PHILOSOPHY IN AN AGE OF CRISIS:
CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS
THE SOCIO-POLITICAL SPHERE OF THE HUMAN WORLD
We are very pleased to deliver this Dialogue and Universalism (D&U) issue, which begins a series of issues displaying the International Society for Universal Dialogue’s recent legacy. This legacy is focused on the theme PHILOSOPHY IN AN AGE OF CRISIS. CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS.
It is a participative philosophical attitude and a direct or implicit concern about the condition of the human world that unite the published papers. The thematic diversity of the released essays is enormous. Their authors are situated in different cultures and socio-political situations, and use different styles of philosophizing. The papers present research carried out in various domains of philosophy, founded in different philosophical schools and traditions. Apart from hateful and insulting ones, different views and opinions have been freely admitted—also inconsistent with those proclaimed in the International Society for Universal Dialogue (ISUD) constitution and co-forming the D&U mission.
Dialogue and Universalism and the International Society for Universal Dialogue are proud to share these intellectual achievements—an impressive body of papers referring to problems of major concern for a civilization which is dramatically changing before our eyes.
The collection of papers gathered under the heading PHILOSOPHY IN AN AGE OF CRISIS. CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS is not merely proceedings of the 12th ISUD Congress held in Lima, Peru, in July 2018, although it is closely connected with that event. The main aim of these D&U publications is to preserve the intellectual achievements of the congress. But, first, the published papers significantly differ from the versions presented at the congress. The former present the full considerations while the latter were their much shorter versions. Secondly, the considerations in each paper have been modified twice: in result of discussions at the congress, and after their peer-reviewing by D&U reviewers. Thirdly, D&U—following the ISUD core mission—respects in its publication policy the ideas of openness and non-exclusion. Therefore, all the scholars who wished to participate in the thematic enterprise PHILOSOPHY IN AN AGE OF CRISIS. CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS have been welcome and their papers accepted if they were found to meet all the criteria required by D&U. In result, authors who are not ISUD members and who were not in Lima at the ISUD congress also have been admitted. This way, all the 2019 D&U issues will become part of the wide and open ISUD legacy.
The very theme of our project is intentionally open: its different interpretations, although related to each other, are admissible. The title PHILOSOPHY IN AN AGE OF CRISIS. CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS can be recognized as proclaiming two messages.
First, it puts emphasis on the fact that crisis is a dominating feature of the today human world, and as such should be the object of our highest concern. Secondly, it says that philosophy is connected with the crisis of the human world. Despite their apparent obviousness, both the messages are too short to be unambiguous, and as such they require at least a sketchy and provisional clarifying.
So, it is here proclaimed that philosophy has a vital participative function: it takes part in humankind’s existence in every epoch not only by reflecting its spirit and revealing its foundation. It also assimilates the most pressing human problems of every age as its own. Philosophy as a participative field of reflection reveals, interprets, and normatively evaluates the problems of the present human world. The ISUD and D&U put emphasis on the participative role of philosophy again and again, following the views of numerous thinkers over all eras and opposing those opinions which limit and marginalize philosophy’s role.
The causes initiating today’s civilizational crisis are differently identified. However, it is commonly perceived that the crisis has already spread over the entire human world—it has invaded all geographical regions and civilizational spheres—socio-political, economic, ecological, cultural, also the spheres of individual as well as collective human everyday life and personal existence. Our time of turmoil has generated a combustible mixture of threats: arrogance, irresponsibility and the complete dereliction of duty by the ruling classes in many countries in the world, threats to security, global threats to national and international peace, threats to social order, increasing inequalities, the degradation of the natural environment. In effect, fear, a sense of insecurity and suffering are our common companions. However, our era has also produced many technological inventions which for better or for worse have changed human existence and the face of the Earth. All the aspects of the present global condition, especially the causes of the crisis, need be urgently recognized and diagnosed— also on the highest level of generality, in their very foundations, that is, by philosophy.
We may at least tentatively adopt—in a non-orthodox Marxian style—that the very fundaments of today’s civilizational crisis lie in the political and social spheres. Taking this assumption into account, D&U has decided to devote the first 2019 D&U issue to social and political problems.
The help of ISUD members, and especially its board directors, in realizing this thematic project and then the D&U publication series cannot be overestimated. We would like to express our gratitude to all of them. Special thanks go to Professor Charles Brown, the former ISUD Chair, and Professor Emily Tajsin, the Review Panel Coordinator. We are also thankful to the hosting institution, the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, and the Site Coordinator, Professor Victor J. Krebs.
Necip Fikri Alican
FOOL ME ONCE, SHAME ON YOU, FOOL ME TWICE, SHAME ON ME: THE ALLEGED PRISONER’S DILEMMA IN HOBBES’S SOCIAL CONTRACT
Hobbes postulates a social contract to formalize our collective transition from the state of nature to civil society. The prisoner’s dilemma challenges both the mechanics and the outcome of that thought experiment. The incentives for reneging are supposedly strong enough to keep rational persons from cooperating. This paper argues that the prisoner’s dilemma undermines a position Hobbes does not hold. The context and parameters of the social contract steer it safely between the horns of the dilemma. Specifically, in a setting as hostile as the state of nature, Hobbes’s emphasis on self-interest places a premium on survival, and thereby on adaptability, which then promotes progressive concessions toward peaceful coexistence. This transforms the relevant model of rationality from utility maximization to utility satisficing, thus favoring the pursuit of a mutually satisfactory outcome over that of the best personal outcome. The difference not only obviates the prisoner’s dilemma but also better approximates the state of nature while leaving a viable way out.
Keywords: Hobbes; social contract theory; state of nature; civil society; prisoner’s dilemma.
Affiliation: Washington University in St. Louis.
Gordon C. F. Bearn
POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY WITHOUT HUMAN CONTENT
The essay characterizes an anthropological impasse of political philosophy dividing those in a more liberal tradition from those in a more Hegelian tradition, and then it proceeds to sketch a political philosophy without any human or anthropological content. I rely on Foucault’s notion of parrhesia to activate such a political philosophy, and I rely on the philosophical life of the Cynic to make parrhesia possible. Finally by invoking exercises of ascent and of descent, I suggest that this kind of political philosophy can not only solve the anthropological impasse of political philosophy, but also in practice, it can cool hateful passions and warm cold hearts.
Keywords: Michel Foucault, anthropological sleep, parrhesia, cynics, true life.
Affiliation: Lehigh University in Bethlehem Pennsylvania, Bethlehem, PA 18015 USA.
RESISTING NIHILISM SINCE 1989
Keynote Address to the 12th World Congress of the International Society for Universal Dialogue, Lima, Peru.
The International Society for Universal Dialogue (ISUD) was founded, in a moment of optimism and hope, to be an active part of a global resistance to nihilism while working to realize a more peaceful, humane, and just world order. Today, the hope for cultural renewal has faded as we sense that our ability for authentic public discourse on issues of meaning and value has diminished. The cultural dominance of instrumental rationality along with the steady spread of market practices and market logic into our everyday taken-for-granted understanding of things frames the pursuit of individual self-interest and calculative impersonal relations as the model of rationality and all social relations. Our bonds of attachment and our sense of shared community are replaced with impersonal contracts and Hobbesian self-identities. The result is that what Edmund Husserl and Jürgen Habermas called the “lifeworld,” our taken-for-granted background of shared meaning from which cultural achievements emerge and from which meaning is created and replenished through the sharing of perspectives and open dialogue—has now been corrupted, captured, colonized by creeping nihilism. This paper argues that the contemporary challenge for ISUD and philosophy itself is to repair and replenish our shared and overlapping lifeworlds through the recovery, critique, clarification, and renewal of authentic values, insights, and achievements from the widest possible plurality of traditions, cultures, and philosophical visions. We must liberate the life world from the snares of creeping nihilism. We must repair and replenish the life world through open and honest communication, through philosophical dialogue among an ever-greater plurality of perspectives and points of view.
Keywords: Universalism, creeping nihilism, ideological positivism, phenomenology, colonization of the life world.
Affiliation: Emporia State University, 1 Kellogg Cir, Emporia, KS 66801, Kansas, USA.
Jean A. Campbell
FREEDOM, SELF-DETERMINATION AND AUTOMATION: CONSIDERING POLITICAL IMPULSES IN THE AGE OF DIGITALIZATION
The aim of this essay is to examine the long-term evolution of the material reproductive vehicles of society. The fairly continuous trend of economic integration and progressive enfranchisement of the world’s people is indicated, ascertainable even with the emergence from general slavery of ancient times, through feudalism to the modern stage of industrialism and widespread national sovereignties. With greater political expression has come higher degrees and penetration of economic prosperity. Both vicious and virtuous tendencies of automation are considered. The necessary foundation of living labor is recognized.
Keywords: labor, economist, capital, class, value, automation.
Affiliation: Seton Hall University in New Jersey and at Pace University and the New School for Social Research, New York.
NATIONALISM, POPULISM AND THE CHALLENGE TO THE ETHICS OF UNIVERSALISM
Over the past couple of decades, both the news media and mainstream literature have been awash with stories of some sort of renascent nationalism and populism. Some citizens have begun to express lack of confidence in core representative institutions, accusing politicians and entrepreneurs of having lost touch with the concerns of ordinary people. They demand protection from transnational economic forces undercutting their access to jobs, wages, and benefits, and in addition, from the threats of terrorism associated with Islamic extremism. In this piece, their questioning of liberal civil rights was reviewed. Efforts at liberal homogenization were examined, and the charge that conservative views trivialize the ethics of universal human care, love and collaboration, which are at the heart of creating enduring peace in the world, was considered.
Keywords: Nationalism, populism, liberal universalism, imperialism, systemic corruption.
Affiliation: Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, Nigeria.
ON THINKING GLOBALLY AND ACTING LOCALLY: RESURGENT NATIONALISM AND THE DIALECTIC OF COSMOPOLITAN LOCALISM
This paper considers the extent to which we already live in a cosmopolitan era. Resurgent nationalism is explained as a reactionary response to the success of cosmopolitanization. Cosmopolitanization is further explained as a dialectical process. Contemporary cosmopolitanism emerges against the backdrop of Eurocentric globalization associated with the colonial era. While the Eurocentric legacy must be rejected, it has left us with a cosmopolitan world. Other dialectical processes emerge in consideration of the importance of local and multicultural issues. Cosmopolitanization is a process that must work to connect global processes with local concerns. The paper situates this argument in consideration of events in Peru, in connection with the rise of Donald Trump in the United States, and in relation to several examples of the cosmopolitan dialectic. Despite some dialectical setbacks, the paper concludes that we are already operating in a world in which globally diverse ideas and practices are already in dialogue. The challenge is to continue the cosmpolitanizing conversation, while remaining responsive to the needs of local communities.
Keywords: Cosmopolitanism; localism; eurocentrism; nationalism; multiculturalism; dialectics.
Affiliation: Center at California State University, Fresno.
TOWARD A CRITIQUE OF NATIONALISM AS A THEORY OF THE NATION-STATE
The concern of this paper is to critique the political conception of nationalism as a theory of the nation-state. The basic point of the critique is that when the interests of the nation and the principles of the state coincide there emerges a fierce sense of national identity which endangers moral indifference to outsiders, the people within and outside the national boundary, without remorse. Here the attempt to uphold national identity is something more than nationhood. Besides involving territorial identity, common language, custom and culture essential to the idea of a “nation,” it also upholds the consciousness of these as determining separate rights and allegiances, the idea of attachment to a nation and its interests. Such a consciousness can emerge only on the adoption of certain populist ideas such as racism, ethnicity and even such popular elusive myths as the “greatness” of a nation, the urge for the maintenance of “national character,” etc. Such “nationalist xenophobia” leads to the intensification of the distinction between the “own” and the “other,” “national” and the “alien,” the “citizen” and the “migrant” leading to “ethnic disharmony,” “colour bias,” hatred and suspicion of persons with whom one has lived closely as neighbours for decades. The most popular is the economic discourse of the “migrants” putting the “nationals” out of work. All this has its toll on multi-culturalism and humanitarian concerns. Many affluent nations have become cold to human misery, suffering and deaths from wars, terrorism, acute poverty, political persecution, environmental degradation, etc. This has created an “existential” crisis for millions of people on earth. Hence, the paper visualizes that some form of universalism should be revived against extreme individualism of nation-states to envisage the beginning of a new era stronger in the pursuit of justice and more secure in the quest of peace, an era in which nations of the world can prosper and live in harmony. In developing the critique of the nation-state, this paper has dwelt on the views of Rabindranath Tagore on nationalism and those of Hannah Arendt on the fusion of the state and the nation.
Keywords: Nationalism, nation-state, Rabindranath Tagore, Hannah Arendt, populism, protectionism, migration, universalism.
Affiliation: University of North Bengal, Darjeeling -734013, West Bengal, India.
THE HEGEMONIC SUBJECTIFICATION IN ERNESTO LACLAU’S THEORY OF DISCOURSE
This article discusses the character of hegemonic subjectification as it is seen by Ernesto Laclau. By explaining the concepts of the constitutive features and form of a hegemonically acquired political identity, such as antagonism, undecidability, overdetermination and decision, I define the social fields and dynamics of subjectification. At the same time, I adopt that such subjectification occurs within the boundaries of the particular (demand)–universal, i.e., the ideologically assigned view of identity as totality. Besides, in contrast to Laclau, I juxtapose the dialectically conceived form of the particular–universal relation with its poststructuralist Laclau’s version, and I try to prove that—contrary to Laclau—the idea of hegemony enjoys its vitality thanks to Theodor W. Adorno’s concept of negative dialectics. To determine the points of similarity of the two methods of constructing and deconstructing identity and subjectivity, I reject Elmar Flatschart’s incomparability argument. Lastly, I point out the earlier mentioned points of convergence: on Adorno’s part—the concept of proper names and the concept of constellation; on Laclau’s part—the concept of undecidability and decision which keep discourse ontologically and epistemologically open.
Keywords: Ernesto Laclau, Theodor W. Adorno, discourse theory, critical theory, subject, particularity, society, hegemony.
Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Grodzka 52, Poland.
Steven V. Hicks
NATIONALISM, GLOBALISM, AND THE CHALLENGES TO UNIVERSAL DIALOGUE
In this essay, I argue that the contemporary world scene is characterized by a growing sense of conflict, disorganization, and fragmentation of previous unities and alliances. I also argue that any serious attempt to address these issues would have to focus on the following broad areas of concern: (1) the challenge of global political instability; (2) the challenge of promoting a more positive approach to regionalism; (3) the challenge of global poverty and inequality; (4) the challenge of human displacement; and (5) the challenge of climate change and environmental degradation.
Keywords: automation, Bretton Woods, Brexit, climate change, cosmopolitanism, global governance, globalism, globalization, inequality, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Marshall Plan, multilateralism, nationalism, new world order/disorder, Paris Climate Agreement, populism, poverty, refugee crisis, regionalism, sovereignty, transnationalism, United Nations (UN), universal dialogue, World Bank, World Trade Organization (WTO).
Affiliation: The Behrend College, Pennsylvania State University, 4701 College Dr, Erie, PA 16563, USA.
Józef L. Krakowiak
THE ROLE OF MARXIAN ALIENATION THEORY IN MARX’S RELATIONAL-DYNAMIC PHILOSOPHY OF SOCIAL BEING
I have chosen to approach the Marxian alienation theory from a historical angle and recount its evolution in Marx’s Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844 and the Grundrisse (Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy), wherein it develops into a theory regulating the co-creation of conditions for “freedom” in the choice of processes that lead to de-alienation. I will attempt to present the alienation theory as an aspect of a broader anti-metaphysical critique of all substantialism, According to Marx, the substantialist approach to history could at most only pretend to be dynamic and ignored the structural complexity of being, whereas the true idea was to notice and keep track of the structural and qualitative changes brought to being by the genetic, structural, social, economic, class and institutional conditionings of human history. My main focus is on the historical evolution and structure of the dialectical element in the processes that change human life according to Marx, who denied matter any rationally justified existence outside the human sphere. Marx, who stood under the influence of Kant, Hegel and British political economy, criticised primitive metaphysical materialism. The onset of capitalism also brought the gradual demise of man’s fascination with nature, because capitalism gradually turned it entirely into a practical and theoretical tool, something of utility to humans.
Keywords: Marx, Grundrisse (Foundations of the Critique of Political Economy), Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, anti-naturalistic philosophy of social being, relationism versus substantialism, praxis, property, capital, wage labour; alienation.
Affiliation: University of Warsaw, Krakowskie Przedmieście 3, 00–001 Warsaw, Poland.
Edward Shiener S. Landoy
BEING IN TRANSIT: SPACE, IDENTITIES, AND BELONGING
As of 2017, 65.6 million individuals have been displaced from their homes, fleeing their homelands in search of refuge from the violence, oppression, and chaos of civil war. While there are clearly very strong humanitarian reasons to allow refugees to enter and make new homes and lives for themselves, some object because they prioritise the cultural identity of their country. Some have security issues about refugees being “terrorists;” some are concerned about the economic impact of refugees. These are but few of the many reasons why the refugee crisis has been a subject of debates, both political and philosophical. The mass movement of people across internal and external borders only proves that there are certain aspects of the human condition that cannot be confined within the strict idea of territories and nation-states, that the political and legal approach in organising the interaction and relationships between people is deficient. I argue that there is a need to recalibrate all existing ideologies in relation to the interactions and relationships between peoples coming from different parts of the world. In order to do this, I intend to examine the current legal norm and connect it to cosmopolitan ethics that are grounded on the idea of spatiality. Elucidating on the ideas presented by thinkers such as Seyla Benhabib, Anthony Kwame Appiah, Gloria Anzaldua, and Tetsuro Watsuji, I argue that to fully actualise cosmopolitan ethics we must investigate how space operates in the existence of man—a deterritorialised existence found in the borders.
Keywords: refugees, cosmopolitan ethics cultural identity, border, space.
Affiliation: BU Daraga Campus, Rizal St 4501 Daraga, Bicol Albay, Philippines.
PERENNIAL QUESTIONS OF POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
In the history of political thought a major problem has been to determine if philosophers should get involved in political affairs. From Aristotle to Antonio Gramsci, a wide variety of positions have been presented on this topic. Today academics often choose to isolate themselves in the ivory tower of the university. Although there are many exceptions to this general rule there is no consensus about how philosophers should relate to politics. We hope that this article which explores the relation of Aristotle to Machiavelli can shed some light on this very relevant issue.
Keywords: Aristotle, ethics, Gramsci, Ibn Khaldun, Machiavelli, politics.
Affiliation: l’Université du Québec à Montréal
E-mails: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Olatunji A. Oyeshile, Omotayo Oladebo
BEYOND CAPITALISM AND MARXISM: TOWARDS A NEW THEORY OF AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT
This paper revisits the perennial crisis of African development. The authors, unoblivious of theories that have been put forward for ending this crisis, delimit their intervention to the political and economic aspects. They review the dominant approaches to African development, that is, capitalism and Marxism. Following this review and a critical reading of the reigning orthodoxies of economic mobilization and statecraft inherent in pre-colonial Africa, the authors propose a liberal-paternalistic theory of development rooted in the idea of African socialism/communalism. They argue that this idea provides a veritable basis for Africa’s development.
Keywords: Libertarian paternalism, African development, capitalism, Marxism, African socialism.
Olatunji A. Oyeshile — University of Ibadan, Department of Philosophy, 200005, Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria.
Omotayo Oladebo — University of Ibadan, Department of Philosophy, 200005, Ibadan, Oyo state, Nigeria.
SAFETY IN THE GLOBAL WORLD: HUMANISTIC AND INSTITUTIONAL ASPECTS
The issue of safety, especially in the contemporary globalised world, requires an interdisciplinary approach, which takes into account insights offered by such disciplines as philosophy, sociology, economics, or political sciences, with a special consideration of international relationships. The aim of this paper is to introduce safety as a moral dilemma with regard to the safety-freedom dichotomy. In the first part, the humanistic aspect of safety will be depicted, especially in its axiological dimension. The analysis of safety will be carried out in the context of the intersubjective existence. The intersubjective existence of safety is formulated on two levels: the real and unreal intersubjective existence. In the second part of the paper, the institutional aspect of safety will be presented. Here, the discussion will proceed in the context of non-independence of the existence of structural safety. Among others, the following phenomena posing a threat to safety in a global world will undergo analyses in the context of the objectivity of existence (real and unreal objective existence) and non-independence of existence: terrorism, cyberterrorism, mass migration, various conflicts, development disparities between countries, and the protection of the natural environment.
Keywords: anxiety, fear, safety, security, globalized world, human rights, security studies.
Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy at Adam Mickiewicz University, Szamarzewskiego 98 c, 60–568 Poznań.