Dialogue and Universalism








   The papers gathered in this D&U issue connect the on-going philosophical attempts to make sense of our lives, our selves, our world, and the spirit of our age with the matter of dialogue. The field of dialogue is viewed here as inevitably transcending the barriers of philosophical schools and specific cultural traditions.

   These papers demonstrate the complexity, the multi-dimensionality, and the open-endedness of the process of dialogue while teaching us that efforts to better understand the nature of dialogue as well as to cultivate dialogue require a deeper understanding of human nature, rationality, values, and even being itself.

   The investigations on dialogue and the resulting new visions of it included in this D&U issue do not result in capturing one unambiguous essence of dialogue, nor, much less, give a unique solution to the question of what dialogue is and how it does or should function in the human world. These papers point to the unfinishedness, the on-going flow of diverse ideas and traditions that constitute the core of philosophy. The papers presented in this D&U issue offer a multiplicity of valuable insights. They elucidate much. They deepen our understanding of dialogue by extending previous perspectives and by forging new ones. They associate dialogue with new subject fields, not clearly detected till now, i.e. with the domains of being, spirituality, cooperation on the biological level, noosphere, civility, etc.

   From the diversity of approaches and views presented in this D&U issue a shared belief emerges—on the basic importance and necessity of dialogue in the present and future human world. Thus the presented works strongly affirm the vitality and importance of the ideas which motivated many years ago the establishing of the International Society for Universal Dialogue (ISUD).

   These ideas include the belief that genuine dialogue, understood as an open and transdisciplinary exchange of perspectives, also among diverse cultures and disciplines on a wide variety of issues with global implications, is necessary for a truly democratic way of thinking and acting. With this in mind, the editors at Dialogue and Universalism seek to disseminate the sorts of scholarship needed to co-create a more positive future for humanity and all living beings. We believe that such idealism is not simply a luxury for academics but a necessity for all at this moment in history.

   Rooted in the aspiration to actualize the highest and richest human values in art, science, politics, education, and social life and to work toward the emergence of a decent world order we hope these papers will advance dialogue as a community-building discourse and to further nurture a global ethos of dialogue.

   These papers also demonstrate the belief that the enduring and historical quest of philosophy, i.e., to make sense of our world, and ourselves is bound up with the destiny of humankind. In spite of the great diversity of these papers, they share a common vision that the promise of philosophy in today’s world in bound up with the importance and necessity of recognizing the plurality of points of view. In today’s world consensus can only be meaningful achieved by beginning with the recognition and respect for difference.

   Consensus must emerge from the dialogical respect for plurality rather than from the forced imposition of any one particular view. Only through this respect for plurality and dialogue philosophy can offer ideas and comprehensive visions for humankind’s progress. A dialogical approach to understanding our world and ourselves does not only contemplate the world, but also changes it by influencing the consciousness of individual human beings, and, next, it should be hoped, of societies.

   D&U promotes investigations on dialogue with special force. The D&U Editors hope that the here-presented discussion on dialogue will be continued. Their incessant intention is to publish papers on dialogue, as soon as they will be submitted, in a separate fixed section, in each issue. Unfortunately, a few papers, being the aftermath of the call for papers directed to the ISUD members, cannot be included in this D&U issue through its limited scope. They will be published in the near issues.

 Charles S. Brown, Małgorzata Czarnocka






Martha C. Beck


   This paper summarizes Ervin Laszlo’s worldview in The Systems View of the World: A Holistic Vision for Our Time. Laszlo claims that current discoveries in the sciences have led to a different model of the physical world, human nature, and human culture. Instead of the models formulated during the Enlightenment, according Systems thinkers “systems interact with systems and collaboratively form suprasystems” (Laszlo E. 1996, 60). This view has led to a reexamination of: 1) each academic discipline; 2) the relationship between disciplines; 3) the nature of theory and its relation to practice; 4) the relationship between religion and the sciences; 5) of the nature of the social sciences and our ability to develop a universal, normative ethic; 6) the relation between reasoning, emotion and imagination. The evolution of the reflective self-consciousness unique to homo sapiens has led to the formation of cultures. Cultures must be understood as suprasystems that emerged from natural systems and are dependent upon them. Given this universal natural foundation, systems thinkers are recognizing the common patterns between nature and culture and between different cultures. The examination of systems has also shown us that the suprasystems of culture create a level of complexity and reality over and above the natural world and can even destroy themselves and their own natural foundation

   From the perspective of the ISUD, this view means it is possible, natural, and necessary for academics to engage in meaningful dialogue with each other, showing how the ways they have been trained to examine “reality,” or “truth,” can be integrated. Further, professional academics should be able to talk to non-academics, to people in leadership roles, and to all human actors. Since it is a fact that individuals are parts of many larger wholes, the ISUD can nurture the process of the development of reflective self-consciousness in the formation of an international culture, an emerging suprasystem. Laszlo calls this sphere of spiritual interaction, with its physical foundation, a noosphere, his word for a “meeting of the minds.” Given our collective destruction of natural systems, it is imperative that human beings develop some version of a Systems view of reality. ISUD should work to foster this development, even though the professional training of individuals will call the process by other names, based on the labels of the past.

Keywords: Systems thinking; noosphere; holistic; reflective self-consciousness; subjectivity; normative values; evolution; humanism; macrodetermination; religion; spiritual.


Affiliation: Lyon College, P.O. Box 2317, 2300 Highland Road, Batesville, Arkansas 72503, USA

Email: martha.beck@lyon.edu




Kevin M. Brien


   This meditation is a series of reflections about some milestones along my philosophical journey that concern universals, universal definitions, claims to universal moral principles, and universal dialogue. It begins with a focus on the Socratic search for universal definitions of general terms; and it continues with a look at the way my discovery of non-Euclidean geometries began to challenge my attitude toward the possibility of universal definitions of all general terms. Along the way I bring out how Wittgenstein’s notion of “family resemblances” added to this challenge. The meditation continues with reflections on Kant’s attempts to make a case for a universal and unconditional moral imperative. Following this I sketch a counter-case that the concrete human being gets lost in a haze of Kantian abstraction. These reflections bring out the clear conceptual linkage between the ‘abstract universal’ and the “external relation” as canons of interpretation.

   The meditation then makes a shift to some later milestones on my journey, beginning with reflection on the “concrete universal” and the “internal relation” as alternative canons of interpretation. I try to illustrate how Marx critically appropriated Hegel’s view of these canons via discussion of Marx’s notion of “praxis;” and then go on to adopt these canons of interpretation throughout the rest of the mediation. Employing these canons of interpretation, and with Aristotle’s very broad understanding of the term “politics” in mind, I construe universal dialogue to be a mode of discourse oriented toward the development of a new “politics of the global village” that could cultivate the practice of concretely relating to the other person as a person. Inasmuch as Aristotle construed “politics” as involving a developed ethics as well as a “science of society” (in addition to what westerners currently mean by the term), the meditation proceeds with a preliminary sketch of these two dimensions of a new “politics of the global village.”

   My meditation goes on to suggest a fundamental ethical principle (contrasting it with Kant’s moral imperative) that could be concretely and universally adopted by all people, and that could guide universal dialogue. The meditation continues with a sketch of a philosophical reconstruction of a humanistic Marxist “science of society,” and integrates the fundamental ethical principle with it. This sketch is basically a philosophical clarification of Marx’s theory of cultural evolution that brings into play the key role of the concrete universal and the internal relation as fundamental canons of interpretation. The meditation concludes with an argument that universal dialogue on the part of a very wide spectrum of ordinary people, as well as specialists, is the sine qua non for any hope of transforming the secular basis of human societies in the direction of social justice, as all of humanity faces the daunting crises that loom throughout planet Earth.

Keywords: abstract universal; alienation; Aristotle; capitalism; categorical imperative; concrete universal; cultural evolution; external relation; forces of production; Hegel; internal relation; Kant; Marx; politics of the global village; praxis; social relations of production; social superstructure; Socrates; triangles; universal definitions; universal dialogue; Wittgenstein.


Affiliation: Department of Philosophy and Religion, Washington College in Maryland, 300 Washington Avenue, Chestertown, Maryland 21620, USA.

Email: kbrien2@washcoll.edu




Charles S. Brown


   This paper argues that the pluralist ethos of today’s world requires dialogue, i.e., the construction of shared meaning through a plurality of perspectives. This, in turn, requires that partners in dialogue overcome the perspective of the “master self” who claims universal legislative authority in its quest for epistemic closure. Dialogue requires the cultivation and development of a dialogical self-identity that reflects the ability to co-construct shared meaning without the erasure or suppression of differences.

Keywords: dialogue; dialectics of identity and difference; master self; dialogical self; pluralism; monological rationality.


Affiliation: Emporia State University, 1 Kellogg Circle, Emporia, 66801 Kansas, USA

Email: cbrown@emporia.edu




Regina Fazleeva


   Basing on the ideas proposed by Jean Baudrillard, Slavoj Žižek, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jürgen Habermas, this paper suggests combining the concept of horizontal (intersubjective) relationships between people with the idea of the vertical dialogue with the transcendental, the spirit. The logic of ultimate mutuality brings us closer to the idea of dialogue with the transcendental; the Other as the spirit appears as a third party in the intersubjective space of dialogue. Thus intersubjectivity may become a condition of implementing human spirituality.

Keywords: symbolic exchange; asymmetrical relationships; existential dialogue; discourse ethics; intersubjectivity.


Affiliation: Department of Philosophy and Culture Study, Kazan State University of Culture and Arts. 420059 Kazan, the Orenburg trackt, 3, Russia

Email: pagua@yandex.ru




Andrew Fiala


   This paper explores civility as a virtue for individuals within the sphere of civil society. Civil society is conceived as consisting of voluntary associations regulated by persuasion, praise, and shame. The virtue of civility is a key value for members of the associations of civil society. The paper considers circumstances in which institutions of civil society breakdown and in which unscrupulous and un-civil operators take advantage of more civil members. While admitting that civility is a fragile virtue, the paper concludes that best solution to threats to civility is to avoid cynicism and to cultivate common-sense moral behavior that models civility.

Keywords: civility, civil society, virtue ethics, liberal political theory


Affiliation: California State University, Fresno 5241 N Maple Ave, Fresno, California, 93740 USA

 Email: afiala@csufresno.edu




Marian Hillar


   During the last decades evolutionary science has made significance progress in the elucidation of the process of human evolution and especially of human behavioral characteristics. These themes were traditionally subjects of inquiry in philosophy and theology. Already Darwin suggested an evolutionary and biological basis for moral sense or conscience, and answered Kant’s question about the origin of the moral rules postulated by philosophers. This article reviews the current status of such investigations by natural scientists, biologists and psychologists, and compares their models for explanation of human moral behavior with those postulated by philosophers. Today natural scientists postulate cooperation as the third element of evolutionary process after mutations and natural selection. They seem to fully confirm the intuition of philosophers. The thesis on the fundamental status of cooperation in the entire animal world leads to a belief concerning dialogue: dialogue, rooted in a sense in cooperation, is a primary men’s capability, being emerged from the biological essence of humans. Thus the examination of cooperation reveals inter alia biological foundations of dialogue.

Keywords: cooperation; moral philosophy; behavior; moral principle; moral sense; conscience; kin selection; reciprocal altruism; group selection.


Affiliation: Texas Southern University, 3100 Cleburne St, Houston, Texas 77004 USA

Email: noam@socinian.org




Janusz Kuczyński


   This essay outlines my view on the anthropic conditions of authentic dialogue. In my opinion dialogue as such can be pursued only by people endowed with specific qualities and enjoying maximal fulfilment as human beings: people who are creative, who have an active attitude towards themselves and the world, who do not feel estranged from it but are united with it, and for whom the world is neither alien nor hostile, people who are free and responsible. These anthropic conditions of dialogue are connected with the herein-postulated image of human nature, whereby human nature is not only bound to the world by social relations but is co-created by the world, simultaneously retaining its subjective, individual dimension. In this context I will outline my concept of homo creator as a vision of modern humanism. In my belief this anthropological concept is one of the fundaments of philosophy of dialogue.

Keywords: dialogue; homo creator; human nature; freedom; responsibility; alienation; estrangement.


Affiliation: Institute of Philosophy, University of Warsaw, 00-047 Warsaw, ul. Krakowskie Przedmieście 3, Poland

Email: j.kuczynski@uw.edu.pl




John Rensenbrink


   This essay affirms the proposition that dialogue emerges from being itself. There are five parts: being and nature; how it follows that dialogue emerges from being itself; full dialogue; why it is that dialogue has faltered; and ground for optimism, given the noticeable turn in recent decades to an ontology of relationship. We, the human species, are part of nature. We are part of an evolutionary development. The full comprehension of this reality leads to critique of the separation between nature and supra-nature in the ontology of ancient Green philosophers and of Christian, Judaic, and Muslim religions—a separation that posits the hierarchic superiority and dominance of the Idea as in Plato and of God in the religions, replacing the unity of spirit and nature in the earlier animistic religions. Nor has the ascendance of mechanistic modernity in the work of Bacon, Descartes, Newton and their heirs to this day changed the separation. The Cartesian formulation of “I think therefore I am” backed up by the notion of a deistic first mover, scraped nature clean of spiritual and moral qualities and made it open to industrial exploitation, resource extraction, and degradation. Einstein and the quantum theorists who developed his breakthroughs led science to a new view of nature as a world of internal relations. This provides scope and substance for re-thinking nature as revealing multiple sets of interactive relationships. Interactive relationships are the ground for the gradual development of dialogue. The older ontologies of separation had little scope or support for dialogue since the dominating style and substance of relationship was consumed in patterns and styles of command and obedience. The new ontology of relationship reveals and fosters the reality of interactive communication and dialogue. Full dialogue is a mutual awareness and authentication of each other’s lived being leading to deeper and deeper levels of successful understanding and action together. Yet dialogue has had to take a back seat for much of human history since the emergence of stratified and hierarchical agrarian societies capped in recent centuries by industrial command structures and technologically advanced warfare. But the new understanding of nature and of its multiple interactive relationships is making significant headway and there is ground for optimism that dialogue will at some point come fully into its own.

Keywords: being; dialogue; nature as self-organizing; evolution; animistic religion; the Idea (Plato); Christian theology; deism; internal relations; interactive communication; science and religion; dynamic energy; repulsion/attraction; full dialogue.


Affiliation: Bowdoin College, 255 Maine St, Brunswick, Maine, 04011 USA

Email: john@rensenbrink.com




Marta Sghirinzetti


   Is a rational approach always able to resolve intercultural conflicts about values and morals? The leading questions of this paper deal with the relationship between cultural difference and moral reasoning, the possibility to argue about cultural differences and the possibility of rational grounds for intercultural dialogue. The underlying idea is that a true intercultural attitude needs a serious theoretical and methodological reflection in order to be aware of the limits of understanding and the pitfalls of universalism. In the first part of the paper I will give a general account of cultural difference and why does it matter from a moral point of view. In the second part I will deal with the issue of rationality, arguing for a pluralistic account of reason. Then I will focus on its relation with cultural differences, outlining some features of moral reasoning as intercultural dialogue.

Keywords: identity; culture; relativism; rationality; intercultural dialogue.


Affiliation: University of Genoa, Università degli Studi di Genova, Via Balbi 5, 16126 , Italy

Email: marta.sghirinzetti@gmail.com




Emiliya A. Taysina


   Examining dialogue, one may underline its being amicable or not, intellectual (Socratic) or not, useful or useless, plainly transferring message or hinting metamessage, serving social or private goals etc. However, speaking about dialogue in general we speak in terms of semiotics. Considering globalization in general one should adopt the semiotic framework within which globalization is not just a collection of cases, and globalistics (a field of academic research) is not only a catalogue registering it. It will turn globalization into the subject of philosophical interest. The paper presents a specific basis for semiotic investigations. This basis postulates inter alia the fourth part (besides the three standard ones, i.e. syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics), not widely known, called sigmatics, dealing with the construction of adequate ontologies. It can help to explain in a complete way what we observe in the present and to foresee the prospects of the future, including the integrated problems of dialogue, globalization and tolerance which are the main concern of the presented considerations. Some special characteristics of the semiotic research and of globalistics in Russia are displayed in two Appendixes.

Keywords: dialogue; semiotics; globalization; globalism; communication; universalism.


Affiliation: State Power Engineering University, ul. Krasnosel’skaja 51, Kazan 420066, Republic of Tatarstan, Russia

Email: Emily_Tajsin@inbox.ru




Jean A. Campbell


   Global stewardship explores the perspective of caring for the entire globe—all its peoples and life. The interconnectedness of the basic elementary systems—air and water, which are both necessary for terrestrial and aquatic life—is acknowledged. The concomitant threats of their toxification from immoderate employments of substances and techniques justify the need for global respect and cooperation as well as effective world economic systems as the means to sustain this life.

Keywords: global stewardship; sustainability; global interdependence; global cooperation; global economy.


Affiliation: Seton Hall University in New Jersey and at Pace University and the New School for Social Research, both in New York

Email: JCampbell@Shearman.com




Hope Fitz


   In this paper, I give examples of the similarities in thought which I have found in the works of philosophers and thinkers of ancient Greece and ancient India. Being a comparative philosopher, I have worked with both traditions for many years. In fact, the more I do research in both traditions, the more similarities I have found in various views or perspectives, beliefs and values.

   After briefly explaining some of the similarities, I argue that an ongoing exploration and comparison of these two great traditions can help humans to understand the origins of knowledge, especially philosophical knowledge, and that because the study involves both Western and non-Western traditions, it will require comparative philosophers to undertake the study. Furthermore, since the study will involve research concerning the two cultures, anthropologists, linguists, and some historians will also be needed in this undertaking.

Keywords: ancient Greece philosophy; ancient India philosophy; origins of knowledge; roots of philosophy; comparison of cultural traditions.


Affiliation: Eastern Connecticut State University, 83 Windham St, Willimantic, CT 06226, USA

Email: sebastian09@charter.net


Lilian Karali


   The paper considers the importance of culture for achieving universal dialogue. It clarifies the meanings of the terms “culture” and “art”, focusing on their historical transformations, and on the historical development of the history of art and archaeology, two academic disciplines which investigate art and culture. The recognition of the meanings is treated here as a basic initiating and necessary step in investigating intercultural (universal) dialogue.

Keywords: culture; material culture; nonmaterial culture; art; fine arts.


Affiliation: National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Department of Archaeology and the History of Art, 15784 Ilissia, Athens, Greece.

Email: Liliane Karali (likarali@yahoo.com)







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