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RVP International Conferences


Invitation to an International Conference

Diversity in Unity: Harmony in a Global Age



Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences

Shanghai, China

July 2-3, 2009





It would appear to be a central characteristic of our times that the world has come to the limits of the creative potentialities of the individualism that characterized the enlightenment and the powers it unleashed. These have now so overreached themselves that the manipulation, oppression and conflict they generated have destroyed economic and political constructs at the very point at which the new global world dynamics force all together in ever more intensive patterns of interaction. In response there have been many calls for the development of a truly global economy, a global political system and even a global ethic, all of which are indeed important and indispensable.


What seems unfortunate is that these are generally approached in the Western manner of abstraction, omitting differences in search of what is common to all. But the differences consist primarily not in the physics or chemistry, but in the values and virtues, that is, the culture whereby each people determines how to order all of life in a manner that is truly humane and humanizing. Hence, if it is supposed that such diversity or differences are necessarily conflictual and for purpose of unity must be ignored, then these humanizing elements are marginalized or even suppressed. What is lost in such an approach is the multiple contributions of the many peoples, their unique creativity and even their treasured freedoms.


This suggests the need for a different approach which protects, promotes and interrelates human diversity and creativity. That is, in order forthese multiple and diverse humane factors to make their rich contribution to social well being in these times of global interaction they must be able to be seen not as conflictual, but as complementary and relational. In turn, this calls for a new paradigm in which they are understood as existing within a larger, integrating whole in which the diverse realities are essentially related, not merely physically, but in terms that engage the human search formeaning and purpose. These are the keys to the respect for nature and for one another on which a truly global human comity can be built.


But philosophy never ceases with mere facts; it looks further for the principles which reveal all as intelligible or true and as life giving orgood. This calls for a renewed understanding of “the unity of all under heaven” both for its inherent relationality and for the implications of its source and goal for the meaning and purpose of all. Here we reach the classical issue of the one and the many, now in terms of the global whole.


This conference will search Chinese and other philosophies and civilizations for essential resources for understanding all relationally and ways to enable philosophy to take the steps ahead newly required for life in our global times.




He Xirong

The Institute of Philosophy

Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences

Shanghai, P.R. China












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