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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 30, Issue 1, 2020
Philosophy in an Age of Crisis, Part IV

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1. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1
Małgorzata Czarnocka Editorial
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past philosophy for the present and future
2. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1
Kevin M. Brien Toward a Critical Synthesis of the Aristotelian and Confucian Doctrines of the Mean
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This paper is the second phase of a project that was begun more than three years ago. The first phase culminated in the publication of a paper working toward a critical appropriation of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.1 Therein Aristotle famously argues that human wellbeing (eudaimonia) is constituted by “activity of the soul in accordance with moral and intellectual virtue.”2 This earlier paper brought into focus all the main lines of Aristotle’s theoretical web in the N. Ethics: including the nature of the soul, intellectual virtue, moral virtue, etc. That paper went on to give a developed critique of Aristotle’s theoretical web, and against that background it argued for a very different way of thinking about intellectual virtue, and it prepared the ground for different ways of thinking about moral virtue. This current paper explores the various conceptual understandings of “the mean” in Aristotelian and in Confucian thought. It begins with an explanatory sketch of “the mean” as understood in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, and then in a second section goes on to explore “the mean” as presented in classical Confucianism. The third section of this paper offers some reflections oriented toward a tentative formulation of a modified conception of “the mean” as it might be construed from a humanistic Marxist perspective.
3. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1
T. Brian Mooney, Damini Roy Politeness and Pietas as Annexed to the Virtue of Justice
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“Politeness” appears to be connected to a quite disparate set of related concepts, including but not limited to, “manners,” “etiquette,” “agreeableness,” “respect” and even “piety.” While in the East politeness considered as an important social virtue is present (and even central) in the theoretical and practical expressions of the Confucian, Taoist and Buddhist traditions, (indeed politeness has been viewed in these traditions as central to proper education) it has not featured prominently in philosophical discussion in the West. American presidents Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington all devoted discussion to politeness within the broader ambit of manners and etiquette, as too did Erasmus, Edmund Burke and Ralph Waldo Emerson but on the whole sustained philosophical engagement with the topic has been lacking in the West. The richest source for philosophical investigation is perhaps afforded by the centrality of the concept of respect in Immanuel Kant.However in this paper we will instead draw on the writings of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas to defend the centrality of “politeness” as an important and valuable moral virtue. Starting with an analysis of the broader Aristotelian arguments on the virtues associated with “agreeableness,” namely, friendliness, truthfulness and wit I will argue that “politeness” should be thought of as an important moral virtue attached to social intercourse (and by extension the vice of impoliteness). I then move to identify an even broader and more important account of politeness, drawing on the work of Aquinas, as intimately connected to the notion of pietas (piety) as a fundamental part of the virtue of justice.
4. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1
Robert Elliott Allinson The Problem of the External World in René Descartes, Edmund Husserl, Immanuel Kant and the Evil Genius: A Perennial Problem for Philosophers?
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The need to prove the existence of the external world has been a subject that has concerned the rationalist philosophers, particularly Descartes and the empiricist philosophers such as John Locke, George Berkeley and David Hume. Taking the epoché as the key mark of the phenomenologist—the suspension of the question of the existence of the external world—the issue of the external world should not come under the domain of the phenomenologist. Ironically, however, I would like to suggest that it could be argued that the founder of the phenomenological school of thought, Edmund Husserl, also did not avoid the question of the existence of the external world. What I would like to suggest further is that Immanuel Kant grants himself illicit access to the external world and thus illustrates that the question of the external world is vital to the argument structure of the first Critique.
5. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1
Dávid Kollár, József Kollár The Art of Shipwrecking: The Information Society and the Rise of Exaptive Resilience
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We argue that the epistemological, ontological, locality and social structure of the world have undergone radical changes over the last decades. The greatest riddle of the information age is whether we can domesticate the “unstable chaos” to “productive anarchy.” We argue that this results in the appreciation of the creative use of the “we do not know that we know” type of knowledge that we conceptualize as exaptive resilience. We briefly clarify the difference between exaptation and adaptation, and we compare the concept of adaptive resilience with that of exaptive resilience. Our results will show that the effectiveness of complex systems in the information age depends on the capacity of adaptive and exaptive resilience.
6. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1
Mitchell Atkinson III Parsimony and Ontological Control: Quine and Wittgenstein on the Size of the World
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In this paper, I argue that philosophers, while developing ontologies, can be classed as misers or profligates. I develop the categories of ontological miserliness and ontological profligacy and supply explanatory examples. I explore the theoretical motivation of both misers and profligates in terms of thought-time and inquiry scope. In brief, misers prioritize thought-time over inquiry scope; vice-versa for profligates. I examine the extent to which conservation of thought-time is an active concern for misers and provide a miserly taxonomy for ontologies; ontologies may be cheap, expensive or impossible. I argue that profligates countenance the generative character of the ontological enterprise at the expense of exclusion and limitation. The works of Willard Van Orman Quine and Ludwig Wittgenstein provide canonic examples of miserly and profligate ontologies. I argue that Quine is an ontological miser par excellence, and that Wittgenstein is profligate in his later period and evinces an intermediate position in his early period. Finally, I discuss the theoretical stakes involved in this entire discussion, provide brief contemporary examples, and explore the extent to which the distinction between miserliness and profligacy is illusory.
7. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1
Andrey I. Matsyna “Natural Work” as Self-capability: Remaining Human in the Era of Turmoil. In Memory of Grigory Savvich Skovoroda
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A great wandering humanist philosopher, enlightener and outstanding poet Grigory Savvich Skovoroda’s work pertains to a difficult period in the life of the 18th century Eastern Ukraine. Against the background of growing injustice and evil, the decline of spiritual values, an authentic practical philosophy of individual opposition to a self-serving world steeped in vice was born. Skovoroda’s philosophy completely lacks the intention to consider proprietary interests as the driving force of human development. Its key principle of human development is self-examination within one’s own energy-activity-object-related space. The call for self-examination from the perspective of the authentic idea of “natural work” is revealed dynamically as the process of bringing the objective world into harmony with the nature of an individual. “Natural work” is a process of individual’s constant creative self-overcoming on the ascent to subject identity; total communion of man with the universal whole.
philosophy and current human problems
8. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1
Omer Moussaly The Lessons of Gramsci’s Philosophy of Praxis
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For many intellectuals, including the philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis, the historical destiny of Marxism-Leninism has discredited the philosophy of praxis. It can no longer serve as a source for radical political thought. Analyzing the theoretical contributions of the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, we argue that a renewal of Marxism is both possible and needed. After more than forty years of neoliberal capitalism, a revitalized Marxism can contribute to the critique of contemporary forms of economic exploitation and statist domination. We propose that it is the concepts developed by Castoriadis that need to be translated and adapted to this reformed philosophy of praxis.
9. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1
Shuang Zhang Critique of Capital in the Era of Globalization
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Globalization does not only embrace economy, but also politics, culture, climate, military affairs, and so on. Its most important aspect is capital; the concept of capital is the key to analyzing and understanding the today world. Today capital has turned from primitive accumulation into “accumulation by dispossession,” extending its ruling logic to all fields and levels of the world. What we should do is to minimize the capitalist ruling logic in globalization; the very globalization is an imminent trend.
10. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1
Stanisław Czerniak Around Richard Münch’s Academic Capitalism Theory
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The author reviews the main elements of Richard Münch’s academic capitalism theory. By introducing categories like “audit university” or “entrepreneurial university,” the German sociologist critically sets today’s academic management model against the earlier, modern-era conception of academic work as an “exchange of gifts.” In the sociological and psychological sense, he sees the latter’s roots in traditional social lore, for instance the potlatch ceremonies celebrated by some North-American Indian tribes and described by Marcel Mauss. Münch shows the similarities between the old, “gift exchanging” model and the contemporary one with its focus on the psycho-social fundamentals of scientific praxis, and from this gradually derives the academic capitalism conception. He concludes with the critical claim that science possesses its own, inalienable axiological autonomy and anthropological dimension, which degenerate as capitalism proceeds to “colonise” science by means of state authority and money (here Münch mentions Jürgen Habermas and his philosophical argumentation).The author also offers a somewhat broader view of Münch’s analyses in the context of his own reflections on the problem.
11. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1
Necip Fikri Alican Rawls’s Justification Model for Ethics: What Exactly Justifies the Model?
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This is a defense of Rawls against recent criticism, ironically my own, though it is also a critique insofar as it addresses a problem that Rawls never does. As a defense, it is not a retraction of the original charges. As a critique, it is not more of the same opposition. In either capacity, it is not an afterthought. The charges were conceived from the outset with a specific solution in mind, which would have been too distracting to pursue in the same article. This is that solution. It also highlights the problem.The original charges were that Rawls’s decision procedure for ethics does not justify his own moral principles, namely his principles of justice, and that the underlying problem may well keep the decision procedure from justifying any moral principles whatsoever, or at least any normatively useful ones. The underlying problem was, and still is, the model’s inherent universalism, which is built into the decision procedure through design specifications precluding relativism, yet only at the cost of limiting the relevant moral principles to generalities that are already widely accepted, thereby rendering the procedure at best redundant and very likely vacuous as an ethical justification model.These difficulties are manifested in the work of Rawls as the dogmatism of championing a distinctive conception of justice, a liberal one as he himself calls it, through a justification model that is too universalistic to permit such a bias and possibly also too universalistic to permit any substantive conclusions at all. The solution contemplated here is to position the decision procedure as a dynamic justification model responsive to moral progress, as opposed to a static one indifferent to such progress and equally open to all moral input, thus removing the inconsistency between the universalistic design and any distinctive or controversial principles, including the ones Rawls himself recommends, so long as they are consistent with moral progress.
12. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1
Henryk Krawczyk, Andrew Targowski A Universal Theory of Wisdom: A Mind-oriented Approach
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The purpose of the paper is to synthesize the issues of human wisdom in terms of minds which create knowledge-based judgment. We form a transdisciplinary, big-picture view of the wisdom of humans. Findings: Wisdom is the right judgment and choice in the context of the art of living. Practical implications: Wisdom can be developed within the set of minds. Social implications: To pursue wisdom in thinking and action, one must extend education to embrace more knowledge and practicing gaining better skills in decision-making. Originality: This approach offers a new understanding of the wisdom of humans, which cannot be identified as a synonym of knowledge.
13. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 30 > Issue: 1
Jonathan O. Chimakonam Are Digital Technologies Transforming Humanity and Making Politics Impossible?
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My question in this paper is whether digital technologies transform humanity and make politics impossible. Digital technologies, no doubt, are revolutionary. But I argue that what they have done in the Post-Cold War era are: (1) to further contract the spaces between politicians and the people; (2) transform actors from subjects to objects, such that we may in addition to social identities, talk about digital identities; (3) relocate the public sphere from squares to ilosphere where individuals are granted enormous expressive powers but at the same time become vulnerable to large scale manipulations; (4) and escalate the tools of politics. My argument will be that digital technologies in a subtle way are transforming humanity in the digital space and that this might have costly moral consequences not only in politics generally but specifically in liberal democracy. However, I will contend that this transformation of humanity does not make politics impossible; it only escalates it with troubling consequences like those we saw in the 2016 American presidential election.