Dialogue and Universalism

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4/2016

VALUES AND IDEALS. THEORY AND PRAXIS

XI ISUD WORLD CONGRESS LEGACY

 

EDITORIAL

 

   It is our great pleasure to publish the first of a series of issues of Dialogue and Universalism displaying the selected, peer-reviewed materials submitted to the XI World Congress of the International Society for Universal Dialogue. The essays published here reflect the theme of this World Congress: Values and Ideals: Theory and Practice.

   ISUD’s XI World Congress, held in Warsaw, Poland, 11–15 July 2016, reaffirmed its guiding values and core mission while remembering and celebrating its 1989 founding in Warsaw. ISUD’s socially oriented mission promotes philosophical dialogue as a means toward building a more decent human world. This is not an armchair vision of philosophy that sees philosophical thinking as isolated from the real problems of human life. By exploring the essence of reality and by reflecting on values and ideals philosophy achieves the intellectual power to change the world. ISUD believes that philosophical dialogue may help illuminate and free human minds imprisoned by the ideologies of mass culture or simply weighed down by the mundane chores of life.

   The world today is more dangerous than when ISUD was founded. Ideologies dominating mass culture continue to crowd out rational thinking needed for open and free reflection thereby leaving us alienated and deprived of authentic ideals. The result is xenophobic nationalism, religious fanaticism, and the cult of self-interest. We see this result in the social world with rising levels of conflict, wars, economic inequality, and homeless refugees who are too often unwanted and reviled by others. We see this in the natural world as the capacity of the Earth to provide a home and sanctuary for all steadily declines. These numerous destructive factors are accompanied by the more and more frequent breaks of communication—between nations, religious communities, and within previously stable social groups.

   At the same time, the problem of cultural diversity and the need to cultivate dialogical relations between nationalities and cultures is too often set aside. Differences between cultures exist just as differences within cultures and within individuals do. Such differences do not render cultural or individual perspectives incommensurable as each culture and each individual is an expression of the underlying common and universal humanity of our species: Homo sapiens. From our perspective, the state of the world today calls for a robust inter-cultural dialogue to develop and explore a more authentic understanding of human needs and aspirations.

   Critical and creative rational thinking is an opportunity for humankind to resist the lies and illusions of ideological manipulations that serve as instruments of enslavement and oppression. ISUD’s vision of philosophy as an expression of human rationality offers a chance to free people’s awareness, to open their minds, and to extend their possibilities of thinking and acting. In doing so, philosophical reflection and dialogue is able to refine and renew old ideals and values as well as to create new ones. It is these two aspects—free consciousness and new ideals—that are necessary to build a more decent human world. The ISUD community is convinced that philosophy has an important role to play in the struggle for the future of humanity.

   The first part of this issue includes the keynote addresses commissioned by ISUD while the second part includes essays selected as recipients of the Jens Jacobsen Research Prize for outstanding philosophical work. The keynote addresses and the Jacobsen Research Prize papers propose new inspirational ideas for consideration by the ISUD community. While these ideas sometimes challenge the original formulations of the guiding values and ideas of ISUD they also work to reaffirm and renew those ideals and values.

   The materials presented here seek to focus ISUD’s attention on the following questions: What are main objectives of universal dialogue, crucial for the fate of humanity, for our time in history? How best can the ISUD pursue a more decent future of humanity and inspire others to join with us or to pursue complementarily projects? These new ideas and directions take their place among earlier elaborated perspectives, views, and issues as part of the ISUD intellectual legacy.

Malgorzata Czarnocka
Dialogue and Universalism Editor-in-Chief

Charles Brown
ISUD Chair

 

 

ISUD XI WORLD CONGRESS: REMINISCENCES

    July, the golden crown of the year, became a crowning point for our society last summer as Warsaw, the capital city of Poland, hosted the XI World Congress of the International Society for Universal Dialogue (ISUD) from 11 to 15 July 2016. This site, where the philosophy of science and great music flourishes, with vast parks and skyscrapers that frame the splendid Old Town surrounded by the magnificent New City overlooking the shining Wisła, wonderfully enhanced the dynamics of the Congress. The Congress was held in the heart of the city at the gorgeous Staszic Palace, in the shadow of the statue of Nicolaus Copernicus.

   With a support of the Polish Academy of Sciences and its Institute of Philosophy of Sociology, ISUD came to its XI World Congress totally equipped and full of expectations. Professor Charles Brown, at present the ISUD Chair, was the Organizer of the Congress. Professor Małgorzata Czarnocka, Editor-in-Chief of Dialogue and Universalism, was the Congress Site Coordinator. By grace of their good will, long-lasting work and talent the Congress was meticu-lously organized as it fulfilled all expectations to become an important intellectual and cultural event. Let me add that I was the Review Panel Coordinator.

   The XI World Congress of the International Society for Universal Dialogue, unforgettable in itself, was remarkable for the returning of the Society to its roots. In 1989, the Society was born here, in Warsaw. “As the sun is daily new and old,” so is ISUD: always true to its mission and yet always welcoming new members, ideas, and experiences. The goal of this World Congress was to explore the role of ideals and values across a wide spectrum of theoretical and practical issues. The theme of the congress work was: “Values and Ideals. Theory and Praxis.”

   The Program of the Congress, featuring the research of 143 scholars, was ordered according to 10 main sub-themes:

1. Dialogue on the Issues of the Contemporary World
2. Philosophical Ideals for a More Decent Human World
3. Cultures — Their Ideals and Values
4. Ecophilosophy for the Human and More Than Human World
5. Ideals and Values in Social and Political Life — from Theories to Praxis
6. Ideals and Values in Religion and Myth
7. Ideals and Values in Arts
8. Values and Ideals of Science and Value of Science
9. Human Values and Ideals. Their Role in Personal and Cultural Identities
10. Moral Systems and Moral Practices

   Participants of this Congress represented an impressive degree of regional and cultural diversity as participating scholars came from China, India, Africa, Europe, North and South America as well as Pacific Island nations. All together scholars from 30 countries participated (Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Belarus, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Colombia, Egypt, Finland, Germany, Greece, India, Iran, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, Turkey, Ukraine, USA). The result of the Congress is a rich ISUD legacy. The Editorial Board of Dialogue and Universalism intends to publish numerous the papers presented here.

   The Congress concluded with the awarding of nine Jacobsen Research Prizes for outstanding philosophical works and with the election of new officers and a new Board of Directors. Professor Charles Brown was elected as Chair, Professor Keqian Xu as Vice-Chair, Professor Kevin Brien as Treasurer, and Professor Qiong Wang as Secretary.

   ISUD is committed to promote philosophical discourse intended to encourage the emergence of a more decent and human world order by promoting dialogue to actualize the highest and richest human values in all the dimensions of the human world. In accordance with ISUD mission, we scholars investigated the role of ideals and values in political and social life, in the formation of personal and cultural identities, in art, as well as in scientific and moral reasoning and practice.

   We consider our task has been fulfilled.

Emily Tajsin
Professor, Member of the ISUD Board of Directors

 

 

 

ABSTRACTS

 

Robert Elliott Allinson

INTEGRATIVE DIALOGUE AS A PATH TO UNIVERSALISM: THE CASE OF BUBER AND ZHUANGZI

    I argue that it is through an integrative dialogue based on the Ijing (Book of Changes) model of cooperative and cyclical change rather than a Marxist or neo-Marxist dialectical model of change based upon the Hegelian model of conflict and replacement that promises the greatest possibility of peaceful coexistence.1 As a case study of a dialogue between civilizations, I utilize both a mythical and an historical encounter between Martin Buber, representing the West, and Zhuangzi, representing the East. I show that despite the vast temporal, historic, linguistic and cultural differences, that the dialogue between Zhuangzi and Buber is complementary and not adversarial.

Keywords: Buber, Zhuangzi, Huntington, comparative philosophy, clash of civilizations, Ijing, The Book of Changes, integrative dialogue, Dao, Ch’an, Zen, the Baal-Shem-Tov, Yin and Yang.

Affiliation: Soka University of America, Gandhi Hall 404, 1 University Drive, Aliso Viejo, California 92656, USA.

E-mail: rallinson@soka.edu

 

 

 

Kevin M. Brien

TOWARD A CRITICAL APPROPRIATION OF ARISTOTLE’S NICOMACHEAN ETHICS FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

   This is a working paper that presents the first phase of what will eventually be a huge project, namely a critical appropriation of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Early on it provides a sketch of the main strands of Aristotle’s theoretical web in his N. Ethics. Following that, the paper offers some critical commentary concerning some of Aristotle’s main positions: especially his views on moral virtue, the soul, intellectual virtue, and human well-being. The paper then turns to the development of some significantly different ways of construing both intellectual virtue as well as moral virtue. With respect to intellectual virtue, I present my own perspective in interconnection with a pro-cessoriented way of understanding reality, as opposed to Aristotle’s substance-oriented way. With respect to moral virtue, I present my interpretation in relation to a this-worldly understanding of the human spirit/soul, as well as a humanistic-Marxist inter-pretation of human well-being. Toward the paper’s end, I offer some suggestions concerning a modified “doctrine of the mean” that would be a sort of critical synthesis of the views of Aristotle and Confucius.

Keywords: Aristotle, Confucius, “doctrine of the mean,” eudaimonia, “free con-scious activity,” human well-being, intellectual virtue, Marx, moral virtue, process, soul, substance.

Affiliation: Washington College (300 Washington Ave, Chestertown, MD 21620, USA.

E-mail: kbrien2@washcoll.edu

 

 

 

Charles Brown

THE DIALECTICS OF IDENTITY AND DIFFERENCE

   This paper traces the history of the International Society for Universal Dialogue by reflecting on the tension between universalism and pluralism and the underlying dialectics of identity and difference. This paper argues that this tension is the source of creativity and that dialogue, by its refusal to privilege one over the other, keeps this tension alive as it seeks ever better formulations and understandings of goodness, justice, and truth. This paper argues that philosophers are duty bound to honor their ideals and values through the sort of reflection and dialogue that features critique, clarification, and renewal of those ideals and values. Only through this process (critique, clarification, and renewal) do those values remain bright and vibrant.

Keywords: Critique, clarification, and renewal, pluralism, universalism, dialogue, identity, difference.

Affiliation: Emporia State University in Emporia, Kellogg Cir, Emporia, Kansas S 66801, USA.

E-mail: cbrown@emporia.edu

 

 

 

Jonathan O. Chimakonam
Uti Ojah Egbai

THE VALUE OF CONVERSATIONAL THINKING IN BUILDING A DECENT WORLD: THE PERSPECTIVE OF POST-COLONIAL SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

   In this paper we focus on conversational thinking to demonstrate the value of public reasoning in building a decent world and true democracies. We shall take into account the views of selected scholars, especially John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas, on law and democratic practice, to explain why post-colonial Africa is weighed down by socio-political hegemonies that have aversion to their opposition and eliminate room for strong institutions, rule of law and human rights. In light of conversational thinking, this eliminates any chance for “creative struggle,” i.e. a philosophers struggle against the post-colonial imaginary/social agents to dethrone strong individuals and create strong institutions. In the absence of these indices which a conversational orientation may engender, it is difficult to transform bogus democracy into true democracy and thus to create a decent society. Post-colonial Africa mired in social regression, political crisis and economic stagnation urgently needs conversational tonics to overcome the ineffectiveness of bogus democracy. We postulate a thesis about three structural transformations forming what we call Democratic Transformational Programme (DTP).

Keywords: conversation, African philosophy, post-colonial, conversational thinking, democracy, law, decent world, transformation.

Affiliation: University of Calabar, P. O. Box 3684, Unical Post Office, Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.

E-mail: jchimakonam@unical.edu.ng

Affiliation: University of Calabar, P. O. Box 3684, Unical Post Office, Calabar, Cross River State, Nigeria.

E-mail: drutiegbai@gmail.com

 

 

 

Richard Evanoff

WORLDVIEWS AND INTERCULTURAL PHILOSOPHY

   Having a better understanding of what worldviews are and how they function may be able to contribute to the resolution of conflicts which arise when people from different cultures holding different worldviews interact with each other. This paper begins by examining the nature of worldviews and how they might be approached from the perspective of intercultural philosophy. The paper then turns to meta-philosophical questions regarding the disciplinary boundaries, goals, and methods of intercultural philosophy with respect to worldviews. Attention is given to the possibility of adopting a constructivist, dialectical approach to cross-cultural dialogue on worldviews.

Keywords: worldviews, intercultural philosophy, metaphilosophy, intercultural dialogue, constructivism.

Affiliation: School of International Politics, Economics, and Communication, Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo, 4-4-25 Shibuya Shibuyaku, Tokyo 150-8366, Japan.

E-mail: evanoff@sipeb.aoyama.ac.jp

 

 

 

Andrew Fiala

TRANSFORMATIVE PACIFISM IN THEORY AND PRACTICE: GANDHI, BUBER, AND THE DREAM OF A GREAT AND LASTING PEACE

   Pacifists imagine a “great peace,” to borrow a phrase from Martin Buber. This great peace will uphold justice and respect for humanity. It will not efface difference or negate liberty and identity. The great peace will be a space in which genuine dialogue can flourish—in which we can encounter one another as persons, listen to one another, embrace our common humanity, and acknowledge our differences. The great peace is much more than the absence of war. It is holistic, organic, dialogical, and thick with human relation.

   The dream of the great peace runs aground on the reality of petty conflicts, dehumanizing institutions, selfishness, egoism, arrogance, murder, war, and psychopathology. While ordinary selfishness poses a mundane obstacle to the great peace, genocide appears to create a reductio ad absurdum argument against the dream of the great peace and against pacifism itself. Critics will argue that in extremis a pacifist would be either mad or immoral to remain committed to nonviolence. This idea has been explored by a number of critics who argue that pacifism is primarily for dreamers and idealists, who are not willing to do what is necessary to confront evil and atrocity in the real world.

   This paper argues that a moderate commitment to pacifism and nonviolence remains plausible despite the atrocity objection. Some may argue that the term “pacifism” is not applicable to a position that admits that there are exceptional cases in which violence can be justified. But as I have argued elsewhere, there are varieties of pacifism (Fiala, 2004; 2008; 2014a; 2014b). The type of pacifism described here is transformational or transformative pacifism. Transformational pacifism is not absolutist in its rejection of violence, even though it offers a comprehensive critique of violence that aims at creating the great peace by changing the way we think and talk about war, violence, and peace itself. Martin Buber is a good example of a transformational pacifist. He admitted that some form of violence could be justified (say, in response to the Holocaust). But his goal was not to justify violence—rather, he wanted to transform the world in order to prepare the way for the great peace. One important consideration here is that Buber is not primarily a political thinker or an applied ethicist: rather, he offers a metaphysical, religious, psychological, and cultural theory. Transformative pacifism is located at that higher level. It idealizes, speculates, and imagines. For this reason, critics might condemn it as utopian. But transformative pacifism remains inspiring and useful.

Affiliation: Department of Philosophy, California State University—Fresno.

E-mail: afiala@csufresno.edu

 

 

 

Steven V. Hicks

THE CHALLENGES OF UNIVERSAL DIALOGUE: PHILOSOPHICAL IDEALS FOR A MORE DECENT WORLD

   In this keynote address, I reflect on the origin, history, past accomplishments, and guiding principles of the International Society for Universal Dialogue (ISUD). I also reflect on the future challenges facing our society and the need to critique, clarify, revise, and renew our core principles, values, and ideals.

Keywords: Berlin Wall, “Brexit,” climate change, communication, corporations, dialogue, European Union, freedom, globalization, global warming, human rights, inequalities, intercultural dialogue, international relations, justice, just world order, peace, transnational relations, universalism, world governance.

Affiliation: Behrend College of Pennsylvania State University, 4701 College Drive, Erie, Pennsylvania, USA.

E-mail: svh10@psu.edu

 

 

 

Michael H. Mitias

POSSIBILITY OF INTER-RELIGIOUS DIALOGUE: STRUCTURAL AND FORMAL CONDITIONS

   In this paper the author explores the conditions under which inter-religious dialogue can be a transformative process not only of the interlocutor’s understanding of the be-liefs and values of the religiously different other but also her attitude toward him or her. The proposition elucidated and defended is that, to be transformative, the dialogue should be God-centered, objective, empathic, and it should be grounded in the values of equality, respect, and toleration. The paper is composed of two parts. The first is devoted to an analysis of the concept of dialogue in general and of inter-religious dialogue in particular: What are the structural elements of dialogue between (a) individuals and (b) religious communities? The second part is devoted to an analysis of the conditions under which inter-religious dialogue can be a transformative process. The focus in this analysis is on the following question: What does it take for a person who has grown up in a certain religion, who understands herself and in fact lives from the standpoint that religion, to discern the religious truth proclaimed by another religion, to comprehend it, appreciate it, assent to it, and incorporate it in the structure of her mind or worldview? We may construct a formidable strategy, one that wins the blessing of reason, still, the question remains: How can a community, which tends to be exclusivist in its religious orientation, change its understanding of God or attitude toward the religious different other?

Keywords: Dialogue, religion, formal structure, toleration, understanding, respect, equality, objectivity.

Affiliation: Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, 1701 N State St, MS 39202 U.S.A.

E-mail: hmitias@gmail.com

 

 

 

Dilipkumar Mohanta

INTERRELIGIOUS DIALOGUE AND VIVEKANAND’S VEDANTIC MODEL OF PLURALISM

   What are the preconditions of interreligious dialogue? How do philosophical reflections help today a religiously plural society to live in harmony, peace and sustainable development? In this paper I deal with these questions in the light of Swami Vivekananda’s concept of Universal Religion and try to search for a philosophical model of interreligious dialogue. Vivekananda propounds that we are to go beyond tolerance, and accept other religions as good as our own. Vivekananda’s interpretation has also the implication of transcending various commonly known worldviews in the context of religion and culture. It strengthens the application of the principle of “live and let live.” This model of understanding does not regard the existence of other religions as a hindrance to worldly progress and peace. This attitude is rather guided by a practical plan which does not allow for questioning the encountering of religion. It does not destroy the individuality of any man in religion and at the same time shows him a point of union with all others. Our analysis will develop the significance and relevance of this view.

Keywords: one among many, tolerance, acceptance, interreligious dialogue, religious pluralism.

Affiliation: University of Calcutta, 1 Reformatory Street. Kolkata, 700027, India.

E-mail: dkmphil@gmail.com

 

 

 

Mugobe B. Ramose

TOWARD THE BETTERMENT OF HUMAN RELATIONS

   Ontologies that privilege being over becoming fragment what is real by privileging completeness, finality, and stability over motion, change, flow, and flux. This, in turn, results in a conception of truth that tends toward dogmatism and absolutism. This essay sketches an alternative ontology rooted in the rheomodic character of all that is real. Such an ontology underwrites an alternative to the ego-centered form of reasoning. This essay compares and contrasts ego-centred reasoning and doing with a de-centred form of reasoning and doing. This alternative “de-centered” or rheomodic form of reasoning and doing allows us to retain the virtues and values of humanity, sociality, and universality without reducing all questions of humanity, sociality, or universality to dogmatic discourses and thereby promises to be a better alternative to the quest for human relations that promote equality, peace, and justice than the prevailing ego-centered reasoning and doing.

Keywords: Ego-centered reasoning and doing, fragmentation of be-ing, rheomodic character of be-ing, ontology of de-centeredness, de-centred reasoning, dogmatism, absolutism, “lunatic” reasoning.

Affiliation: University of Limpopo, Department of Philosophy, Private Bag X1106, 0727 Sovenga, South Africa.
E-mail: tanella@mweb.co.za

 

 

 

John Rensenbrink

ON CO-EVOLUTION

   The theory and practice of co-evolution offers a way forward for humanity that goes well beyond the deterministic confines of an outmoded mechanistic science that still inhabits much academic thought and research; and also goes well beyond post-deterministic efforts to exempt the human mind and will from its presumed inexorable embeddedness in the mechanistically perceived life and motions of the body. Co-evolution rejects both and goes to the root of the matter regarding nature. It decisively affirms the post-mechanistic understandings of nature by quantum physics, feminist critique of patriarchy, and ecological philosophy. Co-evolution affirms that nature’s relational and animated being situates the human being and all individual human beings in an interactive mode. From this, dialogue is a natural, instead of a contrived, out-growth and fulfillment of the human project. The way then is clear for humanity to co-evolve interdependently with natural forces for mutual benefit.

Keywords: co-evolution, nature, dialogue, determinism, interaction, relational reality, agency in nature.

Affiliation: Bowdoin College, 6200 College Station, Brunswick, ME USA 04011.

E-mail: John Rensenbrink john@rensenbrink.com

 

 

 

Andrew Targowski

WISDOM AS INFORMATION. TOWARDS AN INTEGRATIONAL MODEL OF WISDOM

   The purpose of this investigation is to define, first, wisdom from the point of view of the cognitive approach, and, second, to integrate this definition with the aspects of wisdom as defined by the semantic, cognitive, psychological approaches as well as to a certain degree by the philosophical approach. The research is based on an interdisciplinary view of the main aspects of wisdom’s development and their interdependency. Among the findings are: wisdom is information reflecting good judgment and choice; it is the final cognition unit in the Semantic Ladder and has different levels of scope and quality depending on the four minds, namely basic, whole, global and universal mind, which are supported by the art of living, understood as the reflection of behavioral aspects of wisdom within the philosophical framework of the hierarchy of possible purposes of one’s life. Practical implications: Wisdom can be accomplished in all phases of living. Social implication: The quest for wisdom should be achieved by teaching wisdom once it is defined. Originality: This investigation, by providing an interdisciplinary and civilizational approach, allows for the teaching and application of wisdom in a typical manner as is done by other disciplines and their issues.

Keywords: wisdom, information, integrational model of wisdom.

Affiliation: Western Michigan University, 1903 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, USA.

E-mail: andrew.targowski@wmich.edu

 

 

 

Qiong Wang

KNOWING AS ACTING: EXAMPLES FROM CONFUCIANISM AND BUDDHISM

   We often separate knowing and acting into two distinct tasks to perform and think that one must first know and only then can one act. This also indicates that one can have knowledge without action or one can know what the proper action is yet fail to act. This essay will examine theories of learning/knowing suggested in the Confucian and Buddhist traditions and argue that there is a strong tendency in Confucianism and Buddhism that favors engaged knowing over detached knowing and rejects the separation between knowing and acting. The essay will also suggest that the idea of engaged knowing suggested in Buddhism and Confucianism will help us reevaluate the representationalist notion of knowledge.

Keywords: Knowledge, action, engaged learning, Confucianism, Buddhism.

Affiliation: State University of New York College at Oneonta, 160 Fitzelle Hall, Philosophy Department, SUNY College at Oneonta, 108 Ravine Parkway, Oneonta, NY 13820.

E-mail: qiong.wang@oneonta.edu

 

 

 

Keqian Xu

CONFUCIAN PHILOSOPHY OF ZHONGDAOLOGY AND ITS PRACTICAL SIGNIFICANCE IN RESOLVING CONFLICTS

   The essence of traditional Chinese Confucian philosophy can be termed “Zhongdaology”; it searches for the appropriate degree of zhong which is a standard guiding people’s actions. The Chinese pictographic character “zhong” has multiple meanings, including centrality, middle, appropriate, fit, just, fair, impartial, upright, etc. In early Confucianism, it has been developed into an important concept with profound philosophical connotations; it includes a combination of subjective and objective views, a fusion of different stances and considerations, and postulates a harmony of the internal and external worlds. Zhongdaology takes a dynamic, contextual, correlative and dialectic view of things in the world, and provides a way of thinking different from the traditional Western ontological (metaphysical) way of thinking. The practical rationality and wisdom of Zhongdaology are very significant for promoting dialogue and resolving a variety of conflicts in human societies.

Keywords: Chinese philosophy; Confucianism; Zhongdaology; practical rationality.

Affiliation: Nanjing Normal Universities, 122 Ninghai Road, Nanjing, 210097 China.

E-mail: xukeqian@njnu.edu.cn


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