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Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 72, 2018

Social Philosophy

Peter Harteloh
Pages 41-46

The Role of Erasmus’ Philosophy in Peace Building

My paper will deal with the contribution of philosophy to peace building. It provides a review of the peace concept in the works of Erasmus, a positive definition of the peace concept and an introduction of two important tools for peace building: philosophical counselling and Socratic dialogue. In line with Erasmus, I will define peace as a quality of friendship. I will distinguish an individual, social and political aspect of the peace concept and argue that we should integrate these different aspects of the peace concept in order to build peace. Dialogue seems to be the connecting substance. Philosophical practice can be the tool for shaping this substance by individual counselling or Socratic group dialogue. Philosophical practice originated in the 20th century. With a social utility in mind philosophers started counselling individual persons or moderating groups again. They criticised academic philosophy as being too theoretical and too detached from everyday life and revitalized a style of philosophy, as practiced by Socrates, Seneca, Erasmus, Descartes and many others in the history of philosophy. With respect to peace building, philosophical counselling helps individuals to deal with personal themes or problems in life and the Socratic method structures dialogue so that peace can be discussed in a rational way. Both serve attitude building and provide a philosophical experience important for peace building. As morale, I like to propose a variant of a famous saying of Erasmus, “Dulcis pax expertis”, i.e., “peace is only sweet for those who know it by experience”. I think that philosophical practice can provide us with such an experience.

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