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RVP International Conferences


Invitation to an International Conference

The Role of Philosophy in the Development of South East Asia




Cambodiam Academy of Social Sciences

Phnom Pehn, Cambodia

July 24-25, 2009





Development is a process of change. But as change could be either for the better or for the worse, the task of humans as responsible for their world is to orient change along positive paths that perfect and improve the status of nature and of humanity itself. If not all that is technically possible is an improvement, it become necessary to add to other human capabilities a process of understanding human nature and action so that the immense human effort, now broadly integrated across civilizations, will be positive and constructive.


This evaluative task is extensive as it touches upon every aspect of the changing world. It is itself multilayered, reaching from mere utilitarian and self-centered advantage to an increasingly deeper sense of the human person, to a broader and more inclusive range of social reality, and to the natural world in which we live and which we shape. 


One approach is to consider or reconsider this in terms of the classical four causes: efficient, formal, material and final. Unfortunately, some of these dimensions have been omitted in the modern effort to achieve clarity and hence control of one’s destiny. This leaves one without the insight into the quality of life which can be achieved through knowledge of one’s origin or goals. Hence, an integral effort should consider all four causes:


- efficient cause whereby such characteristics of the source as the Hindu notions of existence (sat), consciousness (cit) and bliss (ananda) or in other cultures unity, truth and the good,  -- can indicate essential characteristics of the nature of reality and of realization;

- formal cause which specifies the nature of things and makes it possible to discriminate what is ultimately enhancing from what is basically destructive;

- material cause that allows one to take account of the resources which have been the basis of so many wars and to do so in ways that are progressive rather than destructive; and

- final cause or goal and purpose of the great efforts of humanity as these take on greater global breadth and cohesion.


The aim here is to consider these issues not everywhere and hence nowhere, but to do so in relation to the South East Asian region. This means taking account of the present physical and social situation of the region and especially of the human life and culture that has been realized there thusfar. These multiple cultures and their overall civilization are perhaps the most determinative factors in deciding what will be progressive and hence truly developmental for the region.


This suggests a structure for the program will have the following morning plenary sessions:

Day One

Philosophy Emerging from Culture

Characteristics of Cambodian philosophy


Day Two

New Perspective: Linking Philosophy to Education for Sustainable Development 

Ways of philosophers working together in South East Asia on these themes.


The afternoon will be devoted to parallel sessions to provide all philosophers with ample time to the presentation and discussion of their papers.


The opening and closing sessions will include statements by representatives of the three sponsoring units: The Philosophical Association of Cambodia (PAC), The Council for Research in Values and Philosophy (RVP), and UNESCO. 




Professor Chhort Bunthang

General Coordinator of the Conference Organizing Committee

The Philosophical Association of Cambodia

Phnom Penh, Cambodia         










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