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1. on the idea of tolerance and religious beliefs
21. 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.
22. 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.
23. 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.
24. 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
25. 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.
26. 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.
27. 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
28. 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.
29. 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.
30. 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.
31. 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.
32. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 1
Charles Brown Editorial
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color and essence of racism
33. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 1
Isaiah Aduojo Negedu The Illusion of a Post-Racialised World
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The presidential election of 2007 that sworn in Barack Obama as president of the United States of America heightened the idea that rightly, or wrongly, suggests the world (at least the U.S.) has become post-racialised. I will explain how the notion of post-raciality is a distraction to the demands of racial diversity in the twenty-first century. I use the conversational thinking as an alternative method to show how the possibility of both nuances in the form of racial conflict/diversity can subsist. The difference I envisage is that between highly melanated Africans and European Americans. Here, I argue that dialogue is still the most preferred option in racial conflict. However, the dialogue I propose is not a promise akin to the post-racialised, but a relationship that can exist in the midst of conflict, while at the same time acknowledging difference.
34. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 1
Columbus N. Ogbujah Colourism, Ethnicism and the Logic of Domination in 21st Century Nigeria
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The 2016 launch of the courier giant—Dalsey, Hillblom, and Lynn’s (DHL) Advanced Regional Centre (ARC) in Singapore—was significant not just for the scale of the facility and its impressive level of innovation, but for the visual identity and branding of DHL’s red and yellow corporate colours. These colours, as is evident in all branding, set it out from the rest, and have become a symbol of power and domination. This resonates with the use of colour categories to isolate human beings into unjust classes that manifest divisive social and racial hierarchies. The symbolism of colourism and ethnicism viewed either plainly or as metaphors, lies in the “othering” of fellow human beings for discrimination and scapegoating. The markers are the same, whether in the case of George Floyd or the victims of discrimination and/or recurrent massacres in Nigeria. This essay explores how, by creating a visible barge of “otherness,” the current political leadership either shirked responsibility in the face of discriminations, or contrived excuses for the endless massacre of minorities in Nigeria.
35. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 1
Robert Elliott Allinson Unmasking Color Racism
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One reason Aristotle is distinguished as a philosopher is that he thought the philosopher investigated the causes of things. This paper raises the question: What are the causes of racial prejudice and racial discrimination. All ethical beings know that racial prejudice and racial discrimination are morally wrong, deplorable and should be completely eradicated. Deanna Jacobsen Koepke refers to Holt’s definitions in distinguishing racism from prejudice: “Racism is defined as hostility toward a group of people based on alleged inferiorities. Racism is a system of power and privilege that is at the foundation of society’s structures rather than prejudice, which is a hostile attitude toward a person based on trait he or she is assumed to have due to group membership.” This concept squarely places racism as the culprit to be extinguished. In this article, it is to be argued that to define racism as the target is only to observe the manifest phenomenon. The argument of the article is that racial prejudice and discrimination rest upon four pillars: political, economic, social and cultural. For simplicity of explanation, the social and cultural pillars shall be considered under the category of the political pillar, although the distinction between these pillars shall be noted. This article argues that these four pillars themselves, rest upon a foundation. The foundation is the deep psychological fear of the current, existing dominant economic group that the current existing dominated minority group will eventually usurp the power of the dominant economic group. The manifest form that this type of fear assumes is racial prejudice and discrimination. In its most extreme forms it then manifests as hate speech, hate action, hate brutality and hate murder.2 These manifestations provide the fuel that maintains the power imbalance and provides a camouflage for the four pillars that lie beneath the racist exterior. In this article, the political and economic pillars that underlie color racism will be examined first. The underlying deep psychological foundation shall be treated separately. In the end, the argument of this article is that color racism cannot be fully extinguished until its role as providing a mask for the underlying four pillars that consistently support inequality between different groups or classes are uprooted and the deep psychological fear that underlies them is eliminated.3 The masked function of color racism is its enormous power in perpetuating inequality; hence, the title of this paper, Unmasking Color Racism.
national or regional manifestations of racism
36. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 1
Evgeniy Bubnov The Religious and Quasi-Religious Genealogy of the Theology of Nazism
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The article is dedicated to the understanding of the Nazi anthropology as an element of the quasi-religious concept. Adolf Hitler’s racial theory unequivocally rejected the human status of persons not belonging to the Caucasian race, labeling them as Untermensch (“under-man”). Such an attitude was due to several prerequisites. However, the core reason is manifested not in the rational sphere. In the twentieth century, concepts of quasi-religions and political religions became widespread due to the reign of two totalitarian ideologies in Eurasia—Nazism and Communism. Numerous scholars emphasized the fact that these ideologies performed religious functions thus occupying an intellectual space at the interface between the religious and the secular. Quasi-religion adherents may be equally fanatic as religious radicals. Questions about whether this similarity is mere coincidence or whether quasi-religions are derivatives from traditional religions and the meaning of this problem today deserve close attention.
37. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 1
Maraizu Elechi Western Racist Ideologies and the Nigerian Predicament
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Racism is responsible for discrimination against some citizens in Nigeria. It influences government's policies and actions and militates against equity and equal opportunity for all. It has effaced indigenous values and ebbed the country into groaning predicaments of shattered destiny and derailed national development. Racism hinges on superciliousness and the assumed superiority of one tribe and religion over the others. These bring to the fore two forms of racism in Nigeria: institutional and interpersonal racisms. The Western selfish motive to dominate, marginalize, and sustain economic gains, political expansion, psycho-mental control, and socio-cultural devaluations escalated racism in Nigeria. Racist ideologies were entrenched through the selfish ventures of slave trade, colonialism and neo-colonialism, which enforced an unprecedented unjust harvest of impugnable systemic practices. Neo-colonial forces continue to promote ethnocentrism, cultural imperialism, and the dehumanization, exploitation, oppression, and suppression of Africans. Adopting a methodical approach of critical analysis, this article spotlights the negative effects of racism on Nigeria's development. However, the bristling challenges of racist ideologies can be resolved within the epistemological compass of gynist deconstruction approach to human thought and action for a better universe of one human race.
38. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 1
Paul K. Michael Racism, Vulnerability, and the Youth Struggle in Africa
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Because youths are particularly vulnerable to social problems, philosophers since Plato to date have continued to show interest in developing, empowering, and protecting the youths. African youths are particularly far more than ordinarily vulnerable to various social problems including racism especially from outside the continent, mainly because of the shortfall in youth development and empowerment strategies in most African countries. Consequently, young people are pulled to countries with resources and infrastructures that provide them with opportunities to enlarge their capabilities and improve their quality of life, where they are also faced with discriminatory, prejudicial, and antagonistic treatments simply because of their skin colour. So, one way to look at racism and reduce its effects is to examine those socio-political as well as economic structures that constitute obstacles to youth development and empowerment, and which push and expose the young in Africa to the ill-treatments emanating from racism.
39. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 1
Earnest N. Bracey Andrew Jackson, Black American Slavery, and the Trail of Tears: A Critical Analysis
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Many revisionist historians today try to make the late President Andrew Jackson out to be something that he was not—that is, a man of all the people. In our uninhibited, polarized culture, the truth should mean something. Therefore, studying the character of someone like Andrew Jackson should be fully investigated, and researched, as this work attempts to do. Indeed, this article tells us that we should not accept lies and conspiracy theories as the truth. Such revisionist history comes into sharp focus in Bradley J. Birzer’s latest book, In Defense of Andrew Jackson. Indeed, his (selective) efforts are surprisingly wrong, as he tries to give alternative explanations for Jackson’s corrupt life and political malfeasance. Hence, the lawlessness of Andrew Jackson cannot be ignored or “white washed” from American history. More important, discrediting the objective truth about Andrew Jackson, and his blatant misuse of executive power as the U.S. President should never be dismissed, like his awful treatment of Blacks and other minorities in the United States. It should have been important to Birzer to get his story right about Andrew Jackson, with a more balanced approach in regards to the man. Finally, Jackson should have tried to eliminate Black slavery in his life time, not embrace it, based on the ideas of human dignity and our common humanity. To be brutally honest, it is one thing to disagree with Andrew Jackson; but it is quite another to feel that he, as President of the United States, was on the side of all the American people during his time, because it was not true. Perhaps the biggest question is: Could Andrew Jackson have made a positive difference for every American, even Black slaves and Native Americans?
the “legitimation” of racism
40. Dialogue and Universalism: Volume > 31 > Issue: 1
Ana Bazac The Problem of the Coexistence of the Concept of Human Nature and Racism
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Although the concept of human nature may seem problematic, its a-historical essentialism can be used to show the fall of modern European philosophy into the historical pit of unsolvable contradictions. This paper explores the problems of logical contradictions between the modern and universalistic concept of human nature and the discriminative model of inferior-superior humans, mainly illustrated by racism. First, this paper shows that the concept of human nature is valid beyond the arguments related to evolution and social contexts, although the human nature is modelled by them, and that the concept is not opposed to the specific cultural peculiarities of different human communities. Furthermore, common elements of racism both at the moment of its creation and nowadays suggest a radical possibility for resolving the antagonisms between the thesis of universality in the human being and the thesis of the particularity of unique cultures.