Wednesday, October 12, 2011

2011 Global Forum Civilization and Peace: "Points Toward a Culture of Discussion"

2011 Global Forum Civilization and Peace

I've now had a night's sleep and can write a bit more, though not much since my classes start early today. I usually post introductions when I note a publication, paper, or presentation, but I'll instead post a conclusion this time:
Let us remind ourselves that this year's Global Forum on Civilization and Peace focuses on the "Resolution of Conflict in Korea, East Asia and Beyond," specifying "A Humanistic Approach," and our session is concerned with "Difference and Discrimination." I began, humanistically enough, with a conflict between a high-status university professor in the West who advocated critical discourse without reference to hierarchical status but who felt justified in physically attacking a 'lowly' graduate student who had insulted him. We then looked at hierarchy within Confucian Civilization in East Asia and noted some of the problems that result from Confucianism's suppression of open discussion, the implication being that Confucianism needs to find some means of accommodating critical discourse. We considered Huntington's thesis concerning the clash of civilizations, but reflected upon his appeal for intercivilizational understanding as well and noted the possibility of cultural commonalities and even commonalities grounded in our meta-civilizational human nature, especially our mortality. We saw how this common mortality can offer a basis for a culture of critical discourse in which reasons and evidence are privileged over hierarchical status even in strongly hierarchical societies. We drew attention to a necessity for the freedom to insult since even substantive points grounded in reason and evidence can be taken as insults, regardless of intention. All of these things point to the truth that a harmonious society cannot be imposed at the outset but can only be understood as an aim to be attained at the end of a discursive process, if such harmony is ever even to be attained at all. Finally, if this paper has raised issues controversial enough to stimulate critical discussion, then I will have succeeded in my goal.
This is from my presentation at a conference titled "2011 Global Forum Civilization and Peace." The paper was titled "Points Toward a Culture of Discussion."

I've not yet seen any newspaper reports directly on this year's conference, but the Korea Herald does have an article on a statement made by the keynote speaker, Jürgen Kocka, before the conference began, and that can be read online. I hope that his paper is eventually put online, for it's a very interesting analysis of German reunification that emphasizes how history can "surprise" us, and it brought back a lot of memories from my years in Germany, which covered that period, for I went to Germany in August 1989.

But more on this conference if the papers cover it, for I've got to prepare for teaching.

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At 5:08 AM, Blogger dhr said...

Your presentation is VERY interesting, Jeffery. (Not that somebody doubted it.)

First of all, some of your arguments indirectly recall the author of whom I am translating most works, or editing their translations: Raimon Panikkar. One of his points was in fact the difference between a "dialectical dialogue", aiming at convincing by means of reason, that's anyway a kind of victory; and a "dialogical dialogue," open to any outcome, possibly an unexpected one, and touching one's heart.

But you reach beyond him by stressing the "commonality" of mortality. It is quite unlikely that political leaders will ever adopt this viewpoint, fundamental as it may be. That basis, however, is 'basically' the only one which could overcome... It was called for to this same purpose by the poet and philosopher Giacomo Leopardi already at the beginning of the 19th century.

Just, er, he belongs to the "much praised, never followed" kind...

At 7:13 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I hadn't thought about that distinction between two types of dialogue, but I suppose that I'm open to the unexpected.

Jeffery Hodges

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