Dialogue and Universalism

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4/2017

VALUES AND IDEALS. THEORY AND PRAXIS. V

 

EDITORIAL

 

VALUES AND IDEALS. THEORY AND PRAXIS

Part V

ECOPHILOSOPHY FOR THE HUMAN AND MORE THAN HUMAN WORLD
HUMAN VALUES AND IDEALS. THEIR ROLE IN PERSONAL AND CULTURAL IDENTITIES
MORAL SYSTEMS AND MORAL PRACTICES

 

   This is the fifth and last in a series of Dialogue and Universalism issues featuring a selection of peer-reviewed papers submitted to the 11th World Con-gress of the International Society for Universal Dialogue, held in Warsaw, Poland, July 11–15, 2016. Its theme is VALUES AND IDEALS: THEORY AND PRAXIS.

   All the papers being the achievement of the 11th World Congress express the general attitude that a clarification and rethinking of the nature and role of values and ideals are a necessary step toward addressing many of the most vex-ing problems facing our world. Distorted understandings of the nature and role of values have diminished our ability to conduct rational public discourse, im-plement wise policy, or even imagine a better world. These papers suggest that the role of a philosopher must include active participation in the rebuilding of the human world through the clarification and renewal of moral discourse.

   Values are neither personal sentiments nor private feelings but arise sponta-neously from intersubjective efforts to make sense of things. As such, they are objects of public reflection. Values and ideals are the conditions of the possibil-ity of a meaningful and coherent world as well as a basic factor of individual and collective human existence. Values and ideals are worldly affairs belonging neither to the divine nor the Absolute.

   Our everyday experiences of a sense of fairness, a sense of compassion, and a sense that “we are all in it together” underlie our social nature and our bonds of attachment with family and community. Such experiences are the root and common ground of all moral and political reflection. These elemental forms of moral phenomena precede theory as they emerge through everyday praxis. They are the meaningful phenomena presupposed by discourse and theory. Attempts to dismiss values either as arising from the private or non-rational or to reduce them to a non-human ‘beyond’ serve to sever the connection between moral theory and moral experience.

   Severing the connection between elemental moral experience and rational public moral reflection robs us of the possibility of finding common ground for philosophical dialogue and practical politics.

   Our diminished capacity to imagine a better world and to promote rational moral discourse comes at a time when our shared world increasingly becomes a less secure and friendly place to live. Dramatic advances in economic growth, transportation, communication, and medicine coexist with rising economic ine-quality, shrinking food and health care security for all, war, enslavement, over-population, human trafficking, and feelings of alienation, as well as climate disruption and mass extinction.
Pernicious forms of ethnic nationalism undermine the hope of authentic de-mocracy as they encourage the development of forms of self-identity tethered to the exclusion and subordination of others. The rise of neoliberalism, ethnic na-tionalism, religious fanaticism, and even fascism are among the many storms threatening our very lives today.

Burns like a red coal carpet
Mad bull lost your way.

   Those threats and conflicts, as well as difficulties in communication between cultures, nations, and citizens threaten a civilizational collapse. Some experts warn that human extinction is inevitable if the human world does not turn back from its path of self-destruction. These threats require more than superficial changes or technological fixes. They require the rebuilding of the very founda-tion of the human world.

   The rise of social pathologies begins as values and ideals are recast and dis-torted by the impersonal logic of the market, the idolization of individual self-interest, empire, and conquest. Glorification of individual triumph replaces au-thentic values. As hyper-individualistic ideology displaces the centrality of com-munity with the individual, the commitment to self-interest and rational choice theory replaces moral discourse with instrumental rationality. In such an envi-ronment, ideals and values first become individual preferences and then commod-ities to be traded.

   As the ideology of self-interest grows, we become blind and insensitive to our sense of value and goodness that make moral reflection, critique, and re-newal possible. The result is rising fear, uncertainty, alienation, anomie, and terror making the prospects for an authentic democracy increasingly difficult. As authentic moral discourse withers, our choices too often seem limited to either a global neoliberal world order or a retreat into an exclusionary ethnic nationalism.

   The present threats require a return to and a reclaiming of deep and ele-mental values such as care and concern for others, care and concern for truth, care and concern for our shared accomplishments. Such cares and concerns are conditions of the possibility of the good life. Such cares and concerns are both the source of great ideals and communal projects as well as the roots of social, religious, ethical, cognitive, and aesthetic systems. Such cares and concerns are the source of renewal and replenishment for stagnant and taken for granted cul-tural dead ends.

   The International Society for Universal Dialogue’s members participating in the XI World Congress were going a long and fruitful way when revealing and researching the multiplicity of ideals and values, their problems and the constant conditioning by them all the human world. We hope and believe that this Inter-national Society for Universal Dialogue achievement is not only an intellectual legacy of the society, but also its step in a battle for a better human world.

   We have published about 1000 pages of studies and essays devoted to the problems of values and ideals—an amazing evidence of the common extensive activity of the International Society for Universal Dialogue. This research, pub-lished in five Dialogue and Universalism issues, has not exhausted the panora-ma of issues of values and ideals. Philosophy—which is continuous flux—never offers any full or final conceptions. However, we believe that the International Society for Universal Dialogue made a worth step towards the elucidation of values and ideals.

Charles Brown — distinguished professor of philosophy,
Chair of International Society for Universal Dialogue

Malgorzata Czarnocka — full professor of philosophy,
Dialogue and Universalism Editor-in-Chief

 

 

 

ABSTRACTS

 

Renat Apkin

SCIENCE AND ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH. CASE OF RADON RADIATION

   This paper offers a contribution to ecophilosophy from the perspective of the scien-tific research of the environment. The problem considered in the paper deals with a specific issue of environmental risk, namely, the problem of radon ionizing radiation and the highest permissible security norms of it. This problem, now rarely discussed in ecological communities, is one of more important for humankind’s health and safe existence. The awareness of harmful and beneficial biological effects of various envi-ronmental factors is a basic step towards ensuring the security of public health. The admissible norms of radon radiation are different in different countries. The article sug-gests possible causes of these differences and puts forward the thesis that today’s sci-ence alone is not a sufficient ground of resolving ecological problems.

Keywords: ecophilosophy, radon radiation, limitations of science.

Affiliation: Kazan State Power Engineering University, Krasnoselskaya, 51, Kazan, Russia.

E-mail: renat.apkin@gmail.com

 

 

 

Ana Bazac

ARISTOTLE, THE NAMES OF VICES AND VIRTUES: WHAT IS THE CRITERION OF QUANTITATIVE EVALUATION OF THE MORAL BEHAVIOUR?

   In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle has given a tableau of the desirable virtues and their infringement through the surpassing of their limits. Thus, every virtue is framed or delimited by vices that represent either its excess or its deficiency. However, this type of defining is related to deep, metaphysical reasons: since every being, especially the liv-ing one, has its telos. Man’s telos is to practise and fulfil his human specificity, i.e. reason, and reason is the measure/quality of virtue as such; the excess or deficiency in his behaviour perverts and even stops the realisation of the humanity of man. And this humanity is, in turn, in accordance to the telos of nature, the good in and for the preser-vation of all things. If, hypothetically, persons would not be virtuous at all, this accord-ance would not be realised and man would be an accident in the logic of nature: and accidents are removed, sooner or later. The criterion of the “quantitative” moral evalua-tion is thus qualitative: a quality, the good aimed at by mindfulness applied to the con-crete particular moral relations and learned from experience.

Keywords: Aristotle, telos, vices and virtues.

Affiliation: Polytechnic University of Bucharest, Bucuresti, str. Ion Slatineanu, 23–26, sector 1, 010601, Romania.

E-mail: ana_bazac@hotmail.com

 

 

 

Sam Cocks

ENVIRONMENTAL PLURALISM, POLAR HARMONIES AND RESOLUTION

   The point of this essay is to draw on the resources of phenomenology to argue that a global environmental ethics is one that should embrace cultural pluralism. My further claim is that due to the presence of a large variety of what Edmund Husserl understands as home-worlds and alien-worlds, any attempt at a universal environmental ethics might be impossible and perhaps unattractive. Nonetheless, I do believe there should be a dialogue that unfolds across these differences for the sake some operative environ-mental ethics. I believe that an aesthetic model that can help us understand the former is the idea of “polar harmonies” put forth by Hebert Speigelberg. I end by claiming that even when a “common nature” is discovered through the interaction with the alien-world, what is found cannot become universalized due to the unavoidable influence of cultural differences upon this very commonality.

Keywords: cultural pluralism, home-world, alien-world, polar-harmony, environ-mental ethics, phenomenology, global dialogue, intuitive fulfillment.

Affiliation: University of Wisconsin, 1725 State St, La Crosse, WI 54601, USA.

E-mail: scocks@uwlax.edu

 

 

 

Xing Guozhong

THE CHINESE MORAL CRISIS AND MORAL CAPITAL

   “Moral capital” is a concept emerged in the China ethical community at the end of the 20th century. The issue of moral capital arises from discussions about economy and ethics. The controversial point in this concept consists in that morality is a kind of capi-tal. Will morality become a capital? I think it is possible. The interpretation of the con-cept “capital” should go back to the logical starting point of economics, namely, “ratio-nal-economic man.” From the perspective of moral philosophy, every economic activity is committed to morality. The maximization of self-interest is only a part of rationality. Rationality should also cover the acquisition of no self-interest valuable goals. People’s economic behaviors may also be connected with culture, ethics, intelligence, aesthetic appreciation or emotions. I think it is time to radically reform rationality. The issue of moral capital reinterprets capital by basing on humanity. The core of moral capital con-sists in the revealing of capital’s property of value; this value functions against the bac-kground of the socialist market economy system. It is the issue of economic justice in the context of contemporary China.

Keywords: Capital; rational-economic man; moral capital; economic justice.

Affiliation: Beijing Normal University, School of Marxism Studies, P. R. China, Beijing, no. 19, Xin-JieKouWai St., HaiDian District, 100875, China.

E-mail: xingguozhong@126.com

 

 

 

Topi Heikkerö

ON COMPASSION: THE GOOD BEYOND VALUES

   This paper is a dialogue that considers compassion as a grounding for ethics. Its ap-proach is thematic but it draws significantly from Arthur Schopenhauer’s account of compassion (Mitleid). In Schopenhauer’s thought, values (Werthe) are functions of a subject’s willing and therefore inevitably tied to an ego-centric viewpoint. Real ethics needs to find a good beyond subjective valuations. Schopenhauer finds an ethical phe-nomenon beyond values in Mitleid, “suffering-together,” compassion. Compassion is a pre-reflective benevolent feeling toward another’s suffering. Compassion can occur only if the ego-world duality is overcome at least to some extent. In this way compas-sion is a metaphysical sentiment.

Keywords: Agape, compassion, René Descartes, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Mitleid, Frie-drich Nietzsche, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Arthur Schopenhauer, pity, values.

Affiliation: St. John’s College in Santa Fe, St. John’s College, 1160 Camino de Cruz Blanca, Santa Fe, NM, 87505-4599, New Mexi-co, USA.

E-mail: topi.heikkero@sjc.edu

 

 

 

Hu Jihua

BILDUNG AND PAIDEIA:
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN EARLY GERMAN ROMANTICISM’S AND PLATO’S IDEAS ABOUT HUMANIST EDUCATION

   The purpose of this paper is to reconsider the role of humanistic education (Bildung) played in the cultural project of the early German Romanticism through tracing back to Plato’s idea of philosophical cultivation (paideia). Like Plato, the early German Roman-tics postulate Bildung or the education of humanity as the central goal or the highest aspi-ration for the cultural practice of mankind in order to settle the fundamental problems concerning the social and political crisis. This attitude is similar to Plato’s critique of the degenerate regime in the guise of democratic politics. There is an apparent and inevitable divergence between Plato’s aristo-cracy and the Romanticism poesie-cracy. That is to say, the early German Romanticism wagered a war against ancient moral idealism represented by Plato and finally turned it on its head, but they write a paradigmatic apocalypse of the soul for moderns.

Keywords: Paideia; Bildung; Plato; The Early German Romanticism; humanistic education.

Affiliation: Beijing International Studies University (BISU), no. 1 Dingfuzhuang Nanli, Chaoyang District, Beijing, 100024, China.

E-mail: hujihuaxq@hotmail.com

 

 

 

Indoo Pandey Khanduri

DESCARTES ON GENEROSITY AS AN IDEAL CHARACTER VIRTUE. THEORETICAL FOUNDATIONS AND PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS

   This paper humbly attempts to explore Descartes’ conception of generosity as an ideal character virtue which can address the problems of the global world like struggle, intolerance and segregation; and thereby creates healthy routes for universal dialogue. The first part attempts to clarify Descartes’ conception of the foundations of generosity. The second part narrates Descartes’ views on generosity as passions and as a virtue. The third part explores the possibility of generosity as a virtue of the individual as well as social character. It also proposes to take the practice of generosity as a mechanism of developing cooperation, tolerance, and, consequently, universal dialogue and harmony.

Keywords: Passions, actions, desire, wonder, generosity, individual virtue, social virtue struggle, intolerance, segregation, dialogue and harmony.

Affiliation: School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna Garhwal Cen-tral University, Srinagar (Garhwal), Uttarakhand-246174 India.

 

 

 

Józef Leszek Krakowiak

AN ACTIVISTIC AND RELATIONAL AXIOLOGY OF A UNIVERSALISTIC PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE

   My reflection is dedicated to a universalist and personalistic conception of Andrzej Grzegorczyk and his main idea on deriving the sphere of spiritual values from vital ones. I try to interpret Andrzej Grzegorczyk’s ethics in a broad way, that is, as a univer-salistic philosophy of life. I mean by “philosophy of life” the basic aspect of the practi-cal realization of values, that is, social life as an attitude to fate. I use Martin Heidegger’s concept of human handiness, filtered through its use by Grzegorczyk, as a tool of exposing vitality values (generated the organs of the human body) which grow into universal spiritual values.

Keywords: Andrzej Grzegorczyk, vital values, spiritual values, truth, destiny, exis-tential consistency, logic, organon of ordering life.

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

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

 

 

 

Titus Lateş

REFLECTIONS ON THE NOBILITY OF SPIRIT IN ROMANIAN PHILOSOPHY

   At the turn of the 17th century, in Romanian philosophy the nobility of spirit is seen as a certain but intermediate value, to be cherished while man waits for his divine re-ward, which is everlasting life, as presented in Divanul [The Divan] by Dimitrie Cantemir. Two hundred and fifty years later, man is regarded as having evolved from the animal forms of life in Mihai Ralea’s systematic presentation Explicarea omului [An Explanation of Man], and the sole meaning of nobility is the revolutionary one, the heroic one, that is the ethical one. From a totally different point of view, during the interwar period, Constantin Micu Stavilă developed a general theory of man and society thus compellingly arguing against the claims of all ideologists of the natural genesis of human spirituality. In this theory the nobility of spirit was said to come from work and creation. By presenting these examples, my intention is to rediscover this spiritual, mor-al and socio-cultural ideal in order to find its place, role and profile in designing a new view of human nature, for a more decent human world.

Keywords: human nature, noble soul, nobility, the nobility of spirit, well-balanced thinking, distracted man, love, immortality.

Affiliation: Romanian Academy, Calea 13 Septembrie, nr. 13, sector 5, Bucharest 050711, Romania.

E-mail: titus_1ar@yahoo.com.ar

 

 

 

Andrey I. Matsyna

THE METAPHYSICS OF OVERCOMING —ONTOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS

   This article studies the phenomenon of overcoming and provides a rationale of the understanding of the totality of human experience that integrates the situation of over-coming as that of the transcendence of human existence. As the basis of the research we use an integrated model of archaic cultural overcoming of the life–death dichotomy— a metaphysics of overcoming. A result of this metaphysics is a specific dialectical on-tology of myth, represented as an ontology of return. Manifestationism, holism, alo-gism, metamorphism, animism, cyclism, and sacralism are the general principles of this ontology. Return ontologies are in conflict with the ontology and metaphysics of the finite present in the religious and scientific worldviews. The author sees the prospects for a further study of the phenomenon of overcoming in using the subjective energistic approach that leads to understanding the phenomenon of overcoming at the biosocial level. The results of the research can be used as a philosophical basis for the develop-ment of an archaeological activity theory, in particular, a unified integrated approach to the ancient burial ritualism. They also allow to deepen the theoretical concepts of man, society, and culture.

Keywords: anthropological crisis, an overcomer, the overcoming phenomenon, the metaphysics of overcoming the dichotomy of life and death, thanatological concepts, funeral rites, death, initiation, the return ontology, the ontology of the Finite, the culture of overcoming.

Affiliation: Chelyabinsk State University, Bratyev Kashirinykh, 129, Chelyabinsk, Chelyabinskaya oblast, 454001, Russia.

E-mail: matsyna@inbox.ru

 

 

 

German Melikhov

LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN: PHILOSOPHIZING AS THE GESTURE OF KEEPING SILENT

   Ludwig Wittgenstein’s philosophizing is deeply ontological, and can be defined as a reflexive gesture of keeping silent. The silence secured by reflexing is an essential part of a philosophy. A philosopher has to use language, but things that pass over in silence must influence things he or she says. The speech manifests not only in the spoken, but also in the unspoken. How is it possible? Through understanding a reflexive speech as an action or gesture of annihilation of speech. The expressed words in philosophy and expressed philosophical concepts are just means of referring to the ultimate value which should be thrown away immediately because it cannot say anything about the inexpress-ible. The philosophy as a gesture of keeping silent is an attempt to meaningfully keep silent through the constantly evolving reflexive annihilation of your own speech. The philosophizing which takes into account the importance of silence becomes a minimal-istic gesture.

Keywords: philosophizing, Ludwig Wittgenstein, origin, shift, open space, gesture, inexpressible, reflection, ultimate value.

Affiliation: Kazan Federal Universi-ty, Institute of Social and Philosophical Sciences and Mass Communications. 18 Ulitsa Kremlevskaya, Kazan 420008, Tatarstan, Russia.

E-mail: meac@bk.ru

 

 

 

Krystyna Najder-Stefaniak

SECURITY AND SUSTAINED DEVELOPMENT

   Interesting for the debate on human security is the concept of coexistence of culture and civilization. According to Albert Schweitzer, civilization and culture were not mu-tually exclusive and did not compete against each other. However, if civilizational growth began to dominate over cultural development, or, in other words, if culture be-gan to lag behind civilization, human life would be reduced to its biological aspect and man would become unable to take the adequate care of his natural and social eco-systems. He/she, dominated by the impersonal forces of nature and economy, would be reduced by them to an object. That is what Schweitzer called the neoprimitive man. Contemporary man is in danger of becoming the neoprimitive man.
Culture adapted to contemporary technological civilization grows out of a thought paradigm ordered by a metaphor rooted in the eco-system concept, which replaces the modern machine metaphor. In thinking based on eco-systemic relations the difference between them does not antagonize but enriches, and rivalry is replaced by synergy. In this new paradigm the axiological aspect of the modern-day development concept be-comes very complicated and needs the qualifier “sustained,” thanks to which develop-ment ceases to threaten the coincidental and ruthless change. The application of the term “sustained development” to the relation between technological civilization and culture forces the discourse on human security to take stock of the human capacity for metanoia and existence within the ethical dimension, and make room for education in formulating creative responses to danger.

Keywords: security, sustained development, crisis, technical civilization, culture, ethics, metanoia, creative activity.

Affiliation: Warsaw University of Life Sciences, Warsaw, Poland.

E-mail: krystyna_najder_stefaniak@sggw.pl

 

 

 

Adriana Neacșu

VIRTUE AND VICE IN PLOTINUS’ ENNEADS

   In Enneads, Plotinus outlines an ethical ideal founded on the similarity between hu-man being and divinity, in which the values of virtue and vice have a central role. Vice is a weakness of the soul that prevents it from performing its functions, so that instead of moving to good, it turns to evil. The soul can exit this state only through virtue, which is a good by which it can dominate matter and become like the supreme God. The ascension to God is achieved through several stages, represented by: the civic virtues, the purifying virtues and the contemplative virtues.

Keywords: virtue, vice, soul, body, sensitive man, inner man, matter, evil, intelli-gence, supreme Good, the first God, ethics ideal.

Affiliation: University of Craiova, Strada Alexandru Ioan Cuza 13, Craiova 200585 Romania.

E-mail: aneacsu1961@yahoo.com

 

 

 

Sheldon Richmond

HOW TO ALLEVIATE THE CULTURAL OBSTACLES TO DIALOGUE: SOCRATIC DIALOGUE AS SOCIAL ARCHITECTURE

   How do we alleviate the cultural obstacles to dialogue? The answer, we argue, is by using Socratic dialogue as the architecture for the design of social systems, societies can overcome the cultural obstacles to inter-cultural dialogue of imposed insider-outsider social divisions, of imposed social hierarchies, and of imposed social walls around cul-tures. We elaborate on how Socratic Dialogue removes those cultural obstacles to inter-cultural dialogue when used as social architecture or as a blueprint for institutions that open the social gates to all “outsiders” through the social levelling of hierarchies, and through the creation of social bridges among all “parallel” cultures.

Keywords: Socratic dialogue, social architecture, culture, institutions, insider-outsider, hierarchies, social bridges.

Affiliation: an independent scholar.

E-mail: askthephilosopher@gmail.com

 

 

 

Nadja Furlan Štante

ECO-FEMINIST ETHICS OF INTERDEPENDENCE

   The paper examines the perception of nature and of the human-nature relationship which is deeply marked by the collective memory of human’s destroying domination over nature, especially in the Western world. In this segment the positive contribution of Christian theological eco-feminism is of utmost importance, as it discloses and breaks down the prejudice of the model of human’s superiority over nature by means of a criti-cal historical overview of individual religious traditions. The centrepiece here is an analysis of the tensions inherent in contemporary gender and nature religious policy and the implication of theological eco-feminist ethics of interdependence in everyday life and in understanding the identity of women and nature from this perspective.

Keywords: eco-feminism, women, nature, interdependence, ecological sensibility.

Affiliation: University of Primorska, Science and Reseach Centre of Koper, Garibaldijeva 1. 6000. KOPER – CAPODISTRIA, Slovenia.

E-mail: nadja.furlan@zrs.upr.si

 

 

 

Muk-Yan Wong

THE IDEAL LOVE: PLATONIC OR FROMMIAN?

   In this paper, I compare two theories of ideal love, the Platonic and Frommian, and argue that they give opposite advices to lovers in practice. While Plato emphasizes “whom to love” and urges one to continuously look for a better beloved, Erich Fromm emphasizes “how to love” and urges one to grow and change with one’s imperfect lov-er. Using the movie Her as an example, I explain why an ideal love is extremely diffi-cult to attain under the guidance of the Platonic and Frommian ideals. In an imperfect love, to leave or to stay seems to be a question with no simple answer.

Keywords: Ideal love, Plato, Erich Fromm, dichotomy.

Affiliation: Hang Seng Management College, M513, Hang Seng Management College, Hong Kong.

E-mail: mywong@hsmc.edu.hk

 

 

 

Shuang Zhang

THE INDEPENDENT THINKING OF JUSTICE: TO BEGIN WITH THE BANALITY OF EVIL

   Hannah Arendt’s concept “the banality of evil” was subverted by Bettina Stangneth’s recent research. But with the concept of the banality of evil, the inherent continuity of her “radical evil,” Arendt enriched the discourse of evil which allows us to gain insight into the relationship between evil and ordinary human beings. At the same time, Arendt also raised the question about law, ethics and politics when evil was put to justice. In fact, what she cares about, is justice to everyone; what she wants is to under-stand the evil and to make her own critical thinking about it.

Keywords: the banality of evil, radical evil, justice.

Affiliation: Heilongjiang University, 74 Xuefu Rd, Nangang District, Harbin, HeilongjiangProvince, China.

E-mail: zeldazs@163.com


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