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1. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 12
Edward M. Swiderski Philosophy in Russia Today and the Legacy of Soviet Philosophy
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In a comment to Richard Rorty, Andrzej Walicki underscored the contextual difference between philosophy in a society like the USA and in post-communist countries. Citizens of democratic societies live best with a sense of contingency, situational embeddedness, plural rationalities, and relative truth. In East/Central Europe (ECE), the demand is for epistemological and moral certainty. Walicki did not say how philosophers in ECE are meeting this demand. How do philosophers in post-communist societies respond to the demand for ‘objective and universal standards’ when the prevailing sense is that they have as great a need for clear horizons as the cultures to which they are called on to contribute foundations? In this setting, many philosophers seek to go beyond reflection to ‘reflexivity’—to ascertain the socio-cultural and moral prerequisites of “philosophizing.”
2. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 12
James P. Scanlan Main Currents of Post-Soviet Philosophy in Russia
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With the destruction of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Communist Party, Russia in the past few years has experienced a philosophical revolution unparalleled in suddenness and scope. Among the salient features of this revolution are the displacement of Marxism from its former, virtually monopolistic status to a distinctly subordinate and widely scorned position; the rediscovery of Russia’s pre-Marxist and anti-Marxist philosophers, in particular the religious thinkers of the past two centuries; increasing interest in Western philosophical traditions that were neglected or condemned during the Soviet period; and special attention to the philosophy of culture, with particular reference to the role of philosophy in the national culture of Russia. In all of these new directions, a recurring and controversial theme is the widely perceived need for a new “Russian idea,” or something to “fill the ideological vacuum” left by the demise of Russian Marxism.
3. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 12
Mikhail Epstein Main Trends of Contemporary Russian Thought
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This paper focuses on the most recent period in the development of Russian thought (1960s–1990s). Proceeding from the cyclical patterns of Russian intellectual history, I propose to name it the third philosophical awakening. I define the main tendency of this period as the struggle of thought against ideocracy. I then suggest a classification of main trends in Russian thought of this period: (1) Dialectical Materialism in its evolution from late Stalinism to neo-communist mysticism; (2) Neorationalism and Structuralism; (3) Religious Orthodox Thought; (4) Synthetic and Spiritualist Teachings; (5) Personalism and Liberalism; (6) Neo-Slavophilism and the Philosophy of National Spirit; (7) Culturology, or the Philosophy of Culture; (8) Conceptualism, or the Philosophy of Postmodernity.
4. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 12
Hamlet A. Gevorkian The Encounter of Cultures and the Philosophy of History: Problems and Solutions
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A general problem of philosophy concerns the possibility of objective knowledge of other cultures (including past cultures), and the adequacy of their reconstruction. The problem of cultural development is also crucial. In this paper, I argue that a culture which has expanded its potentialities in various independent forms is an open culture capable of entering into dialogue with other cultures.
5. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 12
Jay L. Garfield Buddhism and Democracy
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What is the relation between Buddhism and liberal democracy? Are they compatible frameworks for social value that can somehow be joined to one another to gain a consistent whole? Or, are they antagonistic, forcing those who would be Buddhist democrats into an uncomfortable choice between individually attractive but jointly unsatisfiable values? Another possibility is that they operate at entirely different levels of discourse so that questions regarding their relationship simply do not arise. I suggest that not only are Buddhism and liberal democracy compatible, but that they are complementary in a deep sense. Democracy, it is argued here, can be strengthened by values drawn from Buddhist moral and social theory, and Buddhist moral and social theory would gain concrete institutional and procedural specificity when it is articulated through the framework of liberal democratic theory.
6. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 12
Kwang-Sae Lee Justice from an Eastern Perspective: Field and Focus
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I will take David Hall and Roger Ames’s idea of “field and focus”—each unique individual is a unique focus in the communal field—as a central theme of the East Asian way of dealing with the relationship between the community and its constituent members. The pairing of these two concepts suggests the essential mutuality of the communal involvement of every person and the “insistent particularity” of each person. The worth of each individual becomes manifest only if the “egocentered” self yields to the “selfless” self. An East Asian sense of justice thereby acquires the sense of attention to each unique focus (particular individual) in the field (community). Liberty and human rights are thus ineluctably bound up with a sense of communal responsibility.
7. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 12
Chung-ying Cheng Philosophy of Violence from an Eastern Perspective
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In this paper, I discuss Moist, Confucianist, Daoist, and Buddhist views on violence, arguing that this provides a whole spectrum of ways of dealing with violence that should not to be regarded as being mutually exclusive. In fact, I argue that it is actually beneficial to combine these positions for dealing with specific cases of violence, and for preventing violence from ever occurring.
8. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 12
Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze Democracy in Today’s Africa: A Philosopher’s Point of View
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There are international and so-called “global” forces framing Africa within a larger world, a world structured predominantly by Europe and North America and their needs for raw materials and markets, power, and leisure. This paper therefore pursues questions like, “What does democracy mean for Africans today?” and, “What does freedom mean when colonial liberation has been achieved?” or, to be more precise, “What is democracy in the world today from an African perspective?”. I distinguish between freedom (as the exercise of autonomy and accompanying responsibility), and liberation (as the throwing off of foreign domination). I argue that democracy should be understood as a “concern for freedoms” (religious, economic, or political), and that democratic law seeks, in principle, the most space for the exercise of freedom for everyone. This conception of democracy is quite naturally the “other” face of the independence and liberation movements throughout Africa.
9. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 12
Safro Kwame Philosophy and Social Justice in the World Today: An African Perspective
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From an African point of view, there is no social justice in the world today and, from that point of view, there may not be much difference between the African, African-American, Asian, or even Western perspectives. There may, however, be some difference in the reasons given in support of this perspective or, rather, conclusion. The African perspective is heavily influenced by events such as the trans-Atlantic slave trade, colonialism, and, more recently, by the report of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the bombing of the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. The reason, in part, is that all of these events or reports seem to reinforce the belief, which I take to be contrary to the core principle of social justice, that African lives are either worthless or do not count as much as others. Further, they seem to have the effect of cheating Africans or making fools out of them, which, from a traditional Akan point of view, is a violation of the tenets of social justice.
10. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 12
D. A. Masolo Communitarianism: An African Perspective
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How is the sense (knowledge and feelings) of community produced? What roles do various units of society play in producing such knowledge and feelings? What are the values of the ethic engendered by such knowledge and feelings? I suggest that a communitarian theory indigenous to African culture enables us to respond to these questions. Against the objections of those who advocate an ideology of modern democratic liberalism, I argue that the values of individual worth and freedom are indeed compatible with those of communitarianism. Further, while I agree that communities are natural orders into which individuals are born, I deny any ontological determinism that would seek to restrict such orders in terms of ethnicity or race. Rather, communities also need to be understood as products of deliberate human organization and choices.
11. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 12
D. P. Chattopadhyaya Communitarianism from an Eastern Perspective
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I make a distinction between regional and national movements toward union and uniformity. The former suppresses individuality, both at the level of the human being and at that of their political aggregates, while the latter allows space for criticism and creativity. I briefly rehearse communitarian movements of the past so as to draw historical lessons from their failures. From this, I go on to sketch some features of the kind of regional and even global communitarianism that is required in today’s political and economic context.
12. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 12
Andrzej Maciej Kaniowski Is Globalization a Real Threat to Democracy?: Remarks from an Eastern European Perspective
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In this paper, I argue that if the process of globalization leads to more severe social discrepancies that are not acceptable to many groups of people, then globalization would become the factor of primary relevance that threatens democracy; but if globalization and the present democratic order manage to solve social problems, then globalization will be a factor supporting the democratic way of thinking that is not oriented to exclusiveness. Globalization, I believe, coincides rather with a way of thinking that is non-xenophobic and which refuses to see moral thinking in the strict dichotomy of good and evil.
13. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 12
George Teschner The Humanities and Telecommunication Technology
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Contemporary technology in the form of electronically managed interactive telecommunications is compatible with the goals and values of the humanities. Computerized communication (especially that of bulletin board technology) inverts the relationship between the degree of communicative interaction and the number of communicants. It is both mass communication and individualized participation. From the point of view of a theory of discourse, the bulletin board system is unique in that the ratio between the number of participants and the individualized nature of the interaction is directly proportional. One person’s voice does not inhibit or repress the voice of another. It is the technological embodiment of the ideal speech situation of Habermas that allows for the maximum of democratic participation and which, by allowing everyone to have a voice, allows for the greatest amount of dissensus and dialectic.
14. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 12
Robert Cummings Neville Humanity and the Natural World: Reconceiving Knowing, Learning, and Living
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A key existential problem for paideia in the modern Western world—and perhaps for much elsewhere—is to build up the continuum of engagement from the subtle signs of contemporary scientific, artistic, and imaginative society down through the depths of nature. That continuum has been prevented by the modern creation of a fake culture of artificial self-sufficiency within which nature appears only tamed and cooked, and which deflects interpretive engagements of deeper nature except where leakages occur. What can be done about learning for humanity and the natural world? In what follows, I put forth three suggestions.