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A Sourcebook for the Worldwide Discovery of a Creative Organic Universe
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II. Pedia Sapiens: A Planetary Progeny Comes to Her/His Own Actual Factual Knowledge

4. Whole World Philosophy: An Ubuntu Universe

Burke, Peter. A Social History of Knowledge II: From the Encyclopaedia to Wikipedia. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2012. His earlier work is The Social History of Knowledge: From Gutenberg to Diderot (Polity, 2000). An emeritus University of Cambridge cultural historian achieves a magisterial two volume set which views the mostly European course from the 15th to the 21st century as a collective and cumulative learning and literary endeavor. By way of deciphering, classifying, reconstruction, and so on, an encyclopedic corpus “From Gutenberg to Google” has accrued. A natural way to organize knowledge was a goal, but an alphabetic scheme became the default. It is duly noted that although women made contributions, the project was exclusively set up for and carried out by men.

Peter Burke follows up his Social History of Knowledge, picking up where the first volume left off around 1750 at the publication of the French Encyclopédie and following the story through to Wikipedia. The book is divided into 3 parts. The first argues that activities which appear to be timeless - gathering knowledge, analysing, disseminating and employing it - are in fact time-bound and take different forms in different periods and places. The second part tries to counter the tendency to write a triumphalist history of the 'growth' of knowledge by discussing losses of knowledge and the price of specialization. The third part offers geographical, sociological and chronological overviews, contrasting the experience of centres and peripheries and arguing that each of the main trends of the period - professionalization, secularization, nationalization, democratization, etc, coexisted and interacted with its opposite.

Chemero, Anthony and Michael Silberstein. After the Philosophy of Mind: Replacing Scholasticism with Science. Philosophy of Science. 75/1, 2008. With mechanical reduction having run its sterile course, a new dynamical self-organizational paradigm is evoked to adequately explain and express vibrant life and cerebral, thinking mind.

Chung, Daihyun. The Ubiquity of Humanity and Textuality in Human Experience. Humanities. 4/885, 2015. At a perilous historic moment, when the humanities culture has recused and absented itself, an Ewha Womans University, Korea, philosopher broaches an insightful resolve. While science is about quantification, an imperative complement is qualification of a holistic, contextual meaning and purpose. This is the venerable role and task that academic scholars seem to have confused and given up. A 21st century philosophy can begin by asking what and why questions about a greater phenomenal reality which evidence surely reveals. The endeavor can benefit by an “integrational” sense of an encompassing creation, so as to form a “wholesome” humanity. But the prime perception, as it was for millennia, is the ubiquitous “textuality” of nature. The dual process view of fast particulate and slow relational thinking to join quantity and quality is noted in support. A further implication is a mutual unity of liberalism and communalism. What then might be reflectively surmised from this contribution. From 2015, the presence of a natural, common code, as composed of gender archetypes, is increasing legible. Whether universe or human, quantum or brain, the same complementarity of me + We = US, one becomes two begets three, is found to repeat in kind everywhere.

The so-called “crisis of the humanities” can be understood in terms of an asymmetry between the natural and social sciences on the one hand and the humanities on the other. While the sciences approach topics related to human experience in quantificational or experimental terms, the humanities turn to ancient, canonical, and other texts in the search for truths about human experience. As each approach has its own unique limitations, it is desirable to overcome or remove the asymmetry between them. The present article seeks to do just that by advancing and defending the following two claims: (a) that humanity is ubiquitous wherever language is used; and (b) that anything that can be experienced by humans is in need of an interpretation. Two arguments are presented in support of these claims.

The first argument concerns the nature of questions, which are one of the fundamental marks or manifestations of human language. All questions are ultimately attempts to find meanings or interpretations of what is presented. As such, in questioning phenomena, one seeks to transcend the negative space or oppression of imposed structures; in doing so, one reveals one’s humanity. Second, all phenomena are textual in nature: that which astrophysicists find in distant galaxies or which cognitive neuroscientists find in the structures of the human brain are no less in need of interpretation than the dialogues of Plato or the poems of Homer. Texts are ubiquitous. The implications of these two arguments are identified and discussed in this article. In particular, it is argued that the ubiquity of humanity and textuality points to a view of human nature that is neither individualistic nor collectivist but rather integrational in suggesting that the realization of oneself is inseparable from the realization of others. (Abstract)

The second proposition that characterizes the contemporary situation is that the humanities cannot be approached quantitatively because their proper function is to interpret human experience qualitatively. Whereas the natural and social sciences understand and explain phenomena by discovering patterns among quantitative descriptions of individual objects or events, the humanities seek to provide descriptions of qualitatively different alternatives to present human experience. Literature, history, and philosophy exemplify this kind of pursuit. Literature is not a description of actual human experience but is rather the imaginative construction of possible worlds or experiences. (886) Philosophy is not a description of constative truth but rather an activity of conceptual analysis and the reconstruction of a more reasonable reality. Thus, literature, history, and philosophy are not quantitative endeavors but rather constructions of possible worlds that are qualitatively different from present human experience. (886)

Cilliers, Paul. Complexity and Postmodernism: Understanding Complex Systems. London: Routledge, 1998. A clear, insightful entry to postmodern themes and to the principles of nonlinear self-organization, which are then seen to accord with the open, diverse fluidity of cultures.

Clarke, John James. Jung and Eastern Thought. London: Routledge, 1994. Oriental and Western mentalities are to be seen as polar opposites whose recognition and synthesis is necessary to make the world an individuated whole.

As Jung observed, this way of thinking (Taoist) is closely parallel to that of Medieval Europe, with its idea of the unus mundus (one world) involving a systematic correspondence between microcosm and macrocosm, and can be traced back to Greek conceptions of the bond of ‘sympathy’ that holds all things in organic harmony. (100)

Coetzee, P. H. and A. P. J. Roux, eds. The African Philosophy Reader. London: Routledge, 1998. Within this proficient entry to the subject, a number of articles point out that Africa’s native thinkers conceive a different cosmos than does the European west. In contrast to analysis and sterile mechanism, African cultures reside in a living cosmos suffused with vital, creative force. Rather than extol separate individuals, supportive village community is the preferred way of life. Emevwo Biakolo, e.g., compares logic and conceptual, written or oral, technological vs. sacred views, while Augustine Shutte finds in Leopold Senghor’s writings a north/south, particle/wave complementarity.

Cornell, Drucilla and Nyoko Muvanqua, eds. uBuntu and the Law: African Ideals and Postapartheid Jurisprudence. New York: Fordham University Press, 2012. Drucilla Cornell is a Rutgers University professor of political science and of woman & gender studies. She is also visiting professor at the University of Cape Town in “customary law, indigenous ideals, and dignity jurisprudence.” Grace Nyoko Muvanqua is a doctoral student in law at the University of Cape Town. She previously received a BA in economics from Smith College in Massachusetts, and an LLB from UCT. As part of a 21st century effort to recover, reorient, and advantage African traditions that sustained its lands before colonialism, the work opens with “Introduction: The Re-Cognition of uBuntu.” Search Roger Brooke and Claire Oppenheim for more on this natural Bantu wisdom that sustained (it takes a) their villages, lately advised by Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. The volume goes on to a section of exemplary Legal Cases, and to articles on availing uBuntu such as Towards the Liberation and Revitalization of Customary Law.

In ubuntu human beings are intertwined in a world of ethical relations and obligations from the time they are born. The social bond, then, is not imagined as one of separate individuals. This inscription by the other is fundamental in that we are born into a language, a kinship group, a tribe, a nation. But this inscription is not simply reduced to a social fact. We come into the world obliged to others, and by turn these others are obligated to us, to the individual. Thus, it is a profound misunderstanding of ubuntu to confuse it with simple-minded communitarianism. It is only through the engagement and support of others that we are able to realize a true individuality and rise above our biological distinctiveness into a fully developed person whose uniqueness is inseparable from the journey to moral and ethical development. (3)

In the community is committed to individuation and the achievement of a unique destiny for each person, the person in turn is obligated to enhance the community that supports him or her, not simply as an abstract duty that is correlated with a right, but as a form of participation that allows the community to strive for fidelity to what D. A. Masalo has called participatory difference. For Masalo this participatory difference recognizes that each one of ourselves is different, but also that each one is called on to make a difference by contributing to the creation and sustenance of a humane and ethical community. (4)

Corradini, Antonella and Timothy O’Connor, eds. Emergence in Science and Philosophy. London: Routledge, 2010. From a philosophical inquiry and witness, the universe seems to be forming into something or someone over billions of years from a simpler point of origin to stellar, planetary and creaturely complexity and sentience. An initial reduction to a catalog of parts was necessary, but stopping there quite misses or ignores what might really be going on. So here is another eclectic volume of scholars trying to reassemble, wrap around, and discern. Main sections are Emergence: General Perspectives; Self, Agency, and Free Will; and Physics, Mathematics, and the Special Sciences.

Cullen, Christopher. Bonaventure. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. A synoptic work from the Great Medieval Thinkers series. The 13th century Cardinal, theologian, and philosopher was known as the “great synthesizer.” In this period, the Universities of Paris, Oxford, and Cambridge, along with others, were founded with the goal of “organizing all knowledge into a systematic and universal account of reality.” But in the 21st century this grand task seems to have been abandoned and forgotten. This Enlightenment project did not fail because it is now concluded there is nothing, no extant nature, to be enlightened about. In an earlier age, reality was founded upon a central tenet: …the implicit view that the universe rises or falls with man. Man is the microcosm who sums up the macrocosm. At this late hour, as we cover the round earth, might we be mindful to recover this mission and self-similar crux in its temporal fullness of our gendered human life course.

De Caro, Mario and Maurizio Ferraris. Foreword to the New Realism. The Monist. 98/2, 2015. As the second quote describes, in this premier philosophical journal some 127 years after its founding, a special issue is assembled because the issue of with whether an actual reality exists on its independent own has still not been resolved. Well there really has to be, but a physical cosmology that denies, or cannot even imagine, doesn’t help. One could go on over this lacunae, everyone is a man, burdened by baggage, rift with contradictions. While a typical paper, Neutral Realism by Markus Gabriel, talks around it, his latest book (2015) is Why the World Does Not Exist.

In the last years philosophical realism has become more fashionable both in the analytic and in the Continental worlds. On the analytic side the situation is very different from what it was in the heyday of Feyerabend, Goodman, Davidson, Kuhn, Dummett, van Fraassen, and Putnam (in his internal realist period): suffice it to think of the spectacular growth of new versions of analytic metaphysics and the many avowedly realist contributions to, for example, semantics, epistemology, ethics, and philosophy of science. On the Continental side, post-9/11 wars and the recent economic crisis have led many philosophers to strongly reject two central tenets of postmodernism, which were held, for example, by Foucault, Vattimo, and Rorty: (1) Reality is socially constructed and infinitely malleable and (2) ‘Truth’ and ‘objectivity’ are useless notions. Now, on the contrary, it is widely acknowledged that facts cannot be reduced to interpretations, as even Derrida (in his final years) and more recently Latour have come to recognize, and that in many fields our beliefs are in fact
(simply) true. (1)

The Monist Founded in 1888 by Edward C. Hegeler, The Monist is one of the world’s oldest and most important journals in philosophy. It helped to professionalize philosophy as an academic discipline in the United States by publishing philosophers such as Lewis White Beck, John Dewey, Gottlob Frege, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Sidney Hook, C.I. Lewis, Ernst Mach, Charles Sanders Peirce, Hilary Putnam, Willard Van Orman Quine, Bertrand Russell, and Gregory Vlastos. The Monist publishes quarterly thematic issues on particular philosophical topics which are edited by leading philosophers in the corresponding fields. As a result, each issue is a collected anthology of continuing interest.

Deutsch, Eliot and Ronald Bontekoe, eds. A Companion to World Philosophies. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1997. To balance a provincial emphasis of Western thought, the book covers non-Western cultures with authoritative essays on African, Indian, Chinese, Islamic and Indigenous worldviews and philosophical topics. Tu Weiming, Ninian Smart and Tamara Albertini are typical contributors. Islam is properly placed in this grouping, which as noted later in Bicameral World Religions, could potentially be a bridge between East and West.

Diagne, Souleymane Bachir. Open to Reason: Muslin Philosophers in Conversation with the Western Tradition. New York: Columbia University Press, 2018. We note this edition by the Senegalese scholar especially for its chapter which reviews the thought of Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938) (see Diagne 2019 above for more). A poet, philosopher and activist, Iqbal’s writings offer a unique evolutionary vision which advises that Islamic culture could just as well be a source of creative development, instead a fatal fixation with the past. In regard, a dynamic, future-oriented version akin to Henri Bergson and Pierre Teilhard could inform and guide Muslin culture so to accommodate both unitary and pluralist modes. Such a liberal allowance has at its central theme an advance of personal individuality as a “co-collaborator” with divine creativity.

What does it mean to philosophize in Islam? This unique work traces Muslims’ intellectual and spiritual history of examining beliefs and tenets to show how Islam has long engaged texts and ideas both inside and outside its compass. From classical figures such as Avicenna to the twentieth-century Sufi teacher of tolerance Tierno Bokar (1875-1939), Diagne shows that philosophizing in Islam in its many forms has meant a commitment to forward and open thinking. A remarkable history of philosophy in the Islamic world, this book seeks to contribute to the revival of a spirit of pluralism rooted in Muslim intellectual and spiritual traditions. (Publisher excerpt)

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