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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 31, Issue 2, 2021
Do We Need a New Enlightenment for the Twenty-First Century?

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Displaying: 1-16 of 16 documents

1. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Robert Elliott Allinson Editorial
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1. on the idea of tolerance and religious beliefs
2. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Emilia A. Tajsin Understanding Is Not Enough
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John Locke was one of the first empiricists of the age of modernity who created a masterpiece on systematic gnoseology, and the first Enlightener whose ideas on ethics, law, and politics, preceded and made possible the 18th century and the Great French Revolution, and inspired the key wordings in the American Declaration of Independence. The slogan “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness” influenced the course of history becoming the banner “Freedom, Equality, Fraternity” for all revolutionary movements. However, “Possessions” as part of Locke’s slogan is treated and criticized very frequently and on different grounds. The main questions are: Is reason enough for enlightening, and, could property be the fourth slogan of a social revolution? This paper is meant to be a synopsis of Locke’s main ideas, showing their utmost importance for the contemporary world, as well as examining the latest changes in the role performed by the present-day media, now acting as the new means for enlightening.
3. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Adriana Neacșu John Locke—Theorist of Limiting and Supervising Political Power by Citizens
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This paper aims to analyze John Locke’s ideas on the limited political mandate of the institutions of power, and the need for their supervision and sanctioning by citizens when they violate their duties. It emphasizes the topicality of these ideas, pointing out that they represent two fundamental principles in the functioning of the rule of law, defining the current democracies. Locke justified them starting from the hypothesis that society was founded by people through a deliberate pact, so that the common good could be promoted more effectively, and the legitimacy of political power is conditioned by the observance of this task. Therefore, if political power violates the social pact, it can be overthrown by citizens even by force. The author then raises the question if the use of force to change a political regime can still be justified today. Her answer is that this is an objective mechanism, which appears implacably in all unjust societies, and the only way to defuse it is for states to permanently respect the rights and freedoms of all citizens.
4. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Diego Lucci Separating Politics from Institutional Religion: The Significance of John Locke’s Theory of Toleration
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Nowadays, more than three centuries after John Locke’s affirmation of the separation between state and church, confessional systems of government are still widespread and, even in secular liberal democracies, politics and religion often intermingle. As a result, some ecclesiastical institutions play a significant role in political affairs, while minority groups and individuals having alternative worldviews, values, and lifestyles are frequently discriminated against. Locke’s theory of religious toleration undeniably has some shortcomings, such as the exclusion of Roman Catholics and atheists from toleration and an emphasis on organized religion in A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689). However, Locke’s theory of toleration, which presents a Christian’s defense of the civil rights of those who have different religious opinions, still provides powerful arguments for the oft-neglected separation of politics from institutional religion, thereby urging us to leave theological dogmas and ecclesiastical authorities out of political life.
5. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Shmuel Feiner Mendelssohn’s Jerusalem (1783) and The Jewish Vision of Tolerance
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Moses Mendelssohn (1729–1786) wrote Jerusalem with his back to the wall. His Jewish identity and liberal outlook were challenged in the public sphere of the German Enlightenment, and this was his last opportunity to write a book that would perpetuate the essence of his faith and his values as the first modern Jewish humanist. The work, which moves between apologetics for his faith and political and religious philosophy was primarily a daring essay that categorically denied the rule of religion and advocated tolerance and freedom of thought. Neither the state nor the church had the right to govern a person’s conscience; and, no less far-reaching and pioneering: these values are consistent with Judaism. In the summer of 1783, seven years after the resounding voice of protest against tyranny and in favor of liberty and equality was heard in the American Declaration of Independence, less than six years before the French Revolution, but only two years and two months before his death, the man who was called the “German Socrates,” a highly prominent figure in the Enlightenment, published one of the fundamental documents in Jewish modernity.
6. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Columbus N. Ogbujah Benedict de Spinoza’s Virtue: Springboard for Modern Valorization of Ethical Relativism
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Benedict de Spinoza (1632–1677) was about the most radical of the early modern philosophers who developed a unique metaphysics that inspired an intriguing moral philosophy, fusing insights from ancient Stoicism, Cartesian metaphysics, Hobbes and medieval Jewish rationalism. While helping to ground the Enlightenment, Spinoza’s thoughts, against the intellectual mood of the time, divorced transcendence from divinity, equating God with nature. His extremely naturalistic views of reality constructed an ethical structure that links the control of human passion to virtue and happiness. By denying objective significance to things aside from human desires and beliefs, he is considered an anti-realist; and by endorsing a vision of reality according to which everyone ought to seek their own advantage, he is branded ethical egoist. This essay identified the varying influences of Spinoza’s moral anti-realism and ethical egoism on post-modernist thinkers who decried the “naïve faith” in objective and absolute truth, but rather propagated perspective relativity of reality. It recognized that modern valorization of ethical relativism, which in certain respects, detracts from the core values of the Enlightenment, has its seminal roots in his works.
7. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Gabriela Tănăsescu Philosophy and Theological Rationalism: Spinoza and Hobbes
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The paper aims to circumscribe, through a specific history of ideas approach, the relevance of Benedict Spinoza’s theological rationalism to the major debate which generated the Early Enlightenment, the radical conception on the new status of philosophy in relation to theology, on libertas philosophandi and rational philosophizing. The main lines of Spinoza’s theological rationalism are sustained as being inspired and encouraged by Hobbes’ “negative theology,” the only theology considered consonant with the “true philosophy.” The paper also indicates the originality of Spinoza’s theological criticism and the reasons under which Hobbes—despite the radicalism of his biblical interpretation and of his thesis of separating the philosophy (natural science) from theology—Hobbes enjoyed an attenuated critical reception compared to that one applied to Spinoza and the “acute” tone of which was set by Leibniz.
8. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Gerhardt Stenger From Toleration to Laïcité: Bayle, Voltaire and the Declaration of the Rights of Man
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This paper traces the history of the philosophical and political justification of religious tolerance from the late 17th century to modern times. In the Anglo-Saxon world, John Locke’s Letter Concerning Toleration (1689) gave birth to the doctrine of the separation of Church and State and to what is now called secularization. In France, Pierre Bayle refuted, in his Philosophical Commentary (1685), the justification of intolerance taken from Saint Augustine. Following him, Voltaire campaigned for tolerance following the Calas affair (1763), and the Declaration of the Rights of Man (1789) imposed religious freedom which, a century later, resulted in the uniquely French notion of laïcité, which denies religion any supremacy, and any right to organize life in its name. Equality before the law takes precedence over freedom: the fact of being a believer does not give rise to the right to special statutes or to exceptions to the law.
9. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Evgeniy Bubnov The Idea of Miracle in the Enlightenment and Enlightenment in the Idea of Miracle: The Dialectics of Theological Narrative and Philosophical Discourse
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The article is devoted to the problem of comprehension of the idea of miracle by the encyclopaedists and other enlighteners. The definitions of the concepts we use to designate the miraculous, the amazing and the magic change with the time. This fact may seem trivial at first glance. However, if we draw our sight to the material world we will see that the evolutionary changes taking place with some engineering devices do not affect the functions these devices were invented for. Entirely different is the situation with the semantics of some words denoting abstract concepts. The core function of the word is to convey a certain sense to the addressee. But, as may be seen from the speculations of the miraculous, it is the sense of the word which is gradually changing. The changes mentioned are due to the collisions between different world views at the turn of the epochs. However, the stereotype ideas of the Enlightenment as the period of fighting religious doctrines by means of applying to the reason as the only criterion of the truth, cannot be used to describe the processes in question. Our analysis will also point out at the problem of the periodization of the Age of Enlightenmen
2. thinking for oneself, reason and mysticism
10. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Halina Walentowicz Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the Context of the Enlightenment and the Contemporary Era
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Jean-Jacques Rousseau is a special personage in the history of Enlightenment philosophy and European thought in general. This is so, because, on the one hand, he propounded ideas that were typical for the Enlightenment and greatly influenced his contemporaries—after all, it was he who inspired Kant with the idea of the autonomy of the will as a source of moral and juridical law, a conception which became the foundation of Kantian practical philosophy—but on the other criticised many popular ideas of his day, which from our contemporary perspective appear to have been the superstitions of the Enlightenment period. Rousseau rejected the uncritical apology of (universalistically understood) reason together with the “ethical universalism” professed by rationalists since Socrates. In his claim that human history ran in a circle (from nature in its primeval purity to nature as the expression of civilisational decay), he contested the Enlightenment’s widespread belief that it was a linear, continuous, cumulative and by nature unchangeably progressive process. Because of his transgression of the Enlightenment paradigm, Rousseau is sometimes considered to have been the first modern philosopher. And, in my opinion, rightly so, because his thought stood ahead of its time, and in many ways anticipated contemporary philosophy. I believe that especially the Frankfurt School owes a lot to his achievements. Rousseau’s thought already carried the main seeds of critical theory: the intertwinement of progress and regression over human history, emphasis on the mastering of nature and the destruction of the human element in the course of civilisational evolution, a social-historical (and not purely theoretical, as in Kant’s case) critique of reason for the sake of reason and not from the position of irrationality. Long before Max Horkheimer and his associates at the Institute of Social Research, and even ahead of Sigmund Freud, he saw reasons to ambivalently evaluate the results of human self-creation and to highlight the regressive tendencies present in human history.
11. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Ana Bazac Understanding the Virtues of Enlightenment Epistemology
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The paper tries to demonstrate the hypothesis that the Enlightenment epistemology is the unity of the constructivist theory of knowledge—that developed the transcendental conditions of knowing—and the ethical maximalism of the categorical imperative. Actually, the ethical maximalism was conceived of and is conceivable only in tandem with and as a result of the epistemological constructivism that alone enables the responsibility without which the ethical stakes remain an exterior normative speculation. The unity supported the development of the concept of critique as autonomous use of reason, of education of the critical spirit, and of public presence of critiques. Surveying Kant’s What is Enlightenment and Contest of Faculties, the concepts and the logic related to the critical spirit are described, as well as their interpretations mainly by Foucault. The radical character of Enlightenment is given not by its liberal political theories but just by the above mentioned unity. With Enlightenment, criticism became more than the critique of empirical facts and abstract theories: it became a transcendental method uniting the conditions of every type of criticism and advancing the logic of self-criticism and moral construction.
12. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
German Melikhov Productive Misunderstanding: Independent Thinking as the Horizon of the Enlightenment (On the Example of Polemics between Immanuel Kant and Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi)
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The article focuses on understanding some of the self-evident premises of the philosophy of the 17th–19th centuries that make up the horizon of the Enlightenment. One of these premises is Immanuel Kant’s idea of independent thinking. Based on the analysis of the polemics of Kant and Friedrich Heinrich Jacobi about the “extrasensible abilities” of the reason, the question is raised about the possibility of understanding someone else’s concept based on other existential preferences. Answering this question, we distinguish between the concept of the Enlightenment and the practical principle of the Enlightenment and show that the supporter of the ideology of the Enlightenment (Kant) and his critic (Jacobi) appear in the light of the principle of independent thinking as the spokesmen of the spirit, not the letter of the Enlightenment. A condition for understanding someone else’s concept is a productive misunderstanding, which is one of the aspects of the principle of independent thinking: the acceptance of the self-evident as incomprehensible, the shift of one’s attention to one’s own how-being and the perception of thought as a gift.
3. the fruits of the european enlightenment and the beginning of its critique
13. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Elena Tashlinskaya Education Project: Utopia or New Reality?: (Intellectuals of Russia of the 18th Century)
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The article reveals the main specific features of Russian philosophy of the Enlightenment. The activity of the outstanding scientist Mikhail V. Lomonosov, his contribution to the development of domestic and world science and philosophy come to the forth. Russian Enlightenment is distinguished by the originality of the intellectual tradition. Knowledge of Western ideas leads to the emergence of domestic science, philosophy, literature. The desire for freedom, autonomy and progress in science during the century of Enlightenment was combined with adherence to spiritual traditions, and openness to foreign-language culture did not abolish patriotism and reverence for the state.
14. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Ashok Kumar Malhotra Appraisal of Steven Pinker’s Position on Enlightenment
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Steven Pinker presents four ideals of Enlightenment in his popular book Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress. He argues his case brilliantly and convincingly through cogent arguments in a language comprehensible to the reader of the present century. Moreover, whether it is reason or science or humanism or progress, he defends his position powerfully. He justifies his views by citing 75 graphs on the upswing improvement made by humanity in terms of prosperity, longevity, education, equality of men and women, health, political freedom and medical breakthroughs. Though Pinker makes an excellent case for the positive contributions of Enlightenment; however he ignores the negative aspects that are responsible for causing a great schism between the white race and others who are black and brown. The paper highlights some of these negative comments made by such Enlightenment thinkers as Montesquieu, Voltaire, Chambers, Down and Down and others. Through their literary and scientific writings, these scholars and researchers downgraded the black and brown races, thus causing a rift that led to slavery, colonialism and apartheid. The paper reveals these negative aspects ignored by Pinker in his otherwise well-researched book on Enlightenment. Since Pinker presents a one-sided case by including only the positive contributions of Enlightenment, I recommend that he should write a sequel to his present work outlining the negative aspects responsible for numerous political, social and environmental problems facing humanity today. By using dialectical logic in place of logic of contraries, he might be able to synthesize both the positive and negative aspects of Enlightenment. He can then argue that humanity might be propelled to make progress more efficiently at a faster pace toward humanism and world peace.
15. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Omer Moussaly A Historicist Critique of Steven Pinker’s Interpretation of Progress
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This article presents an alternative account of the Enlightenment project than the one offered by Steven Pinker in Enlightenment Now. It also offers some insights into how historic changes concretely occurred. Based on a Marxian reading of history we attempt to complete the portrait of human progress that Pinker provides. The main arguments in support of our alternative explanation of social progress are based on insights taken from important works written by such intellectuals as Giovanni Arrighi, Andre Gunder Frank, Antonio Gramsci, Chris Harman, Eric Hobsbawm, C. L. R. James, Karl Korsch, Domenico Losurdo, Georg Lukács, Rosa Luxemburg and Herbert Marcuse. We believe that our explanation of progress is complementary to Pinker’s and provides a more realistic appreciation of the Enlightenment project.
16. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 2
Luke O’Sullivan On the Very Idea of Civilisation
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The concept of civilisation is a controversial one because it is unavoidably normative in its implications. Its historical associations with the effort of Western imperialism to impose substantive conditions of life have made it difficult for contemporary liberalism to find a definition of “civilization” that can be reconciled with progressive discourse that seeks to avoid exclusions of various kinds. But because we lack a way of identifying what is peculiar to the relationship of civilisation that avoids the problem of domination, it has tended to be conflated with other ideas. Taking Samuel Huntington's idea of a “Clash of Civilisations” as a starting point, this article argues that we suffer from a widespread confusion of civilisation with “culture,” and that we also confuse it with other ideas including modernity and technological development. Drawing on Thomas Hobbes, the essay proposes an alternative definition of civilisation as the existence of limits on how we may treat others.