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Dialogue and Universalism

Volume 15, Issue 1/2, 2005
Wisdom: Research, Education, Implementation

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1. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1/2
Editors Wisdom: Systemic Research and University Education
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2. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1/2
Steven V. Hicks Mythos, Logos and the Love of Wisdom
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horizons
3. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1/2
Charles S. Brown Overcoming Boundaries of Wisdom: From Eco-phenomenology to Eco-logos
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This paper explores the contribution that a Husserlian inspired phenomenology can make to environmental philosophy. In particular I argue that Husserl’s phenomenological critique of naturalism liberates thinking from its metaphysical naïveté thereby opening thought to a new conception of nature, while his theory of intentionality can be adapted to provide new directions for developing an account of axiological rationality which is open to claim that there is goodness and value within non-human nature. Such a form of rationality, based in the dialectic of empty and filled intentions, would begin to provide a discourse in which the goodness and value of non-human nature could be registered, expressed, and articulated in a rational manner. The result will be an experiential grounding for environmental ethics.
4. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1/2
Sonja Servomaa Nature of Beauty—Beauty of Nature
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In this essay I wish to discuss the theme of wisdom from within the field of aesthetics and to present the aesthetics of Japanese flower art of ikebana, kadô, as an example. Concepts of nature, beauty and wisdom will be related to each other: we have plenty of knowledge of nature, but we need deep wisdom to understand nature of beauty, and spiritual wisdom to see and enjoy beauty of nature. Through flower art of ikebana I search to discover the essence of beauty of nature, a path to wisdom within the saying “See beauty in nature, cultivate elegance in spirit”.
knowledge—science—wisdom
5. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1/2
Nicholas Maxwell A Revolution for Science and the Humanities: From Knowledge to Wisdom
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At present the basic intellectual aim of academic inquiry is to improve knowledge. Much of the structure, the whole character, of academic inquiry, in universities all over the world, is shaped by the adoption of this as the basic intellectual aim. But, judged from the standpoint of making a contribution to human welfare, academic inquiry of this type is damagingly irrational. Three of four of the most elementary rules of rational problem-solving are violated. A revolution in the aims and methods of academic inquiry is needed so that the basic aim becomes to promote wisdom, conceived of as the capacity to realize what is of value, for oneself and others, thus including knowledge and technological know-how, but much else besides. This urgently needed revolution would affect every branch and aspect of the academic enterprise.
6. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1/2
Beata Stawarska Philosopher and Dispassionate Scientist
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Philosophia means love of wisdom. If the way of access to wisdom is love, then the quest for wisdom does not appear as a purely cognitive enterprise but also and primarily as an affective one. Rather than reducing the one who searches for wisdom to a pure contemplative mind, it engages the entire person in the inquiry; the affective, and correlatively, sensitive and corporeal being of the self are put into play. Put simply and naïvely, one needs to be implicated in the philo-sophical quest with one’s heart and one’s body. Still, does not such implication prevent this quest from being “scientific”? Should not the inquiry be dispassionate if it is to remain “objective”, for otherwise it may obscure the hypotheses we formulate and the experiments we perform with subjective, personal input and cloud them with a halo of affective indeterminacy? After all, the thesis of objectivism stipulates that we should efface not only all preconceptions andpresuppositions in order to have an unprejudiced view of the matter in hand, but also dispose of the entire affective baggage of the individual engaged in a scientific enterprise. This procedure of bracketing of affectivity allows one to scrutinize the object of study from the standpoint of an external observer who adds nothing to the object in order to let its inherent character manifest itself. Hence the supposed detachment and disinterest typical of the strategies employed by science, living and inanimate beings alike being all ranked amongst possible objects for study.
7. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1/2
Art Stawinski Truth in Myth and Science
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We humans are a curious species. Of all the life forms that inhabit the earth, we alone strive to make sense of the world in which we find ourselves. For thousands of years we understood the world through stories. Our ancestors told stories of how the world began, how our people originated and came to be at this place, and how those people across the river or beyond the mountains came to be where they are. Some stories were of animals and plants in our neighborhood, and their powers to help us, feed us, or cure our ailments. But in the last few centuries, starting in Europe and spreading throughout the world, a new way of understanding began competing with storytelling as a means of comprehending our world. Science supplanted storytelling largely because it empowered us to transform the world in ways that were unimaginable to our ancestors. We understand the world scientifically by describing the world instead of by telling stories about it. The stories our ancestors told no longer explain the world, but are data within the world, part of the world that science (i.e. cultural anthropology) describes. Our stories have become myths, cultural artifacts that may be interesting and a subject of study, but cannot possibly be true. Yet even in societies that have thoroughly embraced science as a means of understanding the world, myths remain a powerful force. Myth and science exist side by side, often creating confusion and conflict.
8. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1/2
Paul M. Schafer After Darwin: Myth, Reason, and Imagination
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This paper argues that Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection offers the tools to break free from the present impasse in order to rebuild philosophy and regain the love of wisdom. Indeed, I want to suggest that evolutionary theory provides the basis for a new, demythologized rationality, and opens the door to the wonder of human imagination.
9. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1/2
J. Z. Hubert Replacing Mythos by Logos: An Analysis of Conditions and Possibilities in the Light of Information-Thermodynamic Principles of Social Synergetics and of Their Normative Implications
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Religions, ideologies try to give a complete vision of the world a vision containing both its origin, explanation and a “normative kit”: a collection of precepts and rules, which should regulate human activities and behavior. Their synergetic meaning is clear: if embraced by all they allow for development of strong synergetic effects on the social macro scales (i.e. beneficent to all members of society). These in turn may lead to creation of order and beauty, of intellectual, spiritual and moral development within men and in society. In this consist the elements of their natural—i.e. not explicitly reasoned out—wisdom. However, as they contain also some elements of harmful consequences—at least if they are literally accepted and in a fundamentalist manner practiced—they cannot be universally accepted. But—rejecting them we lose also the important sourcesof natural—or should we say instinctive—wisdom.Could the solution of this contradiction, of this one of the basic human sources of suffering be looked for in the modern science of complexity?Synergetics and the sciences of complex systems in general offer a solid scientific base for a meta-philosophical, universalist intellectual framework. Its offspring the social synergetics offers concrete propositions of optimized social structures. Optimized in the sense of espousing (and further developing) the main synergetic effects with being at the same time free of the negative “side effects” happening when religions or ideologies are the source of synergism.Finally a connection is discussed between the presented ideas and the concept of “love of wisdom”. The term “love of wisdom” may be understood as striving not only to possess a “sound and serene judgment regarding the conduct of life” but also a practical ability to act according to that judgment.This ability may be also expressed using the information-thermodynamic concepts of synergetics. Indeed without the ever continuing negentropy transformation neither survival of a complex system like man or society nor its continuing development—uncovering of all his “hidden potentials” is possible.To assure maximization of this transformation process creation of strong synergetic effects—of reinforcement, of positive feedback—between all human beings—i.e. not excluding any nations, any social groups, and any individuals—are necessary. Acting towards local and global realization of such a structure everywhere on our planet constitutes the essence of social wisdom.Removing all obstacles towards this goal—obstacles existing on the intellectual, emotional and spiritual level—should be one of the most important tasks of various institutions, of state structures, of purified from mythical elements ideologies, of man oriented sciences and above all of the modern universalism.Thus striving towards its realization is an expression of the love of wisdom. Of wisdom once based on the elements of mythos and now regained in the full light of Logos.
from philosophy to wisdom
10. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1/2
Werner Krieglstein Compassion: The Focal Point of Any Future Philosophy
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Traditional analysis and reductionism put no value on direct experience. Negative Dialectic allows the human mind to return to an experience of mythical connectedness without falling into the trap of ideological isolation. The paper addresses the problem of truth claims of personal experiences by relating the truth of an experience to its context.The quintessential wholeness of the quantum world corresponds with the commonplace experience of the unity of our mind. Mind is an organic part of the growth process of ever-more complex processes and events that comprise the natural world. Today science provides some support for the idea that all individuals embody spontaneity and experience.
11. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1/2
Grant Havers Political Philosophy and the Love of Wisdom: Leo Strauss and the “New” Conservatism
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The “new” conservatism which dominates American politics is fundamentally different from both liberalism and traditional conservatism. For the neoconservatives, who are influenced by the political philosopher Leo Strauss, fault liberalism for undermining the authority of absolute morality and natural inequality in favor of relativism and openness. Yet they also repudiate the old European conservatism for failing to defy the currents of modernity with anything more than an appeal to tradition. In fine, neoconservatism rejects, despite its own modern origins, modernity itself.
12. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1/2
Herman E. Stark Philosophy as Wonder
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I argue that the love of wisdom can be recovered by reawakening in humans the genuine sense of wonder, i.e., by recovering the transformed condition in which humans experience philosophical asking as a meaning-bestowing and existentially-transforming phenomenon. Wonder in this sense is primarily a metaphysical and not psychological state, and it is evoked by the transforming phenomenon of philosophical asking. Philosophical asking is not reducible to a something, e.g., a sentence in question-form, that provokes the setting up and critique of theories but rather is essentially a way of existing, a dwelling, that is marked by the astonishment of watching the world, and ourselves, open up and transfigure by our very asking, i.e., by our existing as askers.
13. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1/2
Ulrich Seeberg Philosophy—The Narrow Door to the Teaching of Wisdom: A Kantian Position
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The aim of this paper is to explain the Kantian concept of philosophy according to which philosophy can be understood as the narrow door to the teaching of wisdom. This discussion is guided by the question about the relation between logos and mythos. The thesis is that the awareness of the limits of logos, the scientific approach to the world, can be regarded as a presupposition for a proper understanding of mythos, the articulation of wisdom, which expresses the unity of contradictory elements of life. Philosophy has the function of mediating between reason and wisdom by making explicit the limits of scientific explanation. This opens a field of unrestricted and therefore not scientifically explicable thoughts: the sphere of ideas that are accessible in Ethics and Aesthetics.
14. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1/2
I. Bambang Sugiharto Logos without Substance: Wisdom as Seeing through the Absence
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The tradition of Western philosophy has been tracing out the significations of logos and centered around logos. This in fact has given birth to many significant results. Through its logical structuring of empirical reality it has made possible critical understanding transcending the past and progressive creation of the future. But this Logology or Logocentrism has eventually also led to its self-destruction and to the brink of absolute nihilism.Along the history, logos has been interpreted in various ways. The history implies that at least in the cosmic, theological and ideological frameworks logos used to be seen as extralinguistic substance; whereas starting from the scientific mode of thinking logos has been seen more as intralinguistic substance (at least up till Logical-Positivism). This ends up in the political perspective in which logos is without substance: mere effects of the play of texts and discourse.While the latter appears like a predicament, the fact is that it can also be taken as a moment of liberation, a liberation from the keen yet stifling Western (Aristotelian) paradigm of logos apophanticos which has animated all kinds of “positivistic” mode of thinking; a liberation from the so-called Metaphysics of Presence, hence an openness towards the Absence, the ambiguity, the indefinability or the elusiveness of reality (Being); an openness towards the richness and complexity of human experience; hence an openness for mutual interogative and transformative dialogues among different semiotic systems, traditions and language games, which would also empower and incorporate non-Western as well as non-scientific mode of thinking into global discourse.Perhaps wisdom lies in the courage to recognize the fact that ultimately reality or the so-called Being is not a substance, but rather, fleeting relations, ever-changing networks, or elusive flux. Wisdom ultimately might mean an ability to come to terms with insecurity, an ability to see through the “absence”.
15. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1/2
Graham Harman Some Preconditions of Universal Philosophical Dialogue
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Our own era is widely viewed as a golden age of intellectual tolerance when compared with the persecutions of yesteryear. But in fact, this tolerance serves to mask a fundamental indifference of one perspective to another. Each world view is seen as a personal opinion, walled off from others and immune to challenge or alteration by them. This article blames the current situation in part on the triumph of critical philosophy since Kant. In closing, several concrete and even whimsical proposals are made for remedying the situation and restoring a more wild and fruitful form of intellectual combat of a kind that no longer exists.
wisdom in different cultures
16. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1/2
Edward Demenchonok Intercultural Discourse and African-Caribbean Philosophy
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The explosion of publications on race, gender, and minority cultures during recent decades was a natural reaction to the universalistic pretensions of Western philosophy, for which many of these issues were invisible. The theoretical articulation of these issues has substantially contributed to the transformation of philosophy. However, the side-effect of an overemphasis on difference is an underestimating of unity, which may lead to disintegration. The challenge to philosophical thought on race, gender, and culture is to reconcile the difference with commonality, and diversity with unity. This essay explores the issues of cultural identity and intercultural relations and their interpretation in African-Caribbean thought. The first part of the essay surveys the current debate over multiculturalism, which promotes diversity but overlooks the interrelations of cultures, and the alternative ideas of interculturality or the dialogue of cultures. Thedissatisfaction with multiculturalism and postmodern relativism stimulated alternative approaches, such as “transculture” and “intercultural philosophy”. Mikhail Epstein criticizes relativism from the perspective of “critical universalism” and develops the concept of “transculture”. Raúl Fornet-Betancourt’s project of the intercultural transformation of philosophy asserts the cultural embedding of philosophical thinking and draws attention to the indigenous and African thought. The second half of the essay focuses on the ideas of identity and interculturality as they are expressed in African-Caribbean philosophy. This philosophy is viewed as a part of Africana philosophy. Various theoretical approaches to the issues of race and culture are examined: Charles Mills’ concept of “racial contract”, Lewis Gordon’s “Africana philosophy of existence”, and Paget Henry’s project of Africana philosophy, which combines the existentialphenomenological approach with analysis of the discursive formations in search for the identity of this philosophy. The analysis shows that in the evolution of African-Caribbean philosophy, as in Latin American and other “Third World philosophies”, the initial focus on the search for identity is followed by more interest in dialogical relationships with other philosophies as a condition for its own development.
17. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1/2
Karin Melis Reading Medea and Hecuba: The Tragic in Unconditional Love
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If, as I propose, Hecuba represents fate and Medea contingency, taken together they constitute as well as reveal the tragic within the tension between the ontological and empirical status of man as it is embodied in the clash between necessity and freedom. Viewing this tension within the perspective of the unconditional status of the love of the mother, I will show how both narratives belong to the realm of possibilities and cause, what Ricoeur calls “suffering for the sake of understanding”. I will argue that the phenomenon of the unconditional love of the mother is in itself tragic and open to both the appearance of both Medea and Hecuba.
18. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 15 > Issue: 1/2
Our Contributors
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