Dialogue and Universalism

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1/2023

VARIA

ON THE NEED OF AN ENLIGHTENMENT

 

EDITORIAL

VARIA

https://doi.org/10.5840/du20233311

 

   From the very beginning of its existence, i.e. from 1973, nearly every issue of Dialogue and Universalism has been monothematic (let me remind that this journal, published as a single title,1 was called Dialectics and Humanism until 1990, and later, from 1990 to 1995, Dialogue and Humanism. The Universalist Quarterly). Throughout the journal’s first ten or so years, monothematic issues in philosophical journals were a rarity. Today, the situation is different— monothematic issues appear increasingly often, and some journals have even made this their main format. However, it is justified to say that Dialogue and Universalism—under its two earlier titles—was a forerunner (probably insuffi- ciently noticed at the time) of the monothematic trend. Dialogue and Universal- ism owes this original and pioneering publishing policy to its founder and long- time chief editor, Professor Janusz Kuczyński.

   Monothematic issues in academic journals have their pros and cons. They do serve to fulfil a journal’s mission in a concrete way and not just declaratively, and the editorial team’s job is not limited to merely selecting the submitted texts. All journals that publish monothematic issues face a task involving more than just the passive reception of materials found to meet adopted criteria. They are also active vehicles for propagating the problems addressed in such issues, and related philosophical trends. They also participate in hierarchising philo- sophical problems according to an accepted system of values.

   Today journals that publish monothematic issues issues are evolving into policy-makers that map out the directions of philosophical study, alongside academic institutions, institutions that finance research, today’s most authorita- tive thinkers, and—more rarely—informal research groups. This way, they co- create mainstream philosophy.

   Monothematic issues are also known to be useful in other ways: they help bring order into philosophical study, they also bring the problems and solutions they address, as well as the authors of the published materials, to broader public attention. If not gathered in single, monothematic issues, such materials would be almost lost, or be less noticeable, in today’s deluge of philosophical publications.

   In the course of preparing monothematic issues informal and unofficial re- search groups form to discuss the issue at hand. In effect, such publications are gradually becoming like collectively-authored monographs, but this is not all. They also increasingly function similarly to philosophical schools, and in fact are beginning to replace them—especially today, when “large-scale” schools that take up fundamental issues are on the wane, and the rank, research scope, and influence of those that do exist is seriously diminished. For instance, it would be difficult to compare the phenomenological school, which still follows Edmund Husserl, with today’s produced constructs, whose role is chiefly to resolve relatively narrow-scale problems. One can even say that at least some of today’s philosophical schools are in fact micro-schools. Monothematic issues have similar aims to those of such (often short-lived) research groups, which are sometimes referred to as schools.

   Dialogue and Universalism’s monothematic issues differ somewhat from the above-mentioned trend. For many years now, step by step, Dialogue and Uni- versalism has pursued an open research meta-project which does not aspire to the status of a philosophical school because it has no preordained programme. Dialogue and Universalism aims to propagate the idea of dialogue (between individuals, social classes, philosophical schools, nations, societies, cultures, religions, civilisations), universal ideas and other universal attributes of the human world. The journal’s monothematic issues provide an in-depth view of the various facets and aspects of this very broad problem sphere, but without dictating any programmatic rigours, views on or approaches to the discussed problems, and with respecting the principle of openness and freedom in theoret- ical research. This mission coincides with the mission pursued by the Interna- tional Society for Universal Dialogue.

   The publication of monothematic issues becomes problematic when it begins to dominate to the extent that it leaves no room for original works that do not belong to the thematic range they propound—which, bluntly speaking, do somehow form part of the official mainstream. The ceaseless production of monothematic material reduces the rank of independent and individual research, condemning such authors to a mild form of ostracism.

   The restriction of freedom and every pressure in philosophy runs against the very essence of philosophy itself. “Enslaved philosophy” is an oxymoron. From the dawn of time, philosophy has always been deeply individual, producing a variety of paradigms and conceptions which have been able to coexist with one another. Freedom of inquiry is the fundamental value in philosophy, one that allows room for other values—primarily truth.

   Because of this dual (I would like to call it balanced) approach to monothe- matic issues, Dialogue and Universalism is also open to contributions by indi- vidual researchers without a pre-set thematic line. Until now we have published only Varia thematic blocks, now we are bringing out a whole issue Varia in a gesture of appreciation for individual philosophical research, whose im- portance is strongly tied to the freedom of philosophy.

Magorzata Czarnocka

Dialogue and Universalism editor

 

 

 

ABSTRACT 

 

Robert Elliott Allinson

ON THE QUESTION OF WHETHER WE NEED A NEW ENLIGHTENMENT FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

https://doi.org/10.5840/du202333113

 

   It is gratifying to learn that there are fellow humanist philosophers who pay homage to the Enlightenment and its legacy. Such a humanist philosopher is Michael Mitias. He has taken precious time and the labor of his active and synoptic thought to both read the trilogy I have had the privilege of guest editing and what is more, to write about it. Hence, I feel that he deserves a response. I shall address some of the key points that he has raised in the interest of dialogue, an activity which he has praised and which rightly forms the heart of our journal. I intend to respond to the following points: (i) that we do not need a new enlightenment, but a reinterpretation of the old; (ii) that the editorials are not consistent with the articles of the contributors; (iii) that the method I have utilized, to endeavor to invoke a new Enlightenment through self-conscious intention, via rallying philosophers together is at odds with the origin of the classical Enlightenment; (iv) that the viewpoint I have expressed suffers from its Eurocentrism.

Keywords: Enlightenment, Eurocentrism, the non-European Enlightenment, female emancipation, the Haskalah, Chinese philosophy.

Affiliation: Soka University of America.

Email: rallinson@soka.edu

 

 

 

Cecilia Coronado Angulo

INSTRUMENTAL REASON, TECHNOLOGY, AND SOCIETY

https://doi.org/10.5840/du20233314

 

   Technological development is accompanied by a paradox: while it often promises enormous benefits for humanity, it can also lead to inconceivable tragedy, including the instrumentalization of the individual, growing social inequality, environmental impact, etc. What causes this paradox? a) Could it be that the nature of technology generates this contradiction? b) Is it the agent that uses it? c) Or is it the circumstances in which technology is used that determine its suitability or disservice? My aim in this paper is to revise nature, causes and political explanations of the paradox. To do so, the first section will give a historical overview of this phenomenon, the second will assess three proposals that attempt to explain its origin, and, finally, the paper will weigh such approaches from the view of the Frankfurt School. Evaluating the paradoxical conditions that surround technology allows us to better understand its role in our societies.

Keywords: Technology; Instrumental reason; The Frankfurt School; Andrew Feenberg; Max Weber.

Affiliation: Universidad Panamericana, Spain.

E-mail: ccoronado@up.edu.mx

 

 

 

Mitchell Atkinson III

HABIT, TYPE, AND ALTERITY IN SOCIAL LIFE. RECOILING PROTENTIONS AND SOCIAL INVISIBILITY

https://doi.org/10.5840/du20233318

 

   The question of the possibility of a phenomenological sociology is of the utmost importance today. In this paper, techniques in transcendental-genetic phenomenology are introduced as applicable to sociological work. I introduce the concept of recoil, a habit of thought which negatively determines protentions and expectations concerning types sedimented in far retention. Recoil is seen to be an important element in the theory of alterity in social life, including the understanding of alters as invisible. Finally, arguments in favor of the use of the epoché in sociological work is given, as the epoché allows us to engage with the experience of the subject of study without a latent invidious comparison to a naturalistic substructure.

Keywords: Power, alterity, phenomenology, recoil, songness.

Email: ma7648@nyu.edu

Affiliation: Institue of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Polnad.

 

 

 

Jonathan O. Chimakonam, Dorothy N. Oluwagbemi-Jacob

SELF-PRESERVATION AND COLONIALITY

https://doi.org/10.5840/du20233317

 

   In this paper, we will critically examine the notion of rationality and the disabling instinct of self-preservation that play out in human relationships. That “man is a rational animal,” as Aristotle declared is usually taken for granted in social studies. But whether humans act rationally all the time, and in all circumstances remains questionable. Here, we shall investigate this concern from a decolonial perspective by engaging some contradictions thrown up in the context of coloniality within which a section of humanity dehumanizes the rest. The question then is, how rational is the intellectual program of coloniality? Taking a cue from conversational thinking that places the notion of relationship at the center of decolonial analysis, we argue that coloniality fractures the inter and intra-racial relationships due mainly to the instinct of self-preservation that overwhelms human rationality. What has emerged today as the superior/inferior divide, racialism, classism, internal colonialism, ethnic cleansing, apartheid, xenophobia, and genocide are some of the consequences of warped and uncritical thinking driven by an extreme form of the instinct of self-preservation. We argue that the promotion of critical (higher-order) thinking in addition to ordinary (lower-order) thinking could be crucial in a decolonial program.

Keywords: Rationality, self-preservation, coloniality, colonialism, neo-colonialism, critical thinking.

Affiliation: 

Jonathan O Chimakonam — Department of Philosophy, University of Pretoria, South Africa.

Email: Jonathan.okeke@up.ac.za

Dorothy N Oluwagbemi-Jacob — Department of Philosophy, University of Calabar, Nigeria.

Email: d.oluwagbemi-jacob@up.ac.za

 

 

 

Małgorzata Czarnocka

HOW DO WE SHAPE A REFORM OF THE 21ST-CENTURY HUMAN WORLD IN AN ENLIGHTENMENT SPIRIT? ON PROJECTS BY ROBERT E. ALLINSON AND MICHAEL H. MITIAS

https://doi.org/10.5840/du20233314

 

   In this essay I wish to add my voice to Michael H. Mitias’s polemic with Robert E. Allinson’s view that an Enlightenment-driven reform of the human world is desirable, and even necessary. Allinson calls the outcome of such a reform the “New Enlightenment.” I also consider the few main threads of Mitias’s alternative proposal for repairing the human world, which involves the reinterpretation of the Enlightenment ideology, and I strive to show that, contrary to Mitias’s belief, both his and Allinson’s positions have important common points. Moreover, I also take a closer look at Mitias’s project, especially his postulate to begin funding the reforming of the human world in human nature.

Keywords: Robert E. Allinson, Michael H. Mitias, Enlightenment, reform of the 21st-century human world.

Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, Poland.

Email: mczarnocka@ifispan.edu.pl

 

 

 

Stanisław Czerniak

THREE INTERPRETATIONS OF THE “IDEOLOGY” CATEGORY. MAX HORKHEIMER’S CONCEPTION OF IDEOLOGY

https://doi.org/10.5840/du20233316

 

   The article consists of the following thematic threads: a) an overview of three interpretations of the term “ideology” in subject literature; b) a reconstruction of Max Horkheimer`s ideology conception, presented in the first half of the 1930s in writings published in the Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung [Social Research Journal]; c) an attempt to answer the question to what degree this conception was paradigmatic for the early Frankfurt School (here, for comparative purposes, the author cites writings by Leo Löwenthal and Paul Landsberg, which were also published in the Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung).

Keywords: Max Horkheimer, group interests, ideology, ideological functions, ideological apparatus, false consciousness, rationalisation.

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

Email: stanislaw.l.czerniak@wp.pl

 

 

 

Charley Mejame Ejede

PHILOSOPHY AND AFRICAN SAPIENTIAL TRADITION: GIVING VOICE TO WISDOM AND THE CONCEPTUALIZATION OF TRADITIONAL AFRICAN SOCIETY

Part I

https://doi.org/10.5840/du20233312

 

   The purpose of this study is not to show, as does Obenga, how Europe drew on Egypt or how Africa is the origin of all philosophies and the origin of all humanity, but to show African thinkers who, in the future, will want to take a serious look at developing a philosophy that embraces the major values of African culture, for this is supremely possible. This African culture subsists above all in the inexplorable African linguistic corpus. I argue that if we speak of African wisdom, we must first show its existence in the linguistic underpinning of the sapiential function in African culture. The solution to Africa’s problems will never come entirely from outside Africa; per contra, it will come from Africa itself, in her inherent values. The realms of salvation, therefore, of Africa lie in the norms implicit in its culture, but which are universal and are applicable to other cultures as well. The principal objective, therefore, of this paper, is the encounter between the logos and the African sapiential tradition for the two modes of thought mutually enrich themselves to address our contemporary problems. I show the crisis of the African humanity and the spheres of redemption in its sapiential function and the transmission of knowledge and reason in its multifarious facets. The work shows the major ideas inherent in the African sapiential tradition (African languages). African philosophy can incontrovertibly be found in African languages which conceal great knowledge and a use of life we have neglected today. The article explores the Kiluba language and deals with diverse questions in philosophy from its areas, i.e. ethics, politics, psychology, modern philosophy, linguistics, moral philosophy.

Keywords: African sapiential tradition, philosophy, identity quest, orality, Kiluba.

Affiliation: Michigan Technological University, USA.

Email: cemejame@mtu.edu

 

 

 

Charley Mejame Ejede

PHILOSOPHY AND THE AFRICAN SAPIENTIAL TRADITION: GIVING VOICE TO WISDOM AND THE CONCEPTUALIZATION OF TRADITIONAL AFRICAN SOCIETY

Part II

https://doi.org/10.5840/du20233313

 

     In the first part of our considerations we show how, according to Senghor, going back to the source is necessary to discover the richness of African languages and their philosophical significance. It is an effort which will enable the African to be in harmony with his/her history and the cardinal values found in the original Africa. Identity awareness must push us to lay the groundwork for the African philosophical creation found in African languages themselves. In this paper, the second part of our considerations, we are going to revisit the kiluba language. Besides, we are also going to look at the seSotho language, the language spoken in the Southern part of the continent of Africa. The major interest of this article therefore is the openness to the treasures of African thought via its linguistic corpus.

Keywords: African sapiential tradition, philosophy, identity quest, kiluba, seSotho.

Affiliation: Michigan Technological University, USA.

Email: cemejame@mtu.edu

 

 

 

Michael H. Mitias

DO WE REALLY NEED A NEW ENLIGHTENMENT FOR THE 21ST CENTURY?

https://doi.org/10.5840/du20233312

 

   This article is a critical response to the claim advanced by Robert Elliott Allinson in three issues of Dialogue and Universalism that we need a new Enlightenment for the 21st century. In contradistinction to this claim, I argue that what we really need is a new interpretation of the ideals of the European Enlightenment. This assertion is based on the assumption that the basic beliefs and values that constitute the heart and soul of the European Enlightenment are founded in human nature and that this nature is one and the same among all human beings. My discussion is composed of two parts, the first is formal, and the second is analytical. In the first part, I present general observations on the cultural and historical dynamics of the European Enlightenment. In the second part, I advance an analysis and a critical evaluation of the arguments Allinson advances in the editorial he wrote for the three issues of Dialogue and Universalism. The proposition I defend is that we need not a new Enlightenment but an interpretation and a comprehensive, efficacious implementation of the ideals of reason, science, and humanism.

Keywords: Enlightenment, ideals, 21st century, human nature, social reform, universal values.

Affiliation: Professor (emeritus) of Philosophy.

Email: Michael Mitias hmitias@gmail.com

 

 

 

Nataliia Shelkovaia

PROBLEMS OF THE UNKNOWABILITY AND TOTAL UNITY IN THE LIGHT OF PHILOSOPHY OF SEMYON L. FRANK

https://doi.org/10.5840/du202333110

 

   The article analyzes the problems of unknowability and total unity in the light of philosophy of Semyon L. Frank, set forth by him in the work The Unknowable. The author of the paper considers all the problems that arise as “icebergs” and tries to find the reasons for the distortion of the vision of the “top of the iceberg” and the “underwater part of the iceberg,” which is often unaware. The author examines the problems of the inadequate perception of reality: a narrow “one’s own little world” of the world perception, passed off as the truth in the final instance; absolutization of the mind, which considers itself able to know everything; the cultivation of negative information and cruelty in society; the role of media forming world perception; antagonistic dichotomy of the world perception; lack of a sense of connection of everything that exists, in particular of a sense of unity of “I” and “Thou;” loss of the “culture of heart” and the ability to love. As a result of the analysis undertaken, the author concludes that only by changing the causes that give rise to the “world of evil and separation” can the lost integrity and harmony of man, society and world civilization be restored. The revival of the earth’s civilization is possible only in total unity.

Keywords: total unity, love, antinomian monodualism, integrity, unknowableness, transrationality, “little world,” megalomania, rationality, egoism, dichotomous perception of the world, aggression, evil, media.

Affiliation: Department of Philosophy, Cultural Studies and Information Activities at the Volodymyr Dahl East Ukrainian National University.

Email: shelkovaya@snu.edu.ua

 

 

 

Aivaras Stepukonis

RE-THINKING CULTURAL HEDONISM: ON THE PRINCIPLE OF UTILITY ACCORDING TO JOHN STUART MILL

https://doi.org/10.5840/du20233311

 

   Hedonism, driven by mass culture and widespread consumerism, is a salient factor in the modus vivendi of contemporary Western civilization. This general psychological and behavioral backdrop is exploited in the article as an opportunity to both reinvigorate and re-appraise the theoretical underpinnings of modern hedonism as developed by John Stuart Mill in his Utilitarianism. The article proceeds in two steps: Firstly, a detailed exposition of Mill’s arguments for the principle of utility is undertaken, with an accompanying elucidation of the core notions of utility, expediency, happiness, and pleasure. Secondly, five points of criticism (logical, phenomenological, and analytical in method) are raised to challenge what the author thinks are the weakest links in Mill’s syllogistic chain.

Keywords: Western culture, ethics, moral philosophy, utilitarianism, hedonism, John Stuart Mill.

Affiliation: Lithuanian Institute for Cultural Studies, Saltoniškių g. 58, lt-08105 Vilnius, Lithuania.

Email: astepukonis@gmail.com

 

 

 

Emilia A. Tajsin

ON TWO-VALUED AND MULTIPLE-VALUED LOGIC AND ON PARADOXES OF VERITY

https://doi.org/10.5840/du20233319

 

   This article is dedicated to the centenary of the Russian philosopher and logician Alexander Alexandrovich Zinov’ev (1922–2006). The phenomena of truth, truthfulness, veracity and “truthiness” discussed widely in logic, epistemology as theory of science and gnoseology as general theory of knowledge, have received many interpretations—and not a single one to be generally accepted. Discussions continue not only upon narrow technical, operational questions of the predicate calculus and/or propositions calculus, but also on logic-gnoseological problems, one of which casts doubt on the maxim “logic is the house of truth,” and the other highlights the laxity of the opposition of “truth—falsehood” meanings as the main categories of the two-valued logic. These evaluations of proposition do not in fact op[1]pose each other in the sense of a contradiction. Verity and falsity are controversial (op[1]posite), but not contradictory (antithetical) concepts; it is truth and non-truth that are contradictory. Therefore, there is not only the possibility, but also the reality of the existence of a field, or zone, of transition between the values “true—false.”

 Keywords: two-valued logic, many-valued logic, truth, truthfulness, implication, probability, “truthiness.”

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

Email: Emily_Tajsin@inbox.ru

 

 

 

Zhanna Vavilova

CYBER INCLUSION VS ISOLATION: A WAY OUT OF THE VIRTUAL GHETTO

https://doi.org/10.5840/du20233315

 

   Recent restrictions of movement during the pandemic have forced people worldwide, even neo-luddites, to turn to communicating online. The virtualization of social processes that we are witnessing today, suggests constant rethinking of the role of the Internet for humanity so that we could optimize conditions of our existence that seem to be irreversibly transformed by technology, and integrate every individual with a unique set of features in the life of society. The author deals with the notions of cyberinclusion, virtual ghetto, isolation and alienation to come to the conclusion that virtual communication allows one to form communities based not on segregation criteria of socio-demographics, but on unifying grounds of shared interest. Cyber inclusion already exists, along with virtual ghettoization; for the former to prevail, people must be ready to communicate beyond borders, regardless of their socio-demographical characteristics, state of health, or immediate benefit.

Keywords: virtual ghetto, alienation, isolation, social inclusion, cyber inclusion, cyberbalkanization, Internet, balkanization of the Internet, splinternet, computermediated communication.

Affiliation: Department of Philosophy and Media, Kazan State Power Engineering University.

Email: zhannavavilova@mail.ru

 


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