Dialogue and Universalism

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2/2020

JANUSZ KUCZYŃSKI (1930-2017)—WORK AND LIFE

 

EDITORIAL

   This Dialogue and Universalism issue is dedicated to Janusz Kuczyński (1930–2017), philosopher, energetic organiser of international-scale intellectual events, International Society for Universal Dialogue co-founder, the founder and long-time editor-in-chief of Dialogue and Universalism. Kuczyński was a truly a man of dialogue, both as a person and a philosopher—a thinker whose calling was to build a better world by peaceful intellectual means.

   Shortly after Professor Kuczyński’s death, his closest associates published their reminiscences of him in Dialogue and Universalism 2 (27), 2017. In this issue we focus on his philosophical conceptions and his equally important rich activity. The authors in this issue analyse and interpret Kuczyński’s philosophy, search for its core and essence, examine the various contexts in which his thought is founded and seek its common points with other conceptions (among others by Karl Marx, Immanuel Kant, Edmund Husserl, Friedrich Nietzsche and Jűrgen Habermas). First and foremost, they concentrate on Kuczyński’s main conception—universalism.

   The authors also write about his intensive activity on other planes—because besides being a creative-minded philosopher who in his thinking often over-stepped academic canons, Kuczyński was also a tireless initiator and organiser of countless conferences, seminars, meetings and other events and an enthusiastic founder or co-founder of social movements and academic societies who infected others with his energy. He was also editor-in-chief of two academic journals and on the editing board of a third, a promotor of valuable publishing projects, and he headed numerous innovative research projects.

   Janusz Kuczyński developed his main conception—universalism—over years. It was his guiding light throughout his academic career, the driving force of his broad and thematically very diversified research work. The universalism model he built is an original theoretical and metatheoretical proposal which differs from other forms of universalism created in and also outside of philosophy.

   This specific kind of universalism, which became Kuczyński’s opus magnum, is not a closed theory—in fact, one can say it is a naturally open one. It is a conception forever in statu nascendi, which has never and will never achieve a final form. The universalism project—or idea—can never be completed, because it changes with human progress. As humanity passes from one phase in its history to the next, the content of the universalism conception also changes to accommodate the new experiences and knowledge it gathers in the process. The universalism idea is also too broad and diversified for one person to handle, which is, I believe, why Kuczyński constantly formed study groups which then worked with him on the project, thus employing his organisational talent to promote universalistic ideas and further research on them.

   Kuczyński called his universalism Metaphilosophy as the Wisdom of Science, Art, and Life. He based it on the idea of synergy, which he believed was emerging from dialogue between different philosophical trends and schools, as well as between philosophy and the empirical sciences, religion, art, historical experience, and life itself. Alongside its other functions, Kuczyński saw dialogue as a necessary method of explaining and unifying human life and human experiences on the cognitive (including scientific), emotional, religious and artistic planes. He gave human experience a historical dimension, and, like Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, saw history itself as the foundation of all sense.

   I have included religion among the components of Kuczyński’s universalism concept, because he paid considerable attention to it throughout his active years, including his humanistic Marxism period. He argued that dialogue between the secular and religious worlds was unavoidable and saw it, together with dialogue between religions, as a necessary condition of peaceful human coexistence. Needless to say, his conclusions and predictions are proving accurate today, as despite the secularisation of many of the world’s regions, peoples and cultures, the 21st century has seen the return—and in radical form—of conflict between religious and secular organisations and social groups and, no less dangerous and ominous, between religions themselves.

   Kuczyński’s universalism bases on the ontological vision of the structure of the human world. He saw the essence of this world in the whole of its parts—in the entirety of individual and collective human experience and human existence, in human battles with the world and its formation by the human being (whom, after all, he called homo creator). He considered this wholeness to be the main factor in the formation of social consciousness, also in the historical aspect, because he shared Hegel’s conviction that only wholeness can be true. The main aim of this universalism was—again in Hegel’s spirit—to unify all human experience and achievements into a system, a whole that is diversified within, and which would be the final goal of universalism, i.e., a total wisdom.

   Of course, philosophy alone is not enough to cope with thus-conceived universalism, especially not the philosophy of the last decades with its increasing isolationism, external and internal constraints and professionalisation tendencies that belie the very essence of philosophy. Neither does this universalism follow the recently popular tendency to naturalise philosophy—in fact, the anti-naturalistic character of Kuczyński’s universalism can be seen as one of its assets, because naturalisation in the currently proposed versions is destructive to philosophy in that it questions and ultimately deconstructs its autonomy.

   Kuczyński’s universalism, or “the wisdom of science, art, and life” is a radically maximalistic metaphilosophy which embraces all human issues and all modes of the human world, and unifies them into a whole. I must admit to some insecurity at this point, because Kuczyński never said how this unification was to proceed, and also used the term “metaphilosophy” in a different sense than its common understanding. He spoke about wisdom arising from the synergy inherent in uniting the spheres of the human world, but not about their synthesis, or, much less, summation. It would appear, however, that the task is to gather the fragments of wisdom contained in the world’s different spheres, combine them into a synergical whole and thus achieve absolute wisdom. Here, philosophy plays a dual role, i.e., as the whole’s organiser/overseer, and simultaneously as one of its elements.

   Thus, the essential aim of the universalism project is to attain wisdom through uniting human experiences and human lives. Can this attainment be compared to phenomenological reduction, that is, to a path leading from a multifarious human world to its essence? This would be a risky assumption; one can rather say that the wisdom Kuczyński spoke about is a synergically formed composition of different kinds of experiences and human life itself, and any claims about its similarity to reduction to essence along the lines of Edmund Husserl’s eidetic reduction are unwarranted. The wisdom represented by universalistic metaphilosophy should rather be perceived as a synergic whole, and simultaneously as the irreducible diversity of the human world. The structure of this whole, however, remains hidden to us.

   Researchers of Kuczyński’s philosophy, including some who are not present in this issue of Dialogue and Universalism, have pointed to its very diversified sources and inspirations. It is not possible to determine the exact origins of Kuczyński’s thought, because he did not limit himself to one philosophical school, rather seeing new, synergic “added value” in dialogue between them all. I believe (although not without some reservations) that he took the main goal of universalism, hence also the ways in which he investigated worlds that led to wisdom, from Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. This is visible in the dialectic character of his thinking and his open support of dialectics, also quite often in the Marxian version. Hegelian influences are also discernible in Kuczyński’s firm belief that only the whole system has a value, and that only through it can truth, the sense of the world and their historical contexts be unveiled. Kuczyński’s philosophy also suggests his desire for an all-embracing metatheoretical system—an idea that has been discredited by post-Hegelian minimalism common in philosophy till today. It is mainly for these reasons that one can assume Kuczyński’s universalism to have been inspired by Hegel’s dialectics and maximalistic ideas— although he himself frequently claimed to be a Nietzscheanist.

   Thus, Kuczyński created a maximalistic project which can hardly be described as purely philosophical, because it extends beyond philosophy, searching for wisdom in the entirety of human experience—wisdom that could be a driving force behind the creation of the present and future world, instead of only a descriptive function. Despite the immense work put into it, large areas of the universalism project still exist only as a collection of ideas, and only a few of its goals have actually been realised. The problem is that it can reveal the sense of the human world only as a whole.

   Kuczyński’s vision of organising humanity’s entire knowledge and experience into comprehensive wisdom which he called metaphilosophy was reinforced by another of his beliefs—in active, participative philosophy that is involved in the world’s affairs (very much along Marxian lines). Kuczyński was firmly convinced that philosophy’s indelible duty was to wrestle with the world, in which it was both an observer and creative participant.

   It would be impossible to overstate Kuczyński’s role in the creation, operation and specific profiling of Dialogue and Universalism: He founded the journal, and served as its editor-in-chief and unquestioned spiritus movens over 42 years. Dialogue and Universalism is the journal’s third name, in earlier years it was titled Dialectics and Humanism (1973–1989) and Dialogue and Humanism. The Universalist Quarterly (1990–1994). Through Kuczyński’s efforts, Dialogue and Universalism found itself among the very few philosophical titles registered in Poland which survived the political changes in 1989. It was then— what most of the world is unaware of and those who are would rather forget about—that many valuable achievements from the real socialism years (called the communist era in the West and by hostile circles) were destroyed in the name of removing alien and hostile cultural heritage.

   Only two contributions to this issue do not address Kuczyński’s work directly. Nonetheless, written by his close associates Professor Zofia Rosińska and Professor Włodzimierz Lorenz, they are related to it in that both authors share Kuczyński’s ideas and fascinations.

   Also in this issue are several important publications by Kuczyński himself, which outline the main ideas, basic elements and beginnings of the universalism project. They come from the 1980s and were published in 1989 as part of the Philosophy of Peace Research Project implemented at the University of Warsaw. However, the texts were never published by any official publishing house and are practically unavailable; a small paper edition was exhausted years ago and its electronic form was not established. This is why, in view of the special character of the present Dialogue and Universalism issue, we decided to suspend our rule of publishing only original contributions. The texts have been reedited.

   I wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to Professors Józef Leszek Krakowiak and Michael Mitias for their valuable contributions during the preparation of this issue.

Małgorzata Czarnocka

Dialogue and Universalism editor-in-chief

 

 

 

ABSTRACTS

 

Robert Elliott Allinson

DIALOGUE IN UNIVERSALISM AND UNIVERSALISM IN DIALOGUE

   In this paper, I endeavor to penetrate to the heart of Janusz Kuczynski’s writings about his concept of universalism and to offer my own deliberations upon it based upon my previous writings concerning universalism and dialogue and on my considerations of necessary conditions for the possibility of universal dialogue taking place. To this end, I posit ten conditions for the possibility of entering into genuine universal dialogue. For clarification of Kuczynski’s concept of universalism, I analyze his concept into meta-universalism (M-Universalism) and holistic universalism (W-Universalism). I also discuss the important role of complementarity in the selection of the content of both types of universalism. Finally, I discuss how the phenomenological epoché can be employed to choose the basic values that constitute the shared values of universalism. In so doing, I make reference to Chinese philosophy to illustrate the universality of ethical values.

Keywords: humanistic universalism, dialogue, duty, right, complementarity, phenomenological epoché, Leibniz, Hegel, Confucius, Mencius, dialectic, Yin and Yang.

Affiliation: Soka University of America, 1 University Drive, Aliso Viejo, CA 92656, USA.

E-mail: rallinson@soka.edu

 

 

 

Charles Brown

FIRST IMPRESSIONS—LASTING MEMORIES:

“AS I REMEMBER”

   This essay is divided into two parts. The first part is an account of my own very personal impressions and memories of my encounter with Janusz Kuczynski’s vision of a “new form of universalism.” I focus on Kuczynski’s attempt to interpret “the meaning of recent history” in his day and times. This account does not aim at a definitive account of Kuczynski’s thinking but rather at my interpretation of what I consider to be the most promising and defensible version of his ideas. This is an account of my impressions as I remember them filtered through personal experiences over the past three decades. Other interpretations are possible and perhaps even necessary for a more complete account.

   The second part attempts to articulate what I consider to be the lasting relevance of those ideas. I attempt to say something about the meaning of “this moment in history,” unfolding in my place and in my times. I hope to point toward the lasting relevance of Kuczynski’s thinking by relying on those ideas to say something insightful about the ecological, social, and political events occurring as I write this essay, events that are shaped by a historical pandemic as my country erupts into massive political demonstrations seeking social and racial justice in my country.

Keywords: the meaning of recent history, new form of universalism, the great ethos of dialogue, Solidarnoss [Solidarity], Right Livelihood Awards, Iron Curtain, Marxist— Christian dialogue, ecological and social monocultures, end of history, ethnic nationalisms, exclusionary forms of identity politics, creeping nihilism, neoliberalism, natural and social pathogens, virulent mutations of fanaticism and authoritarianism, pandemics, herd immunity, Barack Obama’s Presidency, America First, Black Lives Matter.

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

E-mail: cbrown@emporia.edu

 

 

 

Andrzej Maciej Kaniowski

 COMMUNICATIVE RATIONALITY AND ITS PRECONDITIONS

   The idea of rational understanding lays very close to the heart of Professor Janusz Kuczynski, an advocate of universalism as well as dialogue between diverse philosophical schools and worldviews, and doctoral advisor to the present paper’s author. This idea’s theoretical conceptualisation—a conceptualisation that has proven to be convincing and adequate to the conditions of the modern world—was developed by Professor Jürgen Habermas, whose ideas and theories were also the subject of a doctoral thesis written by this paper’s author in the latter half of the 1970s under Professor Kuczynski’s tutelage. The author shares some grateful memories of his doctoral tutor, and also sets his one-time attempts to apply the theory of communicative action to two experiences of the real socialism era in Poland (the events of 1980/1981 and 1989) against his efforts to analyse contemporary Polish realities through the prism of the communicative rationality conception. This comparison shows that the application of a conception of rationality funded by communicative action to the turbulent transformations under real socialism was to a certain extent naïve—though not devoid of critical significance—and also reveals the preconditions (in the sphere of understanding oneself and the world) for the implementation of the rules of communicative rationality in social and political reality.

   The paper is in part dedicated to the memory of Professor Kuczynski, therefore it contains a somewhat extensive account of the circumstances which led the author to study the thought of Habermas under Kuczynski’s tutelage, as well as the consequences of this choice, which proved of considerable significance for his further life. However, the main themes are, first, the validity (and naivety) of applying a conception of rationality funded by communicative action to two significant experiences of the real socialism era, and, secondly, the need—revealed by diagnosing contemporary Polish reality with the help of the communicative rationality conception—for certain preconditions enabling the implementation of this type of rationality in social and political reality.

   One such precondition is the transition of sufficiently broad parts of society from thinking in terms of worldviews (Weltaunschauungen) to post-metaphysical thinking in terms of the “lifeworld” (Lebenswelt).

Keywords: Rational society, communicative action, communicative rationality, “Solidarnoss” [Solidarity], Jürgen Habermas, Janusz Kuczynski.

Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy, University of Lodz, Poland.

E-mail: andrzej.kaniowski@filozof.uni.lodz.pl

 

 

 

Józef Leszek Krakowiak

 JANUSZ KUCZYNSKI—INITIATOR, INSPIRING FORCE AND ORGANISER OF THE INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSALISM MOVEMENT

   The paper presents Professor Janusz Kuczynski’s life as well as his intellectual and organizational activities, his achievements as a publisher and his efforts to establish an environment of followers of his special kind of universalism.

Keywords: Janusz Kuczynski, universalism.

Affiliation: University of Warsaw, Krakowskie Przedmieście 3, 00–001 Warsaw, Poland.

E-mail: j.k.l@wp.pl

 

 

 

Józef Leszek Krakowiak

 POST-KANTIAN ELEMENTS IN THE INTERSUBJECTIVELY CONSTITUTED SUBJECT OF UNIVERSALISM AS A METAPHILOSOPHY

   This comparative essay about two kinds of interpersonal-centric humanism is dedicated to the memory of professor Janusz Kuczynski and his conception of dialogical universalism as a metaphilosophy, and shows Immanuel Kant’s thought as a ceaseless source of inspiration for all anti-conservatives and universalists. Kant’s philosophy gave man an unforgettable sense of freedom, because it not only posed the imperative of building a pan-human community of all rational beings, but also revealed the above-natural sense of the human species’ imposition of purposefulness upon itself, and the realisation of this purposefulness in the form of a republican federation of free states dedicated to co-creating eternal peace. Kantian ethics did not reach beyond the obligations people had towards one another, hence it was functionally anthropological and uninfluenced by religion, which re-situated philosophy with regard to scientific cognition and religious experience, giving rise to a metaphysics of anthropological responsibility for the condition of the spiritual freedom this ethic propounded. Kant revealed the existence of a metaphysical difference in the sphere of being—between the determinism of nature and the moral kingdom of freedom—without direct reference to the transcendental source of these two essentially different worlds. Kant was the first to set morality rooted in the autonomy and unanimous will of all rational beings—or true humanity—against legal and religious legalism.  Kant  laid  weight  on  the processual character of man’s self-education to social life through the sense of commitment to self-improvement for the benefit of the solidary co-existence of all rational beings that he developed in himself as a rational being. Thus created freedom is founded on the selflesness of goodness and represents a new quality of being that only manifests itself and evolves in community, interpersonalcentrically. It is a universalistic approach capable of gradually neutralising the human inclination towards radical evil.

   My attempt to compare these two interpersonalcentric humanism conceptions aims to add some substance to this very delicateelement in Kuczynski’s universalism as a metaphilosophy construct.

Keywords: interpersonalcentric humanism, philosophy of metaphysical responsibility, metaphysical difference, Immanuel Kant, universalism as a metaphilosophy, Kuczynski, spiritual selflessness, homo creator, metaphysics of morals vs. legal/ religious legalism, philosophy of dialogue.

Affiliation: University of Warsaw, Krakowskie Przedmieście 3, 00–001 Warsaw, Poland.

E-mail: j.k.l@wp.pl

 

 

 

Włodzimierz Lorenc

 WHAT IS HERMENEUTIC PHILOSOPHY?

   The aim of this article is to characterize hermeneutic philosophy in a manner that differs from the usual attempts at defining this philosophical direction, especially in German philosophy, that is by referencing traditional hermeneutics. I would like to propose expounding its characteristics not in a historical, but theoretical manner. This task involves analysing the place of hermeneutic philosophy among other tendencies in contemporary philosophy as well as showcasing the advantages of its way of philosophizing. The article does not discuss issues related to this philosophy such as its limitations and unilaterality.

Keywords: hermeneutic philosophy, hermeneutics, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Paul Ricoeur, universalism.

Affiliation: University of Warsaw, Krakowskie Przedmieście 3, 00–001 Warsaw, Poland.

E-mail: Lorenc@cyberia.pl

 

 

 

Michael H. Mitias

 JANUSZ KUCZYNSKI’S PHILOSOPHY OF UNIVERSALISM:

POSSIBILITY OF A DECENT WORLD ORDER

   This paper is a critical analysis of the conditions under which a decent world order is possible, an order in which the different peoples of the world can thrive under the conditions of peace, cooperation, freedom, justice, and prosperity. This analysis is done from the standpoint of Janusz Kuczynski’s philosophy of universalism as a metaphilosophy. More than any other in the contemporary period, this philosophy has advanced a focused, systematic, and comprehensive analysis of these conditions on the basis of a universal vision of nature, human nature, and the meaning of human life and destiny. The paper is composed of three parts. The first part is devoted to a short overview of activism in the history of philosophy. The second part is devoted to an analysis of the main elements of universalism as a metaphilosophy, especially the theoretical conditions of establishing a decent world order. The third part is devoted to a discussion of the practical steps that should be taken to establish a decent world order.

Keywords: universalism, metaphilosophy, worldview, war, dialogue, human nature, peace.

Affiliation: Philosophy at Millsaps College, Jackson, MS, USA.

E-mail: hmitias@gmail.com

 

 

 

Zofia Rosinska

 THE PHENOMENON OF FANATICISM

   The paper describes the model shape of fanaticism. It defines fanaticism as a willing enslavement of personality and analysed the following features of it: intentionality, missionary attitude, being in love, intolerance, ability to satisfy ambivalent desires for objectivization and for subjectivization, and ability to evoke ambivalent feelings: moral condemnation and the feeling of admiration.

Keywords: fanaticism, intentionality, intolerance, missionary attitude.

Affiliation: University of Warsaw, Krakowskie Przedmieście 3, 00–001 Warsaw, Poland.

 

 

 

Andrzej Walicki

 THE ADDRESS ON THE JANUSZ KUCZYNSKI’S 80TH BIRTHDAY

   The address presents Janusz Kuczynski’s main ideas, conception and his diverse and longstanding activity (as an ideologist, philosopher, editor, ecumenist, patriot). The author of this essay includes his own reflections on Kuczynski’s views.

Keywords: Janusz Kuczynski, universalism, Marxism, Catholicism, patriotism.

Affiliation: Notre Dame University, USA and of the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland.

 

 

 

Janusz Kuczynski

UNIVERSALISM, MODERN HISTORY AND THE MARXIST THEORY OF FORMATIONS

   The paper proposes a new kind of universalism, i.e., a philosophy of “mankind-for-itself.” This conception which deals with the human world is based on some essential features of the western cultural world, indicated by the author, as well as on Karl Marx’s and Georg W. F. Hegel’s ideas and conceptions.

Keywords: universalism, dialectics, essence, meaning.

 

 

 

Janusz Kuczynski

 DIALOGUES OF CULTURES, SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: TOWARDS A UNIVERSALISM

   The author proposes and discusses the following thesis: That which determines the intensifying process of transition toward an entirely new situation on the globe is, to an ever increasing degree, consciousness, the self-knowledge of cultures, and above all philosophies as their most profound expression. The author considers this transition the growth of the universalism he interprets as a philosophy of mankind-for-itself. The considerations extensively refers to Kinhide Mushakoji’s conception of scientific revolution and inter-paradigmatic dialogue.

Keywords: universalism, mankind-for-itself, Kinhide Mushakoji.

 

 

 

Janusz Kuczynski

THE SENSE OF NEW HISTORY

   The paper discusses the problem of essence and sense of history, especially modern history, mainly by discussing Thomas Langan’s position expressed in his 1978 essay “Searching in History for the Sense of It All,” The Review of Metaphysics, September.

Keywords: Sense of history, Thomas Langan, truth, absolutization.

 

 

 

Janusz Kuczynski

THE SENSE OF EXISTENCE IN MARXISM, CHRISTIANITY AND LIBERAL MASS CULTURE

   The paper presents reflections on human existence and the nature of human being. The author of the paper presents his own standpoint and compares it with other philosophical and religious conceptions of the human being, inter alia those formed in Christianity, Marxism and Cartesianism. The primary concern of the essay is the existential-anthropological significance of human being’s creativity.

Keywords: human existence, creativity, dialectics, culture, biology, Cartesianism, Georg Hegel, Christianity, Emmanuel Mounier, Teilhard de Chardin.

 

 

 

Janusz Kuczynski

THE MEANING OF HISTORY AND PEACE

   The paper consists of two parts. In the first one the author analyses the situation of mankind in the last decades of the 20th century, regarding it as tragic; in his reflections he refers mainly to the conceptions of Georg W. F. Hegel, Karl Marx and some Christian thinkers. The second part is a critique of Karl Popper’s conception of history, especially his main claim that history has no meaning.

Keywords: peace, history, Karl Marx, Georg W. F. Hegel, Christianity, Karl Popper, meaning of history.

 

 

 

Janusz Kuczynski

GOOD AS A CORRELATE OF COMMUNITY

   The paper analyses various conceptions of good and evil, as well as the bases of these two basic values. The author does not present these values in isolation but as elements of metaphysical conceptions and also of social systems.

Keywords: good, evil, metaphysics, ethics, social world.

 

 

 


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