Dialogue and Universalism

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Special Supplement

VARIA: CLASHES OF CULTURES, RELIGIONS AND MODELS OF DEMOCRACY; 

MAX SCHELER’S SELECTED CONCEPTIONS

 

EDITORIAL

   We have decided to publish this issue of Dialogue and Universalism as a Special Supplement in addition to its usual annual sequence of three issues. The readers can expect publication of issue 3, volume 31, 2021 in due course. The journal is pleased to publish this extra issue without extra cost to subscribers. Unlike most others in our journal’s 44–year history, this issue is not monothematic.

   This special supplement does not interrupt the continuity of three consecutive Dialogue and Universalism monothematic issues on the new Enlightenment under the guest-edition of Professor Robert Allinson (the first appeared as issue 2, volume 31, 2021, the remaining two will come out as 3, volume 31, 2021 and 1, volume 1, 2022). Also, in view of their commemorative character, we decided to publish Professors Kevin M. Brien’s and Michael H. Mitias’s contributions as quickly as possible—without the rather extended delays connected with Professor Allinson’s simultaneously realised project.

   These two mentioned papers focus on problems addressed in recent books by two long-standing and merited ISUD members: Kevin M. Brien’s Marx, Reason, and the Art of Reason, which will be soon published in Chinese by Contemporary China Publishing House, Beijing (an English-language edition came out in 2006), and a monograph Possibility of Interreligious Dialogue (Palgrave Macmillan, 2021) by Michael H. Mitias. Both studies exemplify participating philosophy: they approach two universal problems of burning urgency for the contemporary world—freedom and the cultural clash between East and West— from a typically philosophical, distant and abstract perspective, through the prism of Confucius and Karl Marx and interreligious dialogue. Professor  Brien’s essay is an addendum to the Chinese translation of his book and has never appeared in English before. Another example of participating philosophy in this special issue of Dialogue and Universalism is a study by Professor Temisanren Ebijuwa devoted to democracy models, one of the fundamental issues in the present-day and future organisation of the human world. Four analyses of Max Scheler’s conceptions are important for a metaphilosophical reason—in view of the rather disturbing changes in contemporary epistemology, most notably its strong propagation of transferring all cognition study to the cognitive sciences, or at least introducing a Quinean-style naturalisation pro gramme; the second proposal is, in fact, a very similar proposal to the first.

   Despite their thematic diversity, the contributions to this issue have  one thing in common, namely they are related to each other on the metaphilosophical plane: they distance themselves from minimalism (the rejection of all the fundamental questions addressed by philosophy, as well as its comprehensiveness and pursuit of essence, mainly on charges of speculativeness and metaphysical character) and the eliminative naturalisation (which reduces philosophy to a science, depriving it of its autonomous identity) that is increasingly visible in the contemporary philosophical debate. Whereby under debate here is not, as Jürgen Habermas called it, the all-encompassing, totalising knowledge which “relates to the whole of the world, of nature, of history, of society,”1 but the revealing of the common foundations that constitute these entireties. Another feature binding all the contributions to this issue is that their authors formulate new insights in dialogue with, or in the context of, the philosophical tradition and philosophy’s achievements over history. Thus, the material in this Dialogue and Universalism issue presents an alternative philosophy to the trends that today largely shape the philosophy of the mind, the philosophy of language, the philosophy of science, as well as cognitive and social philosophy, and are attempting to colonise further philosophical fields.

   Four essays are devoted to the work of the unrightly forgotten Max Scheler, one of the more important 20th-century philosophers. By including the devoted to Scheler, we intend to point to the problem of Scheler’s current absence from the philosophical debate despite the evident actuality of his findings as an example of the meandering way in which philosophy is evolving today. We also intend to suggest some reasons for at least considering a return to his ideas, which are very remote from the most fashionable and propagated present-day thought trends. Our aim in revisiting Scheler was not only an historical insight of his writings, but mainly intend to investigate the prospects of transposing his most important ideas—perhaps not in their entirety but more as an inspiration— to today’s philosophy and show the currently unnoticed actuality and importance of his conceptions.

   The history of philosophy is full of ostentatious “restorations” of earlier paradigms: medieval Christian philosophy fed on Aristotle, the various late-19thcentury neo-Kantian schools on Kant’s epistemological conceptions, one of the main inspirations behind 20th-century postmodern thought was Nietzschean philosophy. One could, therefore, ask if the authors of this edition’s four Scheler features in any way herald a “return to Scheler.” or a “Neo-Schelerism.” In seeking a reply to this question, it is worth starting with a reflection that would naturally suggest itself to a historian of philosophy: Scheler’s legacy appears to be too theoretically diversified and multi-topical to serve as a reference point for a broad-scale “renaissance” of his thought. The late, vitalistic and pantheistic Scheler contradicted the “earlier” Scheler, who was closer to Husserlian phenomenology. Moreover, in both these phases his thought was full of aporias and theoretical inconsistencies. His philosophical narrative brimmed with new ideas or, as Richard Rorty would say, original “metaphors,” but was too frequently devoid of a methodological framework and suspended in a doctrinal void—as the authors of the contributions to this edition also point out. To put it differently, Scheler  lacked what was characteristic for  Aristotle, Kant or  Nietzsche—   a set of guiding philosophical ideas which could form a conceptual system to function as an inspiring holistic reference point for thinkers in later eras. This, however, does not mean that Scheler’s reflections with all their interdisciplinary nuances are uninspiring and unworthy of reference or reconstruction. What directions do such reconstructions take? Can we speak about a specific suggested reception model? The following trends appear to dominate in this respect in all approaches: a) reference not to “Scheler’s philosophy” as such, but the philosophical sub-disciplines he occupied himself with, like epistemology, sociology of knowledge or philosophical anthropology, in which his findings are often of a pioneering character and can therefore not be left out of any related debate; b) the accentuation of the “mediatory” character of his philosophy, which as if by definition transgresses all theoretical purism. For example as an epistemologist, Scheler uses categories beyond any “pure” epistemology with its exclusive focus on the grounding of its “foundations,” and seeks epistemological categories that could help him build bridges between epistemology and sociology, philosophy of culture or philosophical anthropology; c) reference to the heuristic, problem-generating values of his work, which opens interesting new horizons for philosophical inquiry even in areas where its inconsistencies and oversimplifications are easy to

   Stanisław Czerniak presents a critical approach to the German philosopher in two articles: “Max Scheler’s Pluralistic Conception of Knowledge” and “The Consistence of the Assumptions of the Sociology of Knowledge with those of Philosophical Anthropology (on the Example of Max Scheler).” In both, Czerniak seeks out the earlier-mentioned aporias and inconsistencies in Sche-ler’s argumentation, which in his typology of knowledge obfuscate the criteria of eidetic and metaphysical knowledge and lead to the removal of humanistic knowledge from knowledge analysis, and in the sphere of the sociology of knowledge cause some of his assumptions to collide with the principles of philosophical anthropology—which the same Scheler defends. However, Czerniak’s approach is also in line with the earlier-mentioned interpretational trends: he refers not so much to “Schelerism” as such, but the philosophical subdisciplines Scheler developed. Czerniak sees the relations between them which Scheler points out, and emphasises the “problem-generating” character of the philosophical questions he asks, a circumstance which additionally drives philosophy historians to seek a “different conceptual symbiosis” between the sociology of knowledge and philosophical anthropology than the one Scheler proposes (here Czerniak refers to Helmuth Plessner’s anthropological position). But it is evident that this comparative undertaking comes to mind and crystallises conceptually only in the context of Scheler’s mediating discourse on the border between both these sub-disciplines (which Czerniak mentions), and that his work is the initial inspiration for the debate Czerniak develops in his article.

   In her article The Duality of the Subject in the Conception of Max Scheler, Małgorzata Czarnocka analyses the relation between the individual and collec tive subject, which, with the help of the “group soul” and “group spirit” categories, Scheler made to one of the terminological assumptions of his sociology of knowledge. What we encounter here is epistemology mediated by sociology, which allows Scheler both to further develop the new philosophical-sociological sub-discipline he had co-founded—the sociology of knowledge—and gain deeper insight into epistemology’s theoretical identity. The new sociology of knowledge field and the idea of the collective subject generate a heuristic added value, which Czarnocka sees in the “de-transcendentalisation” of the Kantian transcendental cognitive subject, a process whose contemporary continuation she finds in the philosophy of Habermas and which she holds for a comprehensive alternative to contemporary epistemological conceptions like Andy Clark’s and David Chalmers’ “extended subject.” Czarnocka believes Scheler’s ideas contain valuable and inspiring threads which are worth bringing back to memory.

   Aivaras Stepukonis pursues a similar interpretational strategy in his article “The Functionalisation of Essential (A Priori) Knowledge: A Close Look at Max Scheler’s Epistemology,” in which he uses the aprioristic differences between the assumptions of Kant’s and Scheler’s epistemology to show how much Scheler’s approach transgresses the transcendendalist tradition. Because for Scheler the “subjective” a priori, the result of the titular “functionalisation of objective a priori knowledge” is carried not by the Kantian “transcendental subject as such,” but by historical subjects capable of creating their own subjective thought patterns. These patterns retain their a priori character (Scheler is not a relativist) because they are, in a sense, cognitive “matrices” or “projections” which all—albeit differently—relate to the objective a priori world. They can differ in cultural, social or civilizational aspects, which enables a conceptual bridge between Schelerian epistemology and the sociologies of knowledge and culture. Stepukonis also underlines the interdisciplinary character of Scheler’s philosophy to show that the German thinker also applied the subjective a priori concept to the philosophy of values and to ontology.

Małgorzata Czarnocka

Stanisław Czerniak

Institute of Philosophy and Sociology

of the Polish Academy of Sciences

 

 

 

ABSTRACT

 

Kevin M. Brien

THE CONFUCIAN AND MARXIAN WAYS: IRONIC AFFINITIES

   This essay explores significant affinities with respect to the humanism of the Marxian and Confucian Ways. Although orthodox Marxism suppresses the humanistic dimensions of Marx’s thought, they are foremost in his earlier writing, and were never abandoned in his later thought. All varieties of Confucianism recognize its humanism. The essay argues that both perspectives involve process modes of understanding; that both have a convergent understanding of abstract general terms; that both view the human being as a community being; that both advocate similar ideal modes of becoming; and that both are concerned with the problems of human alienation.

Keywords: Abstract universal, affinities, alienation, basic disposition, benevolence, community being, concrete universal, focus-field, free conscious activity, internal relation, li, ritual propriety, praxis, process thinking, ren, species character.

Affiliation: Washington College USA

E-mail: dogenlight@gmail.com

 

 

 

Małgorzata Czarnocka

THE DUALITY OF THE COGNITIVE SUBJECT IN THE CONCEPTION OF MAX SCHELER

   The object of my inquiry is max Scheler’s cognitive subjectivity conception, which in particular addresses the problem of subjectivity in science. Scheler introduces two kinds of subject: the first is the standard cognitive subject encountered in epistemological theories – an individual subject which really carries out cognitive acts. The second, collective subject, controls the first, imposing upon it the cognitive forms it has developed; I call this subject the creating subject. In Scheler’s theory, the creating subject is represented by the ethos of groups that initiate cognition, which determines the validity criteria of cognition. Therefore, Scheler’s cognitive subject is dual; both its forms have different attributes and functions in cognition: the individual cognitive subject is nonautonomous and determined by a superior collective one. The Schelerian creating subject can be seen as a detranscendentalised equivalent of Kant’s transcendental subject, insofar as both shape cognitive forms and thereby determine the cognitive acts of the individual subject.

Keywords: Max Scheler, cognitive subject, Kant’s empirical subject, Kant’s transcendental subject.

Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Nowy Świat 72, 00-330 Warsaw, Poland.

E-mail: mczarnocka@ifispan.edu.pl

 

 

 

Stanisław Czerniak

MAX SCHELER’S PLURALISTIC CONCEPTION OF KNOWLEDGE 

   This article aims to reconstruct Max Scheler’s conception of three types of knowledge, outlined in his late work Philosophical Perspectives (1928). Scheler distinguished three kinds of knowledge: empirical, used to exercise control over nature, eidetic (essential) and metaphysical. The author reviews the epistemological criteria that underlie this distinction, and its functionalistic assumptions. In the article’s polemic part he accuses Scheler of a) crypto-dualism in his theory of knowledge, which draws insufficient distinctions between metaphysical and eidetic knowledge; b) totally omitting the status of the humanities in his classification of knowledge types; c) consistently developing a philosophy of knowledge without resort to the research tools offered by the philosophy of science, which takes such analyses out of their social and historical context (i.e. how knowledge is created in today’s scientific communities).

Keywords: types of knowledge, induction, essence, metaphysics, philosophical anthropology, Max Scheler.

Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Nowy Świat 72, 00-330 Warsaw, Poland.

E-mail: stanislaw.l.czerniak@wp.pl

 

 

 

Stanisław Czerniak

THE CONSISTENCE OF THE ASSUMPTIONS OF THE SOCIOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE WITH THOSE OF PHILOSOPHICALANTHROPOLOGY (ON THE EXAMPLE OF MAX SCHELER) 

   In this article I ask about the theoretical-methodological consistence between research sub-disciplines, which their creators see as discourses or paradigms that correspond on a general philosophical level. I will base this analysis on the historicalphilosophical examples of certain sociology of knowledge and philosophical anthropology conceptions developed by Max Scheler as part of a broader philosophical theory. Scheler’s intention, which he often articulated in his writings, was to show philosophical anthropology in its role as the categorial foundation of the sociology of knowledge, a reservoir of the philosophical assumptions that underlie sociocognitive theories. The interpretative hypothesis in this article is that a) some parts of Scheler’s sociology of knowledge (the so-called class idol conception) would be very difficult to see as “grounded” in the conceptual model of philosophical anthropology he proposed, and b) that there exists an anthropological standpoint that differs from Scheler’s—Helmuth Plessner’s—and is more logically coherent with the “class idol” idea.

Keywords: sociology of knowledge, class idols, drive, spirit, anthropology of roles, body, living body.

Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Nowy Świat 72, 00-330 Warsaw, Poland.

E-mail: stanislaw.l.czerniak@wp.pl

 

 

 

Temisanren Ebijuwa

THE PUBLIC SPHERE, DEWEYAN DEMOCRACY AND RATIONAL DISCOURSE IN AFRICA

   The quest for a decent political order in many societies is imperative today because of the heterogeneous nature of our social existence and the complexity of our ever increasing socio-economic and political experiences. Since the public sphere is a domain of freedom exemplified by dialogical engagements, the outcome of such encounter must involve the intelligible thoughts of all discussants with the sole aim of dealing with the concerns and commanding the commitment of all to the decisions reached. In this study, it is argued that Deweyan democracy as an alternative theory of rational inquiry is relevant for engaging the present sordid condition of many Africans democratic practice and policy outcomes. As a rational procedure, it is averred that John Dewey􏱄s emphasis on epistemic properties of democratic discourse makes the proceduralist account of democracy superfluous and exposes the weakness of the content of democratic discourse in political actions and decisions. The study also contend that given the consensual state of Dewey’s epistemic thought, Jurgen Habermas theory rather than expanding the space of epistemic democracy stifled it because of his insistence on the force of a better argument in the resolution of conflicting concerns of dialoguers. The study therefore, argues for Dewey􏱄s democracy as an alternative mode of political order since it does not undermine the views of the citizens but gives room for the activation a certain set of attitude that can challenge prevailing opinions and accepts the views that do not embrace conventional wisdom􏱈a procedure that is necessary for the growth and development of our democratic space.

Keywords: Democracy, public sphere, epistemic inquiry and dialogue.

Affiliation: Department of General Studies, Ladoke Akintola University of Technology, Ogbomoso, Nigeria.

E-mail address: tebijuwa@lautech.edu.ng

 

 

 

Michael Mitias

POSSIBILITY OF FRIENDSHIP BETWEEN RELIGIONS

   The majority of theologians, philosophers, and religious leaders have, during the past five decades, either argued or taken it for granted that the primary aim of interreligious dialogue is mutual understanding and that the purpose of realizing this aim is mitigation of alienation, hatred, and violence between the religions and hopefully cooperation on worthwhile projects. On the contrary, the author of this paper argues that the primary aim of interreligious dialogue should be to create a bond of friendship between the various religions of the world. In his attempt to establish the validity of this proposition, the author, first, advances a concept of “collective subject” as a condition for the possibility of friendship primarily because friendship is viewed as a relation between two human subjects; second, he introduces a general concept of friendship whose main elements are good will, mutual affection, and social service; and, third, he argues that religions can, qua collective subjects, establish a bond of friendship between them.

Keywords: Religion, friendship, subject, dialogue, mutual, affection, mutual understanding.

E-mail: hmitias@gmail.com

 

 

 

Aivaras Stepukonis 

THE FUNCTIONALIZATION OF ESSENTIAL (A PRIORI) KNOWLEDGE: A CLOSE LOOK AT MAX SCHELER’S EPISTEMOLOGY

   The article explores a special mode of the human mind outlined in the writings of Max Scheler under the notion of the functionalization of essential (a priori) knowledge. While the concept of a priori was given its profound elaboration in the writings of Immanuel Kant, Scheler applies it with a number of significant modifications. Along with the a priori of objective reality, which is the mind’s first step in grasping theautonomous world, Scheler comes to posit a species of a priori that is subjective. A person’s exposure to an objective essence exercises a special kind of influence on that person’s mind: what was once an objective a priori is appropriated as a subjective a priori, the thing thought becomes a „form” or pattern of thinking, the thing liked becomes a „form” or manner of liking. „Functionalization” characterizes precisely the mind’s ability to transmute the essential knowledge of autonomous reality into subjective a priori forms of knowing and anticipating that reality. Thistransmutation unfolds on three intuitive planes: that of mean ing which is known, that of value which is perceived or apprehended, and that ofexistence which is encountered in the resistance of objects to the will of the percipient.

Keywords: Max Scheler, Immanuel Kant, epistemology, functionalization of essential knowledge, objective a priori, subjective a priori.

Affiliation: Lithuanian Institute for Cultural Studies, Department of Comparative Cultur- al Studies, LT-08105 Vilnius, Lithuania.

E-mail: astepukonis@gmail.com

 

 


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