PHILOSOPHY IN AN AGE OF CRISIS:
CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS
THE TRANSCENDENT SPHERE OF THE HUMAN WORLD:
ART, RELIGION, KNOWLEDGE
This is the second consecutive Dialogue and Universalism issue displaying the recent legacy of the International Society for Universal Dialogue, a legacy whose main theme is PHILOSOPHY IN AN AGE OF CRISIS: CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS. The present issue is subtitled, THE TRANSCENDENT SPHERE OF THE HUMAN WORLD: ART, RELIGION, KNOWLEDGE, and contains papers addressing the most expressive areas of human spirituality, in other words, the narrower sphere of transcendence: art, religious and mystical beliefs, and cognition which is expressed in language and carries intellectual values (which, incidentally, are notoriously under-addressed). According to traditional beliefs, these three areas are distinct from others, most “distinguished” in the sphere which transcends human biology, and hence possess the highest value in the hierarchical structure of the human world.
For centuries it was believed (and, in fact, still is believed today in conservative religious circles) that entry into the transcendental sphere took place by itself, spontaneously and independently of all influence—e.g., through religious revelations—at a certain stage of human development. Entry into this narrower area of transcendence was thought to sublimate humans intellectually or emotionally. Art, religion and intellectual cognition were seen as momentous steps on mankind’s path towards overcoming the limitations of its own biology and the attainment of human elevation and dignity. This was so because in Western civilisation, already since ancient Greece, biology was not considered to belong to the sphere of true humanity, but believed to be the residue of the animalistic in man. Other areas of transcendence, including the entire public sphere—social relations, cultural customs, economic and political principles—were held to be stigmatised by that what was bad and worthless in humans, and occupied an inferior position in the hierarchy of the spheres of transcendence. Over the history of Western civilisation spirituality was usually set apart from ordinary human life and its mundane dealings. Characteristic here was the elevation of the spirit, which stood free of the trudge of daily life and soared towards the highest and most “pure” humanity.
Contemporary conceptions of the created human world and man contested these beliefs in a radical way. Today it is rather commonly believed that transcendence, although it transgresses human biology, is nonetheless rooted in it and supported by it, not only with regard to its origins but also in its continued existence. Despite its specific autonomy, transcendence does not lose its complex ties to biology. Even Edmund Husserl, who appears to be far removed from biologism, is of the opinion that human spirituality is founded on the human physis and all individual psychic life on human corporeality, hence every community bases on the physical bodies of the humans who belong to it.
The relations between religion, art, intellectual cognition and the rest of the human world, including human corporeality, are dialectic—at once antagonistic and symbiotic. The distancing of these spheres from one another and resulting reinforcement of the differences between them interweaves with their mutual influencing and permeation. In other words, art, religion and science are not isolated in their respective ivory towers, but shaped by social and political thought and the very existence of human individuals, and all that belongs to the unified human world. At the same time, as if by feedback, art, religion and cognition co-form the entire human world. To sum up, today the sphere of sublimated spirituality has been brought down to earth, and the illusory walls that separated it from the rest of the human world have been demolished, or at least penetrated. The fusion of the narrower transcendent sphere with the rest of the world is not a product of our times. It has always taken place, albeit to a lesser degree than today, and has remained unseen only because of the normative enclosure of religion, art and intellectual cognition in their respective ivory towers (where, incidentally, they ran the risk of becoming sterile).
Contemporary reality has openly and declaratively done away with their isolation from the entire Lebenswelt, and has bound them together. Especially fluid today are the boundaries between theoretical cognition and cognition that is manipulated and exploited by forces alien to science. It is also difficult to separate intellectual goals from those that serve science-distant interests. Artistic activity does not only involve the creation of and/or search for beauty, but is also an instrument used to cope—with the help of new aesthetic means—with the world of the human individual and the public spheres. It is also a powerful tool by which to shape individual and collective awareness. Contemporary religions and mythologies appear to be chiefly social movements, much more than before engaged in quite “earthly” matters connected with the public sphere and individual human existence. An example is the surprisingly vast attention paid to corporeality in Catholicism.
One can ask what caused this change in the functioning and positioning of these three spheres. Are the transformations taking place in art, religion and intellectual cognition a natural phase in their evolution? Or symptoms of the crisis they have found themselves in following the breakdown of their centurieslong identity? If the latter, what has caused the crisis? Such fundamental questions cannot be answered in this limited collection of essays and studies, and, moreover, seeing as these changes are in statu nascendi, it is difficult to forward any reliable hypotheses in the matter at all.
The material contained in this Dialogue and Universalism only indirectly heralds changes in the identity of religion, art and intellectual cognition and the end of their mutual isolation in the human world. It includes papers presented at the 2018 ISUD congress in Lima, Peru, and other writings. As we declared in the previous Dialogue and Universalism issue, also admitted have been authors who are not ISUD members and who were not in Lima at the ISUD congress. This way, this issue will become part of the wide and open ISUD legacy.
Robert Elliott Allinson
AN AESTHETIC THEORY IN FOUR DIMENSIONS: COLLINGWOOD AND BEYOND
The purpose of this article is to synthesize four major elements of aesthetic experience that have previously appeared isolated whenever an attempt at conceptualization is made. These four elements are: Immanuel Kant’s disinterested pleasure, Robin G. Collingwood’s emotional expressionism, the present writer’s redemptive emotional experience, and, lastly, Plato’s concept of Beauty. By taking these four abstracted elements as the bedrock for genuine aesthetic experience, this article aims to clarify the proper role of art as distinct from philosophy and intellectualization. Rather than a medium conducive to intellectual understanding, it is argued that the sphere these four elements of aesthetic experience demarcate is one in which art leads to an emotional understanding that transforms the human condition and it imbues it with new meaning only to be found in a moment of aesthetic experience.
Keywords: Kant’s disinterested pleasure, the expression of emotion, Plato’s concept of Beauty, catharsis, Aristotle, Sigmund Freud, Pablo Picasso, Piet Mondrian, Michelangelo.
Affiliation: Soka University of America, Gandhi Hall 404, 1 University Drive, Aliso Viejo, California 92656, USA.
REFLECTIONS OF AN EXISTENTIAL CRISIS IN SØREN KIERKEGAARD’S AESTHETIC CONCEPTION
This article considers the principles of philosophical thinking in Søren Kierkegaard’s nonclassical aesthetics. Special attention is given to his radical critique of “false” and “impersonal” rationalism. This does not only mean the rejection of the traditional principles of classical metaphysics which claims “universality” and “universal meaning.” Kierkegaard also bases his philosophy on individual human life, or, in other words, personal existence with its unique inner world. His critique is more profound than that by Arthur Schopenhauer. Kierkegaard develops his own philosophy of “existential crisis,” opposing subjective will and internal changes to abstract thinking and external influences. Kierkegaard’s works initiate the critical or nonclassical stage in Western aesthetics. The main place in it is occupied by the idea of the disharmony of the world: its subjective reflection is “split” consciousness that has lost contact with the traditional concepts of harmony, humanism, goodness, beauty and philosophy of art. His philosophy of art is that of the internal personal world and of free choice. He opposes the famous motto of Cartesian rationalism cogito ergo sum, his own statement “I am here and think because I do exist here.” So the notion of existence becomes fundamental for his philosophical reflection which is focused on the topics of personal existence, destiny and perspectives of being. Since personal becoming never stops, the ability to exist is treated as a great art. The aim of genuine philosophy is not a knowledge of the external world but an inquiry into the deepest problems of personal being and creativity; its greatest enigma is existence. Hence Kierkegaard gives a new subject and new tasks to aesthetics and philosophy of art. When treating the problems of individual human existence, Kierkegaard and other followers of nonclassical aesthetics relied on an understanding of being as nonsubstantial (personality is not something given but a totality of constantly emerging potentials) and at the same time subjectivized their ontological problems. Thus the strengthening of subjectivist tendencies in the post-Hegelian philosophy of art reaches here culmination. “Subjective ontology,” or “ontology” in the narrow sense of the word, is that which we can call the “pontaneous ego:” It determines the unconscious functioning of human “existence” in a specific individual consciousness. The whole individual existence is enclosed, as it were, in a subjective environment, but we cannot affirm that existence is subjective.
Keywords: Søren Kierkegaard, Novalis, Romantics, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Arthur Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche, nonclassical aesthetics, beauty, art, subjective ontology, existence, pseudonym, irony.
Affiliation: Lithuanian Academy of Sciences
COGNITIVE EMPATHY IN THE WORKS OF SAM HARRIS: THE OLYMPIAN GODS, MORMONES AND MORAL VALUES
The article attempts to analyze unconscious cognitive empathy in Sam Harris’ discourse. Harris equates the theology of Abrahamic religions with ancient mythology. However, the expulsion of the Numinous into the sphere of the transcendent, made possible by monotheism, gave impetus to the study of nature and led to what Max Weber called the Disenchantment. This Disenchantment, firstly, led to the discrediting of ancient myths, and secondly, to the scientism of Harris and his like-minded people.
Keywords: New Atheists, empathy, habitus, priming, Euthyphro dilemma.
Affiliation: Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies of Far Eastern Federal University, Sukhanova, Primorskiy Kray, 690091 Vladivostok, Russia.
POETRY WRITING AS A PERFORMATIVE, DIALOGICAL, AND REVOLUTIONARY ACT
Creative collective actions can have the potential of true performative utterances opening windows of opportunities for new realities to emerge, for new possible worlds to be created—the realm of the arts is the realm of the “possible.” Group poetry writing can be a performative, dialogic act, and a transformative, revolutionary one as well. Collective artistic creations can break the isolation that the capitalistic patriarchal system imposes on us, helping us connect with one another, giving us hope.
Keywords: collective actions, poetry writing, poetic reason, art as the realm of the possible, becoming-woman, bodies that matter and assemble, performative acts of creation.
Affiliation: University of Buenos Aires (UBA), Argentina.
HOW IS SCIENCE UNIVERSAL?
I investigate the universality of science as perceived in epistemological conceptions and in sociology of science, as well as claims about the anti-universal character of science. In this, I distinguish two kinds of universality of science: epistemic and global cultural/social, and in the latter also the global universality of the basic level of science. I attempt to show that epistemology views science as universal in its basic aspects relating to knowledge, its object, subject and cognitive values as well as methods, which, according to the epistemological meta-theses, are necessary for scientific validity and autonomy. I also draw attention to the fact that sociologised, multiculturally-oriented approaches to science are wrong to hold it for irrevocably anti-universal and exclusively a part of Western culture. I suggest instead the perspective of basic-level global universalism, where science is seen to grow out of a cultural base common to all cultures, which provides the criteria for weak rationality, weak empiricism and methodology and determines the nomological character of cognition. Finally, I trace the evolution of universality from a property of science to a value, and ask about the meaning of this property-cum-value for the human world.
Keywords: epistemology, sociologised scientific theories, universality of science, epistemic universality, global universality, universality as a value.
Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Nowy Świat 72, 00-330 Warsaw, Poland.
C. E. Emmer
KANTIAN BEAUTY, FRACTALS, AND UNIVERSAL COMMUNITY
Benoit B. Mandelbrot, when discussing the global appeal of fractal patterns and designs, draws upon examples from across numerous world cultures. What may be missed in Mandelbrot’s presentation is Immanuel Kant’s precedence in recognizing this sort of widespread beauty in art and nature, fractals avant la lettre. More importantly, the idea of the fractal may itself assist the aesthetic attitude which Kantian beauty requires. In addition, from a Kantian perspective, fractal patterns may offer a source for a sense of community with humanity. I close with an excursus on the more sombre note of Kantian sublimity which fractals can also present.
Keywords: aesthetics, animation, beauty, community, fractal, Immanuel Kant, Benoit B. Mandelbrot, sublime, universality.
Affiliation: Emporia State University, 1 Kellogg Circle, Emporia, KS 66801, USA.
Artur Ravilevich Karimov
PROBLEMS OF DEEP DISAGREEMENT
Deep disagreement is a disagreement about epistemic principles, pertaining to the methods of justification and argumentation. Relying on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s conceptual metaphor of “hinges,” researchers arrive at the conclusion that deep disagreement cannot be resolved. This conclusion leads to relativism in the theory of argumentation. The aim of the article is to show that in the situation of deep disagreement it is theoretically possible to ascertain which of the positions of the participants of the argument has a better epistemic status, and hence, is argumentatively virtuous.
Keywords: Argumentation, theory of argumentation, argumentative virtues, hinge epistemology, Ludwig Wittgenstein, intellectual virtues.
Affiliation: Department of Social Philosophy, Kazan Federal University, Kremlevskaya St., 35, 420008 Kazan, Russia.
Michael H. Mitias
CZARNOCKA’S CONCEPTION OF SYMBOLIC TRUTH
The proposition I elucidate and defend in this paper is that the explanatory power of Malgorzata Czarnocka’s conception of symbolic truth extends beyond our knowledge of empirical reality and includes our knowledge of human nature and human values. The paper is composed of two parts. In the first part I present a detailed analysis of the conception of symbolic truth. The focus in this analysis is on the nature of the correspondence relation which connects a true statement and the cognitive object. Czarnocka persuasively argues that this relation is neither isomorphic nor homomorphic in character. She advances a detailed analysis of sensual perception as the locus of the cognitive act. The outcome of this analysis is that the structure of the statement which is articulated in this act does not copy or mirror the structure of the object but is a linguistic representation. In the second part of the paper I argue that empirical reality is not the paradigm of reality and that scientific knowledge is not the paradigm of knowledge. The domain of humanity is as real as the domain of empirical reality, and our knowledge of this domain is as central to our life as scientific knowledge is. Moreover, I argue that Czarnocka’s conception of symbolic truth functions adequately in explaining the possibility of knowledge of human nature and human values with special focus on the literary work of art.
Keywords: correspondence, cognitive object, cognitive subject, perception, culture, statement, value, truth, symbol.
Affiliation: Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.A.
Michael H. Mitias
CZARNOCKA’S CONCEPTION OF SYMBOLIC TRUTH. A MODEL OF EXPLANATION
The proposition I elucidates and defend in this paper is that the Transcendent can be an object of genuine knowledge and that the knowledge the philosophical mystic claims of it is symbolic in nature. In my endeavor to achieve this aim I rely on Małgorzata Czarnocka’s conception of symbolic truth as a model of explanation. I am inclined to think that, as a model of explanation, this conception sheds ample light on the possibility of having a cognitive experience of the Transcendent. The paper is composed of four parts. The first part raises the question of the Transcendent as an object of knowledge. The second part advances a brief analysis of the main elements of Czarnozka’s conception of symbolic truth with special emphasis on her view of human nature. The third part explicates the sense in which the conception of symbolic truth functions as a model of explanation. The fourth part analyzes the conditions under which the Transcendent can be an object of knowledge.
Keywords: cognitive object, cognitive subject, explanation, transcendent, human nature, symbol, human values, cosmic process.
Affiliation: Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.A.
Michael H. Mitias
MYSTICISM AS A BASIS OF INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE
Some philosophers and theologians have argued that God-centeredness cannot be a condition of inter-religious dialogue for at least four reasons. First, it is an existential fact that all religions tend to view the truth of their beliefs and values as absolute. Second, all religions are embedded in radically different cultural contexts; this kind of difference undercuts the possibility of inter-religious dialogue. Third, grounding all the religions in a transcendent reality relativizes their beliefs and values. Moreover, people worship “their” God, not a neutral reality. Fourth, it is difficult to ground all the religions in a transcendent, neutral realty. This paper critically evaluates these arguments and defends the proposition that the mystical experience provides a justifiable basis for the claim that the transcendent is not only a wealth of being but also an infinite wealth of being and that the same transcendent is “revealed” in the mystical experience which underlies all the major religions. The transcendent is the common ground on which all the religions stand in inter-religious dialogue qua religions.
Keywords: transcendent, mystical experience, ineffable, God-centeredness, exclusivism.
Affiliation: Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.A.
Lorena Rojas Parma
THE FICTION OF THE BEAUTIFUL: DIGITAL EROS
To think philosophically about love has been, at least in modern times, a dark matter that has been characterized as an unphilosophical matter. The truths about love are inevitably tied to experience, they overflow concepts, and keep us on the edge of selfknowledge in between of complex links with what Plato called mania. In fact, the relations between Eros and philosophy are found in Socrates and Plato, and the omnipotence of the god of love is as old as our poetic beginnings. These times, certainly, in which love has returned to reflection with more proximity towards experience, the body and its beauty, thinking about love does not exempt itself from the amazing dimension of universality and relationships that the invisible networks of communication pose, since they constitute, in reality, a new version of the universal power of Eros that we inherited from the ancients. Love has always liked, as we can observe since the same lyrical beginnings, to show itself, proclaim itself, as if something vital was played in that revelation that, in a certain sense, does not stop being strange because we are talking about deep experiences of each one’s soul. Now, that showing, which has found a place of privilege, must be thought under the digital cloak that dresses Eros, and think about it, then, as digital Eros. From Plato, Eros is a desire for the beautiful, Eros loves the beautiful. Therefore, the showing itself beautiful of love, requires a reflection in relation with how we show ourselves beautiful, that is, how the possibilities of networks allow us to make, sculpt, elaborate for that purpose. Finally, this implies a revision of the fictitious and the authentic of us, what the networks allow of us.
Keywords: Love, Eros, Plato, Socrates, digital Eros.
Affiliation: Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, Final Av. Teherán, Urb. Montalbán, Caracas 1020, Venezuela.
Maria Elena Ramos
SOME RELATIONS BETWEEN ETHICS, AESTHETICS AND POLITICS IN CONTEMPORARY ART IN TIMES OF CRISIS
The inclusion of ethics and politics into artistic creation process is for many contemporary creators/artists an essential motivation while they consciously act in an aesthetic space polluted with the realities of a world in crisis. Art, which produces visible and sensible forms, can reveal aesthetic ideas and fundaments through aesthetic objects: drawing, video-installing or poem/poetry. And artists can make someone feel with their creations—whether these are beautiful, sublime, tragic, or ironic—ethical contentions violated by human action or the exertion/exercise of political power. Works of art that are not only guided by the categories signed by beauty, because in artistic languages, violence and suffering also make/create form. And times of crisis are the ideal sphere/dimension for an art that gives a vivid way of seeing/watching the uncertainty, the perversion, the terrible. In bringing these philosophical—ethical, aesthetic and political—topics, I do it from an approach that departs form artistic creations and curatorial research. I try to penetrate the narrow thread between an ethical topic and the plastic form in which it incarnates/embodies itself, or between a political action and the aesthetic structure of language as a creative, expressive consequence.
Keywords: Arts, contemporary art, ethics, aesthetics, politics, crisis, form, mediation, violence, lie, curatorial research, beauty and the horrible, the good and the evil in art.
Affiliation: University Católica Andrés Bello, Caracas 1000, Venezuela.
POST-KNOWLEDGE: THE EXTINCTION OF KNOWLEDGE IN OUR TECHNO-SCIENTIFIC CULTURE
The monopolization of our techno-scientific culture by digital information technology, the Technopoly has unintentionally resulted in the extinction of knowledge or postknowledge, by reducing knowledge to systems of symbols—formalized algorithmic hierarchies of symbol-systems without external reference; a totalistic virtuality, or real virtuality. The extinction of knowledge or post-knowledge has resulted in two mutually reinforcing situations. One situation is the rise of a new elite of technology experts. The other situation is the dummification of people. These two mutually reinforcing situations further result in an illegitimate role reversal between people and their machines. The machines become treated as smart; people become treated as dummies. The role reversal of machines and people reinforces the monopoly of digital technology over everything. The monopoly of digital techno-scientific culture, the Technopoly, becomes accepted without question and without criticism. However, there is a way to retrieve knowledge, and that way is through restoring the (Ionian) tradition of critical discussion within all our institutions. Critical discussion can be restored by increasing democratic participation in our techno-scientific culture, which amounts to implementing a Socratic social architecture.
Keywords: Techno-scientific culture, Technopoly, knowledge, information, data, virtuality, cybernetics, automata, analogue, digital systems.
Affiliation: 17 Jonathan Gate Thornhill, Ontario L4J 5K3 Canada.
ON THE (IM)POSSIBILITY OF PHILOSOPHICAL TEACHING ACCORDING TO THE PATHOS OF THE PHILOSOPHER
In this essay I expose two historical examples of the ambivalence of the place of philosophical knowledge in society. The symptomatic starting point is Aristotle’s characterization of the philosopher. Then, through the specification of Descartes’s views on philosophy, culture, the human and the artificial, I will show that there exists certain tension between the development of philosophy as a free knowledge available to everyone and philosophy as a specialized knowledge only suitable for initiates. Nowadays, when philosophy is in a critical situation maybe because of that ambivalence, the need arises to overcome this problem and democratize it.
Keywords: Aristotle, Descartes, philosophy, humanism, ivory tower.
Affiliation: Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú), Lima, Perú.
Emilia A. Tajsin
NOTES ON THE INTERNATIONAL SOCIETY FOR UNIVERSAL DIALOGUE
Neither for today’s Russia, nor for the whole of the contemporary world is there, perhaps, a more important issue than the possibility of a civilized, peaceful dialogue between cultures, peoples, governments and individuals. The International Society for Universal Dialogue is one among other philosophical schools, societies and organizations which promote the idea of universal dialogue. It tries to solve problems associated with language and ideological barriers, strengthening professional and friendly ties and implementation, through joint efforts, of a peaceful and fair world order.
Keywords: intercultural communication, International Society for Universal Dialogue, Dialogue and Universalism (journal).
Affiliation: Department of Philosophy and Media Communications, Kazan State University of Power Engineering, 420066, Kazan, Bondarenko Str., 33–64, Russia.