Editorial. Values and Ideals. Theory and Praxis. Part III Philosophical Ideals for a More Decent World Cultures — Their Ideals and Values. Ideals and Values in Social And Political Life — From Theories to Praxis
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This is the third in a series of Dialogue and Universalism issues featuring a selection of peer-reviewed materials submitted to the 11th World Congress of the International Society for Universal Dialogue, held in Warsaw, Poland, July 11–15, 2016. A connection between values, ideals and universalism is worth considering here. Some philosophical views assert that there are fundamental values and ideals which are not restricted to one culture, religion, social system or nation, and, in a legitimate generalization, common to all humankind. These values and ideals appear in the human world in propitious conditions and vanish when self-ishness, greed, particularisms, localisms, and religious or ethnic separatisms come to the fore. They are often hidden and passive in such a sense that they do not participate in forming the real human world—most people are not even aware of their existence. But they do exist in the world of ideas, in some human minds and in humankind’s spiritual legacy, and can be called back to the real human world as the instruments of its forming. They are surrounded by values and ideals of another kind, namely particular ones—generated by the particular interests of social groups, individuals, nations or religions. Particular values overrun or even flood the fundamental ones. To-day the fundamental values and ideals are disappearing from human reality as it becomes more and more dramatically displaced by particular interests, which demolish the sense of social, national, cultural as well as individual security, and divide people into the poor and rich, the privileged and subordinated or even excluded, into the “worse” and “better.” In a general sense one can say that a subset of particular values and ideals—opposed to the fundamental ones—are setting barriers to building a more decent world. Fundamental values and ideals are not given in the common sense or on the surface level of lifeworlds. Moreover, they are not recreated again and again; much rather, they are an ahistorical, invariant core of humanity, and must be exposed in the process of dissociating particular values and ideas from the whole axiological sphere. To this end the subject of exposure should take the neutral perspective of the citizen of the world, or the human being as such, and mentally rid itself of its specific cultural, political, social and religious peculiari-ties. This task is hardly attainable, because to realize it the subject would have to resign its own identity, go beyond itself. Philosophers are especially compe-tent to cope with this undertaking as the essence of philosophy commands a distanced and objective approach to the deepest levels of reality. These basic regions are also where fundamental values and ideas reside. As common to all humankind, fundamental values and ideals are universal. It is claimed in various philosophical doctrines that their source lies in: 1) hu-man nature, but only upon the assumption that it is the same in all human be-ings, and not co-formed by e.g. social conditions, 2) in an immaterial spiritual sphere of values, or 3) in the basic constituting layer of all cultures. This group of views is a noteworthy variant of universalism that can be called axiological universalism. Axiological universalism embraces all kinds of values—moral, social, cognitive etc. It has nothing in common with the idea of globalization, which it is substantially in opposition to. Most notably, it does not negate the pluralities of cultures, social organizations, religions and life-styles. It only claims that fundamental values and ideals, the very core of being human, should be discerned and respected by all humankind. Here lies the basis of intersubjective communication and, hopefully, agreement. Axiological uni-versalism does not at all postulate to build one human society (i.e. a kind of modern global village), one culture, religion etc. In general, it admits differ-ences in all spheres of the human world, apart from the collection of universal values and ideals. In consequence, it maintains that the people of the world could live in peaceful coexistence in spite of their differences. More clearly, according to axiological universalism, the removal of existing pluralities in the human world is by no means a necessary condition of building a decent world—as the proponents of globalization persuade. It is universal values and ideals which would be able to unite people in spite of cultural, social, political and religious differences. People all over the world would preserve their ethnic cultures, religions, social organizations, etc. and be unified only by respect for fundamental values and ideals. Instead of the global-ization idea (which, in fact, is a conception leading to the flattening and destruction of a vast part of the human heritage), an entirely different image appears: a union in diversity, or, in other words, a union in spite of plurality. Universal values and ideas are also the ground and beginning of authentic intersubjective communication.2 This Dialogue and Universalism issue features papers which examine worri-some problems of the contemporary and past world—general as well as particu-lar, e.g. connected with one continent, religion, culture, or social aspect. Univer-salistic tones are observed in all of them, albeit sometimes indirectly: their au-thors refer to the fundamentals of the investigated questions, therefore they also approach fundamental values and ideals.
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