THE HUMAN BEING—ITS NATURE AND FUNCTIONS
Dialogue and Universalism, the Journal of the International Society for Universal Dialogue, is especially pleased to present these papers authored by members of the International Society for Universal Dialogue. With this and future issues we honor our 26 year partnership with ISUD; a partnership founded by common roots and our shared history and vision of promoting universal dialogue.
We are displaying the first volume of the papers presented in their first versions at the 10th World Congress of the International Society for Universal Dialogue, held in Craiova, Romania in 2014; its theme was: THE HUMAN BEING. ITS NATURE AND FUNCTIONS.
This is an impressive body of intellectual work—a result of the broad and diverse interests, competencies, and passions of the authors. These engaging papers demonstrate the dynamics and intellectual force of the International Society for Universal Dialogue.
The amazing spirit of intellectual inquiry in these papers reflects a deep concern with human fate and existence—grasped from a highly abstracted, typically philosophical perspective in which the things reveal themselves as they really are—in their essences.
We hope our readers will enjoy the contents.
THE ISSUE OF JUSTICE SACREDNESS
According to the social contract theory, in order to achieve justice, people grouped themselves in societies. Historically speaking, judges appeared long before the legislator which means that justice was the first element of the social life. Therefore, it expresses the social ethics of a particular time and requires a minimum of credibility. Excessive pragmatism and utilitarianism have kidnapped more and more of what is humane, superior and sacred in the act of justice, and “secularized” it. As Eliade said in The Sacred and Profane, the sacred is something which is totally different, a space of radical otherness which overshadows the physical territory. This shading manifests itself through limitation, sequencing, reiteration and keeping what is sacred there, even in a courtroom, through ritualization.
Keywords: society; state; justice; democracy; ethics; moral responsibility; legal truth; divine truth; sacred.
Affiliation: National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, 30 A Expoziţiei Bvd, District 1, Bucharest,.Bucharest, Romania
Ramezan Mahdavi Azadboni
QURANIC PERSPECTIVE ON HUMAN DIGNITY: AN EXISTENTIAL INTERPRETATION
In the Quran, mankind is mentioned in many verses with honours and dignity regarding its creation and position. The human being in some verses is honoured and respected: man is superior to angels as they bowed for Adam as the first man. Meanwhile the human being in other verses is dishonoured and devalued; being described like animals or lower beings. The aim of this paper is to deal with the Quranic perspective regarding the human being’s dignity and honour. The nature of human dignity and honour in existential interpretation is seen in self—realization and self—making destination. In this regard everything in the world is in the service of man in making his destination and identification.
Keywords: human being; the Quran; self-realization; destination.
Affiliation: University of Mazandaran, Pasdaran Street, 47415, P.O.Box: 416, Babolsar, Iran
Martha Catherine Beck
“ALL HUMAN BEINGS, BY NATURE, SEEK UNDERSTANDING.” CREATING A GLOBAL NOOSPHERE IN TODAY’S ERA OF GLOBALIZATION
This paper describes many connections between the wisdom literature of the Ancient Greeks and the work of contemporary scholars, intellectuals and professionals in many fields. Whether or not they use the word nous to refer to the highest power of the human soul, I show that their views converge on the existence of such a power. The paper begins with a brief summary of Greek educational texts, including Greek mythology, Homer, tragedy, and Plato’s dialogues, showing that they are designed to educate the power of mind (nous). Usually without realizing it, many later schools of thought can be shown to come to conclusions that are consistent with the insights of one school of thought or cultural practice among the Ancient Greeks. Many other ancient cultures also had a holistic view of the cosmos, the human soul, and the best human life.
Keywords: Greeks; mind; nous; systems thinking; artificial intelligence; functionalism; neuroscience; archetypal psychology; goddesses; biogeochemistry.
Affiliation: Lyon College, P.O. Box 2317, 2300 Highland Road, Batesville, Arkansas 72503, USA
James E. Block
HUMAN NATURE IN THE POST-MODERN ERA: TOWARD A THEORY OF INSTINCTUAL FLOURISHING
The question of human nature has not been effectively addressed in our time because of great skepticism in the academic and philosophical discourses about the idea of social progress and the validity of a common humanity. As a result the question has been reduced by neoliberalism, biopsychology, and social psychology to demonstrating the malleability of humans in response to hierarchical, biological, or social-conformist pressures. To recover the concept of human nature it will be necessary to reconceptualize the dynamic of human development as a feature of the modern and late modern achievements of a more evolved vision of individuality and community.
Keywords: human nature; neoliberalism; social psychology; biopsychology; adaptation; human development.
Affiliation: 2400 N shefield Ave, Chicago, Il 505 14, USA
MYTH IN THE THOUGHT OF MIRCEA ELIADE
The definition and the aspects of myth, regardless of the time in which they appeared and the religion in which they were known, is present in Eliade’s thought throughout his life and work. The myth talks about the outbreak and manifestation of the sacred in the world, underlying realities as we know them. The myth explains human existence. The man, imitating the divine model, is able to transcend the profane time, returning to the mythical time. The sacred is equivalent with the reality. It is central for understanding in the hermeneutical effort to define homo religiosus.
Keywords: Mircea Eliade; myth; sacred; profane; hierophany; homo religious.
Affiliation: Faculty of Theology, University of Craiova, 13 A.I. Cuza Street, 200585 Craiova, Romania
Earnest N. Bracey
THE POLITICAL AND SPIRITUAL INTERCONNECTION OF RUNNING, DEATH, AND REINCARNATION
In this paper I will attempt to provide a fundamentally theoretical, political and experimental way for understanding “running” and the idea or notions of death and reincarnation, especially in terms of human development. More importantly, I will try to answer and explain how the physical exercise of running (or human movement) can play a key part in the transmigration of human souls. Furthermore, I will explain how running, death, and reincarnation are interconnected in some profound ways. It should be pointed out that humans have been running since walking up-right—for survival and transportation. Although the human, two-footed transit system is not the fastest or most efficient way of getting around, running ultimately allows us to get to where we want to go—even in life. As human beings, we also have souls and physically die, or cease living, which is inevitable, and should always be considered an integral part of our existence.
Keywords: human; death; reincarnation; running; spiritualism; existence.
Affiliation: The College of Southern Nevada, 6375 W. Charleston Blvd., 89146-1164 Nevada, USA
WHAT IS A HUMAN BEING: DOES IT MATTER?
In this paper I will argue that man as defined, at least in part, by the concept of human nature within an essentialist understanding remains a philosophically and anthropologically defensible way for understanding what it means to be a human being (person). That is, an understanding of human being includes, but is not limited to, the actuality of the non-material or non-extended substance commonly referred to as soul. The argument turns on the notion that persons are essentially persons. It seems intuitive to say that I cannot imagine myself as a “not-a-person” while it is quite easy to imagine myself as “not-a-professor.” To say I am a person seems not identical to saying I am a professkor—the former seems impossible while the latter possible. Although it might be argued that I could not verbalize I am a person without having a body it seems that would not permit one to conclude the two are identical.
Keywords: human being; person; body; soul; physicalism.
Affiliation: Wake Forest University, 1834 Wake Forest Rd, Winston-Salem, NC 27106 USA
Yousof Heidari Chenari,
Ramezan Mahdavi Azadboni
THE ISLAMIC NOTION OF FITRAH AND THE NATURE OF THE HUMAN BEING
In the Quran, the Muslim Holy book, many verses refer to the human being and in many ways issues regarding mankind are dealt with. In the Quran the possibility of doubting God’s existence is ruled out as man has a particular nature (“Fitrah” is a Quranic term). The aim of this paper is to disclose the very basic Quranic concept concerning human nature: Fitrah. According to the Quranic understanding, mankind has its origin in God; this understanding is based on the concept of Fitrah. Fitrah is considered a natural component of the human being in which God and another Truth can be perceived through man’s existential experience.
Keywords: Fitrah; the Quran; mankind; human nature; truth, God.
Affiliation: Yousof Heidari Chenari —the Babol Noshirvani, University of Technology, Shariati Av., Babol, Mazandaran, 47148 – 71167, Iran
Affiliation: Ramezan Mahdavi Azadboni — University of Mazandaran, Pasdaran Street, 47415, 416, Babolsar, Iran
Delamar José Volpato Dutra
HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE DEBATE ON LEGAL POSITIVISM
This paper presents human rights in connection with the dispute between legal positivism and legal non-positivism. The importance of this topic can be evaluated by the debate that took place between Hart and Dworkin. Indeed, much of Dworkin’s work can be considered a reaction to Hart’s positivism. The presented study argues for the defense of the thesis that in order to understand such a debate it is important to take a position between moral noncognitivism and moral cognitivism. The hypothesis is that legal positivism does depend on the non plausibility of strong moral cognitivism. Therefore, only based on strong moral cognitivism would it be consistent to sustain the typical non-positivistic thesis of the necessary connection between law and morality. Human rights are in the center of this debate because they constitute the core of the current morality, especially the most important core of justice.
Keywords: legal positivism; moral cognitivism; moral noncognitivism; human rights; justice.
Affiliation: Lawschool, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil
THE EPICUREAN VIEWS ON THE HUMAN SOUL IN LUCRETIUS’ DE RERUM NATURA
Epicurean physics elaborates on a system of universal kinetics as regards the creation of the world. One of the main principles is that there is no genesis without motion. The human being, as all other beings, is the product of the motion of atoms within the cosmic void. Due to a sudden swerve in the motion of some atoms, it can be upheld, according to the Epicureans and Lucretius, that there is no determinism in the universe and the human being is capable of free will. The atomic motions and the swerves also take place in the space of the human soul. Lucretius, in the De Rerum Natura, follows with precision the content of the Epicurean dogmas, and divides the soul into an irrational part, which he calls anima, and a rational one, animus, according to the distinction between ψυχή and διάνοια.
Keywords: Epicurus; Lucretius; soul; atoms; void; swerve; motion.
Affiliation: Department of Philology in the University of Peloponnese, Anatoliko Kentro – Palaio Stratopedo, Kalamata, 24100, Greece
THE ADVAITA CONCEPT OF CONTENTLESS COGNITION: SOME PROBLEMS
The present paper shows whether there is cognition without any content (avişayaka-jňāna). Generally, “cognition” means “cognition of something.” But in the Advaita Vedanta system of philosophy there is pure knowledge having no content called contentless cognition (avişayaka-jňāna) leading to certain philosophical problems.
Keywords: svarūpa-lakşaņa; Jīvanmukta; bādhita; artha-vişayaka-jňāna; pramā.
Affiliation: University of North Bengal, Siliguri, W.B., India
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THE OPTION BEFORE MODERNITY: CHANGE OR PERISH
We simultaneously live in two worlds — our internal world of thoughts, values, desires, and experiences; and our external world in which we are born, and perform actions. Modernity, despite successfully developing our external world, has failed to develop our internal world. This has resulted in our lower nature being unleashed and a crisis of morals and values taking over society. This paper, drawing from the “science of consciousness” as detailed in the Indian tradition, looks at the nature of modernity and how we can address the challenges being posed by it, by training our consciousness to higher levels.
Keywords: modernity; consciousness; society; man; nature; ethical awareness.
Affiliation: Faridabad Center of Dayalbagh Educational Institute, Deemed University, Agra, India
Özlem Duva Kaya
BEING HUMAN AMONG HUMANS: PLURALITY IN THE DIVIDED WORLD
The main thesis I put forward in this article is that the democratic theory needs an anthropological perspective which defines the human in plurality and signifies the possibility of achieving a fully inclusive rational consensus. I argue that a model of democracy in terms of cosmopolitan anthropology can help us to better envision the main challenge facing universal norms and principles today. How to create democratic forms of living together? I think we can answer this question by interpreting Hannah Arendt’s theory of political action on a philosophical anthropological basis. It is common knowledge that Hannah Arendt is suspicious of ethics and warns that ethics and conscience alone cannot produce the conditions for peace. In the present paper, I examine Arendt’s philosophical project together with Kant’s philosophical anthropology and try to demonstrate its importance for plurality and living together in peace.
Keywords: philosophical anthropology; being human; intersubjectivity; political action.
Affiliation: Institute of Social Sciences, Philosophy Department, Dokuz Eylül University, Dokuz Eylül Üniversitesi Cumhuriyet Bulvarı No: 144 35210 Alsancak , İZMİR, Turkey
PASSIONS OF THE SOUL AND THE HUMANISTIC SOCIETY IN THE THEORIES OF PLUTARCH, ARISTOTLE, THE STOICS, BOETHIUS
According to Plutarch, the theory of psychological disharmony relies on the Platonic music harmony. When Plato refers to music harmony, he means the kind of harmony where the concept of God is the source through which all beings emanate. The mental passions define the quality of human character and consequently develop the social man. As far as the Aristotelian ethical theory is concerned, morality does not condemn the passions, because it has a clear ontological and anthropological basis. The Stoics stress that a trait of the human soul is sociality, and that happens because all human beings are under the law of sympathy and constitute a whole. At medieval times, Boethius portrays the middle age social conditions which also resemble with our postmodern societies.
Keywords: passion; soul; society; harmony; power; human beings; nature; virtue; evil.
Affiliation: National & Kapodistrian University of Athens, School of Philosophy, Panepistimiopolis 15784 Ilissia, Greece
Andrey I. Matsyna
THE ARCHAIC PERCEPTION OF DEATH—AN INTEGRATED MODEL
Studies of ancient funerary rituals lead to the philosophical problem of the opposition of life and death. Ancient cultural forms that remove this opposition are based on the specifically irrational and correlate with irrational ideas about the soul and its destination after death. The modern rational mind eliminates these forms. Based on an ontologically balanced paradigmatic synthetic approach, considering the features of ontology and myth, a dynamic model of the archaic perception of death—metaphysics of overcoming—was formed. This integrated model most accurately reflects the pre-philosophical way of the transcendence of the being. The metaphysics of overcoming can be the core of the ancient ritual comprehension theory.
Keywords: metaphysics of overcoming; thanatological concepts; funeral rites; death; initiation; return ontology.
Affiliation: Department of Philosophy, Chelyabinsk State University, Brat’ev Kashirinyh st. 129, 454021, Chelyabinsk Russia;
THE SOPHISTS’ POLITICAL ART
The Sophists were the first supporters of the values of knowledge, education and political self-determination. Their attitude and tactics demonstrated that human nature and especially every individual’s personality is of prior importance. The Sophists rejected the idea of the ontological stability of the laws and declared their confidence in the eternal values of the natural law and cosmopolitanism, in the individual ability of every human being and in the concurrent refusal of traditions and of any form of authenticity. In addition, the Sophists were the first innovative enlightenment philosophers, who tried to exert their influence on society by using their teachings.
Keywords: Sophists; human nature; education; Athens; virtue; political art.
Affiliation: School of Philosophy, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Panepistimiopolis 15784 Ilissia, Greece
CONCORDIA DOCTRINARUM OR THE CONCEPT OF COSMIC HARMONY IN GERARD OF CENAD
Gerard of Cenad, the first Christian Bishop (1030–1046) in the region known today as Banat, authored the Deliberatio supra Hymnum Trium Puerorum, a hermeneutical treatise of great importance for the 11th-century philosophy. The concept of concordia doctrinarum has been commented in several ways as the universal theology of the Catholic Church. Our study discusses this concept in relation with another Gerardian concept, that of divine procession. We argue that there is an idea of cosmic harmony in Gerard, strictly linked to more than one preceding doctrines. First, it is linked to the Areopagitic notion of processus, meaning. Second, Gerard links the same concept with the idea of cosmic hierarchy. The cosmic hierarchy in Gerard of Cenad offers a valuable perspective of a holistic kind, within the Christian so-called Platonic orientation of the 11th-century Latin tradition.
Keywords: Christian philosophy; cosmic harmony; Gerard of Cenad; hermeneutic book; theology; practical wisdom.
Affiliation: Western University of Timișoara, Centre for Research in Philosophical Historiography and Philosophy of Imaginary, Bulevardul Vasile Parvan 4, Timisoara 300223, ROmania
ART, MYTHOLOGY AND CYBORGS
We aim to understand how different conceptions of the world coexisted, were created and maintained, and to understand the differences between classical and contemporary mythology in the art context. Are we living in post-mythological times? Is there a pattern or a semblance of structure in both classical mythology and contemporary myths such as the cyborg? Can we stretch the definition of mythology so that it encompasses everything that in some way tries to imbue a sense of order in the chaos of human life?
Keywords: mythology; art, cyborgs; order; chaos.
Affiliation: University of Lisbon, Artistic Studies Research Center, Alameda da Universidade 1649–004 Lisoba, Portugal
BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH: THE HUMAN BEING IN PORPHYRY’S CONCEPTION
For Porphyry, the human being is a compound of soul, its divine and immortal part, which represents the essence of man, and body, its perishable part, that is only the image of the soul, its headquarters and sensitive instrument. Man can achieve happiness only by a spiritual life, according to its nature, a life free of physical needs as much as it is possible. The methods used in this sense imply the weakening of the link between mind and body. In this way the soul of man returns to the sky, meaning the sphere of God, which is its native country.
Keywords: human being; superior beings; Absolute Being; soul; body; god; animal; spiritual life; irrational life; happiness; Porphyry; Plotinus.
Affiliation: University of Craiova, Faculty of Law and Social Sciences, Strada Alexandru Ioan Cuza 13, Craiova 200585, Romania
HOW CAN WE ENTER IN DIALOGUE? TRANSDISCIPLINARY METHODOLOGY OF THE DIALOGUE BETWEEN PEOPLE, CULTURES, AND SPIRITUALITIES
When two people try to communicate there is inevitably a confrontation: a representation against a representation, subconscious against subconscious. As this confrontation is subconscious, it often degenerates into conflict. A new model of civilization is necessary, the keystone is dialogue between human beings, nations, cultures and religions for the survival of humanity. In forming a new model of civilization a methodology of transdisciplinarity can be helpful. In 1985 I proposed the inclusion in the word “transdisciplinarity,” introduced by Jean Piaget in 1972, the meaning “beyond disciplines,” and I developed this idea over the years. Interdisciplinarity has a different goal than multidisciplinarity. The latter concerns a transfer of methods from one discipline to another, whereas the former overflows disciplines, but its goal still remains within the framework of disciplinary research. Interdisciplinarity has even the capacity of generating new disciplines.
Keywords: dialogue; multidisciplinarity; transdisciplinarity.
Affiliation: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Laboratoire de Physique Nucléaire et de Hautes Énergies, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, 3, rue Michel-Andre, 75794 Paris, cedex 16, France
SPIRITUAL COGNITION AND MORALITY
Morality, besides being a form of regulation of human behavior, is also a form of spiritual cognition, having its specific features in each spiritual tradition, either philosophical or religious. Nowadays the humankind tends to forget about the Plato spiritual archetype of Goodness, Truth, and Beauty, united by the eidos of “χάρις” or “αγαθόν,” which in Russian orthodox culture long ago has been turned into the triad Truth, Virtue and Beauty united by Love. Recently, the person tends to lose his humaneness; the current spiritual crisis is of menacing scale and depth. It is necessary to reveal mutual universal values in order to stop any kind of violence. To realize this task, the author tries to investigate common features of spiritual cognition in different cultures and to suggest a universal dimension of the spiritual phenomenon of faith, founding the ethics of “openness to Being.”
Keywords: dialogue of civilizations; foundations of morality; global problems; spiritual archetype; spiritual cognition; faith as spiritual phenomenon; universal morality.
Affiliation: Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia, ul. Milukho-Maklaya 6, 117198 Moscow, Russia
THE RELIGIOUS DIMENSION OF AESTHETIC EXPERIENCE
In this paper I intend to show that the differences between the aesthetic experience and the religious experience do not “close” the dialogue between the aesthetic man (the modern one) and the religious man (the premodern one). Although these two types of experience are distinguished by “the way in which everyone understands its object” (while aesthetic perception implies a kind of “moderate” emotional identification with the aesthetic object, authentic religious feeling involves renunciation to self and total dedication)—there is a similarity between aesthetic experience and religious experience which resides in the fact that “towards their object, both are in an attitude of contemplation” (Paul Evdochimov).
Keywords: aesthetic experience; religious experience; phenomenology; aesthetic object; aesthetic perception.
Affiliation: Institute of Political Sciences and International Relations, the Romanian Academy, Calea Victoriei 1254, sector 1, 010071 Bucuresti, Romania
INDIVIDUALISM AND RESPONSIBILITY IN THE RATIONALIST ETHICS: THE ACTUALITY OF SPINOZA’S ETHICS
The paper attempts to demonstrate the contemporary relevance of Spinoza’s ethics of virtue and responsibility—a non-deontic ethics whose foundation is not obligation and duty, not the normative laws which regulate the relations with the fellows, or the prescriptions, but an intuitive knowledge on the essence of things and on the choice of a proper way of life. The choice of the best way of life is equivalent with the responsibility to identify the opportunities to control the own life.
Keywords: ethics; virtue; reason; conatus; responsibility; dictates of reason; blessedness.
Affiliation: Institute of Political Sciences and International Relations, the Romanian Academy, Calea Victoriei 1254, sector 1, 010071 Bucuresti, Romania
THE PATH OF THEISTIC MYSTICISM: THE ONLY HOPE FOR THE FUTURE?
Religion and diversified religious experiences are always held suspect and not spared from apprehensions regarding its value, its ethics, its revelatory claims and its approaches. Time immemorial religion and religious experiences have played a pivotal role in building up society for betterment and also for deterioration. Man’s intellectual activity throughout the history was on the line of religion. The sacred in religion has always empowered man in many paths of his life, say, to bring social reformation, be it environmental concern or women empowerment. The sacred in religion have brought wonders in human life.
Keywords: religion; theistic mysticism; theistic mystics; world solidarity.
Affiliation: Department of Philosophy, Ramniranjan Jhunjhunwala College, Ghatkopar West, Opposite Ghatkopar Railway Station, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400086, India.
ARISTOTLE’S DEMOCRATIC POLIS: EXPLANATION OR WARNING?
A democratic polis requires a citizenry that is capable of choice, that is, a decision informed by reason and facts. Tyranny requires obedient subjects. Democratic citizens normally pursue happiness, a life of virtuous activity, a way of living that requires family and friendship. Periclean Athens demonstrates the perils of democracy when the polis assumes the prerogatives of the family and friendship, substituting patriotism. The Funeral Oration illustrates how a seductive charismatic leader undermines Aristotelian conditions of ideal citizenship by subordinating the citizen to the polis.
Keywords: Pericles; Aristotle; democracy; citizenship; friendship; happiness; rationality.
Affiliation: Connecticut State University, Department of History, Philosophy, and Political Science, 83 Windham St, Willimantic, Connecticut 06226, USA
MORAL AND SOCIAL VALUES FROM ANCIENT GREEK TRAGEDY
The paper deals globally with the history of human and social values from Homer and Hesiod to the end of the fifth century. Special emphasis is given on the moral and social concepts expressed in some fundamental texts of the three major tragic poets (Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides). The paper is particularly focused on the significant discrimination between the competitive values, such as wealth and noble origin, and the cooperative ones, expressed in the concepts of justice, wisdom, temperance, modesty, and nobility of character, as well as the respect for the law and the human and political rights, which shaped the development of democracy.
Keywords: Greek tragedy; values; moral; social; virtues; poetry; justice; democracy.
Affiliation: The University of the Peloponnese, Institute for the Research of Byzantine Culture, Sparti 231 00 Greece
NEW MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY AND HUMAN DIGNITY
First I discuss the rights as unavoidable part of the human dignity. There are four possible relations: dignity has a wider extension, the volume of both is equivalent, dignity includes in itself a bundle of rights, or it is just a simple right. There are good reasons to support the last two, even the last position. Then I evaluate some of the challenging innovations in the medical technology, if they are acceptable in front of this close connection. The focus falls on three topics: PGD, cloning, and fusion of human-animal cells. Using moral principles such as non- discrimination and non instrumentalization I look for some normative framing.
Keywords: human dignity and rights; consensus; respect; humiliation; embryo selection; clone; hybrid; chimera.
Affiliation: Saint Kliment Ohridski University, 15 Tsar Osvoboditel Blvd,1504 Sofia, Bulgaria.