy, University of North Bengal, P.O. North Bengal University, Dt. Darjeeling: 734013, India.

E-mail: mghoshnbu@gmail.com

 

 

 

Ben Mulvey

CAN HUMANS AND ROBOTS BE FRIENDS?

   This essay engages the question whether it makes sense to talk about friendship between human beings and robots. Encountering the question of human and robot friendship, many might initially dismiss the possibility of such relationships out of hand. But such dismissals, it seems, based solely on the basis of species membership, are nothing more than unjustifiable speciesism. Mitias’s analysis of friendship is helpful, but makes the conditions for friendship demanding. Nevertheless, his framework implies that human and robot friendships are possible.

Keywords: Aristotle, Michael H. Mitias, friendship, robot, artificial intelligence, sexbot.

Affiliation: Nova Southeastern University, 3301 College Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33314 USA.

E-mail: mulvey@nova.edu

 

 

 

Sergei Nizhnikov

STRIVING TO MORAL POLICY

   The author investigates possible variants of the correlation between violence and nonviolence in politics. He bases on the scrupulous perusal of primary sources, and aspires to place accents on the concept of a humanistic policy. He asserts that the decision of modern global international and internal problems can be reached only on the basis on a humanistic policy of non-violence: nonresistance to the evil by violence that does not except, but sometimes need resistance to the evil by force. Principles of humanistic policy were opened in “axial time” by world religions and philosophy, advanced by Immanuel Kant, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, etc.

Keywords: political philosophy, Machiavellianism, humanistic policy, nonviolence, pacifism, “axial time,” existential-personalistic policy, enlightenment utopianism.

Affiliation: Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia (PFUR),g Moscow 117198, Miklukho-Maklay str., 10/2, Russia.

E-mail: nizhnikovs@mail.ru

 

 

 

Herbert Pietschmann, Hisaki Hashi

NATURAL PHILOSOPHY AND NATURAL SCIENCE: TANGENT AND EMERGENCE—BETWEEN CONFLICTING POLES IN THE INTERDISCIPLINARY DISCOURSE A DIALOGUE ON THE EPISTEMOLOGY OF QUANTUM PHYSICS

   Since the 20th century the quantum physics has shown various phenomena, judged as “seldom and not easily understandable” by the theories of classic physics. From the beginning of the “Kopenhagener Deutung,” Einstein claimed against Heisenberg, Bohr, etc. that the particle physics lacks “physical reality.” A number of physicists have tried to clarify the labyrinth of particle as a minimal substance in the phenomena of the micro world. The entanglement of the “double particle” emitted from a π-meson in its teleportation is one of those phenomena. However, a successful new thesis has also become a target for the antithesis by deputies. Even if the “uncertainty” of an emitted light quantum that is received by the detector “either as a particle or as wave” has been reduced in our time by using probability calculations and new experimental physical facilities, the principal character of particles based on the “uncertainty relation” has not been changed. Although Heisenberg’s formula of the uncertainty relation could be “renewed” by completing certain operational components substituted by some physicists, the fundamental reality of phenomena of particle physics remain: The “physical reality” manifested by Einstein based on his glorious success of the Special and General Theory of Relativity cannot be valid in the micro-world phenomena. Pietschmann, a well-known theoretical physicist in Vienna, and Hashi, a philosopher teaching and researching interdisciplinary philosophy in Vienna, highlight the essential problems of particle physics and clarify them in regards to ontological and epistemological aspects. The dialogue has its origin in the hypothesis that the particle physics needs a logical interpretation with completely new ontological principles. In addition, the fundamental ontology of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy (without mystics) and its further development to rational philosophy of East Asia has various indications and contributions for an ontological epistemology of particle physics.

Keywords: Ontological epistemology of particle physics, Einstein, Heisenberg, Aristotle’s fundamental ontology, Nāgārjuna’s ontological principle (Mahayana Buddhist philosophy), Nishida, Yukawa.

Affiliation:

Herbert Pietschmann—Department of Theoretical Physics of the University of Vienna, Division of Particle Physics, 1090 Vienna, Boltzmanngasse 5.

E-mail: herbert.pietschmann@univie.ac.at

Hashi Hisaki—Department of Philosophy, University of Vienna, 1010 Vienna, Universitätsstr. 7.

E-mail: hisaki.hashi@univie.ac.at

 

 

 

Shoshana Ronen

HESCHEL’S DISCIPLES ON JEWISH-CHRISTIAN DIALOGUE AND POPE JOHN PAUL II

   The article presents the conception of interreligious dialogue developed by Abraham Joshua Heschel in his legendary text No Religion Is an Island. Then, it illustrates the approach to this issue by the next generation of Jewish thinkers, Heschel’s disciples, Harold Kasimow and Byron Sherwin. Another interesting Heschel’s disciple is Alon Goshen-Gottstein who takes a step further in his explicating interfaith dialogue. The last part of the article analyses the understanding of Kasimow and Sherwin of the thought and deeds of Pope John Paul II in the field of interreligious dialogue, and especially, in the attitude of the Catholic Church toward Jews.

Keywords: Heschel, Kasimow, Sherwin, Goshen-Gottstein, Paul John II, Interreligious dialogue, Judaism, the Catholic Church, Holocaust.

Affiliation: University of Warsaw, Krakowskie Przedmieście 26, Warsaw, Poland.

E-mail: sronen@uw.edu.pl

 

 

 

Iryna V. Stepanenko

PERSONAL AXIOLOGICAL COMPETENCE AS A COMPONENT OF SOCIETY’S VALUES CAPITAL: THE CALL FOR HIGHER EDUCATION IN THE GLOBALIZED WORLD

   This paper argues that values if they are sheering through collective discussion and communicative-pragmatic justification have been proved to be a capital of society which forms the foundation and horizon for its sustainable development. The concept of personal axiological competence as an ability to produce and interiorize share values on the basis of their critical reflection, critical selection and integration has been developed by taking into account the specifics of the world of values in the context of globalization. A role of higher education and dialogic education in its formation has been characterized.

Keywords: values, axiological competence, society’s values capital, sustainable development, human development, higher education, dialogic education.

Affiliation: Department of the Internationalization of Higher Education, the National Academy of the Educational Science of Ukraine, 52-A, Sichovykh Striltsiv Street, Kyiv, 04053, Ukraine.

E-mail: steppan@voliacable.com; irinavlast18@gmail.com

 

 

 

Elena Tashlinskaya

PROFESSIONAL CULTURE AND PROFESSIONAL ETHICS: A VIEW FROM RUSSIA

   Norms and values set in professional ethics are viewed here as fundamentals of professional activity. Professional culture is a culture of thinking, acting and communicating. It arises from a specific professional work, its subject, methodology, and stylistic originality that allow to build ideal models of professional acting. Professional ethics lies at the intersection of the individual personal sphere, socially important results of professional activity and human values.

Keywords: value, moral, norms and principles of professional ethics and communication, the personality of the prоfessional as a humanist, innovative approach in education.

Affiliation: Ulyanovsk State Technical University, 432027, Severnyi Venetz str., 32, Ulyanovsk, Russia.

E-mail: elesha73@mail.ru    


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