Along with the idea of "secularization", the theory of "modernization" has been recently questioned as yet another by-product of the Englightenment linear view of history. Drawing on Max and Alfred Weber's comparative work, on Karl Jaspers' notion of an axial age which encompasses a plurality of ancient civilizations, Shmuel Eisenstadt, Johan Arnason, Jan Assman, Björn Wittrock and a number of other leading social theorists have put forward a new framework for making sense of global history, known under the heading of "multiple modernities". In this paper, I will highlight some of the questions that the "multiple modernities" approach can generate in the specific field of political philosophy. Assuming that we can distinguish formal democracy as a set of procedures that can merely ritually be paid lip service to from "democracy with a democratic spirit", can we disentangle the "spirit of democracy" from its original roots in the culture of radical protestantism and envisage a plurality of "cultures of democracy" anchored to various civilizational bedrocks? Are "multiple democracies" genuinely viable versions of the same model of political order, or are they way-stations towards the Western modern form of liberal democracy?
Dialogue of Cultures
Alessandro Ferrara’s excellent essay on multiple modernities and democracies is an important stimulus for reflecting on a number of issues that go beyond the borders of the academic debate, overflowing into the public sphere. Allow me to randomly list a number of questions. What is democracy? Is democracy only applied in the West? So what are those forms of government and legitimisation of political power that have at least a few of the characteristics we have come to know in our experience in the West as democracy? Is democracy a universally desirable objective? If so, when necessary, should we march bearing arms towards “exporting democracy”?
Throughout its history, the Sicilian mafia has systematically adapted structure and modus operandi to changing times, and engaged in innovative, profitable activities, whilst maintaining largely consistent cultural codes and practices. Indeed, the links between the mafia and civil society are not based exclusively on economic and political ties, but also on a solid cultural framework that the mafia has adapted for its own needs to better disguise and penetrate the territory at a capillary level
Philosophical investigations in Delhi: about moral choices, intellectual honesty and political freedom
Delhi - In the weeks just before and after the new year, when the overall atmosphere of the capital was vitiated on account of the government’s attempts to override Christmas as a Christian observance and an official holiday, replacing it with a so-called “Good Governance Day” and the birth anniversaries of Madan Mohan Malaviya and Atal Bihari Vajpayee, brief visits by two eminent philosophers provided some relief. The visitors were the Bengali philosopher, Arindam Chakrabarti, who teaches at the University of Hawaii in Manoa, and the Iranian philosopher, Ramin Jahanbegloo, who teaches at York University in Canada. Both lectured at public fora, met with students and scholars, and brought to the denizens of beleaguered Delhi a much-needed reminder of the importance of philosophy as the core of humanistic intellectual inquiry and democratic dissent.
The publication of a posthumous book has obliged us to once again address the case involving Jacques Dupuis, the Belgian Catholic theologian of religious pluralism, treated and “notified” as a heretic by the then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger, all in 2000, the same year and days of the publication of the Declaration “Dominus Iesus”, the most criticised pontifical document of recent decades, acclaimed only by “devout atheists.”
Written on the occasion of his birthday (b. 27 December, 1936, in Figuig, eastern Morocco, d. 3 May 2010), this piece is an homage to a towering figure in modern Arab-Islamic thought, a figure that any serious scholar in the field cannot do without: Mohammed Abed Al Jabri. One has either to build on the heritage he has left, or overcome it with a more challenging one. In both cases, one cannot escape reading him. In the age of Arab turmoils, al Jabri must be in the library of every Arab house for one simple reason: he genuinely managed to classify Arab-Islamic thought, a thing that is still missing from Arab socio-political life.
Like other classical world traditions and civilizations that seek renewal for survival, continuity and contribution to world affairs, the Islamic one is convened and questioned, maybe more than others and more than ever before, seeing its geographical and intellectual positions between the so-called East and West, an archaic dichotomy that disrupts politics and stirs philosophy at the same time. The ongoing dire socio-political chaos in the Arab-Islamic world questions the intellectual tradition of this part of the world, to see where it stands, and what contributions it offers to overcome the turmoil. Reset-DoC is pleased to present three reflections on Islamic Philosophy by Mohammed Hashas (PhD), as part of an ongoing conversation with a civilization that was, and a worldview that is still vibrant and confident that it can still contribute to world intellect and local politics. Past and Present Conditions for Existence and DifferenceIslamic Philosophy IThe Moderns and Contemporaries in Search for a New ParadigmIslamic Philosophy IIThe Question of Ethics: Taha Abderrahmane’s Praxeology and Trusteeship ParadigmIslamic Philosophy III
Classical Islamic philosophy has broadly been a philosophy of reconciliation between reason and revelation. It has tried to differentiate itself from Greek – and now Western philosophy – but it does not seem to have established some other norm than reason as the key to philosophy. Even what is called rational theology, theosophy, and Sufism have all used reason to empower revelation. Yet, some voices of contemporary Islamic philosophy – very few in fact - are trying to re-ground philosophy and its practice, by making ethics, and not reason, the essence of man and philosophy. This view will be presented gradually into three complementary pieces and steps (Islamic Philosophy I, II, III).
The last two centuries (since 1798) have witnessed a lively intellectual revival in Islamic thought, a fact that has impacted all sectors of life, without, at the same time, forming a clear line of thought or a “new paradigm” that overcomes the malaise of either/or, modernity or traditionalism, change or conservatism. Medieval Islam managed to construct a dominant and prosperous “sharia paradigm” for some centuries, a paradigm in which reason and revelation generally worked together. This paradigm was especially enforced politically, and that is how it rooted itself in Islamic history, and medieval history in general.
The previous two pieces (Islamic Philosophy I and II) presented some reflections on the past and present conditions and themes of Islamic thought, philosophy in focus. The present piece, based on two forthcoming papers, introduces a voice that aims at regrounding (i.e. reconstructing) not only Islamic philosophy but philosophy in general, and the way philosophers pose philosophical questions. It sketches out some major aspects of the project of Taha Abderrahmane (b. 1944, Morocco), a leading logician and ethicist in the Arab-Islamic world.
A somewhat bleak survey of American democratic prospects for this year’s American Independence Day begins by reminding us what America was meant to be all about. “By the rude bridge that arched the flood,Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,Here once the embattled farmers stoodAnd fired the shot heard ‘round the world.” Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Concord Hymn,” 1837
In the last few years many international organizations have been implementing youth empowerment activities as a tool to achieve their own strategic objectives. One of most structured efforts in this field is represented by the Arab-European Young Leaders Forum (AEYLF), created in 2009 by the League of Arab States in cooperation with the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs of Austria. At the centre of this initiative are emerging leaders representing the civil society, the academia, the media as well as the social and creative economy, carefully selected on the basis of their remarkable achievements and their potential as “multipliers”.