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Invitation to an International Conference

Humanity, Spiritual Values and Social Progress


University of Uzbekistan

Tashkent, Uzbekistan

November 18-20, 1999



Since the fabled days of the silk route Central Asia has always been considered the cross roads of the world – the delicate balance wheel between East and West. Great civilizations have been challenged there to play that role: Zoroastrian, Christian, Islamic, Marxist. Now the new states in the region are faced with taking up that role in a context suddenly become global.


This is a daunting challenge: it is necessary to avoid losing the civilizing heritage from all of the above civilizations, yet to establish a clear and firm identity which distinguishes these nations from Russia to the North; to revive the Islamic roots of their identity, yet without falling into, or falling prey to, a fundamentalism which would impede progress; to develop their economic base, yet not at the cost of a new servitude; and to take their place politically in the world, yet to retain and promote their proper independence.


While moving from a centralized to a more open economy, the nations of Central Asia are engaged not only in balancing all the great forces of the world, but in integrating them into a new and viable whole. In this sense, here the future of civilization is in play.


Truly humane progress will be possible only to the degree that these peoples are able to find ways of inspiring their disparate elements with spiritual values in a way that promotes both the dignity of the human person and the social cohesion and cooperation of its peoples. This challenge of our times finds its focus in Central Asia.


A set of research teams have been working in the area’s Academies of Sciences, Institutes of Strategic Studies and National Universities on different aspects of this issue. A number of volumes have been drafted and a first conference to discuss “The Development of Civil Society in Central Asia” and for mutual critique of the work of the teams was held in December, 1998 in Almaty.


On November 18-20, 1999 the second conference in this annual series will be in Tashkent focused on the general theme “Humanity, Spiritual Values and Social Progress,” and providing for mutual critique of the draft volumes in process. It is intended to relate to the search for values and to overcoming conflict in the actual world, to engage all currents of thought, and to find the complementarity of Eastern and Western thought.


All of this puts special requirements on the November conference for the overall situation in philosophy is now dramatically different. Before, there was in place an ideology already preformed which one needed only to diffuse and reaffirm in a top-down direction. Now, philosophy is in a post-ideological age with new countries and new identities to be built. This requires deep and extended exploration and interchange between philosophers in a bottom-up or inductive process. For this it is necessary to have extended time, to provide a physical situation for face to face interchange in a round or rectangular table format, and carefully to schedule the progressive introduction and discussion of the series of issues involved. This will require close cooperation in a highly integrated scientific program, schedule and logistics. 








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