RVP International Conferences 1998

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Invitation to an International Conference

Philosophical Challenges and Opportunities of Globalization


Boston, MA. U.S.A.

August 7-9, 1998


A conference on the "Philosophical Challenges and Opportunities of Globalization" will be held in Boston during the three days immediately prior to the XXth World Congress of Philosophy. The conference will be co-sponsored by the ISM, WUCPS and the Department of Philosophy of Boston College and will be coordinated by the RVP.



Globalization is a new phenomenon with economic, political and cultural-philosophical dimensions.


- Economically, it is an interlocking supra-national system with power to effect the development and underdevelopment of the different parts of the world, rich as well as poor. As a system, it has certain overbearing tendencies in relation to such higher human interests and values as personal identity, social justice, national sovereignty and the various conceptions of cultural and religious life. It can marginalize not only people in various parts of the world, but also things, social as well as individual, which are valued by people as human beings.

- Politically, it constitutes a global system of interchange of power with which peoples in all parts of the world must contend, each in their own ways, in order democratically to maintain their human identities in cooperation with others.

- Culturally, it constitutes a new openness of the human spirit which may present opportunity as well challenge. In retrospect, the last millenium could be interpreted as a great project of human reason, beginning from the high middle ages with the reintroduction of the Aristotelian corpus and the great Summas. This focus upon reason was radicalized in the Enlightenment, with many undoubted good effects enabling the world to support a burgeoning population through inventions ranging from nutrition, to communication, to law. But this radicalization has remained largely Euro-centric in its thinking, marginalizing other forms of thought and culture and leaving them far from liberated.


Soon after Descartes, J.B. Vico noted that so radical and exclusive a focus upon reason in the laboratory of clear and distinct ideas would not allow for the development of other, properly human dimensions of human awareness, but instead would generate brutes--intellectual brutes, but brutes nonetheless. Recently, especially with the collapse of the cold war, we have become more sensitive to the limitations of the abstractive power of this Euro-Centered technical reason which channeled social understanding toward the extremes of individualism and communism. Looking back, there appears now to be a fairly universal consensus that we do not want to repeat the last century with its world wars, hot and cold; its pogroms, holocausts and mass--even atomic--bombings; and its economic and cultural exploitation.


This philosophical critique now extends across the entire modern project from left to right so that it is common to refer to present times as postmodern, if not postEuropean. But as life cannot be built upon skepticism this opens a radically new opportunity, namely to regain and reintegrate other dimensions of reason, deeper reaches of the human personality and a broader range of sensibilities to more integrating senses of life, diverse cultures, minorities, women and the environment. Whereas "postmodern" bespeaks criticism of what preceded, "globalization" points forward to a new philosophical agenda, namely, both horizontally to broaden awareness to include all peoples and cultures, and vertically to deepen to new metaphysical and religious dimensions of meaning and values where we dwell in spirit.


At the turn of the millennia, therefore, this conference will explore the expansion of this sphere in which we live and move and have our being. To do so for philosophers is but the exercise of their human responsibility for the reflective dimension of civil society. The topics implied in this theme include among others: a critical appreciation of reason and of the new reaches of human awareness; the implications of cultural awareness for the enrichment and extension of philosophy; the responsibility of philosophy in the evolution from conflictual to peaceful human interchange--not only economic and political, but especially social, cultural and religious.


The Conference: Structure, Program and Addresses

Rationalism has long considered philosophy to be an individual endeavor conducted abstractly in the privacy of a closed study or within the confines of a certain national spirit; in certain respects it will retain something of this. But, in the face of globalization understood culturally as well as economically, philosophy must deepen human self-understanding corporately through joint phenomenological reflection and interchange upon the conscious human experiences of all peoples. This conference will bring together philosophers from all parts of the world for such concentrated discussion and critical evaluation on globalization itself.


The program will consist of a sequenced discussion of twelve issues each led by a 25 minute summary of a substantive predistributed study followed by an hour of broad critical discussion in which new philosophical insight can emerge. The major work of the conference will consist in this. You are invited to make suggestions regarding the particular subthemes which should be treated and the philosophers who should be invited to make these major presentations. You are invited also to submit by May 20th your own paper for presentation and/or publication. This should be a substantive study of, e.g., 20 or more printed pages to be sent on diskette (preferably in Word Perfect or Word), with printout attached. Related volumes developed by teams of philosophers can be developed also for consideration for eventual publication by the Council (see project on p. 12 below).


The meeting will be coordinated by The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy (RVP). All papers and program concerns should be directed to:


Professor George F. McLean

The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy (RVP),

Cardinal Station PO Box 261, Washington D.C., 20064, USA;

e-mail: mclean@cua.edu; tel/fax 202/319-6089


The conference will take place at Boston College in the Heights Room of the New Dining Hall on Thomas More Road. This is very close to the end of the "Boston College" tramway line from the site of the World Congress at Boston University. Local arrangements for the conference will be coordinated by Prof. Oliva Blanchette, Department of Philosophy, Boston College, Chestnut Hall, MA 02167; e-mail: oliva.blanchette@bc.edu; tel: 617/552-3850; fax: 617-552-3874. Boston College will provide a continental breakfast before the morning session and tea/coffee in mid morning and mid afternoon. There is a cafeteria in the building where one can purchase noon or evening meals.


Housing arrangements should be made with the XXth World Congress organizing committee by advancing your date of arrival there to Aug. 6 (see enclosed form). [The address of the XXth World Congress of Philosophy Secretariat is: American Organizing Committee, Inc., Boston University, 745 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, Mass. 02215, USA; tel: 01-617-353-3904; fax: 01-617-353-5441; e-mail: paideia@bu.edu; listserv: majordomo@bu.edu congress-list; WWW: http://web.bu.edu/wcp.] A complete program and updated information on the XXth World Congress is to be found on its web site.










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